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Zapata Paperback – May 1, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Steinbeck was nominated for an Academy Award in 1952 for his screenplay, Viva Zapata! The film, based on the life of Mexican peasant revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, stars Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn, and Jean Peters and is the only original work Steinbeck wrote for the screen. The original story upon which Steinbeck based his script was recently uncovered in a UCLA research library. The two versions are presented together here, and they complement each other well. The original story is more of a preliminary treatment and differs substantially from the screenplay. Steinbeck, who was fluent in Spanish, spent years in research, collecting oral histories from Zapata's contemporaries and veterans of the revolution and obtaining information not available in any other written record. His screenplay is superb drama on its own and is enriched by the historical framework. Recommended for academic libraries and large film collections.
- Marianne Cawley, Kingwood Branch Lib., Tex.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140173226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140173222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Zapata: Unsung Hero of the Mexican Revolution Another Steinbeckian Leader of the People by Robert F. Schambier, Ed.D.
"Any previously unpublished work of John Steinbeck is a welcome gift to American letters." --Budd Schulberg, as cited in Zapata
John Steinbeck's Zapata is a little known but well-crafted narrative about one of Mexico's legendary heroes of the Mexican Revolution. The story--which the author later turned into the critically acclaimed screenplay Viva Zapata! --tells of Emiliano Zapata's courageous efforts to halt political oppression. Known affectionately in his native southern state of Morelos as "the Little Tiger," Zapata took up the cause of downtrodden peasants when reform laws were totally flouted by the Establishment. The Diaz regime had virtually turned Mexico into a police state as the peasants grew hungrier and hungrier. Nearly single-handedly Zapata succeeded in empowering his fellow countrymen. At length he was able to instigate a formidable armed rebellion.
As portrayed by Steinbeck, Emiliano Zapata was a young and promising leader. He could neither read nor write, but he possessed an intuitive sense of justice and fair play. Often misguided--even deceived by his own--and eventually betrayed, Zapata pushed relentlessly for social and agrarian reform. In the Camus tradition he was a true rebel fighting for human rights, never showing interest in acquiring power for its own sake.
Initially Zapata joined forces with Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa to overthrow president/dictator Porfirio Diaz. But as soon as Carranza became president, he too turned into a power-hungry elitist.
Carranza's administration under a new Constitution quickly became counterproductive.
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Format: Paperback
This is the actual script Steinbeck wrote for the movie "Viva Zapata. " Actually, the book is broken up into two parts; part one is complete with John Steinbeck's observations of the Mexican Revolution, the culture and the existing system that allowed Zapata to rise and become a leader. This narrative of Steinbeck's is interspersed throughout the rough initial script.The foundation for the book is featured in part one whereas part two is the actual script. Steinbeck's personal narrative is very interesting and I found his recomendation on who to play the part of the legendary Zapata insightful and accurate in suggestion. He did not recommend Marlon Brando , who was Zapata in the classic movie, but rather wanted a Mexcian actor. He felt that none other than Pedro Armendariz should take the lead. He would have made a great Zapata. Anyway Steinbeck makes many astute observations and demonstrates his affinity for scholarship, as well as his understanding of the Mexican psyche during the turbulent times of the Porfirio Diaz regime. Steinbeck illustrates his scenes with an authentic cinematic brush reflected in his mastery of language. He details the nuances of individuals in the larger scope of an epic historical event, tying all the elements together as only a master story teller can do. Zapata, known as "El Tigre," is a man of immense stature in Mexcian history and Steinbeck understands this. Zapata comes to life, the illiterate peasant who marries a woman of a higher social status and testifies to his own human frailities.His mythical yet factual life is accentuated by stories of a currandera who "sees" his life unfolding. The relationship with his brother Eufemio also shows the respect Zapata has for family.Read more ›
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I'm not sure, exactly, who the intended audience for this book is; nevertheless, I suspect that it is included in numerous college syllabi for courses in film criticism and various "soshe" classes around American politics and social activism. That the editor, Robert E. Morsberger, contributed numerous articles to and, I believe, edits the Steinbeck Review lends weight to this suspicion; not to mention the included critical essay by the man that occurs between the original screen play and the actual screen play.
In addition to these two plays, preceding them is a word picture that Steinbeck drew to describe to the movie's eventual director and producer Steinbeck's own vision and intention for the film.
While having the actual mechanics of a screenplay laid out before one's eyes is interesting to one who hasn't seen the like, this would be true regardless of the underlying story. It just happens in this case to be Zapata, which happens to be the only screenplay Mr. Steinbeck wrote entirely by himself.

As to this book, we are essentially presented with three versions of the same story That this is a bit repetitive is obvious and, frankly, my advice is to read the first two treatments and then go watch the movie.
For those of you expecting more of a story about Zapata (or even a biography), based upon the numerous rather puzzling reviews here indicating this is the case, you will disappointed. For, this is a story about a film script, or screenplay, the subject of which is Emiliano Zapata. It does not pretend to be either a history or a biography: It is an adventure story with political/socio-economic overtones, that roughly hews to historical events and figures.
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