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Zapata Paperback – May 1, 1993

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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

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works are available in Penguin Modern Classics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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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 x 0.8 x 7.7 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: #437,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, achieved popular success in 1935 when he published Tortilla Flat. He went on to write more than twenty-five novels, including The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful 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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on April 22, 2003
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on September 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book contains two screenplays. One is a screenplay that John Steinbeck worked on for 20 years on the revolutionary career of Emiliano Zapata. The other screenplay is a more styled and streamlined screenplay written in 2 months for the film Viva Zapata. They are fascinating to read for one offers a great deal of background information on Mexican history and social customs whereas the other is a more simplified and dramatic interpretation. They both are powerful. The book is further enriched by an informative essay by Robert Morsberger on the fascination Steinbeck had for Zapata as well as an essay on the screenwriting career and products of Steinbeck.
The character and history of Emiliano Zapata was of such great interest to Steinbeck that he worked on the first screenplay for 20 years, made multiple trips to Mexico to interview as many people as possible who may have known Zapata or knew information handed down through the Mexican oral tradition. Emiliano Zapata is a legendary hero of the Mexican Revolution. He fought against oppression and believed in a political philosophy of democratic self determination of the common people. Steinbeck found that Zapata was often called the Little Tiger in his home state of Morelos in Southern Mexico. Zapata rose to action during the dictatorship of President Diaz during a period of time when large portions of indigenous peasant land was sold by the state to the wealthy aristocratic landowners. This is a very feudal system of land distribution, for those forces loyal to the central governing authority are rewarded with large gifts of land, regardless of the centuries of inhabitants on the land of common indigenous peasant stock.
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