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America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This 400+ page collection also has seven thematic chapters that explore Steinbeck's nonfiction and journalistic writing in these topic areas: places he loved, socio-political struggles, the craft of writing, friends and friendship, travel abroad, being a war correspondent, and miscellanea. This is great bedside reading: something delicious to dip into, eloquent and thoughtful, and one can jump around.
The editors are both noted Steinbeck scholars who are making this man accessible to the common people (we, the salt of the earth, whom he champions and celebrates in so many of his writings). Perhaps I am partial to John Steinbeck because I live in "Steinbeck Country," but I still think his works deserve our attention and study in the 21st century. He had a lot of significant insights--this book is a wonderful follow-up for those who have only yet experienced his fiction.
Always he wrote about his impressions, primarily of people. The best pieces in this collection are not accounts of foreign wars but of people in distinct places. Like Steinbeck's life, the book begins with Salinas, California, continues through San Francisco and New York City to Sag Harbor on Long Island, where Steinbeck lived in the 1950s and 60s. In the "Journalist Abroad" section there are strong pieces on people in Positano and Ireland. And there is a section on friends (all male, of course) including a long memoir of his idol and naturalist mentor, Ed Ricketts, and short but very illuminating memoirs of the popular WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle and the photographer Robert Capa (who accompanied Steinbeck on his Russian visit), plus concise tributes to Adlai Stevenson as an orator and to Henry Fonda as an actor.
The section "On writing" is regrettably short, and the selections of WWII colums from _Once There Was a War_ (a book which is in print) are mystifyingly missing the best ones, which Steinbeck wrote during the invasion of Italy. The Vietnam reports are unconvincing propaganda from what he presented as a war against Mao. (Brezhnev, perhaps, but not Mao!)
Many of the pieces are entertaining in the mock heroic Steinbeck manner of _Tortilla Flat_ and _Travels with Charley_ and some are moving. The text "America and Americans" had little impact.Read more ›
In "America and Americans", which comprises the last quarter of this collection, there are some very interesting musings on the qualities, characteristics, and contributions of various immigrant groups; the contradictions of the American mindset (the hunger for home roots vs. our nomadic existence, for example); and a variety of spot-on sociological observations about our relationship to the land, with our leaders, foreigners, and one another. A&A ends with a positive note about the future, keyed to Americans' innate drive and optimism - a morale booster for some of us during our current trying times.
There's enough red meat in this book so you can pick and choose titles and close the cover with a feeling of fulfillment. Steinbeck was one gifted writer and an extremely opinionated man. And that's a satisfying one-two punch.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book to have with you. Short stories that tell you the life and times of our fellow Americans then and there by a great writer. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Myla
Most of the stories are really interesting. It helps if you've read his other stuff first as many of the short stories are almost background research or related notes and... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Give It To Mikey
It's amplified Steinbeck. What else can one say? Beautifully written non-fiction essays with Steinbeck's beloved style and usual liberal slant. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Nancy Talbot Doty
My daughter-in-law passed this book out at Christmas and when we get together (seven of us) for Sunday dinner we've used this as our "Book Club" discussion. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Debe W. Stattmiller
A must read; particularly if you grew up in the 50's - 90'sPublished on July 4, 2014 by Murray McComas
This was a gift for my son for Christmas. Steinbeck is one of his favorite authors so I'm sure he will enjoy it.Published on February 9, 2014 by comet