3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most relevant and poignant books of all time.
Who am I to review one of the greatest literary works of all time? Could I possibly give this book anything less than the maximum rating it so richly deserves? Should I even commence? Those were just some of my private thoughts as I finally put down a copy of this book - read. This is the book which stirred the American conscience, caused political reform and brought...
Published on Dec 8 2009 by Ned Middleton
3.0 out of 5 stars Steinbecks Jouneys
"The Grapes of Wrath" is a powerful indictment of the oppression endured by the migrant families of the American mid-west during the depression years of the 1930's. The mid-west had suffered severe drought. "Dusters" swept across the farmland, skimming off the topsoil, leaving behind a dustbowl, only a few sprigs of wheat surviving. The tenant farms...
Published on May 18 2004 by David
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of American Literature,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)There is so much to be said about this monumental work; as another reviewer mentioned, over four hundred amazon.com reviewers referring to it in the positive can't be a fluke---this is one of, if not the, greatest American novels ever written.
The story follows the journey of the Joads, a family from Oklahoma forced to leave their land and head west in search of a better life. This is by no means an uplifting, happy book---the Depression and the Dust Bowl are the two major factors at the time the novel takes place that influence the situations in the it, and much (at times depressing) havoc is wreaked on all the characters in the story.
Very similar to Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" in its background, intent, and message, The Grapes of Wrath is extremely well written. Steinbeck flows from poetic prose in one line to the conversations of the every-day, relatively uneducated man at the time in another with beauty and ease. The book is set up with every other chapter taking a somewhat "withdrawn" sense from the actual story to provide some of the author's perspective on what's being written and what is occurring, and although often times when writers follow a similar pattern it ends up being somewhat of a childish and inane soapbox from which they stand, I looked forward to the recapitulation of sorts after each section about the Joads ended, just to see what he thought.
There are times in the book that will make you cry (the very last page is one of the saddest, yet most heart-warming signs of goodwill I've ever read) and laugh, but the intent in Steinbeck's message and the way he makes it accesible and interesting will impress you the most. The book is even aesthetically pleasing---it's got a beautiful format, an easily readable typeset (I finished it in two days without devoting too much time to it), and although there is neither an introduction nor foreword, the story itself is easily worth the price. Buy this book, you won't regret it.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Migration to the Promised Land,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)Set in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, and on the long road to California, the promised land in the time of The Great Depression. The Joad family is one of many families, sharecropers, thrown off thier land when the crops fail and who must become migrant workers. There is the promise of jobs in California, so to California they must go. Piling thier trucks and cars high with what few possessions they have not sold, and heading out on the road.
This is more than the story of a single family though, much more. This is the story of hundreds of thousands of families, homeless and wandering and starving while trying to maintain a shred of dignity and humanity. They must endure the cruelties of the road, the police, the foremen of the farms who will work entire families all day for only enough money for a single meal's worth of food at the company store.
Though this book's length is rather daunting, I found myself so caught up in the struggle of the Joads that I read through in a short time. Through the story of the Joads, the story of the migrant workers of that era is well portraied; the struggle of many in the migration, the search for work, the pain of death, the dispair of watching the children go hungry and feeling helpless to stop it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice of the Migrants for Generations to come!,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)"The Grapes of Wrath" is a powerful indictment of the oppression endured by the migrant families of the American mid-west during the depression years of the 1930's. The farming-belt of the mid-west had suffered severe drought. "Dusters" swept across the farmland, skimming off the topsoil, leaving behind a dustbowl, only a few sparse sprigs of wheat surviving. The tenant farms were foreclosed and the families forcibly tractored off the land in a ruthless drive to maximise profit margins. Circe 250,000 migrants, "refugees from the dust", pulled up stakes and headed west on route 66, the road of flight to California, the golden land of dreams and opportunity, drawn by the prospect of picking work, harvesting oranges and peaches. The influx of rootless migrant workers centred on the San Joachin valley, California, and the huge farms therein, drifting in search of work from squatter camps to government camps to shacks in tied labour camps charging excessive rents and inflated company-store prices. The overwhelming glut of migrants flooding through the valley swamped the harvesting work available, driving down wages to peanuts level as they desperately scrabbled "to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food".
This is the destiny that fate held in store for the Joad family in "The Grapes of Wrath". Forced off their farm, truck piled high with their meagre belongings, the Joads set forth on an epic 2000 miles haul from Sallislaw in Oklahoma through the western desert states of Arizona and New Mexico and onto the San Joachin valley. The gut-wrenching story of the Joads heroic journey is interspersed with short "relief" chapters on peripheral aspects of their route 66 experience, the trickery of used-car salesmen or a snapshot of life in a truck-stop diner, to cite but two examples; other chapters function as social commentary on, for example, the stomach turning practice of spraying mountains of oranges with kerosene or dumping potatoes in the river under armed guard to protect market prices, at a time when hundreds of thousands of migrants were literally starving. This structure enables Steinbeck at once to follow closely the fortunes of the Joads and cast a wider eye over what is happening in society during the depression years.
However, Steinbeck's narrative, in my view, is at its most powerful and compelling on the road, chronicling the Joads suffering and misfortune trucking along the endless narrow concrete miles to Bakersfield, California, revealing qualities of grit, guts and resilience in their desperate struggle for survival in the face of death, starvation, hostility, exploitation and harassment. Steinbeck's powerful voice depicting the plight of the migrants during the hard times of the 1930's depression years, the hardship and oppression endured by thousands upon thousands of families like the Joads, will resonate for generations to come. It is a voice that packs a powerful punch!
5.0 out of 5 stars From A Dark Side of America,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)This is the fifth Steinbeck novel I've read, and I'm deeply impressed by him. The fact that there are currently some 445 other Amazon reviews out there (almost all ravingly positive) attests to the universal power of this novel. So, I'll just submit my humble little offering to this Grapes of Wrath shrine with 5 stars, and a caveat:
The Grapes of Wrath is long-winded, and slightly "boring". However, that said, don't be put off, it's actually hard to put down and reads relatively quickly. The style of writing matches the content perfectly, and if you read it at long stretches you'll find yourself rhythmically attached to the story. The long, drawn out narrative is meant to coincide very neatly with the long, depressing hardships the Joads face on their journey to California. What happens to them along the way, and how Steinbeck chronicles different aspects of 1930's America in alternating chapters is what makes Steinbeck an artist here. I don't think Steinbeck had quite reached the artistic capacity to create as vividly unique characters as he later does in Cannery Row & Sweet Thursday, but again, The Grapes of Wrath is larger than specific characters, and Tom Joad isn't simply some displaced Oakie, but rather, he is a "spirit" that thankfully, refuses to die. This novel is as much history as it is a good story.
At times you will feel indignant over how our country treated these people, and over the thoughtlessness of it's economic policies during the depression era. And you will probably find just as ugly parallels today in the arenas of civil rights, education, social welfare, tax reform, and so on. Thus, Steinbeck has created for posterity an American "ghost" which continues to haunt us. An American classic, on the "dark side".
If you're so inclined, Steinbeck kept a journal during the writing of this novel, titled, "Working Days" which I highly recommend for further insight into this masterpiece.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest American Novel Ever.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)If you give the book a chance it will change you in ways you never before dreamed of. The Grapes of Wrath stacks up in its theme and scope to the greatest world novels, such as Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Of Human Bondage, War and Peace. Its scope and theme are universal. Its ultimate message: Human dignity and suffering. If the Grapes of Wrath doesn't stir and shake you, check your pulse. A powerful and arresting masterpiece that should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves a member of the human race, and who has ever suffered deeply and wishes to be healed by the power of humanity. Read it and treasure it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)This book stands out as simply fantastic in a sea of mediocre others. The writing is brilliant, the plot is moving, and the characters are earthy and memorable. It's not a small book, but as with other great family sagas--Prince of Tides or Bark of the Dogwood--it covers a lot of territory and the size is justified. The movie made with Henry Fonda is also great, but there are scenes missing (things that couldn't be shown) and so the book is unparalleled. One of the best books ever written.
Also recommended: McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Classic,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)I'm shocked I was never forced to read it in High School. However, I think by reading it some years later I likely have a better understanding and appreciation for the book. Steinback's writing is truly impressive - each detail provided so that the reader really feels a part of the story. You feel the pain and sacrifice of the family... you share in their small joy and heartache. Lives up to its "classic" standing without a doubt...the Grapes of Wrath is my new favorite.
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the best book ever written,
This review is from: Grapes Of Wrath Unabridged (Audio Cassette)This book like no other one before it or after it expresses the dire situations that captalism and the endless need for profit that is built into the human psyche can create for our race. Steinbeck, a moderate leftist, portrays a family of "Dust Bowl" migrants as they travel through the Midwest to California, to seek land and new jobs(the banks supported by the government[in many cases being the same thing] pushed millions of people off their land at the time), but when they arrive all they find is people who are so corrupted by money and an endless fear of loss of capital that they do not offer the family any support or aid.
Steinbeck wrote this book as a summation of real events that happened in the 1930's. His book realizes the need for social change in America and the world. It does not make anyone look "evil" or "bad." It simply makes the system humanity follows seem like the one tearing us apart. Just one of the things that makes this novel maybe the best one ever written. If only steinbeck was alive today, maybe he'd write a novel or two to take Bush down.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Joads represent everybody,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)'The Grapes of Wrath' is one of the most famous books written by John Steinbeck, and it also is largely praised as one of his best works. The book received a Pulitzer Prize and was made into an Award winning movie. This novel is one of the best when it comes to portrait the consequences of the Great Depression in the life of poor families that were forced to leaver their homeland to search for food and jobs.
The narrative is filled with details of the landscape and the people. The main characters are the Joad family who embarks in a road trip to California, where they expect to find a better life. Throughout this journey they run into every sort of people --good and bad -- that will help, or not, them. Every new stop is a new challenge for the family, a new barrier to overcome.
Not only is the story beautiful, but also very compelling. Steinbeck created an unforgettable portrait of those lives, which were so sad and difficult. One of the major qualities of 'The Grapes of Wrath' is the language. While the narrator has a clear and grammar-perfect voice, the author could reproduce the dialogues with perfection. They were written in the way those migrants would talk. It is difficult for the contemporary reader, but not impossible. Such device requires more attention of the reader, but it gives more pleasure once one gets used to this language.
This novel interweaves two different kinds of chapters. In one of them the writer sets a general view of the migrants, their way of life, their habitat and such. In the other he talks about the Joads. Using such device, he makes the Joads' story universal. This single family could be everyone's who has to leave their homeland to find job and food in another place. The problems this family face are very down to earth. And, this kind of thing still happens everywhere.
With 'The Grapes of Wrath', John Steinbeck created a story that criticizes not only the ferocious capitalism, but, above all, the human nature. The evil nature that always wants more and more, and that doesn't mind exploiting, deceiving and hurting other people to fulfill its ambitions.
2.0 out of 5 stars The Slow Road to Sadness,
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)In Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath", readers are introduced to the Joad family in their miserable living conditions in Oklahoma and their dreams of a new and better life in California. All thirteen Joads pack up in one old truck and begin their journey on Highway 66 to California along with thousands of other families looking for any work. Their trip take them through the loss of five of their passengers for various reasons, bullying from cops, threats of starvation and no money, and even the death of their dog. Yet, there is some sunshine as they meet up with another family halfway through who become their travel mates for a while. As the Joads enter California, they eventually find refuge at a government camp for migrant families looking for work. However, their luck is minimal as they know they can't stay and continue on, looking for better work and wages. This brings them to their last stop in the novel which isn't any better than the last few. Steinbeck leaves the readers almost wishing they hadn't even read the book, because there is no solitude for either the Joads or the readers.
I gave this novel two stars, because it did not appeal to me. The story itself was depressing; it starts out sad, gets worse, and ends even more sad than it started. The bad plot doesn't make the novel any better, either. The book is literally just about a family riding in a car, looking for work. Another big factor was the writing style. I don't know if this novel is an example of all of Steinback's writing, but only half the novel was actually about the Joad family. The chapters alternated between the Joad family story and a story about migrants in general. This approach wasn't appealing. I found the book to have a very slow start, and once it started moving along, the chapters about the migrants just seemed to be in the way, prolonging the story for nothing. I wouldn't recommend this book, unless you're a fan of Steinbeck.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (Paperback - Jan 17 2002)
CDN$ 19.00 CDN$ 13.72