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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned more form this book than any other.
As a Junior AP English student, I was bombarded with summer work, and my assignments included chosing a summer book to read from a selected list. I chose the "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, and was immeadiatly captured in the sad story of the Joads and there turbulent Oddessy. Sad and depressing yes, but hopeless it is not; if anything this book is about...
Published on July 4 2004 by Alex

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Time is working against this book
One of the most important rules for writers is to write about what you know. John Steinbeck was not a migrant farm worker. True, he RESEARCHED them. But that's not the same as being one. And it really shows in this book. The characters seem contrived and phony, and the dialogue is really awful. In the dialogue, Steinbeck breaks another rule: Don't try to imitate...
Published on July 8 2003 by Geoff Puterbaugh


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3.0 out of 5 stars Steinbecks Jouneys, May 18 2004
By 
David (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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 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 were foreclosed and the families tractored off the land in a ruthless drive to maximise profit. Circe 250,000 migrants, "refugees from the dust", pulled up stakes and headed west on route 66, the road of flight to California, golden land of dreams and opportunity, drawn by the picking work, harvesting oranges and peaches. The flowing in of rootless migrant workers centred on the San Joachin valley, California, and the huge farms there. 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 belongings, the Joads set forth on a journey 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 aspects of their route 66 experience, the tricks of used-car salesmen or a snapshot of life in a truck-stop diner, to cite only a couple examples; other chapters function as social 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,the Joads suffering and misfortune trucking along the endless narrow concrete miles to Bakersfield, California, revealing qualities of guts and resilience in their desperate struggle for survival in the face of death, starvation, hostility, exploitation and harassment. Steinbeck's powerful voice shows 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 alot to say!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the greatest novel of all time, May 14 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)
It's amazing that this book still packs a punch after all these years. I was expecting some stodgy, long-winded thing, but what I got instead was something that read as fresh as the day it was written. Steinbeck's descriptions are flawless--you can actually see and smell the locations--and his dialogue is so real and "felt" that it leaps off the page. The only other book that has better dialogue is McCrae's "Bark of the Dogwood," but that's an entirely different subject. Still, I don't think Steinbeck has an equal when it comes to "Grapes."
As if his writing style and brilliant dialogue weren't enough, the plot is great, and the ending will blow you away. How anyone could NOT like this book is beyond me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome, by half, April 29 2004
By 
Tom Bruce (East Moriches, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)
So you're probably wondering, why such a downer title, and yet he gave it four stars? Well, if you're willing to be your own editor, you can turn this into a terrific novel or into a moving essay. But, Steinbeck has combined both, and in today's time, this pairing drives down the pace of both. Steinbeck's writing pattern is immediatly apparent: He alternates between an essay dealing in generalities of the situation with the tale of the Joad family specifically living the conditions he has laid out in the essay. Of course he did that, because he was trying to educate the bulk of America to the condition the migrant workers were facing in California. If he just told Joad's story, readers might think it is a situation peculiar to only one family. But, by pairing the Joad episodes with the broader essays, he shows that their desperate situation is shared by thousands of other families. Each of the essay/story telling sections are easy to dissect, so I suggest the reader who is interested in the compelling story of the Joads skip the essay segments. I read both in order, and found myself impatient with the essays and wanting to get back to the Joads. However, the essays are beautifully and powerfully written and important in their time before Caesar Chavez, so the next time I pick up this book, I believe I will just read the essay sections, then read the Joad sections. I also highly recommend the movie version of this book which starred Henry Fonda. The book and movie are quite similar in their plots with some exceptions that are interesting to think about. There are a number of minor characters and situations in the book that didn't make the movie. One of Steinbeck's themes from the book that didn't see light of the silver screen is that the head of the family was changing from a male to female as the adversities became harder to overcome. The movie ends on somewhat of a positive note with Henry Fonda's "I'll be there" speech. On the other hand, the book ends with a hell-bent-for-leather finale, none of which made the movie, including the haunting climax. And unlike the movie, the book shows no promise of a brighter future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond classic, April 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)
I was going to start out my review saying, "Why bother with a description of this book since most people have given one already and the rest of us have read it," then I . . . well, read one of the other reviews. Even so, I'll let other's descriptions of this epic novel stand. Suffice it to say that this is one of the best novels ever written. The only better one is Steinbeck's EAST OF EDEN. And my reason for this is based purely on the subject matter. That said, GRAPES is a must for anyone interested in serious literature and a major period in our country's heritage. It's because of Steinbeck's talent that we're captivated about anyone for X number of pages, let alone people who are poor, destitute, and trying to survive the dustbowl.
This brilliant work deserves its place among the classics and hopefully will continue to be read in the years to come. After all, it's stood the test to time this far. Would also recommend Steinbeck's other work (of many) THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT and a book called THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD by an author named McCrae.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exploitation of migrant farm workers, April 25 2004
By 
Fred Camfield (Vicksburg, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath (Hardcover)
The author grew up in the area used as the novel's setting, and was from one of the well-off families. He tended to be unpopular among his peer group because he became a champion of the poor working class. This novel is about migrant farm workers, in particular one family who are refugees from the Dust Bowl.
The novel details the family's stuggle to survive under difficult conditions. High unemployment provides a surplus of labor which farm and orchard owners can exploit, paying them as little as possible, and gouging them further with high prices at the "company stores." Attempts by workers to advance themselves were held down. The law is on the side of the landowners. It was an era when workers were easy to replace so little thought was given to their safety and welfare.
This was an era that gave rise to labor unions, and open warfare between employers and unions. Accounts are available elsewhere of incidents such as the Everett Massacre.
It should be noted that the author received the 1940 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for this novel. He later received the Nobel Prize in literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best description of the economic depression, April 1 2004
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) (Paperback)
The book relates the tragic destiny of one family after the great depression in 1929, when million of American workers became unemployed. this family had been abased, and went to the california to get a life better. There, theirs dreams were broken, and they have just one wealth the brotherhood.
The book is a fantastic travel about the great depression, the author with your singular talent, wrote this book in 1939, the book isn't not considerate just a literature text, but is a social book.
The book stayed like the most favorite during five years, Steinbeck was pursued by politicians and intellectuals that hated him because the book was showing the real world after the great depression.
The impact of book was so deep, that the president's wife read it, and went see herself giving to those poor one way better to life
The book was awarded with Pulitzer and its adaptation to movie got to its director John Ford the academy award.
in the fifty's years the book was translate to forty languages, Japanese inclusive, today the book is consecrated a classical in the literature world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of American Literature, March 28 2004
By 
Dominic (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Migration to the Promised Land, March 22 2004
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Voice of the Migrants for Generations to come!, March 21 2004
By 
Michael Murphy (Glasgow, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars From A Dark Side of America, March 19 2004
By 
Christopher Nelson (Oakland, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition)
The Grapes of Wrath: (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (Paperback - Jan. 17 2002)
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