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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic With Entertainment Value
If Oprah Winfrey was looking to get the American public (and perhaps even the world) interested in reading "classic" literature she could have not chosen a better selection than John Steinbeck's "East of Eden." This is certainly not the "tamer" Steinbeck that I read in high school English class. While we may not even think twice about it today, "Eden" must have been...
Published on Aug. 12 2003 by edzaf

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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get through but overall it's an emotional epic
Hard to get in to but then it get's interesting and then get's slow.I read it becouse it was Oprah's book club pick was I dissapointed no.Overall the novel is emotional and a epic a masterpiece.You'll never read another book like this.It's hard to read but trust me it's fullfilling in the end.
Published on June 7 2004 by Jake


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic With Entertainment Value, Aug. 12 2003
By 
edzaf (Chandler, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
If Oprah Winfrey was looking to get the American public (and perhaps even the world) interested in reading "classic" literature she could have not chosen a better selection than John Steinbeck's "East of Eden." This is certainly not the "tamer" Steinbeck that I read in high school English class. While we may not even think twice about it today, "Eden" must have been simply scandalous when it was originally published in 1952 with murder, prostitution, and adultery just some of the more "adult" issues explored in this epic novel.
Despite its intimidating length, "East" moves along quickly as we follow the life of Adam Trask - from his East Coast childhood and troubled relationship with his brother to businessman and father of two sons with equally complex relations of their own. As the title suggests, the book is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel story. As with most of the "classics," the novel is rife with topics and themes to deeply delve into and discuss with your book club. My only criticisms are that the "good vs. evil" angle gets a bit heavy-handed at times and, for me, the novel loses some steam in the final quarter - but these are certainly not enough to not heartily recommend the work.
The nice thing about "Eden" is if you choose not to take the "literary" route, you can still be simply entertained and enthralled by Steinbeck's plot and characters. There is enough suspense and intrigue that make it not terribly different from many of today's bestsellers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, Feb. 22 2005
By 
Michael Brown (Greensboro, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
It is often for someone to come across great reads that actually changes the person's life. Reading Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" had a profound influence on me. There was so much to learn from those stories since they were so complete in treating humanity. In fact, these are deep, insightful and inspirational books that one can not easily throw aside after one has finished. These major classics are books to ponder about, books for us to think and reflect over and over. If you haven't read this great piece of American literature, then I suggest that you do so.I also recommend:Union Moujik, Anna Karenina and Disciples of Fortune-these are two other classic works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Salinas is East of Eden; is Monterey Eden?, July 10 2004
By 
M. Swinney "Marc My Words" (Flower Mound, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: East of Eden (Library Binding)
This one's dark folks. I have to say I didn't expect Steinbeck's "East of Eden," to catch me the way it did. The themes Steinbeck struggles with are epic--the relationship of men within the family, good and evil, human nature. Critics derided the novel when it came out and it may have left Steinbeck struggling to write in his waning years, but the Nobel prize he received shortly after "East of Eden's" release was truly deserving. Truly deserving because of the work of "East of Eden," and not despite it.
I read the wonderful and incomparable biography "John Steinbeck, Writer," by Jackson J. Benson before tackling "East of Eden," and it tainted my expectations. Some criticisms of the novel I found initially true. Steinbeck seems to be more straightforward and writes more of what's on his mind instead of letting the story and characters breathe these things naturally. At some point in the novel that approach strikes me as breaking the novelist dictum of, "show don't tell." Steinbeck does a lot of telling. Surprisingly enough, in the end, this slight misstep strengthens the overall story. It puts you in the mind of Steinbeck and allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the dark dark nature of some of "East of Eden's" characters.
Steinbeck always tended to have a dark side, but "East of Eden," is a stark look at the underbelly of humanity. However, while we are looking at the underbelly of a seemingly upright community of Salinas, we also see that humanity is redeeming. Some of the very incomprehensible evil within a person is matching by a boundless capacity for good. How can that be? This is why Steinbeck's "East of Eden," surpasses the better known and wider read, "The Grapes of Wrath." Steinbeck seems to accept human nature and not sugar coat. He tells it like it is.
Steinbeck struggled and struggled to write and finish "East of Eden." The scope of what he was trying to attempt was extremely daunting...almost debilitatingly so. Steinbeck tried to retell the story of "Genesis," set in his hometown of Salinas...drawing from his own life, the town's life, the times between the Civil War and World War I. He pulls it off with quite some characters...Adam Trask and his twin sons Caleb and Aron, their mother--the completely evil Cathy/Cat/Kate, Adam's evenly evil and good brother Charles, the sage Chinese Lee, and the beautiful of mind, body, and spirit love interest of no less than Caleb, Aron, and Lee...Abra. I think to call, "East of Eden," lacking in story and characters is severely missing the mark. Another criticism of the book is that the Chinese character of Lee is a racial stereotype. I didn't find this to be the case. Lee seems to be a multi-dimensional character that if anything deepens the understanding that his ethnicity takes a back seat to his humanity. Another criticism is that the character Kate is too evil...to the point of dehumanization. Steinbeck's portrayal of Kate may have roots in his failed relationships but it does not come across as misogynistic. He balances this out with other female characters, such as Abra, that have capacity for the gamut of human characteristics. Kate's portrayal of evil makes the character more real...more frightening...and indicative of human evil that, regardless of philosophy, tends to surface from time to time.
In my mind, Steinbeck's "Cannery Row," still stands out as his best (at least among his works I've read so far), but "East of Eden," solidifies his place among a very short list of greatest American authors. It is a work deserving of a Nobel Prize for literature...damn the critics to say what they will.
--MMW
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Relate To but Intriguing, June 5 2002
By 
"tkim85" (Saratoga, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East of Eden (Paperback)
Throughout East of Eden, John Steinbeck creates characters that are intriguing but pushes their personalities to the extreme ends of the spectrum of good and evil, making them difficult to relate to. Despite this, the characters' interactions and the history that they weave makes a compelling read. The parallel to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel is clear and at times, the familiar struggles of the "Cains" of the book provoke an empathy that the more angelic characters fail to stimulate. Even the evilest of characters such as Cathy, can be identified with more then the more moral characters, such as Adam, and, without a doubt, make for a more interesting read. Still, despite issues with characterization, the book pulls you into its world of interweaving stories and one quickly gets lost in trying to sort out the intricacies of relationships and human traits. Despite puzzling family history stories that will have you wondering about their exact significance to the rest of the book, the parallel themes of guilt and forgiveness tie the book together from beginning to end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, Aug. 22 2013
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This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
I'm still reading this book and thoroughly enjoying the story. It took me awhile to get use to John Steinbeck's style of writing but he's up there with my favourites now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steinbeck's best book, Oct. 30 2004
By 
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
Of the three books I've recently come across, this was the best. It's a classic and there's a reason it has remained so. Clearly the most important message Steinbeck wishes to convey is the element of human choice. No god or higher power of any sort compels you; your destiny is not predetermined. You have the choice to do good OR evil whatever your circumstance. We hope for Cal that he understands that he is not condemned by his mother's evil and his seemingly inherited hatred, and we also relate this precept to our own lives. For this reason, as well as its simple storytelling merits, I feel that EAST OF EDEN far outshines THE GRAPES OF WRATH as a chronicle of the human condition. Would also recommend another great book, THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD-fascinating, shocking, funny, and a great look at the human condition.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get through but overall it's an emotional epic, June 7 2004
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
Hard to get in to but then it get's interesting and then get's slow.I read it becouse it was Oprah's book club pick was I dissapointed no.Overall the novel is emotional and a epic a masterpiece.You'll never read another book like this.It's hard to read but trust me it's fullfilling in the end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars East of Eden: Worth It?, March 29 2004
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
Although I have not finished the book,East of Eden, I believe I have read enough of it to critique it.
The book is set in the early 20th century in the Salinas valley of California. The book is separted into three parts, two of which I have read. The two main characters are both men, one lives in California and one lives on the east coast. The two characters don't meat untill about 200 pages into the book. Each character has an interesting life, but the book seems to focus more on the character Adam, more than the other, Samuel. The character that lives in California, Samuel, has a family of 9 and is a very intelligent man. The character that lives on the east coast, Adam, grew up with an emotionally cold and detached military father. He and his older brother lived as bachlors untill Adam was about 40.
The begining of the story moves very slow, it is only when a third character is introduced, Cathy, that the story becomes interesting. Adam finds her beaten on his door step, nurses her back to health and marries her, but Cathy is an almost inhuman woman and never wanted to marry Adam. She is cold, distant, and calculated. Her real personality is shown by how she reacts to her and Adam's two sons when she gives birth.
John Steinbeck has given this story a plot similar to that of the biblical story of Cain and Abel. There is that type of sibling jealously not only between Adam and his brother, but also between Adam's two sons. Steinbeck rarley has all the charactes in this book coexist. For the most part, each chapter is about a speific character and their individual life, not how they exist with the other main characters in the book.
Overall I would say that this book moves much too slow for most readers. Although the detail is great, there is very little action or excitement. Every time the book seems like it is picking up, it goes right back to its slow pace. Out of what I have read so far, there has mabey been one whole page of action, combined. If you enjoy a long book full of vivid detail, this book is for you, but if you prefer drama and excitement in your reading, you will most likley not enjoy this book. On a scale of one to five, I would give this book a 3.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I'm inspired to read more classics after this one, Feb. 26 2004
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
I cannot believe I haven't read this book sooner. I was taken in immediately by the sheer language of the author. The prose was so wonderfully descriptive that I could visualize every place, every item, every character- it was as if a movie was playing in my head as I read each word. It was a classic "good vs. evil" theme that was realistic in that the good don't always prosper and the evil don't always get what (we feel) they deserve. The character development was great. Some characters were more complex while some characters were really one-dimensional, however, I believe that was the intent of the author because it made the story work. The author made me have an opinion about each character, and whether I liked the character or not, I understood his/her actions and cared about what happened to them. I am now looking forward to reading and re-reading more Steinbeck novels and other classics.
You're probably wondering why I only gave this book a 3 star rating after all of this raving. I deducted a star because of one word - EDITING! I ran across mispellings, grammatical errors and punctuation errors. That is unacceptable for a published piece of writing. Especially for a classic work such as this. I am shocked that the editor and publisher did not pay closer attention to this. Otherwise, this book is an enjoyable read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars THE STEINBECK OPUS, DIFFICULT TO TRUDGE THRU, BUT WORTH IT!, Jan. 5 2004
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
If you want to read an author who can almost effortlessly draw you into the tapestry of his characters, in 600 pages and yet without frittering away a single word, then you have to love Steinbeck! What makes this 1952 novel the timeless opus that I believe it is (now fortunately in new paperback version thanks to Oprah,) is that ANY reader can relate to it on so many levels.
You may find the story winding and complicated at the outset, peopled by characters that are often virtuous in some ways and flawed in others. But soon you'll realize how real these people are, and you'll be reading on if only to figure out what happens to each of them. The plot and the author's beautiful descriptive passages pull you along at a refreshing pace once you are into it.
Although the main character's name is Adam, it's the Biblical story of Cain and Abel that is played out over and over with characters whose names begin with "C" and "A". Adam's father, Cyrus, is quite the wild man. Adam's brother, Charles, tries to kill him. Adam's wife, Cathy, abandons him and their newborn twins to pursue the lifestyle of evil she cannot escape. Their children Aron and Caleb continue as opponents trying to vie for their father's attention until the bitter end.
And when you finish trudging through the entire thing, you'll feel like having actually lived and breathed the philosophies and lessons of a lifetime. Steinbeck's acute awareness of the interplay of his themes despite his lingusitic economy is an absolute joy to behold. His characters are specific and alive, mirroring real people and their foibles.
I highly recommend this classic piece of literature but be prepared to read. It's not your average pulp.
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East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club)
East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club) by John Steinbeck (Paperback - June 18 2003)
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