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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

This Penguin Classics edition contains an introduction and notes by Steinbeck scholar Robert Demott.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Review

“Steinbeck is a poet. . . . Everything is real, everything perfect.”
—Upton Sinclair, Common Sense

“I think, and with earnest and honest consideration . . . that The Grapes of Wrath is the greatest American novel I have ever read.”
—Dorothy Parker

“It seems to me as great a book as has yet come out of America.”
—Alexander Woollcott

“I didn’t understand at the time — no one could have — that [The Grapes of Wrath] was not just a historical document but also a document about our current world with its depiction of drought and its effects (…) California, where the Joads went, is no longer the reliably verdant and green paradise they found; it’s now coming out of a five-year drought of its own (…) The other point that Steinbeck makes well, is that when we have huge, natural changes like these, the people who pay the largest price are the people most vulnerable and closest to the bottom (…) None of them did anything much to cause the problem, and yet they are its early victims (…) Steinbeck was trying to do something more than just simply tell a story. He’s a remarkable writer, and this is his masterpiece.”
— Bill McKibben, environmentalist

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