It seems most readers nowadays approach this book because of a course in American Literature and, in the true essence of college students everywhere, grab a video of the movie and a copy of Cliff's Notes and leave it at that.
They are missing a great tale of a great migration. This is a story akin to the Pilgrims crossing the Atlantic or the Pioneers in their wagon trains; the second wave of the poor who fled their homes and lands with the hope they could begin anew and, this time, succeed. These are the people who fled the pogroms, the potato famines, the wars and came with hands itching to work in the new world.
The land they left was the mid west and they fled the Depression, the Dust, and their Debt. GRAPES OF WRATH is a tale of the American Clearances, as dreadful and any clearance of the Highlands, and the struggle to survive the savages: the California landowners and their unofficial armies who feared the influx of this mass of people, the California politicians who feared loss of their seats of power, the California people who feared their need to help them, to take care of them. "Okies," we called them to make them a different animal and not a fellow human being.
To better understand their plight, stop halfway through and listen to THE WORST HARD TIMES by Timothy Egan. Then come back and finish this book.
Like the words of the Grateful Dead song Touch of Gray ... I will get by ... I will survive.
Asimov is not the best narrator for these stories. His accent (Neew York?) gets in the way. The editing leaves something to be desired. There is a very short pause between one short story and the next and that can be confusing. At times, his voice drones.
But i have rarely heard such passion in reading a story, in relating a tale. The stories mean more to him than a meal ticket, more than meets the eye (and ear) at first.
THE UGLY LITTLE BOY more than justifies buying this book.
Once more I come to a book written by David McCullough not certain of what i will find but knowing it will be interesting. Once more I am not disappointed.
"Why," I ask myself, "should I care about Americans in Paris?" And Mr. McCullough informs me.
When I think of Americans in Paris, I think of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Stein. I do not think of the Americans who went there sixty and seventy years earlier. Because I am poorly educated about art, I give no thought to the many painters who went there to improve their abilities. (Think Mary Cassatt.) To the earlier writers who went. (Think James Fenimore Cooper.) Or to the entertainers who went there to widen their horizons. (Think P. T. Barnum.) I would not know this but for Mr. McCullough.
I know a bit of the French Revolution but had heard nothing of the other revolts or of the the Parisian Commune. Now i want to do a bit more reading and discover what I have been missing. Information brought to me by Mr. McCullough.
What a marvelous read! So far, I have listened to portions of this book four times. It does just what a good overview book should. It piques the reader's interest and sends him scrambling for another book to flesh out information. At the moment, I am waiting for more information on the Jesuit Order and have ordered two other books about the popes.
If you are, like me, lacking in your knowledge of Medieval History, I strongly recommend this listen.
As an example, I have often heard of the Borgia family ... poisoners, plotters, politicians ... and now, I learn, Popes. There will be more books to read.
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