While the powerlessness of the laboring class is a recurring theme in Steinbeck’s work of the late 1930s, he narrowed his focus when composing Of Mice and Men (1937), creating an intimate portrait of two men facing a world marked by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness. But though the scope is narrow, the theme is universal: a friendship and shared dream that make an individual’s existence meaningful.
"Ignorance is Bliss"
At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.
"Wonderful Tale Punctuated with Loud Harmonic Licks"
This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.
"American classic, not to be missed."
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America, from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley is animated by Steinbeck’s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of nature—to weather, geography, the cycles of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way.
"Needed a Vacation took one with Charlie"
Published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is: both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. Drawing on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Henri, Mack and his boys, and the other characters in this world where only the fittest survive, to create a novel that is at once one of his most humorous and most poignant works.
"Five stars with a Caveat"
In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy. For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems.
"Extremely poignant; incredible listen."
In awarding John Steinbeck the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel committee stated that with The Winter of Our Discontent, he had “resumed his position as an independent expounder of the truth, with an unbiased instinct for what is genuinely American."
"Memorable characters, great narration, POOR AUDIO"
The Log from the Sea of Cortez is the exciting day-by-day account of Steinbeck's trip to the Gulf of California with biologist Ed Ricketts. Drawn from the longer Sea of Cortez, it is a wonderful combination of science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure.
"The Log From the Sea of Cortez"
"Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat." This compelling, dignified and moving novel was inspired by and based upon the Nazi invasion of neutral Norway. Set in an imaginary European mining town, it shows what happens when a ruthless totalitarian power is up against an occupied democracy with an overwhelming desire to be free.
"A great one but not the best"
Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a Camelot on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California, and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur’s castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging—men who fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil and civil rectitude.
"A Good Book"
Raised on a ranch in northern California, Jody is well-schooled in the hard work and demands of a rancher's life. He is used to the way of horses, too; but nothing has prepared him for the special connection he will forge with Gabilan, the hot-tempered pony his father gives him. With Billy Buck, the hired hand, Jody tends and trains his horse, restlessly anticipating the moment he will sit high upon Gabilan's saddle. But when Gabilan falls ill, Jody discovers there are still lessons he must learn about the ways of nature and, particularly, the ways of man.
"Steinbeck maybe about his youth?"
Based on the epic novel by Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck. Set during the Great Depression, tells the powerful story of the Joad family’s trek from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to the promise of a new life in California. But what they find threatens to rip apart their lives, and sever the ties that bind them together.
"Dramatization killed it for me"
In his first novel to follow the publication of his enormous success, The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck's vision comes wonderfully to life in this imaginative and unsentimental chronicle of a bus traveling California's back roads, transporting the lost and the lonely, the good and the greedy, the stupid and the scheming, the beautiful and the vicious away from their shattered dreams and, possibly, toward the promise of the future. This edition features an introduction by Gary Scharnhorst.
"A Steinbeck masterpiece below the radar"
This 1936 novel—set in the California apple country—portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.
"Gripping and relevant"
Believing that a good, interesting life is marked by quality, not quantity, John Steinbeck took note of his itchy feet and prepared to travel. He was accompanied by his French poodle Charley, diplomat and watchdog, across the states of America from Maine to California. Moving through woods and forests, dirt tracks and highways to large cities and wildernesses, Steinbeck observed America and the Americans with a humorous and sometimes sceptical eye.
"A blogger way before blogs. Timeless and prophetic"
In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that is just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Row, the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears—from Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.
"The total is Greater than the Sum of its Parts"
Shocking and controversial when it was first published, Steinbeck's Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of Dust Bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel west in search of the promised land.
"Revisit humanity v self interest 1930's style"
Set in familiar Steinbeck territory, To a God Unknown is a mystical tale, exploring one man's attempt to control the forces of nature and, ultimately, to understand the ways of God.
"My Favorite Steinbeck; Terrible and Beautiful"
In 1943 John Steinbeck was on assignment for The New York Herald Tribune, writing from Italy and North Africa, and from England in the midst of the London blitz. In his dispatches he focuses on the human-scale effect of the war, portraying everyone from the guys in a bomber crew to Bob Hope on his USO tour and even fighting alongside soldiers behind enemy lines. Taken together, these writings create an indelible portrait of life in wartime.
Adopting the structure and themes of Arthurian legend, in Tortilla Flat John Steinbeck creates a Camelot on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peoples it with a colorful band of knights. As he chronicles the thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts of the knights, Steinbeck spins a tale as compelling as the famous legends of the Round Table.
"Generally Good Stories, Some are Great"