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Publisher's Summary

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

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 driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. From their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of this new America, Steinbeck creates a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity.

©1939 John Steinbeck (P)2011 Penguin

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  • Story

Magnificent classic, relevant to modern Australia

Listening to Dylan Baker's brilliant interpretation of this classic was an emotional and intellectual journey. The Grapes of Wrath wasn't just about the excruciatingly difficult challenge facing this tough little family. It was also about society as a whole: how it is governed by politicians, manipulated by bankers, dominated day to day by the complacently rich or economically safe, the self righteous, the cruel, the uncaring. And how people with the qualities of decency, love, strong morality try to survive against these monolithic factors.

Because every word has weight and implication, listening compelled a depth of appreciation that visual reading may not have offered: such was my concern for this family that I could have been tempted to skip the superb analysis of Steinbeck's overviews.

The characters are real: they live. It is an extraordinary feeling listening and needing, wanting, to reach out and be right there with them. Help them. Change things for them.
My favorite? Of course, hard to say, but I think it would have to be the Preacher: he is the philosopher, observer of realities but ultimately, in his questioning, hopeful of something better.

The ending: I have never before finished listening to book in tears. But the ending is not a completion: it is a culmination of lives to that point, a blending of the analogies and themes that weave richly throughout the novel.

Among the many emotional impacts for me, was the realisation that this was a novel for today. Written in 1939, it describes key issues confronting my own country, Australia. Our capacity for cruel exclusions, inward looking, complacency, injustice, manufactured fears and prejudices. And the capacity of so many for bravery, compassion, cooperation, fairness, empathy.

Steinbeck was delivering an uncompromising mirror to society, his emotions powering the novel. That it was recognised as such through the accolades and awards that poured upon this book (and him as an author, Nobel Prize included), shows that his message was received and understood by many then, and ever since. He was imploring his American to be a generous and understanding society, to build on the capacity for love and caring that the journey of the Joad family, and many thousands like them, exemplified.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • GK
  • 06-13-14

America's Desperate Migration to Caleeefornia

Any additional comments?

This has been one of my favorite novels for decades...film also. I had this tucked away in my wish list for a couple of years and decided to treat myself. Don't wait to purchase this! Dylan Baker gives this wonderful novel a new life. Ma and Tom Joad he nails to perfection! The 'women's committee' at The Weed Patch Camp have distinct personalities and bodies. Dylan reads each one with hilarity, yet gives them the respect they deserve. Grandpa Joad is even more obnoxious and stubborn if that is possible. His stubbornness is born out of fear and a deep loss.I still feel a great sadness with every read when Grandpa becomes a shell of a man being forced off his tenant farm, then dies while on the road to Caleeefornia. His sad yet dignified burial in a unmarked grave with a note written by Tom on a filmy blank page torn from a bible, stating who this dead man was, why he died (not of murder) but from a stroke. Because 'the law' is more interested in the welfare of a dead man over a live one. Steinbeck was threatened with death if he stepped one foot into California after he published this book. It wasn't only California exploiting the decamped tenant farmers. Oregon and Washington had their big fat greedy hands in the unscrupulous business of working men, women, children and the elderly into early graves. However, Ma Joad was right when she says they are the people that survive. A wonderful book indeed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very well done except for the music

An excellent narrator who made the book come alive. As others have mentioned, the harmonica music between chapters was a bad idea. I got over it though after a few chapters. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Story Telling

I loved this book, it engulfed me from the beginning. Showing the human suffering and bondage, was riveting. Always wondering how they are going to make it through another day. The bonds of family when it was tough just to survive on nothing was endearing...I would say that this is a must read book...my heart ached for each character in their individual struggles for survival and self worth...and survival, never loosing hope for a better day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Two Narratives

This book, an oversight in my own literary life, tells the struggles of life during the Great Depression and the journey West to California to escape the Dust Bowl. The issue with this book, I believe, is that you have two competing forces. You have the engaging narrative of the Joad family, desperately seeking a new start, and then you have the non-specific reflections on the Great Depression told through a series of vignettes involving unnamed characters. While the two strain are related, they work against each other. The non-specific vignettes never illustrate an unknown concern; rather, they work to illustrate the general struggles of the Great Depression. However, since the Joad narrative also does this, this non-specific narrative strain is superfluous. But what works against this strain is that the characters and experiences are painted in such broad strokes that the reader can never establish anything more than a passing interest. So while I found the Joad narrative engaging and well-sketched, the secondary story seemed to take away from the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 09-29-12

Timely. Again.

There's a reason they make you read this book in high school. It's brilliant on so many levels. But the best thing about this masterwork by Steinbeck is that it reaffirms the value of the human spirit over anything else in this world. Everything that is right and everything that is wrong about Mankind is laid out in simple, powerful, poetic prose. I'm kind of glad I was absent during that two week stretch in high school. I appreciate it so much more today than I would have then. And Steinbeck's take on banks and the wealthy versus the poor is downright prophetic in the context of today's political climate.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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stunning and magnificently performed

I read mostly nonfiction but this may change my mind.
what a stunning book and portrayal and the performance is perfect.
Especially in today's age of rising inequality, this book touches home.
could not recommend more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book - great narrator

The Nobel Prize winning "The Grapes of Wrath" is a master work and the coloration contributed by Dylan Baker's brilliant narration is worthy of the great novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • bethany
  • SALEM, NH, United States
  • 06-15-11

so far so good BUT

just purchased this today & have been listening for a few hours, the pace of the narrator is a little slower compared to what i am used but he is excellent for this story & voices are great, i have tried "reading" grapes of wrath many times but could never get through it.
;
the only draw back for this audio book is the startling harmonica music at the end of each chapter, it is so loud it shakes you out of the mood the narrator has created, i had to rush to turn down the volume & then turn it back up to hear the narrator again.
i would already have given this 5 stars but the music is just so annoying, i am listening to it on my kindle it may be better if i listen to it on my laptop when i can possibly have the volume spikes adjusted.

overall excellent for only 1 credit

18 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent book; I actually liked the harmonica

I don't usually bother to rate books that have a lot of reviews, and since this book is a classic, I am sure it will get lots of reviews. I am 54 years old, and somehow I never read this book. I am giving this book a solid five stars, but I wanted to comment on the harmonica playing that many people said they didn't like. For some reason, I thought it actually added something to this book - normally I am somewhat indifferent to sound effects and music in audio books, but I thought it was very fitting in this book, and I did not find the volume objectionable. Having said this, I gave the book 5-stars; I am not rating the harmonica playing.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful