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Publisher's Summary

This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.

Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.

©1958 Pearl S. Buck (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A beautiful, beautiful book. At last we read, in the pages of a novel, of the real people of China." ( Saturday Review)
" The Good Earth has style, power, coherence and a pervasive sense of dramatic reality." ( New York Times Book Review)
"To read this story of Wang Lung is to be slowly and deeply purified; and when the last page is finished it is as if some significant part of one's own days were over." ( Bookman)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 05-08-10


Though written in 1931, The Good Earth hasn't lost a bit of its timeless power and beauty. Set in agrarian, pre-Revolution China, the book tells the tale of impoverished farmer Wang Lung, who, through hard work and a stroke of good luck, goes from being a poor man on the edge of starvation to a rich one with much land and a large family. Yet, his new life only brings him new problems, which keep coming as the years pass.

Buck writes with simple but eloquent brush strokes, and the world and culture she describes are fascinating. In some ways, this novel could describe the life of peasant people anywhere. The language is simple and direct, and beyond a few quaint turns of phrase, doesn't feel at all dated. All of her characters, including the protagonist, are flawed people, and she writes about them without judgment, but truthfully. It's not a world that's always kind, especially to girls and women, but it's a world that was. We also see the virtues and the faults of capitalism, as it existed around the turn of the 20th century.

This is a beautiful, lyrical story that paints a vivid, cyclical picture of life in another time and place. Highly recommended. The audiobook narrator does an excellent job, as well, effortlessly making his intonations more or less Chinese, depending on if he's reading dialogue or description.

38 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

"Not to be missed" Classic

I can't believe I waited till my 60's to read this wonderful classic. This is a novel full of rich characters and narrated beautifully. I didn't want it to end.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • Bay Village, OH, USA
  • 04-04-08

The Good Earth = a Great Listen

This is as excellent of an audiobook as you will ever hear. The narrator is outstanding, putting expression even in the chapter numbers. The book is an expansive adventure throughout the life of Wang Lung, a Chinese farmer. His story and that of his family present universal conflicts and decisions that all of us and our families have to face at some point. I give this audiobook my highest recommendation.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JOHN
  • Plantation, FL, United States
  • 06-26-10

Worthy of all the praise

Pearl S. Buck won a Pulitzer for this novel as well as being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The Good Earth lives up to all accolades.
From the start, I knew I was listening to a timeless classic and was hooked. The prose is clean, unencumbered; almost biblical or "Hemingwayesque."
The Good Earth is the story of Wang Lung, a poor Chinese farmer who takes a wife and through hard work and frugality is able to purchase more land to cultivate, and eventually prosper. All of the characters are flawed, including Wang Lung and the story tells of the cruelty in early 20th century China where sons are valued and daughters are killed or sold into slavery.
The reader is brilliant and adds to the enjoyment of this wonderful audio book.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • FAIRVIEW, TN, United States
  • 08-18-08

The Good Earth

Had to read it in High School, back in the 70's, and remembered half of it. SO glad I decided to "read it"/ hear it again. It was SO much more meaningful this time around. Still so relevant, still so heartbreaking. Very important to have in one's library. Much can be taken from it.
Story of one man's mental/emotional growth from new groom until his place in death, and it's meaning amongst the past, and regarding the future. Strong family values are explored.

Heartbreaking, and eye-opening. Respect your elders.

32 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Good Earth

I found listening to this audio book extremely enjoyable. I have a 40 minute drive to and from work each day and I use that time to listen to my audio books. This one was so engaging that I found myself thinking about the story all day long and could not wait to get back in my car to listen to another segment of this book.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Starlet
  • San Carlos, CA, United States
  • 01-16-11

This is highly deserving of its Pulitzer prize

This book magnificently draws the reader into the story where there are numerous subplots -- all about the Chinese way of life at the turn of the century. The narrator does a wonderful job of the different vocalizations required -- I listened to it in a weekend -- I wish I could find another classic that was this excellent!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 02-22-13

A wonderful classic about rural China

This is a wonderful classic that brings you into the world of rural peasants in China at the turn of the 20th century when some things are beginning to modernize. I am going to go fairly deeply into the plot so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know more! Our hero, Wan Lung is a poor peasant farmer devoted to his land. Too poor to find a good bride, his aging father purchases a slave woman – O-Lan – from a wealthy family to be his bride. The couple is happy though silent with each other. O-Lan is a devoted worker in both the house and field and they prosper enough to buy some more land from the wealthy lords. O-Lan is fertile and they are blessed with sons and a daughter (daughters are considered slaves because they will eventually move into the house of another family). But their prosperity is halted by a terrible famine. They come near to starvation when they decide to migrate south to a big city just to survive. O-Lan gives birth to a dead daughter (or perhaps strangled) and the family sets out. They encounter the railroad for the first time. In the big city they struggle by begging and manual labor just to have enough to eat. The youngest child – a daughter – seems to never recover from the starvation and is mentally retarded but Wan Lung loves her and refuses to sell her to survive. When an instability arises the poor peasants storm a great house and Wan Lung and O-lan find enough valuables to let them go back to the land he loves so much and farm again and again he prospers. But when floods stop all work he becomes bored and spends time in the town at the tea houses and becomes mesmerized by a lovely prostitute named Lotus and eventually buys her to be his concubine. O-Lan is heartbroken but says almost nothing. The two women live tensely in the different sections of his house. O-Lan’s health is failing from hard labor and many pregnancies. She dies just after the eldest son takes a city wife who is more like Lotus than O-Lan herself. Wan Lung prospers and continues to buy more land. He becomes so rich that eventually he takes over the house of the wealthy family and can rent out his land for others to farm. His sons become educated and live like rich men with no attachment to the land except to take the money it brings in. Their wives fight and there is little peace in the house. Grandchildren continue to come. In his old age Wan Lung finds a lovely young slave girl and takes her to him causing more conflict. In his old age his sons run everything and Wan Lung stays with his slave girl and his retarded daughter whom he eventually entrusts to the slave girl. In the end he is very old and still loves his land but his greedy sons are talking about selling land as soon as he is gone.

The writing is lovely, the characters real and easy to keep track of. For example, instead of confusing us with many Chinese names, she refers to the sons as eldest son, second son, etc., and the other relatives as uncle, etc.. This really helps. The reading is beautifully done. It is mesmerizing and I loved it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


This is a fantastic story, and it's made even better by a great narrator. One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Long Beach, CA, United States
  • 05-26-08


Enjoyed this book very much. Excellent narrater and the story kept me interested every step of the way. I would recommend this book highly. Very excellent!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful