The Grapes of Wrath

Narrated by: Dylan Baker
Length: 21 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (8,716 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1940, this famous protest novel is a natural for audio. The story is told almost entirely in the country vernacular of the destitute workers of the 1930's--some 300,000 strong--who had been driven from their farms and were pouring into California to face hunger, squalor and humiliation. (An inept narrator, reading their dialogue, could easily have made them sound like the Beverly Hillbillies.) Instead, Dylan Baker's sensitive interpretation has given them the dignity - even the nobility - that Steinbeck intended. He has also avoided another serious pitfall: overdramatizing some of Steinbeck's speeches in the last half of the book, avoiding what the Joads called "a preacher voice." The listener is hardly aware of occasional lapses into sentimental prose as Steinbeck delivers his many impassioned sermons against the selfishness and greed of the rich. Altogether, this is an outstanding performance; John Steinbeck would have relished it. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award." (AudioFile magazine) 

Featured Article: 20 Best Classic Audiobooks to Listen to Again and Again


Classics are known for their timeless quality, their ability to endure through generations and still hold something significant for the modern listener—whether it’s commentary on a long-gone era or an ageless tale of adventure. In this roundup, each story is paired with an exceptional, show-stopping narrator who takes the tale to new heights. While you may have read some of the stories below, you’ve certainly never heard them quite like this.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wish I could give it 10 stars!

I don't give many 5 star ratings. I listen to too many books to be impressed by many of them but I honestly wish I could give both this book and this narrator 10 stars. They were perfectly matched and I did not want this story to end.
Like most people of my generation (mid 60's), I read this book in high school and found it boring and didn't like it at all. It is wasted on the young who haven't faced any hardships in life yet and they can't possibly understand the impact of it's lessons.
But now when I listen to it I can feel the dust in my throat and the bugs biting my skin and the heat beating down on me. I know the pain of the parents watching their children starve and the humiliation of the men , especially, who could not take care of their families.
And, I could see how we as a country are starting to repeat those same mistakes that culminated in the massive poverty of the majority of Americans in those years.
This is a must read for all adults.

93 people found this helpful

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Don't Miss This Classic!

I put off listening to this book for quite a while after getting it on sale. I knew it was a well-rated classic that I really wanted to read. My reluctance, however, was due to the fear that it might be outdated, slow moving, or even boring. Oh how wrong I was!

Listening to Dylan Baker's awesome narration of Steinbeck's masterpiece, it felt like I was carried away to a different time and place. Each character had their own particular voice--it was hard to believe there was only one narrator.

I was always engrossed in the story, I learned much about a period in our history that never caught my attention before, and I felt very sad as I followed the Joad familly's desperate plight for survival.

Steinbeck's writing style made it so easy to visualize the story and the characters. I felt like I was immersed in their lives, almost a fly on the wall. I really cared what happened to each and every one of them. And finally, I was prepared for an abrupt ending, but that brought quite a surprise. I wasn't sure I believed my ears. It was totally unexpected and will remain with me for a long time to come.

Highly recommended book! Don't procrastinate. Jump right in!

17 people found this helpful

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Jarring Harmonica

The loud, harsh harmonica music between the chapters is wholly unnecessary and unpleasant. Otherwise a good book.

16 people found this helpful

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Harmonica..

PLEASE stop the harmonica in between every chapter!!! It breaks the mood and is so loud! The narrator does a great job at the voices I think.

12 people found this helpful

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Book quality reduced by terrible sound effects

I enjoyed the narrator's many voices and the story was quite compelling. The book was nearly ruined for me by jarring loud harmonica at the ends of scenes and chapters. It was too loud and inappropriate. A terrible decision by the producers. I cannot recommend this audio book. Find another version or read it in print.

10 people found this helpful

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Book's as good as I remembered.

How could the performance have been better?

Dylan Baker does a solid job differentiating the voices of the different HEY DO YOU LIKE HARMONICA MUSIC? YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEN TO SOME JOLTINGLY LOUD HARMONICA MUSIC RIGHT NOW WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT! characters. But the producer who put this audiobook together didn't OH LOOK IT'S TIME FOR MORE REALLY LOUD HARMONICA MUSIC! I HOPE YOU LIKE IT BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T IT'S REALLY GOING TO MESS WITH THE STORY! consider the way it would sound if every chapter was separated with some lousy harmonica playing at nine thousand decibels. The overall experience of listening to this OOPS NOW HERE'S ANOTHER SUPER LOUD HARMONICA INTERLUDE!! audiobook as an exercise in patience. Not recommended if, for example, you like listening to audiobooks at bedtime.

56 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Tale Punctuated with Loud Harmonic Licks

Would you listen to The Grapes of Wrath again? Why?

Yes, the story is wonderful. The narrator is excellent and does a great job with all the character voices. He seems to be channeling Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, for he sounds just like him.

Any additional comments?

Overall the book was wonderful except for the jolting harmonica music transitions from each chapter that were so loud I had to turn down the volume. I absolutely HATED that. I appreciate that the tunes were of the period and the instrument would be easily carried on the road. But it doesn't work for me and spoiled an otherwise wonderfully written and narrated story.

41 people found this helpful

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Excellent performance, gripping novel

This was a truly eye-opening book about the dust bowl and the great migration to California and all that immigrants had to endure and try to survive. It was heart-breaking and yet uplifting at the same time. The narrator did an excellent job.

7 people found this helpful

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Intense, gritty and hugely satisfying! Loved it!

This book is not one to miss! John Steinbeck is masterful in his depiction of a Depression era migrant farm family struggling to survive. Dylan Baker did a highly-affective narration of all the characters in the book! Enjoyed every minute!

7 people found this helpful

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Every Character a Gem!

What made the experience of listening to The Grapes of Wrath the most enjoyable?

I felt as if I lived the pain and the sorrow of The Joad family. In this trek from Oklahoma to California i traveled and suffered with these people. The way Steinbeck weaved hope, despair and the struggle of the human spirit for something better into this story places him in a class by himself

What other book might you compare The Grapes of Wrath to and why?

Night by Elie Wiesel, The Canterbury Tales, The Painted Bird

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoyed the introduction of Tom Joad. When the trucker picked him up and started to talk to him he knew right away he was being sized up. Having just been released from prison, he was edgy, truthful and proud and wasn't going to be looked down upon. The dialogue and characterization in this scene brought his character to life as the hopeful hero.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

From start to finish each one of the characters, because they were so well formed and realistic, evoked empathy but never to the point of pity. Every character bore their share of hardship. You walk away from this experience feeling stronger for having been in their company. These were people to be admired.

25 people found this helpful