Forced by the Great Depression and the Dustbowl to leave their home, the Joad family travels to California in hopes of a new start. This is one of the most powerful works of American fiction ever written. Steinbeck reported on the diaspora of those displaced by those twin events, he brings a power and realism to his work of fiction that grips the reader. When the book came out in 1939 it was banned in Kern County, California officials actually participated in burning the book. Hmmm, seems to me there was also a furor over burning books in a certain European Country about to become notorious. Controlling peoples’ minds and ideas is wrong. People should be free to read, study, and choose their beliefs and passions. Grapes of Wrath was banned in many libraries across the US; the book was thought to be communist leaning. Meanwhile Stalin banned it in the Soviet Union as Capitalist propaganda. It might have helped clear things up for Steinbeck, who received death threats over writing Grapes of Wrath and was followed by the FBI, if his persecutes had bothered to actually read the book! Grapes of Wrath won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Henry Ford played Tom Joad in the movie version of Grapes of Wrath.— Deon Stonehouse
April 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the first Viking hardcover publication of Steinbeck’s crowning literary achievement
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize–winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes the very nature of equality and justice in America. As Don DeLillo has claimed, Steinbeck “shaped a geography of conscience” with this novel where “there is something at stake in every sentence.” Beyond that—for emotional urgency, evocative power, sustained impact, prophetic reach, and continued controversy—The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics.
To commemorate the book's 75th anniversary, this volume is modeled on the first edition, featuring the original cover illustration by Elmer Hader and specially designed endpapers by Michael Schwab.
About the Author
John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was born in Salinas, California, and died in New York City. He remains one of the most prolific and influential authors of his generation and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
“One comes away moved, indignant, protesting, pitying. A fiery document of protest and compassion, as a story that had to be told, as a book that must be read.”
—Louis Kronenberger, The Nation
“It is Steinbeck’s best novel, i.e., his toughest and tenderest, his roughest written and most mellifluous, his most realistic and, in its ending, his most melodramatic, his angriest and most idyllic. It is great in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great. One of the most impassioned and exciting books of the year.”
“Throughout I’ve tried to make the reader participate in the actuality, what he takes from it will be scaled entirely on his own depth or hollowness. There are 5 layers in this book; a reader will find as many as he can and he won’t find more than he has in himself.”