Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, 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. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.
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A phenomenal political classic
This is undoubtedly Steinbeck's masterpiece. An absolutely phenomenal tale told in two overlapping ways, through the eyes of an Oklahoman family forced to uproot due to the economic situation in the South and alongside a serious critique of capitalism and the economics that force our hand seemingly uncontrollably.
I read the paper edition of this and found it incredibly powerful. A brief summary: An Oklahoman family are forced to uproot after another poor crop harvest in the dry farmland of Oklahoma. As they make their move away to the west where they are promised the dream we find the pressures of the systems on good people, turning them into something else. There are stories of goodness and human cooperation against a backdrop of a system that doesn't care. Throughout, Steinbeck fills in secondary chapters with broader philosophical understandings of how the system functions and works on people's failings and needs, it owns there survival and there is little they can do but participate and hurt in order to live. These diversions are wonderful breaks from the often detailed text of the main storyline.
A lengthy read but a truly phenomenal one and ever so powerful. It caused enormous controversy at the time of release from the business community and conservatives when Steinbeck's showed his socialist side and sided with workers over the wealth of the country.