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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 27 May 2017
It's some 50 years since I first read The Grapes of Wrath as an exam text. I found it profoundly moving as a teenager and revisiting the book all these years later has proved equally emotional.

I'm sure most will know the basic story; the Joad family along with other 'Oakies' from the Oaklahoma dust bowl travel west to California in search of a new and better life. This is one of the first Route 66 journeys; but it's one filled with a mix of heartbreak and hope. Family members die en route and on arrival in California, far from the land of dreams and promise, there's only more exploitation. This is a novel which resonates particularly well; great insight into the crisis of migrants and mass movement of population. I enjoyed it first time round. I enjoyed it even more,with a different starting point and years of life experience. The use of language is superb, characters are rich and this is a novel I'd happily recommend to anyone.
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VINE VOICEon 2 May 2016
The Audible version is a good partner. The Kindle version behaves. The novel is one of the great morally imaginative, passionately concerned, literary treats of the twentieth century. Evocative in symbolism, down to earth as a clod of earth, gripping as a child's trusting hand, it's road journey is also a heart journey, a painful, soaring testament to humanity's flaws and foibles, but also its creative love and courage through the microcosm of a family. Those interested in Sheld organising companies will appreciate the (inspired by real life) example of the US refugee camp. Those concerned for the refugee crisis of today will see this US migrant story as a paradigm for comparison. And for anyone it may be a resource to carry in your own life journey.
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on 15 August 2016
I was put off reading this "Classic" for many years having read Steinbeck's "King Arthur & the Knights" and "Travels with Charley" which I thought were very unimpressive. It turns out, of course, that The Grapes of Wrath is indeed a true classic. Makes you angry at how families and individuals were crushed under the wheels of capitalism's "progress" and just as relevant today as it was then. This book has ignited my interest in reading more of Steinbeck and I realise that my first two samples of his work were perhaps poor examples compared to the power of Grapes of Wrath.
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on 15 August 2017
Well what can I say?
One of the most amazingly moving books I’ve ever read.
The ending was left wide open so you’re left to draw your own conclusions, but I grew to care so much about the Joads I want to know that they’re going to be ok in the end.
Such amazing endurance and still they clung to hope despite all the adversity in their path.
John Steinbeck wanted to write a great book and by heck he did.
I cannot recommend this book enough
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on 13 June 2018
An absolutely terrific read, and very much of its time. Some great painting of backgrounds, then populating with empathetic characters. Heavy on the symbolism. The only thing I didn't like was the pretentious essay in the foreword, which I eventually had to skip in order to just read the story. And, yes, there are inevitable parallels to be drawn with today's refugee problems. I think the lesson is a hard one - if your fellow countrymen can't treat their kith and kin kindly in these circumstances, then... well, I'll just leave it there.
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on 22 February 2015
At the funeral of Emile Zola, the great 19th-century French writer, Anatole France describes him as `a moment in the human conscience'. John Steinbeck treads ground which Zola would have recognised. His novel 'La Terre' is a story of dispossession, and powerlessness; of a peasantry faced with social and economic change. And though Steinbeck's iconography is quintessentially American, his tale of the Joads is a depressingly familiar one everywhere; of families with small parcels of land who are overtaken by the hormonal rush of pubescent capitalism.

The English Enclosure movements from the 16th to the 18th centuries drove masses of humanity out of the countryside. In rags and tatters they drifted forlornly into makeshift accommodation in the new urban areas, lacking in every amenity from sewers to a proper police force. With no poor relief their muscle and blood drove the wheels of the dark Satanic mills, or else they endured the terrors of the mines.

That was more than a century earlier. By the 1930s British workers suffered the depression no less than their American counterparts, as they turned out in their hunger marches. It is easy for those born since the great economic watershed that was the Second World War to miss the point about being penniless and destitute. But Steinbeck does not let us get away so easily. Most wonderfully of all he finds a way of describing destitution within the context of a hard-working and loving family, who remain as devoted to one another as they are to a stoical contestation of the most appalling conditions. Steinbeck's moral compass is in perfect working order. And he avoids any temptation to turn his work into a political tract. It is a story of humanity.

Notwithstanding his success as a humanitarian writer, one nonetheless feels some sympathy for those detractors, particularly among some American reviewers on Amazon.com, who draw attention to a lack of strength in the plot, and Steinbeck's less than inspirational prose. For whilst he reproduces the speech pattern of the Okies with devotion, his own articulative style, and his ability to craft a compelling storyline do seem lacking. But that is only, in my view and that of just one of those reviewers, if you compare Steinbeck to the truly great writers, the Dostoevsky's, the Dickens, the George Elliots, and even, in my own opinion, to his contemporary George Orwell.

Moreover, one just wonders whether, in America, of the period, Steinbeck had quite enough support in society at large to take on the powerful Californian moneyed interests in a more politically charged way. In Orwell's case the British working-class movement had undoubtedly been an encouragement. Steinbeck may have had to face up to being a lone voice to a greater extent. But there is no doubt Steinbeck played a part in the creation of the new order of thinking for the post-war world. Though his prose and his descriptive powers may not reach the great heights, Steinbeck is worthy, like Zola, of consideration as a `moment in the human conscience'.
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on 6 June 2017
This book gave a graphic description of what I'm sure was happening in the USA in the 30s and 40s. It depicts the suffering, starvation and the unfairness of life for the masses, whilst the few grew richer and used despicable measures to keep the working class on less than starvation levels.

It was well written with compassion. It's as relevant today as it was when it was penned. This is a must read book.
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on 13 May 2014
It is rare that a book influences government policy but this one pushed the US to introduce laws to stop the abuse suffered by the Oklahoma farm workers from the land owners and other authorities on the West Coast following the mass exodus west to find work.It is mainly for this reason that I give the book a 5 star rating instead of 4.The characters speak in a southern dialect using expressions which I found difficult to follow although I appreciate this is essential.The book describes the harrowing experiences of the Joad family as they seek to find a better life in California after being displaced from Oklahoma.Reading of the promise of jobs picking grapes and peaches the Jodes suffered tragedy,illness and awful living conditions in camps as they travelled west. It was all to no avail as hundreds of thousand families chased few jobs enabling the land owners to force the lucky ones to accept paltry wages for back breaking work.Those who objected were subjected to ill treatment at the hands of armed guards. Steinbeck,s book shamed the authorities into taking steps to put a stop to these practices.
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on 11 July 2015
An author who's books I have been reluctant to read because I thought it would be 'old fashioned' prose. I took a chance and so pleased I did!
A thoroughtly enjoyable read even though the characters 'spoke' in their peculiar dialect, after a few pages I didn't even notice it. Fiction set in an historical time frame - I learned much about America's past and the suffering and fortitude of the people during the droughts at that time and how the mechanisation process and capitalism pushed small farmers off their lands and into poverty. Beside that it had an excellent story line, with vivid characters. When I mentioned to an American collegue that I was reading The Grapes of Wroth she actually blanched and said 'oh no, I hated the book, we were forced to read it as a school set-work book'.
I suggested she read it again now that she is in her 30's, and I would suggest to all those reading this review that they discard any negative pre-conceptions they might have of this book, it is extremely readable and kept me absorbed until the last page....
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on 30 July 2013
Steinbeck is a true master of the written word. This epic novel has so many threads. On one level it tells the story of a migrant family escaping from the Dustbowl of Oklahoma for the rich promise of California. But on another level it offers a social and political commentary on the injustice of the farming situation in America in the 1930's. The most subtle thread however is the clear, resonant voice of Ma Joad at the heart of the story. Steinbeck's depiction of her shows an incredibly sensitive understanding of women and in particular the strong bond that often exists between mother and son. Ma and her son Tom are the two key protagonists and through them Steinbeck conveys the heat, dust, hunger, overwhelming tiredness but dogged determination of the migrant.
The narrative is interspersed with short chapters written in a stream of consciousness style, revealing some of the historical details of the era; the onset of mechanization, the hopeless political situation, Route 66. This style adds a certain pace and diversity to the writing.
But it is undoubtedly around Ma that the tale revolves. In many ways Steinbeck has given the book a feminist feel by leaning so heavily on her character. Many of her lines are both prophetic and memorable. " A thousand lives we might live, but when it comes to it it'll only be one". Her last moments with Tom when she says " I wanta touch you again, I wanta remember" are heartbreakingly sad.
I suppose a truly great novel is one that makes a massive impact on you - Grapes of Wrath did just that and I urge everyone to read this masterpiece.
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