The Grapes of Wrath

Version: Unabridged
Author: John Steinbeck
Narrator: Dylan Baker
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Classics
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published In: September 2002
# of Units: 18 CDs
Length: 21 hours
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First published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath creates an unforgettable portrait of the migrants who left the dust bowl for the promised land of California. Although he wrote it quickly, Steinbeck spent much time gathering detailed reports of the desperate conditions in migrant camps. He also worked in one camp helping to care for its starving residents. Although they have planted the land for generations, the Joads are tenant farmers. Now drought and mechanization have forced them off the Oklahoma farm they call home. As they travel toward new jobs in California, the penniless, hungry Joads learn that America has no mercy for the poor. Their fate is one that was repeated in hundreds of lives. Brilliant in its fusion of drama and rhetoric, The Grapes of Wrath changed the way the world saw migrant workers. They would never again be faceless masses who could be ignored and abandoned. This landmark work's impact earned John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize and contributed to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

Author Details

Author Details

Steinbeck, John

John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902 of German and Irish ancestry. His father, John Steinbeck, Sr., served as the County Treasurer while his mother, Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck, a former school teacher, fostered Steinbeck's love of reading and the written word. During summers he worked as a hired hand on nearby ranches, nourishing his impression of the California countryside and its people.

After graduating from Salinas High School in 1919, Steinbeck attended Stanford University. Originally an English major, he pursued a program of independent study and his attendance was sporadic. During this time he worked periodically at various jobs and left Stanford permanently in 1925 to pursue his writing career in New York. However, he was unsuccessful in getting any of his writing published and finally returned to California.

His first novel, Cup of Gold was published in 1929, but attracted little attention. His two subsequent novels, The Pastures of Heaven and To a God Unknown, were also poorly received by the literary world.

Steinbeck married his first wife, Carol Henning in 1930. They lived in Pacific Grove where much of the material for Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row was gathered. Tortilla Flat (1935) marked the turning point in Steinbeck's literary career. It received the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal for best novel by a California author. Steinbeck continued writing, relying upon extensive research and his personal observation of the human condition for his stories. The Grapes of Wrath (1939) won the Pulitzer Prize.

During World War II, Steinbeck was a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches were later collected and made into Once There Was a War.

John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 “...for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and a keen social perception.”

Throughout his life John Steinbeck remained a private person who shunned publicity. He died December 20, 1968, in New York City and is survived by his third wife, Elaine (Scott) Steinbeck and one son, Thomas. His ashes were placed in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.