The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck, Author, Charles Wollenberg, Introduction by Heyday Books $9.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-930588-38-0
In 1936, a San Francisco newspaper commissioned Steinbeck to write a week-long series of articles about California's underclass of white migrant farm workers, who became the models and the inspiration for The Grapes of Wrath. Reprinted here, Steinbeck's observations of migrant families and of their exploitation by wealthy agriculturists have not lost their potency. And as Wollenberg, a history professor at Vista College, Berkeley, Calif., points out, the plight of the newly destitute and newly homeless has particular relevance today. Steinbeck's journalism shares the enduring quality of his famous novel (but critics of Steinbeck will beware; his heavy-handed style is only slightly less obtrusive here). Especially interesting are the final articles, which analyze the history of California's migrant populations and propose federal programs to alleviate their distress. Steinbeck's outrage leads to an emotional indictment of then-current farm management as ``a system of terrorism that would be unusual in the Fascist nations of the world.'' Certain to engage students of both American literature and labor history. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 62 pages - 978-1-890771-61-4
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