John Steinbeck is one of the greats of American literature. His most famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was published in 1939 and won the Pulitzer prize in 1940. In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Books by John Steinbeck
“East of Eden is set in Salinas, California—like so much of Steinbeck’s fiction—at the start of the 20th century. It’s a book with a number of narratives in it, starting off with Samuel Hamilton and his wife Lisa, who raise nine children on a piece of very unprepossessing land in Salinas. Then Adam Trask, a wealthy stranger, purchases a nearby ranch. The main brother narrative within the story is that of Adam and Charles Trask…It’s constantly referring back to the Cain and Abel story. The relationship between Charles and Adam Trask is very murderous.” Read more...
Tim Lott, Novelist
“This was first published in 1939 while the US was still grappling with the Depression, and what is brilliant about it is that it reveals that economic problems can’t just be dealt with through some wave of the free-market magic wand. It’s a very harrowing read…His sense of people finding themselves hugely disadvantaged is something that has a modern-day connotation – the whole debate about immigration today is tied up with this. In both cases it’s about migrant labour. In The Grapes of Wrath it’s migrant labour from within the US, and it’s those people who are often the most vulnerable. This is the human aspect of that story, and I think that Steinbeck summarised much of what happened in the Great Depression far better than many economists did, because he really dealt with the true losses that came through for people who just happened to be down on their luck.” Read more...
The best books on Globalisation
Stephen D King, Economist
“I had no idea Steinbeck was interested in science. I thought he was a novelist of human rights and the American working class. This book is the log of a journey he made with a scientist he befriended while he was living in Monterey in southern California. They go on this boys’ trip, hiring a retired sardine fishing boat for nine weeks and going to collect invertebrates – crabs, lobsters, snails. It’s about amateur enthusiasm for the natural world and Steinbeck is a truly great science writer. He conveys a boyish enthusiasm for nature but some truly grown-up observations about man’s place in it – a real prescience for an environmental movement that hadn’t arrived when this book was written in 1941.” Read more...
The best books on Being Inspired by Science
Tom Clarke, Journalist
Interviews where books by John Steinbeck were recommended
The best books on Being Inspired by Science, recommended by Tom Clarke
The Science Correspondent for the Uk’s Channel 4 discusses the magical allure of science. He chooses five great books on subjects ranging from genetics to natural history and astro-physics
The best books on Globalisation, recommended by Stephen D King
The Chief Economist at HSBC reflects on the hubris of the Western World and reminds us that history provides valuable lessons on financial crises and the constant changing shape of the world economy
The best books on The American West, recommended by Jonathan Evison
Novelist Jonathan Evison recommends books that capture a sense of the rugged landscape and people of the American West.
The best books on Progressive America, recommended by Antonio Villaraigosa
In the last of our series of interviews on American progressivism, the mayor of Los Angeles chooses five novels and biographies that provide lessons from the past and show what a democratic society should aspire to be
The best books on Progressivism, recommended by John Kerry
John Kerry, the 68th United States Secretary of State, picks five books that every progressive should read, and discusses the divide in America between the haves and have-nots
The best books on Brothers, recommended by Tim Lott
Novelist Tim Lott, whose autobiographical book Under the Same Stars lays bare a dysfunctional relationship with his brother, tells us about love and rivalry among siblings – and, from Cain and Abel on, the dark, even murderous, impulses that can be engendered between them.