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John Steinbeck, The Dust Bowl, and Farm-Worker Organizing

Harry Targ Portside
John Steinbeck was one of the most prolific and, in my view, significant American novelists of the twentieth century. He was influenced by and synthesized his own politics and personal experience with the political culture and movements of the 1930s.


50 Years On, Steinbeck’s Classic Still Packs a Punch

Barry Healy Green Left Weekly
This year marks the 50th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s great mythic novel of alienation under US capitalism, Of Mice and Men. The story is of lonesome labourers, reeling from the Great Depression, wandering from farm to farm seeking respite from their endless oppression.

Steinbeck and the Refugee Crisis

Nick Coles Working-Class Perspectives
The enduring thrust of the Grapes of Wrath is the call to “be there,” to supply the missing response to the “imminent social change.” We see one answer today in the groundswell of support by ordinary people across Europe for welcoming and hosting the migrants, while their governments discuss quotas and border enforcement. But Steinbeck’s novel provokes other responses: a grasp of the meaning of home and homeland — and the trauma of being uprooted from them.

Is There a Ma Joad for the Piketty Era?

Katie Baker The Daily Beast
In the 75 years since novelist John Steinbeck published his masterpiece about the Okie migration, the towering Ma Joad has faded from archetype to anachronism. Ever since Steinbeck published his opus on the plight of the Dust Bowl migrants in 1939, readers have warmed to Ma as a paragon of folksy integrity - "an unforgettably vigorous figure, like Mother Courage without the corruption or rapacity," - and, more recently, praised her as a feminist icon...
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