America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

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by John Steinbeck
     
 

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More than three decades after his death, John Steinbeck remains one of the nation's most beloved authors. Yet few know of his career as a journalist who covered world events from the Great Depression to Vietnam. Now, this original collection offers a portrait of the artist as citizen, deeply engaged in the world around him. In addition to the complete text of

Overview

More than three decades after his death, John Steinbeck remains one of the nation's most beloved authors. Yet few know of his career as a journalist who covered world events from the Great Depression to Vietnam. Now, this original collection offers a portrait of the artist as citizen, deeply engaged in the world around him. In addition to the complete text of Steinbeck's last published book, America and Americans, this volume brings together for the first time more than fifty of Steinbeck's finest essays and jouralistic pieces.

Author Biography: John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was born in Salinas, California. Universally recognized as one of the greatest American writers, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.
Susan Shillinglaw is director of the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.
Jackson J. Benson is the author of the acclaimed biography John Steinbeck, Writer, winner of the PEN-West USA award for nonfiction.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
February 27, 2002, marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of this great American novelist. To mark the occasion, Viking repackaged six of his fiction works and published this reconstructed book of his selected nonfiction. America and Americans includes stunning pieces about the Great Depression, crisp World War II journalism, and terse word-portraits of fellow Americans Robert Capa and Woody Guthrie.
Louisville Courier-Journal
...captures Steinbeck's fierce and unrelenting moral vision, while providing an intriguing glimpse of the writer's life and work.
These days it's high school kids who devour Steinbeck's books: Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden. It's a pity that older readers are missing out. Perhaps this collection of Steinbeck's nonfiction will help dust off his star. The book includes the author's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, recollections of friends from Woody Guthrie to Adlai Stevenson, war correspondence from the Blitz to Vietnam and elegies and celebrations of all things American. A bit constrained by topicality, this isn't the best of the man, but it gives us enough of his remarkable voice: clear, strong, colorful, careful. And it hints at the scope of his vision—an earnest one, blessedly free of the irony, convolution and cleverness that came after him. He damns all "bored and slothful cynicism" and lauds "the enormous sweetness and violence of the country." It's been too long since any American writer sounded that proud and loving note.
—Paul Evans

Publishers Weekly
Few may remember that the Nobel Prize-winning novelist pursued a parallel 30-year career in journalism, but this collection (timed to mark the centennial of Steinbeck's birth) demonstrates that the author was a major journalistic voice in the mid-20th century. Of course, the pieces vary in quality: Steinbeck's travel writing, personal recollections and political journalism are more entertaining than his essays on craft or dated dispatches from war zones, and one questions why the editors, both Steinbeck scholars, chose certain brief reports. Still, Steinbeck's humor shines through in a number of fine essays, especially in one about a visit to his Sag Harbor cottage with two teenage sons, and another on his battles (in print) with a Communist newspaper in Italy. Three reports on the plight of California's migrant workers written in the mid-1930s before Steinbeck had finished The Grapes of Wrath shed light on the novel's roots. A particularly moving essay details the author's long friendship with Ed Ricketts, the man who found his way into Steinbeck's Cannery Row and The Sea of Cortez. The last 100 pages of the collection reprints his final book, America and Americans, in which the author offers a wide-reaching commentary on the American 20th century. "Journalism not only is a respected profession, but is considered the training ground of any good American author," wrote Steinbeck in 1966. Though this statement is no longer true, the collection shows that it certainly once was. (On sale Feb. 4) Forecast: No doubt publicity around Steinbeck's centennial will help sales to new readers as well as devotees. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Just in time for the centenary of Steinbeck's birth: a reissue of his last published book and a collection of his journalism. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
February of next year is the centennial of Steinbeck's birth and, along with new Penguin editions of six of his novels, Viking is offering up this collection from the other, lesser-known, side of his career. A lifelong journalist, Steinbeck observed and commented on what he saw around him in essays, letters, and criticism; here is some of the best of it. There's war writing from England and Vietnam; reflections on his own work, including his Nobel acceptance speech; travel pieces from Italy, France, and Ireland; pieces on Henry Fonda, Adlai Stevenson, and Woody Guthrie. While Steinbeck wanders all over the world, most of the material directly addresses America, including the final section, a reprint of his last, now out-of-print book, the heartfelt America and Americans. More than his familiar, iconic fiction, this collection conveys a real sense of one of our best-and best-loved-writers.
From the Publisher
"A feast of good reading." —Jay Parini, Los Angeles Times

"Captures Steinbeck's fierce and unrelenting moral vision, while providing an intriguing glimpse of the writer's life and work." —Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670030620
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Publication date:
01/31/2002
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.52(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A feast of good reading." —Jay Parini, Los Angeles Times

"Captures Steinbeck's fierce and unrelenting moral vision, while providing an intriguing glimpse of the writer's life and work." —Chicago Tribune

Meet the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
 
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
 
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
 
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
 
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

Jackson J. Benson teaches American Literature at San Diego State University. His biography, The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer, won the PEN USA West award for nonfiction. He lives in La Mesa, California.

Susan Shillinglaw is a professor of English San Jose State University. She is the author of On Reading the Grapes of Wrath and Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 27, 1902
Date of Death:
December 20, 1968
Place of Birth:
Salinas, California
Place of Death:
New York, New York
Education:
Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925
Website:
http://www.steinbeck.org

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America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ojaifan More than 1 year ago
I didn't know that John Steinbeck wrote nonfiction. In fact, many readers might only recognize Steinbeck's most popular works, such as The Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl, and Of Mice And Men. However, this collection of short stories and anecdotes proves that Steinbeck also has the gift of nonfiction writing. Many of these short stories were written when he was a news journalist in the Vietnam War. Many reporters were only documenting the actual events of War; however, Steinbeck chose to travel with the soldiers and document the feelings and attitudes associated with War. This opened up a whole new aspect of War journalism. While most of these selections were written in the 60's, his views on politics come full circle today as we see many of his predictions based on human behavior come alive today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Steinbeck's insights into American culture seem prescient. His description of what we were seems to be a prophecy of what we have become.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Steinbeck was a great American author who truly wrote some of the most readable novels. I had not read any of his non-fiction until this book. I can say without a doubt that his non-fiction is equally as enjoyable as his fiction.I think everyone should read this. The problems and situations he talks about in his writing, read as if they were written about today's world.
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