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Gathered in this important volume are seven newspaper articles on migrant farm workers that John Steinbeck wrote for The San Francisco News in 1936, three years before The Grapes of Wrath. With the inquisitiveness of an investigative reporter and the emotional power of a novelist in his prime, Steinbeck toured the squatters' camps and Hoovervilles of California. Here he found once strong, independent farmers—the backbone of rural America—so reduced in dignity, beaten in spirit, sick, sullen, and defeated that they had been "cast down to a kind of subhumanity." He contrasts their misery with the hope offered by government resettlement camps, where self-help committees, child nurseries, quilting and sewing projects, and decent sanitation were restoring dignity and indeed saving lives.
The Harvest Gypsies gives us an eyewitness account of the horrendous Dust Bowl migration, a major event in California history, and provides the factual foundation for Steinbeck's masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath. Included are twenty-two photographs by Dorothea Lange and others, many of which accompanied Steinbeck's original articles.
"Steinbeck's observations of migrant families...have not lost their potency." -- Publisher's Weekly