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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath

by

Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Few books have caused as big a stir as John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath, when it was published in April 1939. By May, it was the nations number one bestseller, but in Kern County, California—the Joads newfound home—the book was burned publicly and banned from library shelves. Obscene in the Extreme tells the remarkable story behind this fit of censorship.

When W. B. “Bill” Camp, a giant cotton and potato grower, presided over its burning in downtown Bakersfield, he declared: “We are angry, not because we were attacked but because we were attacked by a book obscene in the extreme sense of the word.” But Gretchen Knief, the Kern County librarian, bravely fought back. “If that book is banned today, what book will be banned tomorrow?”

Obscene in the Extreme serves as a window into an extraordinary time of upheaval in America—a time when, as Steinbeck put it, there seemed to be “a revolution . . . going on.”

Review:

"During May of 1939, as the Nazis were burning books throughout Germany, the people of Bakersfield Calif., did exactly the same thing with John Steinbeck's new bestseller, The Grapes of Wrath. As Wartzman (The King of California) shows in this intriguing account, the banning of Steinbeck's masterpiece throughout California's Kern County was orchestrated by rich local growers: men who were busy exploiting scores of Joad families, the very men Steinbeck exposed in his novel. As a pretext, the growers cited, among other things, Steinbeck's use of 'foul' language ('bastard,' 'bitch') and vivid scenes such as Rose of Sharon, having lost her baby, offering her milk-filled breast to a starving man. One lone librarian, Gretchen Knief, led the charge against the censors, but the book — by then a Pulitzer Prize winner — remained banned a year later. While all this was happening, Steinbeck was suffering the strains of his collapsing first marriage. In telling this unique tale, Wartzman artfully weaves the personal and the political in a book that readers will find engaging on more than one level. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

The most famous of John Steinbeck's many novels, "The Grapes of Wrath," appeared in 1939 and, as Rick Wartzman puts it, "not only leapt onto the best-seller list after its publication in April but was also well on its way to becoming seared into the public's imagination forever." Wartzman's prose, in that passage as throughout "Obscene in the Extreme," is overheated and cliche-ridden, but the claim... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

A bestselling author unearths the fascinating story of the banning of The Grapes of Wrath in the 1930s—and captures the essence of a tumultuous era.

About the Author

Rick Wartzman is director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University and an Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation. He spent two decades as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He is co-author, with Mark Arax, of the award-winning bestseller The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781586483319
Subtitle:
The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath
Author:
Montville, Leigh
Author:
Wartzman, Rick
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Censorship
Subject:
Steinbeck, John
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080902
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photos throughout
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 20.5 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages PublicAffairs - English 9781586483319 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "During May of 1939, as the Nazis were burning books throughout Germany, the people of Bakersfield Calif., did exactly the same thing with John Steinbeck's new bestseller, The Grapes of Wrath. As Wartzman (The King of California) shows in this intriguing account, the banning of Steinbeck's masterpiece throughout California's Kern County was orchestrated by rich local growers: men who were busy exploiting scores of Joad families, the very men Steinbeck exposed in his novel. As a pretext, the growers cited, among other things, Steinbeck's use of 'foul' language ('bastard,' 'bitch') and vivid scenes such as Rose of Sharon, having lost her baby, offering her milk-filled breast to a starving man. One lone librarian, Gretchen Knief, led the charge against the censors, but the book — by then a Pulitzer Prize winner — remained banned a year later. While all this was happening, Steinbeck was suffering the strains of his collapsing first marriage. In telling this unique tale, Wartzman artfully weaves the personal and the political in a book that readers will find engaging on more than one level. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
A bestselling author unearths the fascinating story of the banning of The Grapes of Wrath in the 1930s—and captures the essence of a tumultuous era.
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