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More than four 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 distinctive 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 than fifty of Steinbeck's finest essays and journalistic pieces on Salinas, Sag Harbor, Arthur Miller, Woody Guthrie, the Vietnam War and This edition is edited by Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw and Steinbeck biographer Jackson J BensonFor than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the Englishspeaking world With than , titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as uptodate translations by awardwinning translators


10 thoughts on “America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

  1. Barnabas Piper Barnabas Piper says:

    The greatest American author - this collection of essays is as insightful as it is beautiful and as moving as it is well-crafted. Steinbeck was a genius.


  2. M. Sarki M. Sarki says:

    Much better book than expected. Steinbeck was way ahead of his time, and these essays could have been written now, in this frightful present day. I found these essays to ring especially true regarding the state of our country, the good old USA. Though a difficult, and rather too-intense an individual to remain forever close friends with, John Steinbeck was a good and honest man. What he saw and felt too often tortured him, and nothing could salve his open wounds.


  3. Allan Allan says:

    America and Americans was Steinbeck's last published book, and this edition combined the volume-a series of observations on American society at the time-with articles, grouped thematically, that the author had written over the years for various magazines and newspapers.

    I loved Travels with Charley when I read it a few years ago, and this book frequently hits the heights of the writing in that title-Steinbeck is at times funny, often thoughtful and always interesting in the approach that he takes to his journalism. Highlights include a lengthy tribute to his friend, Ed Ricketts, the inspiration for 'Doc' in Cannery Row, and the tale of his row with a newspaper in Italy, but my personal favourite was his article, 'I Go Back to Ireland', where he recounts his visit to Ballykelly in Co Londonderry with wry humour (see the original article via the link - http://www.unz.org/Pub/Colliers-1953j... )

    All in all a great read-4 stars instead of 5 only because very occasionally the articles were a little dated content wise for me, and, albeit very rarely, Steinbeck got on his high horse and preached rather than observed. But well worth the read, and I've already bought 'A Russian Journal' to read as a result of this one.


  4. Chris Chris says:

    In America and Americans we see a different side to John Steinbeck. We don't see the earthy novelist writing about Salinas or some other nameless province in California. We see John Steinbeck the journalist writing about an America he is intimately acquainted with. An America he at once loves and seethes with frustration at. John was equally capable of praise and condemnation.

    The book is a collection of articles written over decades all with a common theme: America. The articles discuss both the country and the people giving an excellent all round view of the country, both its past and where it's going but it isn't a history book in the strictest sense but more the sort of book that gives you an overall impression of a place. Rather than focus on what Americans DO it tells us what they ARE. It is a book that contains history, politics, philosophy and pure journalism in the form of letters and opinion pieces ranging from the shameful treatment of the migrant workers living in California (nicknamed Okies) to the Vietnam War. At times the articles were a little 'preachy' particularly towards the end of Steinbeck's life and I didn't always agree with the conclusions he came to but that isn't necessary to simply enjoy the fact that he was a tremendously talented, intelligent man with a gift for writing.

    This was a thoroughly interesting, informative and enjoyable read particularly if you are a fan of John Steinbeck, history or America in general.


  5. Jenny& Jenny& says:

    I really enjoyed this book of Steinbeck's insightful essays and commentary of people and places. Nobody uses language like he did. History buffs and memoir lovers and essay fans will enjoy this book. I read it in my year-long Steinbeck read.


  6. J. Kenwell Stewart J. Kenwell Stewart says:

    After over 400 pages of Steinbeck non-fiction about America and Americans, the next logical thing to do seems to be opening up his book about A Russian Journal.


  7. Chris Blocker Chris Blocker says:

    America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction is two different books. One is Steinbeck's final book, a collection of essays published in 1966 entitled America and Americans. In this slender volume, Steinbeck's thoughts on the state of America were originally paired with photographs by acclaimed photographers such as Ansel Adams, Gordon Parks, and Alfred Eisenstaedt (these photos do not accompany later editions).



    The other book here is the Selected Nonfiction. Many people are unaware that throughout Steinbeck's career, the author was a prolific writer of short pieces of nonfiction. He published several hundred essays on a wide variety of topics. America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction includes fifty four of these essays.

    Together, all these various pieces feel disjointed. Part of the problem was Steinbeck himself. Despite persistent views that Steinbeck was this or was that, he was an individual who chose not to become any one thing. He did not subscribe to a particular ideology and all that came with it. So, while Steinbeck may have been extremely far left leaning in some areas, he was very conservative in others. While he may have been very cultured, he was also very domestic. While he could be secular, he was also religious. Steinbeck was no one particular thing. As such, he succeeded in being offensive to a very large percentage of the populace. The same man who complains about the evil capitalism of the American corporation praises the American military in Korea and Vietnam for being above reproach. From one essay to the next, the result can be dizzying.

    Those who've read Steinbeck extensively as I have will recognize many of the pieces. Selections from some of Steinbeck's published books such as The Harvest Gypsies, A Russian Journal, Once There Was a War, and The Log from the Sea of Cortez are present. Also here are a relatively small selection of those pieces Steinbeck published in various magazines from the 1930s through the 1960s.

    There's nothing spectacular here, though there are moments here and there when Steinbeck shines. Particularly, I think of his chapter in America and Americans called “Created Equal” where he addressed the plight of the descendants of African slavery in a rather open-minded and forward-thinking way for a white man of his era. There's also nothing too surprising here, though, as I implied earlier, some of Steinbeck's views are jarring.

    America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction is a Steinbeck book for the Steinbeck die hard. Casual readers of Steinbeck will likely grow bored of the book before reaching the end. Myself, I found some selections fascinating, some tedious, but most were little more than clever observations by an astute mind.


  8. Rick Rick says:

    It’s only the last 80 pages of this collection that is America and Americans, one of Steinbeck’s last published books (originally published with a series of photographs as well), so the weight of the title is a little off. America and Americans is a sardonic, not always convincing but fairly provocative series of essays on America at midcentury and its infatuation with material things and the impact of this infatuation on our national character. If you are sold that there was a national character that once upon a time looked like this (resourceful, chivalrous, contrary, independent, and self-critical) but not looks like this (greedy, self-centered, whiney, despairing) it's a compelling call to quit our whining and get at it. If not, it's one man looking back unhappily.

    But the overall mix of pieces is a fine representation of Steinbeck’s perspective and interests over the length of his career and gives a fair reading of his character—inquisitive, compassionate, independent, direct, uncompromising, fond of the individual, wary of the extreme, self-deprecating, loyal American (but suspicious of those who demand conformity or seek to bully, and resistant to any individual or institution that denies others their freedoms so he pissed off the right for his opposition to McCarthy, the right for being supportive of civil rights at all and the center for being so with less patience than they preferred, and the left for being a moderate hawk on Vietnam), and as regular a guy as a Nobel Prize winning writer can be. He writes about places, people (friends, colleagues, and politicians), family, travels, issues and interests. There are charming essays on his relationship with his children and the ospreys near his Sag Harbor house—didn’t know Steinbeck was as much a New Yorker (and a Met fan) as he was a Californian. Supportive essays of his friends—a defense of Arthur Miller in his battles with HUAC, praise for Adlai Stevenson, Henry Fonda, Ed Ricketts, Woody Guthrie, and others. Advocacy essays in support of migrant workers, Civil Rights workers, and others who seek to better themselves or America. You will certainly recognize the writing and the sensibility behind the novels and perhaps better understand what animates him. It’s a fine collection, harmed only a little by some redundancy (same anecdote appears three times; same seminal story twice), and a good way to pass morning and evening commutes on the subway or late evenings before bed. Thoughtful, intelligent, and quietly provocative.


  9. Amanda--A Scientist Reads Amanda--A Scientist Reads says:

    The majority of this book is not the featured title, and though several points in America and Americans irritated me, the over depiction of the US was good. The piece highlights several problems concerning race and politics that are still problems today, but glosses over the issues of women in a broad sweeping motion. At one point, even saying a problem with our country is that women have moved away from breast feeding for the vain reason of keeping their breasts more attractive to men.

    What this book does an excellent job of is depicting what it's like to live inside of a stereotype, and what it's like to travel to other countries as an American. Upon a recent trip to Germany, myself and my husband would ask or be asked by other Americans we meet where we were from. None of the US citizens thought this was weird in the least, and it was always nice to hear the experience others were having and share recommendations.

    Finally, after a hike and short chat with a couple from Michigan, the European friends we were traveling with asked why we do that. It took us a minute to determine what they meant, and they finally had to spell it out for us, All Americans ask where each other are from? Why is that? ...Europeans don't do that.


  10. Jules Alder Jules Alder says:

    Since I'm currently reading the Great Gatsby, this is an excellent time to inform or remind people that a real appreciation of the days leading up to the Great Crash of '29 requires Steinbeck. A new journalist before the term was even around, this collection of essays and articles, many of which recall the days leading up to and including the Great Depression, tell a fanciful tale that is often hard to believe is part of American history. Steinbeck himself barely survived. Had it not been for a seaside house on a bit of family land, which he ended up turning into a hippie style commune long before there were hippies, he might have not. To read this book is to wander with him through Woody Guthrie's America, to scorn the excesses of an uncaring society that was its own unmaking, and to mourn those who fell along the way. He wrote about life and death with replete and humble compassion and observance--and no American education is complete without him. That is why this is Book #3 on my list of 100 Books You Should Read Before You Die (#100BooksFTW if you're on Twitter).