In Dubious Battle is regarded as John Steinbeck's first major novel. Because it stirred up controversy by criticizing social and political practices of the 1930s, Steinbeck found himself accused of being a Communist. But despite this criticism, he went on to create Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, both considered to be masterpieces of American literature. In California apple country, a group of migrant workers decides to strike against landowners. The situation quickly spirals out of control. Swept up in the madness is Jim Nolan, who must respond to urgent emotional pressures around him. Over the course of eight days, his whole world changes--from confusion and insecurity to becoming a self-confident leader. Steinbeck provides both an understanding of the social upheaval of the 1930s, as well as a character who matures and develops a philosophy of life before our very eyes. The resonance of narrator Tom Stechschulte's voice is the perfect match for this important work.
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by John Steinbeck
by John Milliken Thompson
"First published in 1936, this germinal work lays the groundwork for Steinbeck's later masterpieces, OF MICE AND MEN and THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Jim and Mac, radicals with unionizing on their minds, travel the circuit of California's migrant camps where pickers suffer pitifully inadequate wages and inhumane living conditions, conditions ripe for revolution. Tom Stechschulte's performance perfectly echoes those days when men were willing to sacrifice their lives for a principle. While Steinbeck's women are usually designated to the periphery, Stechschulte manages to endow Lisa, the daughter-in-law of a local leader, with an earthy life beyond the page. As Jim and Mac organize the workers and prepare them to strike, Stechschulte's easy manner lends both truth and grace to this piece of literary history. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine"
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