Obscene in the Extreme by Rick Wartzman
The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

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Few books have caused as big a stir as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, when it was published in April 1939. By May, it was the nation’s No. 1 bestseller, flying off store shelves at a rate of 10,000 copies a week. 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 that fit of censorship, a moment when several lives collided as part of a larger class struggle roiling the nation. It is a superb historical narrative that serves as an engaging window into an extraordinary time of upheaval in America, when as Steinbeck put it, “A revolution is going on.”

About Rick Wartzman

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Rick Wartzman is executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University and a columnist for Forbes online. He is the author of, among other titles, "What Would Drucker Do Now?" Anne Fishbein is an acclaimed photographer whose work is held by the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and other major institutions. Bridget Lawlor is the archivist at the Drucker Institute.
Published September 1, 2009 by PublicAffairs. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Obscene in the Extreme

Kirkus Reviews

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Steinbeck's now-classic populist epic did not please everyone in 1939.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Obscene in the Extreme: The B...

Publishers Weekly

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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, <EMPHASIS TYPE=ITAL

Jun 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Obscene in the Extreme: The B...

Star Tribune

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Wartzman offers an in-depth examination of how a classic American novel divided the California community in which it is set.

Nov 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Obscene in the Extreme: The B...

The Rag Blog

Re Steinbeck, the Guthries & all like-minded musicians, artists, poets, etc: the visual, written, auditory & performing arts convey messages of social justice more effectively & memorably than lectures by talking heads, structured "debates" or endless editorial exchange among the "intelligensia".

Oct 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Obscene in the Extreme: The B...

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