Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell

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Caldwell’s bestselling, controversial classic: the story of a Southern sharecropper family ground down by the devastation of the Great Depression Even before the Great Depression struck, Jeeter Lester and his family were desperately poor sharecroppers. But when hard times begin to affect the families that once helped support them, the Lesters slip completely into the abyss. Rather than hold on to each other for support, Jeeter, his wife Ada, and their twelve children are overcome by the fractured and violent society around them. Banned and burned when first released in 1932, Tobacco Road is a brutal examination of poverty’s dehumanizing influence by one of America’s great masters of political fiction. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Erskine Caldwell including rare photos and never-before-seen documents courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library.

About Erskine Caldwell

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Erskine Caldwell has been called one of the most banned and censored authors in the United States. The son of a traveling minister, born in White Oak, Georgia in 1903, Caldwell received little formal education, as a young man, Caldwell took odd jobs and worked in the Southern states. He attended briefly Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina, and the Universities of Virginia and Pennsylvania for some semesters. Yet he became a prolific writer whose novels explore the seamy side of life in the American South. At the age of eighteen he went on a gun-running boat to South America, he played professional football and worked as mill-hand, cotton-picker, and in other such occupations. For a time Caldwell was a cub reporter on the Atlanta Journal. In the 1920s Caldwell moved to Maine to devote himself to writing. After several Spartan years, he had three stories accepted for publication. In 1930 Caldwell destroyed all his unpublished work from previous years. 'Country Full of Swedes' was published in the Yale Review, and it received $1,000 award from the journal in 1933. American Earth, a collection of short stories about petty passions and little lecheries, was published in 1931. Some of the stories had first appeared in such magazines as The American Caravan, Blues, Frankfurter Zeitung, Front, The Hound and Horn, Nativity, Pagany, Scribner's Magazine, This Quarter, and transition. The title of one of his novels Tobacco Road (1932) became slang for poverty and degeneracy. The book was made into both a movie (1941) and a long-running Broadway show (1933-1941). Other novels, some of which were made into later films, include The Bastard (1929), Poor Fool (1930), and God's Little Acre (1933). By the late 1940's, Caldwell had sold more books than any writer in the nation's history. Caldwell became a reporter for the Atlanta Journal in 1925, worked as a scriptwriter in Hollywood and was a newspaper correspondent in Mexico, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Russia and China. In 1984, Caldwell was elected, along with Norman Mailer, to the fifty-chair body of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Caldwell is the author of 25 novels, 150 short stories and 12 nonfiction books. He died in Paradise Valley, Arizona on April 11, 1987.
Published January 1, 1932 by Grossett & Dunlap. 241 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Romance, Arts & Photography. Fiction

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For example, when discussing Caldwell's mid-1950s output -- stories for ""mediocre (often X-rated) journals"" and a ""melodramatic, mildly pornographic"" novel whose sales were enhanced by its spicy cover -- he concludes without a trace of irony that Caldwell was ""earning a living from his craft...

Jan 17 1995 | Read Full Review of Tobacco Road


Married at 12 , Pearl is her mothers’ reason to live, the vessel for what feels like generations of thwarted hopes.

Jun 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Tobacco Road

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