In Dubious Battle

In Dubious Battle

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
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A riveting novel of labor strife and apocalyptic violence, now a major motion picture starring James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Selena Gomez, and Zach Braff

At once a relentlessly fast-paced, admirably observed novel of social unrest and the story of a young man's struggle for identity, In Dubious Battle is set in the California apple country, where a strike by migrant workers against rapacious landowners spirals out of control, as a principled defiance metamorphoses into blind fanaticism. Caught in the upheaval is Jim Nolan, a once aimless man who find himself in the course of the strike, briefly becomes its leader, and is ultimately crushed in its service.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 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 up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2006.
ISBN: 9780143039631
0143039636
Characteristics: xxiv, [1], 274 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: French, Warren G. 1922-2009
Study Program: Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.5 14.0 58700.

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jackseney Oct 11, 2015

Based on his observations of a real strike, this pre-"Grapes of Wrath" novel by Steinbeck has elements that will be seen again later in the much more literary saga of the Joad family. On its own, it is readable and compelling enough, though it sometimes reads more like a movie script than a novel. Characters seem to talk in exactly the same clipped, slangy speech of the "gritty" movies of the same 1930s period, veering dangerously close to corn at times until Steinbeck pulls them back from the brink with the suspenseful thread of his narrative. In this tale of a labor strike against money-grubbing orchard owners in California's apple region, Steinbeck's sympathies are clearly with the impoverished workers as they should be. But he spares readers any attempt to make heroes out of them. For example, the union man to die first in the inevitable violence is not so much a martyr as a masochist with several screws loose. Nor does Steinbeck shy from exposing the ruthlessness of the Communists among the labor organizers, and their cold willingness to use dead or injured workers for propaganda purposes. Violence and the dark spirit of the mob mentality are also explored, and one wonders what might have been accomplished in the situation at hand if the striking workers had utilized some form of passive resistance, instead of brutally attacking "scabs" at the first opportunity. As it is, there seems no clear distinction between their violence and dictatorship and those of the capitalists and strikebreakers. Also of note is that all of the poor apple pickers-turned-strikers are white, which should give second thoughts to those who think everything about the history of American poverty is cast in racial terms, as well as to those who believe that "Americans don't like to do certain jobs." In the end, the title says it all in this rather bleak story which ends not only suddenly and inconclusively, but in the middle of a sentence. Readers are left to decide entirely for themselves about the main characters, their motives and the strange forces which play on them.

b
BrendanRogers
Dec 15, 2014

A story following a pair "red" organizers of a apple picking strike in California seeking higher per basket wages. Land owners respond with violence and wield legal power to break the strike. The violence continues to escalate in a struggle over wages or profit.

m
mxg495
Mar 14, 2013

The Library Journal Reviews (under Reviews tab) says that In Dubious Battle is not among the author's best-known works but Wikipedia says it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Steinbeck#Major_works .

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