The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath


Paperback, 6 x 8, 80 pages, with b&w photos. ISBN: 9781890771614. Available on Aerio and at your local independent bookstore.

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By John Steinbeck; Introduction by Charles Wollenberg


Gathered in this important volume are seven newspaper articles on migrant farm workers that John Steinbeck wrote for The San Francisco News in 1936, three years before The Grapes of Wrath. With the inquisitiveness of an investigative reporter and the emotional power of a novelist in his prime, Steinbeck toured the squatters’ camps and Hoovervilles of California.

The Harvest Gypsies gives us an eyewitness account of the horrendous Dust Bowl migration, a major event in California history, and provides the factual foundation for Steinbeck’s masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath. Included are twenty-two photographs by Dorothea Lange and others, many of which accompanied Steinbeck’s original articles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA, in 1902. Steinbeck realized that the migration caused by the Dust Bowl was drastically changing the labor forces of California from the foreign “cheap labor” to a higher standard of living for the farm workers. He felt for these migrant workers, and with the help of a friend, Tom Collins, unsuccessfully tried to get federal aid and sympathy, as shown in the articles of The Harvest Gypsies. Steinbeck continued in his crusade, publishing The Grapes of Wrath, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.


Charles Wollenberg, former Chair of Social Sciences and Professor of History at Berkeley City College, is coeditor, with Marcia A. Eymann, of What’s Going On? California and the Vietnam Era (University of California Press, 2004) and author of Marinship at War: Shipbuilding and Social Change in Wartime Sausalito (Western Heritage, 1990) and Berkeley: A City in History (University of California Press, 2008).