This exciting day-by-day account of Steinbeck's trip to the Gulf of California with biologist Ed Ricketts, drawn from the longer Sea of Cortez, is a wonderful combination of science, philosophy, and high-spirited adventure.
John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about 25 miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than 30 years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Richard Astro, PhD, is a distinguished professor of English at Drexel. He has written and edited books on John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and Bernard Malamud, as well as dozens of articles on other influential twentieth-century American writers. He founded the National Consortium for Academics and Sports in 1984.
Joe Barrett’s 30 years as an actor includes appearances off Broadway in Reunion and on Broadway in Raggedy Ann. His television credits include The Conan O’Brien Show and The David Letterman Show. He has appeared in features films and has been seen in dozens of commercials.