TIME Books

5 Things We Learned About George W. Bush From Insider’s New Memoir


Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

Anecdotes about Putin, Olmert and the shoe-throwing incident

As only the second woman to serve as a U.S. president’s press secretary, Dana Perino has plenty of inside-Washington stories. Not that she’s telling all of them in her new memoir, And the Good News Is… Lessons and Advice From the Bright Side. It’s a friendly book, careful to stay loyal to George W. Bush and to show what a good boss he was behind the scenes. But the anecdotes she does share paint her own unique view of the former commander-in-chief.

1. Perino was injured in the kerfuffle after someone threw a shoe at Bush in Baghdad; he thought she was just crying on his behalf.

The President rushed into the room to find me after the press conference. He leaned down and put his arm around me and asked, “What happened? I saw you crying but I thought it was just because the guy threw a shoe at me.” I leaned into him and let myself be comforted for a second, but I tried to lighten the mood and said, “You know I love you, Mr. President — but I grew up out West, and I’m a little tougher than that.

2. Bush stuck up for then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with gusto during 2008 peace talks. At a dinner at Olmert’s residence, where several Israelis were apparently against a deal, Bush stood up to make an announcement:

“[I]f there’s anyone sitting at this table that is waiting in the tall grass with plans to attack this good man”—pointing at Olmert—”as soon as he makes a tough decision, please tell me now. Because I am President of the United States of America, and I will not waste my country’s capital on you if you aren’t serious.”

He then asked the Israeli cabinet members to talk about their backgrounds and what brought their families to Israel. When they were done, Perino says, “they kept saying that they’d never known this or that about one another.” Bush concluded, “I had a feeling you all may have forgotten why you were here in the first place. Thank you for having us. Good night.”

On the plane the next day, Perino brought up the exchange and Bush said, “Pretty cool, huh?”

3. Bush tried to prevent Putin from embarrassing himself by stating that he thought Bush had fired Dan Rather from CBS, which revealed how little the Russian leader understood about American media.

“Why would I answer any questions about press freedoms in my country, when you just fired that newsman,” Putin said.

“Excuse me?” Bush asked.

“You know, you fired that newsman.”

The President looked puzzled but then he realized what was going on. He said, “Vladimir, are you talking about Dan Rather?”

“Yes, the man you fired.”

“No, Vladimir, that’s not how it works. A private company employed Dan Rather, and they made the decision to let him go. I had nothing to do with it… I’m telling you as your friend, don’t go out there and say that. It isn’t correct.”

Putin said it anyway.

4. Bush was hurt about not being included the 2008 Republican convention. As Perino explains it, they sensed that the McCain-Palin campaign “was stalling to make a decision until it was too late for us to leave in time.” Bush stayed at the White House to give a statement on Hurricane Gustav.

At the end of it, the President noticed the monitor showing the live shot of the convention floor.

He quietly asked, “Do you think they know they’re insulting me?”

I waited a beat, looking at the screen with him.

“Yes, sir. I believe they do.”

5. Bush had his own moment advocating for female journalists at briefings. In a 2006 press conference, ABC reporter Jessica Yellin was supposed to be allowed to ask a question, but ABC swapped in a man, Jake Tapper, at the last minute. Perino was indignant that the opportunity had been taken away from Yellin, and said so to the president.

“Well, do we have to call on him?” the President asked, raising his eyebrows.

Catching his drift, I said, “No, sir, I don’t think you do.”

Tapper was “furious,” but Perino hopes he understands.

And the Good News Is hits shelves this week.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Catch a First Glimpse From Inside the New Dr. Seuss Book

The book will come out 24 years after Dr. Seuss' death

Fans of Dr. Seuss who are anxiously awaiting the new book What Pet Should I Get? from the late author are finally getting a sneak peek at what’s due in July.

CNN released an image from the book on Monday that shows a pair of siblings—from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish—looking into a pet store window. It reads:

“We want a pet.

We want a pet.

What kind of pet

should we get?”

The book’s publisher, Random House Children’s Books, said in a statement Monday it increased its first printing from 500,000 to 1 million copies to meet demand.

Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) widow found the manuscript and illustrations for What Pet Should I Get? in their home shortly after his death in 1991.


TIME Books

How Toni Morrison’s New Novel Answers Her Critics

Jan. 19, 1998, cover of TIME
TIME The Jan. 19, 1998, cover of TIME

Her newest book, 'God Help the Child,' will be released on April 21, 2015

American author Toni Morrison isn’t exactly new to the writing game, but her latest book, God Help the Child, which arrives on Tuesday, is still a first in its own way. The book is being billed as Morrison’s first to take place “in our current moment” rather than in the past.

Looking back at Morrison’s career, the decision to set God Help the Child in modern times gains an extra level of meaning.

Morrison’s novels have always addressed issues that mattered to modern readers, despite their sometimes distant setting; as the Nobel-winner told TIME in 1998, when she and her novel Paradise were the subject of a cover story, most the questions she got from fans were “anthropological or sociological or political” rather than literary. And raising those questions, especially about race and gender, was part of her mission as a writer.

But, TIME noted, some of her critics found that she distanced herself from the answers by focusing on the past:

The debate about where Morrison ranks among the other American laureates will probably simmer for years. Does she belong with Steinbeck and Pearl S. Buck, authors whose earnest social concerns and novels now strike most critics and readers as passe? Some reviewers have found Morrison’s novels overly deterministic, her characters pawns in the service of their creator’s designs. Essayist Stanley Crouch says Morrison is “immensely talented. I just think she needs a new subject matter, the world she lives in, not this world of endless black victims.” But for every pan, Morrison has received a surfeit of paeans: for her lyricism, for her ability to turn the mundane into the magical. In the Nobel sweepstakes at the moment, Morrison looks to be a lot closer to William Faulkner, whom many critics regard as this century’s greatest American novelist, than to Buck and Steinbeck.

Whether God Help the Child receives pans or paeans, that chronological distance won’t be to blame.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Paradise Found

TIME psychology

The Peter Principle and the Law of Terrible People

Getty Images

Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

Overcome the promotion politics

If you’ve ever worked in an organization, you’ve no doubt come across someone in senior management and asked yourself how they ever got promoted.

The Peter Principle, coined by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, contends that, in a hierarchy, people are sooner or later promoted to positions which they are no longer skilled to handle. This is their “level of incompetence.” This is where they stay.

James March offers some compelling insight into why this happens.

In his book High Output Management, Andy Grove points out that this is largely unavoidable because there is no way to know a priori at what point the person will be incapable of handling further promotions.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers Ben Horowitz discusses the Law of Crappy People.

The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title. The rationale behind the law is that the other employees in the company with lower titles will naturally benchmark themselves against the crappiest person at the next level. For example, if Jasper is the worst vice president in the company, then all of the directors will benchmark themselves against Jasper and demand promotions as soon as they reach his low level of competency.

Horowitz suggests the best way to overcome this is with a properly constructed and disciplined hiring process.

Ideally, the promotion process should yield a result similar to the very best karate dojos. In top dojos, in order to achieve the next level (for example, being promoted from a brown belt to a black belt), you must defeat an opponent in combat at that level. This guarantees that a new black belt is never a worse fighter than the worst current black belt.

Frustratingly, there is no exact analogue to a fistfight in business, so how can we preserve quality without actual combat?

To begin, start with an extremely crisp definition not only of the responsibilities at each level but also of the skill required to perform the duties. When describing the skills, avoid the generic characterizations such as “must be competent at managing a P&L” or “must have excellent management skills.” In fact, the best leveling tools get extremely specific and even name names: “should be a superstar recruiter— as good as Jenny Rogers.”

Next, define a formal process for all promotions. One key requirement of the process should be that promotions will be leveled across groups. If you let a manager or a single chain of command determine promotions unilaterally, then it’s possible that, for example, HR will have five vice presidents and Engineering only one. One way to level across groups is to hold a regular promotions council that reviews every significant promotion in the company. When a manager wishes to promote an employee, she will submit that employee for review with an explanation of why she believes her employee satisfies the skill criteria required for the level. The committee should then compare the employee with both the level’s skill description and the skills of the other employees at that level to determine whether to approve the promotion. In addition to ensuring fairness and level quality, this process will serve to educate your entire management team on the skills and accomplishments of the employees being submitted for promotion.

Most management teams I’ve worked with spend too little time on promotions, which encourages politics. Employees see gaps in the process and focus on exploiting them. Another big mistake is hiring by consensus, which leads to hiring for a lack of weakness rather than a strength. This kills organizations.

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Quiz: How High is Your Weed IQ?

Bruce Barcott is the author of "Weed the People, the Future of Legal Marijuana in America."

Take this test to see how well you understand the new world of legal marijuana

Correction appended, April 20, 2015.

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. has moved pot from the realm of criminal arrest to customer service. But many of those now-legal customers are entering a new world of products, prices, and potency. It ain’t about a ten-dollar bag of weed anymore. During the two years I spent researching Weed the People, I acquired a new vocabulary of weights, measures, brand names, plant strains, and markers of quality. With 4/20 upon us, test your own legal pot knowledge with the quiz below.

Correction: The original version of this quiz misstated the states that rejected legalization in the past five years.

“Weed the People, the Future of Legal Marijuana in America,” from TIME Books, is available wherever books are sold, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Anna Kendrick Is Writing a Book of Essays

87th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images Actress Anna Kendrick poses inside the press room of the 87th Annual Academy Awards held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Twitter's 140-character limit be damned

Anna Kendrick will join Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling on the list of funny celebs to write a memoir. The Pitch Perfect star’s book, a series of humorous biographical essays, is set to be published in the fall of 2016 by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The Academy Award-nominated actor has earned a reputation for her wit and sarcasm on Twitter and, according to a statement she released, is eager to see if she can extend a series of 140-character tweets into whole chapters.

“I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself,” Kendrick said.

“And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to BuzzFeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!”

Read next: Aziz Ansari on His New Book and How Texting Is Ruining Our Relationships

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TIME Books

4 Things We Learned from John Green’s Reddit AMA

John Green Portrait The Fault in Our Stars
Gregg Segal for TIME

He talks Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska

Celebrities often have a transitory relationship with Reddit: they arrive hawking their latest project, they answer a few questions during an ask-me-anything Q&A session, then they leave, often never to return. But The Fault in Our Stars author John Green is after a more genuine and lasting relationship with his fans and readers — he pops in threads from time to time — so he’s planning to do one AMA every month until the release of the Paper Towns, the second film adaptation of one his novels. Here are four things we learned from his first session:

If he had to choose between video blogging on YouTube with his brother, Hank, and turning his books into movies, the choice is clear:

If I had to pick between YouTube and movies, I would pick YouTube. This would be a financially counterintuitive choice, for sure, but I love online video and love working with my brother. Don’t tell my brother I said that, though.

There are three main reasons he likes writing for and about teenagers:

[1] They’re experiencing so much stuff for the first time–love and loss and grief and individual sovereignty and driving cars and, in the case of nonredditors, sex. Because those experiences are new, they are extremely intense, and it allows me to think about that stuff in a heightened way that doesn’t need to be cut by irony […] 2. Teens are extremely intellectually curious, and I love the straightforward way they consider the biggest questions […] 3. Publishing as a YA author also has many, many benefits.

A line in his book Looking for Alaska was inspired by his wife:

My wife and I went to high school in Alabama together, but we did not know each other in high school. Years later, we became reacquainted in Chicago, where we were both living. The first time we had dinner together, I told her a story from high school about sitting on a porch swing and thinking about all the things that might happen to me, and how I never thought I’d end up in Chicago across a table from Sarah Urist. And she said, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia,” which I put in my book Looking for Alaska.

He worries Paper Towns newcomers who see the trailer might think the movie reinforces the Manic Pixie Dream Girl myth instead of challenging it:

I’m not in control of the marketing of the movie obviously, and I might market it a little differently, but I also understand that you have to set people up with a world they think they know if you’re going to point out what is demented and evil about that world. That’s what the book (hopefully) does, and what the movie (hopefully) does. But that’s hard to do in a trailer for a movie, because you don’t want the trailer to tell the whole story. You don’t want the trailer to deliver the punch that hopefully comes at the end of the movie when Q finally acknowledges that Margo is not a thing to acquire or a miracle but rather a person.

Paper Towns hits theaters July 24.

Read next: Watch Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne in the New Paper Towns Clip

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TIME Books

A Self-Made Billionaire Uses This Easy Trick for Decisions

Seymour Schulich on March 31, 2014 in Toronto.
Rick Madonik—Toronto Star/Getty Images Seymour Schulich on March 31, 2014 in Toronto.

Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

A twist to the classic pro-con list

The first chapter in Seymour Schulich’s book, Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons, offers a decision tool that adds to the simple pro-and-con list that many of us have used to make decisions. Schulich, a self-made billionaire, is one of Canada’s richest and best-known businessmen.

I learned this tool in a practical mathematics course more than fifty years ago and have used it for virtually every major decision of my adult life. It has never let me down and it will serve you well, too.

You all know the simple pro-and-con list? The one where you divide the page in two and simply list out all the pros and cons. Well, the Decision-Maker adds a twist to that. Here’s how it works.

On one sheet of paper, list all the positive things you can about the issue in question, then give each one a score from zero to ten—the higher the score, the more important it is to you.

On another sheet, list the negative points, and score them from zero to ten—only this time, ten means it’s a major drawback. Suppose you are thinking of buying a house, and you tour one that’s in your price range, except the owners have painted every room to look like a giant banana. If you really hate yellow and can’t stand the thought of lifting a paint brush, you might give “ugly yellow house” a ten, and if it’s not that big a deal, maybe a two or a three.

Now add up the scores. But here’s the rule.

If the positive score is at least double the negative score, you should do it—whatever “it” is. But if the positives don’t outweigh the negatives by that two-to-one ratio, don’t do it, or at least think twice about it.

Yes that sounds simple. I agree. But I also don’t think that things need to be complicated in order to be effective.

The Decision-Maker is designed not to allow one or two factors to sway a major life decision in a disproportionate way. It forces you to strip away the emotion and really examine the relative importance of each point—which, of course, is why it works so well.

This tool works for groups too.

When we were considering whether to sell our royalty company, Franco-Nevada, to Newmont Mining, Franco’s executive team produced a collective Decision-Maker. We listed all the pros and cons, then the top four executives assigned their own point scores to each. We averaged them, the positives far outweighed the negatives, and we sold the company.

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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TIME Books

R.L. Stine Explains the Hardest Part About Terrorizing Teenagers Today

Don't Stay Up Late
St. Martin’s Press Don't Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine, out now

The author tells TIME about his new Fear Street novel and his writing process

If you’re a child of the 1990s, R.L. Stine has probably kept you up at night with his books. But while he’s best known for Goosebumps, he’s back to freaking out teenagers with Fear Street, the young-adult horror series that has sold more than 80 million copies since 1989.

After reviving the books in 2014, Stine returned to the city of Shadyside this month with Don’t Stay Up Late, about a girl named Lisa whose odd new babysitting job holds the key to a recent string of murders and the horrible nightmares that plague her. TIME spoke to Stine about his writing process, connecting with old fans on Twitter and what it takes to scare teenagers today.

TIME: April seems like a strange time to put out another horror book. I would have assumed your whole life revolves around the month of October.

R.L. Stine: That’s not a career—you can’t just do Halloween! [Laughs] That’d have to be year-round.

You said Don’t Stay Up Late was possibly your scariest one yet. What makes it so?

I think that was Twitter hype.

You’ve killed off a lot of teenagers in Fear Street. I’d imagine today’s generation of teenagers would be the most fun to write about yet.

It’s actually much harder, because the technology has ruined a lot of things that make for good mysteries—largely because of cell phones. You can’t have a mystery caller anymore. You can’t have someone making horrible phone calls and you don’t know who it is. Now, you know immediately. You look at your phone, and you know. You have to get rid of the phone when you’re writing the book. Everyone has a phone now and everyone can just call for help. In some ways, it’s much more challenging now.

How concerned are with you with capturing contemporary teen life?

I have to keep up with them. It’s a real important part of writing these books. You don’t want to sound out of date at all, but I’m very careful because the technology changes every two weeks. You have to be not terribly specific about what they’re using. And I have to be careful about language too. I spent a lot of time going to schools and talking to teenagers and kids for Goosebumps, just to see what they say, how they talk these days, what they wear, that kind of thing. But if I put too much of that in the book, it dates it.

So no Snapchat killer or One Direction zombie murderers?

[Laughs] No, I probably, I wouldn’t do that. Because in a month, that would be [over], and then you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. The lucky thing about horror is that the things that people are afraid of, it never changes. Afraid of the dark, afraid someone’s in the house, afraid someone’s under your bed—that’s the same.

How much do you care about making the dialogue sound realistic?

My rule for writing teenage dialogue is no complete sentences. You know someone doesn’t know teenagers when the teenagers are speaking in complete sentences, because they basically don’t. I remember when my son was a teenager—he basically grunted. [Laughs]

What’s off-limits in these stories? I know you don’t put larger social messages in there.

No messages, except that the ordinary teenagers faced with horrible things can use their own wits and imagination to survive, to triumph. That’s the only message that I ever put in. There’s a lot of real-world stuff that I don’t put in Goosebumps or Fear Street. In Goosebumps, no one ever dies. In Fear Street, you want to make sure that it’s a fantasy that’s not too real. There are no drugs in Fear Street. There’s no child abuse. There are hardly even divorced parents. Other teen horror writers have done a lot with teens with drugs and that kind of thing, but I don’t do it. My basic rule is they have to know it’s not real. That it’s fantasy.

You received a lot of negative feedback from readers when you featured an unhappy ending in Fear Street, which surprised meit seems like in the most popular YA stories today, the grey areas and moral ambiguity are a big part of the appeal.

Not in these horror novels. They want happy endings in these. I learned my lesson that time. The kids really turned against me. It was immediate. I got these letters. “Dear R.L. Stine, you moron. You idiot. How could you do that? When are you going to finish the story?” They just couldn’t accept it. I would do school visits, and that book haunted me. The hand would go up: “Why would you write that book? Why did you do that?” Maybe it’s changed, but I’m not going to try it!

What do you hear from people who read your books as kids and then revisit them as adults?

That’s why I’m on Twitter. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with the ‘90s kids, with my original readers. And I have to say, it was very good for my ego because all day long I hear, “I wouldn’t be a librarian today if it wasn’t for you!” Or “I wouldn’t be a writer today if it wasn’t for you!” Or “Thank you for getting me through a really tough childhood.” It’s very gratifying. It’s almost too nice.

Do people pitch you ideas on Twitter?

There’s not really enough room for them to write. It is interesting, people ask if they can collaborate on a book. One woman wrote to me on Facebook—this was great—and she said, “I have an idea for a horror novel called The Ghost Ship, but I don’t know what the plot would be. Do you think you could write it for me?’

That sounds like the start of its own horror novel.

[Laughs] That’s good, right? This morning on Twitter, a young woman said, “I’m sure you’ve written a book called April Ghoul’s Day, I’m going to go find it.” And I said, “What a great title!” I’m gonna have to steal it from her, I think! I never thought of it.

What is your writing routine like these days?

It’s sort of factory work, you know. I still enjoy it so much, so I just keep going. I still do a lot of books every year. I start around 9:30 in the morning and I write 2,000 words a day. I just go by words. And then I’m totally brain-dead and go out, take the dog for a walk and that’s it. I work maybe five, six days a week. If I started at, say, 10 in the morning, I’m done by 2:30. Those are good hours, right? You can’t complain about those hours!

Do you write on a computer?

Yeah, but I cannot outline on a computer. I do a chapter-by-chapter outline of every book. I can’t work without an outline. I have to know everything that’s going to happen in the book first. It’s one of these mysterious things. I have to write it by hand, and it comes so much better. But I would never write [the book] by hand.

There’s something about getting it out on paper first that I find very helpful in the brainstorming stage

I don’t even print manuscripts anymore at all. I had these universities asking for my archive–I have no archive! [Laughs] They say, “We would love to house your archives.” Well, one thing when you live in an apartment is you can’t keep things, right? I can’t keep stacks of old manuscripts and letters. I have no archive at all. I have nothing. It’s kind of embarrassing.

Read next: R.L. Stine: Twitter Is “Really Good For My Ego”

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TIME natural disaster

How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Dust Storm
Arthur Rothstein—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Father & sons walking towards shack, pace slowed by dust storm, in the Great Plains in the 1930s

April 14, 1935: The worst dust storm in history descends on the Great Plains—exactly four years before 'The Grapes of Wrath' is published

The dust fell so thickly on this day, April 14, 80 years ago, that even Okies and Texans inured to dust storms thought the end of the world was upon them. The fast-moving, low-hanging black cloud caught them unprepared, trapping motorists in their cars and forcing those who were caught out in the open to drop to their knees and crawl blindly toward shelter, according to an account by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “Afternoon brightness [plunged] immediately into midnight darkness,” noted one National Weather Service observer.

It became known as the Black Sunday storm — the worst on record in the drought-stricken Great Plains. An Associated Press reporter and photographer who had tried to outrun the storm in a car were trapped for hours in the suffocating blackness. The next day, the reporter used the term “Dust Bowl” for the first time in print to describe the devastated region: “Three little words — achingly familiar on a western farmer’s tongue — rule life today in the dust bowl of the continent … ‘if it rains,’ ” he wrote.

Four years after Black Sunday, John Steinbeck marked the storm’s anniversary by publishing The Grapes of Wrath, the iconic tale of Oklahoma tenant farmers driven off their land and pushed into California in search of a new life. The fictional Joad family joined the real-life exodus of migrant farmers — roughly a quarter of a million of them, per TIME — who followed the same path out of desperation after the farms of the Great Plains were ruined by drought, overgrazing and unsustainable farming practices.

But in the promised land where Ma Joad dreamed of “a white house with oranges growin’ around,” they encountered hostility and living conditions not much better than in the dusty wasteland they’d left behind.

“Some of them camp in packing-box jungles and drink ditchwater; others are lucky enough to lodge in new government camps with modern plumbing and electric washing machines,” TIME observed in a 1940 article that compared the real-life migrant farmers to Steinbeck’s fictional ones. (Reviled as the penniless Okies were in California, TIME offered an ambivalent defense: “Strangely enough the incidence of venereal disease among the migrants is lower than among native Californians, and they have relatively little tuberculosis. Greatest plague: dietary diseases (scurvy and pellagra), resulting from lack of fresh meat and vegetables.”)

And while The Grapes of Wrath climbed to the top of the bestseller list, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became a “cornerstone of [Steinbeck’s] 1962 Nobel Prize,” according to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, TIME was similarly ambivalent about the merits of the book. In its review, TIME concludes:

The publishers believe it is “perhaps the greatest modern American novel, perhaps the greatest single creative work this country has ever produced.” It is not. But it is Steinbeck’s best novel… It is “great” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great — because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.

Read the full review of The Grapes of Wrath, here in the TIME archives: Oakies

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