Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tobacco Road” as Want to Read:
Tobacco Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tobacco Road

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  9,835 ratings  ·  456 reviews
Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual ...more
Kindle Edition, 187 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Open Road (first published 1932)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tobacco Road, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tobacco Road

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
May 30, 2015 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Howard
Probably thirty years ago, if not longer, I read the play based on this novel and until now that's all I knew of the book, besides its being steeped in controversy. I understand why it is, but I think those who take offense are looking at only one part of the picture. If you believe Caldwell is mocking the poor sharecroppers, then what is he saying about the townspeople who mercilessly ridicule them, and in their hearing, also cheating them of the little bit of money they might have? None of tha ...more
Cathy DuPont
In Palatka, Florida, 36 miles from where I live in St. Augustine, the Latimer Arts Center (Prairie School of architecture and quite lovely) Larimer Arts Center served as the county library from 1930 until 1992. Atop the arched entranceway are the phrases “Ignorance Breeds Crime” and “Knowledge is Power.” These two phrases have always intrigued me especially since I never thought of Palatka as the center of knowledge in northeast Florida. (In part, I must admit that comment is due to a local riva ...more
"Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will someday descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who liv
Once considered a classic of American literature, but rarely read today, I suspect, unless it is assigned, Tobacco Road is the remarkable story of the antics and tribulations of a destitute white trash family, the Lesters, written by Erskine Caldwell, and was later adapted into a play that was popular in the 1930s, and then adapted again to film by Nunnally Johnson in 1941. First published in 1932, it was followed the next year by Caldwell's other great work on poor whites in the South, God's Li ...more
Melanie Hierholzer
I am amazed that so many people on this website just did not get this book. Perhaps it has to do with their innate feelings about people from the South. Maybe they should look to own their prejudices.

This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. While there were certain humorous passages, I did not find this book in the least bit funny, and I cannot understand the thinking of anyone who did.

The Lesters were a family who were caught up in the end of an era - the era of sharecropping, b
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Book Circle Reads 148

Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: University of Georgia Press's sales copy--Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that
Such a harsh story of hard times in a hard place. Though the Lesters definitely appear to be more a type than a real family (in fact no one seems particularly real) rural poverty certainly was (and still is) real. There are many messages here about the loss of land, the state of tenant farmers, etc, but there are also messages about personal responsibility.

I have seen Tobacco Road labeled as satire -- and I wondered given the degree of realism present. But then I think of Granny behind the china
Second Reading.

Nathaniel Rich writes on "The Daily Beast" website, "As a comedy, Tobacco Road is a modest failure; as a tragedy, it is an abject failure" and that the novel is "as indelible as a freak show or car crash." Dwight Garner on the "Slate" website called it "a greasy hairball of a of the sickest and most lurid books to have emerged from the literature of the American South." Both writers, however, proceed to give the novel a generally positive review. Their conflicted resp
MSJ (Sarah)
Brutal. Horrific. Terrifying.

Tobacco Road has haunted me for days. The characters and their shenanigans have permeated my subconscious. I cannot help but dwell on it even when I am not actively reading.

Jeeter Lester and his family are unforgettable. They live in rural Georgia during the height of the Great Depression and practically starving to death on their sharecropper cotton farm. The men are amoral, ruthless, and liars. The women have physical deformities and are just as mean-spirited. It i
Diane Barnes
A quick read but not an easy read. I have no idea how to do a review of this book. First thing is to categorize it in my mind.

Tragedy? Too many comic moments in this book for that.
Comedy? Likewise, too much tragedy to give it that.
Love story? Not unless you count Lov's love of Pearl's yellow
hair curling down her back.
Documentary? Hmmmmm.......
Okay, that's not going to work.

Let's try this - just exactly what was Caldwell trying to say about these people? Did he love them or hate them? Was he ma
Quel sentimento era di nuovo dentro di lui. Jeeter lo sentiva più profondamente che mai, perché per sei o sette anni, ogni volta che aveva desiderato coltivar la sua terra, si era salvato dalla disperazione sperando di poterlo fare l’anno seguente. Ma quest’anno sentiva che se non riusciva a mettere nella terra il seme di cotone e il guano, non avrebbe potuto farlo mai più. Capiva che non poteva continuare eternamente ad aspettare ogni anno un credito che non arrivava mai. Egli s’indeboliva orm ...more
"Tobacco Road", written in 1932 in the tough years of the Great Depression, portrays a dirt poor white sharecropper and his family in Georgia. The Lesters have lived on the land for many generations, first growing tobacco and later cotton, until the land was depleted of nutrients. They have no money for seed and fertilizer, and even worse, no money for food.

Their older children have left the family to work in the mills in the city. But Jeeter Lester feels tied to the land, and refuses to look fo
Tobacco Road is the quintessential hillbilly book. First published in 1922, this book has no doubt shaped this country’s view of rednecks everywhere. Erm… really I want to write more about this but…

The thing is, author Erskine Caldwell apparently meant for this book to be a true portrayal of life amongst poverty stricken people in the rural South. But it is easy to see why so many people mistook Tobacco Road as a comedy. We are introduced to a few members of the Lester family; Jeter, Ada, Ellie
The story of the Lester's a 'white trash' family who lived on Tobacco Road in Augusta, Georgia during the Great Depression . It focuses around Jeeter the father, who appears amazingly indifferent towards his family ( including the 15 of 17 children who have already fled the poverty and devastation of the place ) Was he always like this or has the need to survive made him this way ? At times Jeeter is forced to stoop pretty low to try and sustain what's left of the family ( marrying off his 12 ye ...more
Just not feeling this book. At times I thought this book was a comedy act. Is it possible that these people would continue to starve instead of actually doing something about working?! I don't blame the children for leaving that life behind. Nothing was changing and it wasn't "life's greatest mystery" as to why they never had anything. Poverty and starvation are no laughing matters but when you do nothing to make a go of it, that's wrong. Also, two lives were lost due to car accidents ...more
This was a tough one to get through. Almost too raw for me, especially that end scene with the grandmother and the family's treatment of her. I was extremely disturbed by some scenes and almost hoped Caldwell meant this to be a parody of harsh, destitute country life. But no. Whereas Steinbeck illuminates our humanity, painting portraits of human dignity and courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy, Caldwell zeros in on our baser natures. The characters of Tobacco Road are cruel, vicious being ...more
Erskine Caldwell was the son of a Presbyterian minister. It seems his Caldwell ancestors hailed from an area where one of my Caldwell ancestors came from, although the two families appear to have been unrelated. As a good Presyberian, Erskine Caldwell couldn't help moralizing about personal responsibility, waste and lasciviousness, even if it was 3 years into the Great Depression. But as a rain-hardened Celt, a certain part of him seemed to be enjoying the craic. It struck me quite forcefully in ...more

Beyond Humanity…

Some considered Tobacco Road a pulp novel. Others said it is a failure either as a comedy or a tragedy. And of course, the entire South rejected it indignantly (but didn’t they do the same with Faulkner?) on the grounds of image denigration.

With all these more or less accurate descriptions, what made writers like Faulkner or Saul Bellow prize the book, moreover, why is it included in Modern Library's list of the Best 100 Novels in the English Language and, finally, how come is i
Wow, this is a strange one, and oddly thought provoking.

It seems to me this was meant to be a statement about social injustice, namely the mistreatment/dismissal of the poor. Often hard to stomach, Caldwell's cast are more caricatures than characters.

Yet while the main character Jeeter Lester is perpetually lazy, immoral, and simple, I couldn't help but feel for the tragedy of his circumstances. For despite his faults, and there are many, the man has noble the end of the day, he
My maternal grandfather grew up in Mississippi and when I was a kid we used to always go to visit his mother (my great-grandmother) for Thanksgiving. As a lower-middle-class white girl growing up in IL and FL, these visits to the deep south always included an interesting cultural lesson. I recall as an 8 year old girl walking down the sidewalk and having an elderly black man walking towards me step completely off the sidewalk to allow me to pass. I also recall many stories about my mom's extende ...more
Célia Loureiro
Foi a capa que, uma vez mais, me levou até este livro. Quando o recebi em mãos entendi que esta pequena obra de 200 páginas seria devorada com rapidez. Sucede que cada livro é uma caixinha de surpresas, e este não foi excepção...

A psiquiatria, nascida na Alemanha, deu o braço a várias teorias de eriçar os pêlos no século XIX. Durante a Grande Depressão (que começou em Out 1929 na América), essa ciência relativamente recente avaliava as capacidades das pessoas, a sua utilidade social. A "Eugenia"
My parents grew up in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, and took me to the farms and back roads of the Parish, which was in many ways like those depicted in "Tobacco Road" in Georgia. They would tell me stories of poverty and leaving the land and working in the sawmill or the oilfield and the stress on the families and their struggle to exist and their striving for a better life. Erskine Caldwell's "Tobacco Road" shows that hard life better than any book I've ever read.

The reason I was drawn to it was
Carolyn Bunkley
I devoured it, and found it fascinating, but can't say I really enjoyed Tobacco Road. It's a dismal story about some very unlikeable people stuck in horrible circumstances. Jeeter and his family are stuck in abject poverty, their way of life no longer able to support them, as if it ever did. Jeeter, a sharecropper living on a small part of what was once his grandfather's prosperous tobacco farm, can no longer eke out even the most meager existence. He still has dreams of planting a good crop of ...more
This shocking book was published almost eighty years ago. I have deliberately not read any introductory material on it. Erskine Caldwell wrote a preface about twelve years after it came out and again in 1978. I'll read those introductions tomorrow, but I want to post some of my views. In the Goodreads group "The Rough South," I've posted my idea that this novel is about patriarchy denied. While I won't elaborate much, it being about 5:00 a.m. right now, I'll say that what strikes me as unusual i ...more
i know this is on the modern library's best 100 list, but i found it simply disturbing. it seems like we were meant to laugh at the horrible people doing stupid things and making disastrous decisions, but what's the fun in that? why write a book of it?
on a good note, the character of ellie mae had captivating imagery. her blazing red split lip, pouring from her nostril; her always peering out from behind one or another chinaberry tree like some wild creature. the book isn't worth reading for th
Kirk Smith
More than a little humorous in a depraved sort of way. Like the story, like the characters, but damn it was repetitive. Caldwell must have been paid by the word as he repeated "cotton seed for planting and bat guano" at least a hundred times. More important to me as a precursor to the grit-lit we read today. An enjoyable book.
Simply marvelous on all sorts of levels, but simply required reading for anyone seeking a window into the folk strata of rural, white Southern spirituality - and the slavery and oppression it produces upon its adherents. A strong belief in the goodness and sovereign rights of God spawns dreams and hopes for tomorrow along with the strong expectation that if we are good enough or feel enough remorse for "bad things we done" then the good Lord will bring them about. And, if not, well, there's alwa ...more
When Tobacco Road was published in 1932, it was banned by public libraries in the South. The author was even prosecuted for obscenity. The book paints a realistic portrait of a white sharecropper family in Georgia during the Great Depression. The realistic sex and violence portrayed in book is what contributed to its being banned. By today's sex and violence standards, this book is tame. What bothers me more is that such an ignorant family as the Lesters even existed. I can't believe that people ...more
R.W. Ridley
Erskine Caldwell is now officially my favorite author. He writes with a total devotion to the story without letting his own personal views and concerns enter the story. There is zero judgement in his writing. The characters are ignorant, sexist, racists and entirely unlikeable, but that's the beauty of Caldwell's writing. He doesn't give you a story that will make you feel better about yourself. He gives you a story that makes you feel uneasy and angry. And he does this using dark and twisted hu ...more
Seham .
حاصد القطن كالدويل كان قد كتب:
كان رجلاً يحب أن يُنبت بعض الأشياء في الأرض. والمصانع لا تصلح محلاً لرجل تجري تلك الرغبة القوية في دمائه. فالمصانع تشبه السيارات بعض الشبه، إنها صالحة لقضاء فترة من الوقت يلهو فيها الإنسان، لكنها لا تزوّده بالحُب الذي تغدقه الأرض عليه. فالأرض تسهر بشكل من الأشكال على مصلحة الناس الذين يُبقون أقدامهم فوقها. وحين يقف الناس طول الوقت على الألواح الخشبية المنصوبة في الابنية ويمشون في الشوارع المفروشة بالاسمنت فعندئذ تفقد الأرض اهتمامها بالإنسان.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
On the Southern L...: Initial Impressions, Tobacco Road, June, 2015 41 27 Jun 08, 2015 11:48AM  
  • Studs Lonigan
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 3rd Movement
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • The Ginger Man
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • U.S.A., #1-3
  • Parade's End
  • Point Counter Point
  • Loving
  • The Golden Bowl
  • Ironweed
  • Appointment in Samarra
  • The Death of the Heart
  • The Alexandria Quartet  (The Alexandria Quartet #1-4)
Erskine Preston Caldwell was an American author. His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native South won him critical acclaim, but they also made him controversial among fellow Southerners of the time who felt he was holding the region up to ridicule.
More about Erskine Caldwell...
God's Little Acre Georgia Boy Journeyman Trouble in July قصه های بابام

Share This Book

“She could sometimes stand the pain of it in her stomach when she knew there was nothing to eat, but when Lov stood in full view taking turnips out of the sack, she could not bear the sight of seeing food no one would let her have.” 0 likes
More quotes…