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In the Shadow of the Cypress

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  300 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Thomas Steinbeck has been praised by Publishers Weekly for his stylistic brilliance and “accomplished voice.” Now, his enthralling novel In the Shadow of the Cypress blends history and suspense with literary mastery and brings vivid realism to California’s rich heritage.

In 1906, the Chinese in California lived in the shadows. Their alien customs, traditions, and language
ebook, 256 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Pocket Books (first published 2010)
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In the Shadow of the Cypress is an unusual and engrossing read. The book is told from three points of view: that of Dr. Charles Gilbert, a professor at Stanford University in 1906, that of his contemporary, Dr. Lao-Hong, a Harvard-educated Chinese who takes an active role assisting the Chinese community, and that of Charles Lucas, a graduate student at Stanford in the present. At the center of the book is a mystery of unique Chinese artifacts that were first discovered in Northern California in ...more
Aug 09, 2010 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that when I picked up a copy of this book that I was quite skeptical about what it would be like. After all, anyone who is the offspring of a world-renowned author has huge shoes to fill and high expectations to meet if they are to ever be viewed as anything other than someone setting out to ride their parent's coattails.

So, I started nibbling at the beginning of the book. Then I started to chew, and I found that the story was so interesting and engaging to me that I couldn't he
Apr 05, 2010 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts out with Dr. Charles Lucas; Department of Marine Studies at the Stanford University reading a diary entry dated 1906 written by Dr. Charles H. Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert was a Stanford professor of Marine Biology. Readers are transported back in time through Dr. Gilbert’s diary entries to a time when the Chinese were considered outsiders but who had lots of mystery surrounding them. The Chinese had many priceless artifacts in their possession like jade. Dr. Gilbert shares about his di ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it, but it wasn't fantastic. I found it hard to believe that Dr. Gilbert's first journal entry was 54 pages long, but I enjoyed that section of the book the most. The modern-day section seemed to fall into place too perfectly; there were no real obstacles. Luke finds an expert in ancient Chinese texts very easily; he turns out to be the son of a wealthy business man who can provide them with all the money and resources they need, and also ends up being the grandson of Dr. Lao-Hung. That ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Pretty impressive in places. Enjoyed the setting and the method of narration. Some sections seemed heavy-handed, but overall they held together well. Most enjoyed the ongoing connection between John Steinbeck and his son Thomas Steinbeck about the Chinese in CA (loved Lee in East of Eden).
Dec 22, 2016 Juanita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review: In The Shadow of The Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck.

This was another interesting story where Thomas Steinbeck combines history and suspense with creativity that gives vivid realism to California’s wealthy legacy. This is well written story and the characters were too developed and as a reader I found them predictable because of their history/culture of their traditional personality traits. After reading for years most readers assume what a person will do in a situation because of their cust
Steve Shea
Dec 14, 2015 Steve Shea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely dreadful. I kept listening for some resolution to the interesting underlying questions brought up in this historical novel, and didn't find them.

It's hard to write through a minefield, and the author deserves thanks for trying, but I'm afraid he ran afoul of the mines in the process.

The underlying story is about a Chinese fishing village in Monterey which was burned down, probably by local white residents or thugs hired by a railroad that wanted the land. The author is clearly sympa
Kae Cheatham

I borrowed this book from my Public Library, with hopes (encouraged by the jacket flap info) of having an interesting story and presentation.

I was disappointed.

The story is in two parts, with the historical segment of finding artifacts near the Pacific Grove Chinese community in 1906. The interest, consternation and subsequent handling of the items covers the first half of the book. Then is the contemporary story of Charles (Luke) Lucas who stumbles upon some of the 1906 information and begins h

Chris Blocker
For some reason, I have dragged my feet on writing this review. It's been a while, and the book wasn't incredibly memorable in the first place, so I doubt this review will have much relevance. Regardless, here it is...

I promised myself I wouldn't mention John Steinbeck in this review. The work of Thomas Steinbeck should stand on its own; even mentioning that he is his father's son seems unnecessary and insulting to the work of Thomas. Well, I lied.

It's hard not to think of John when Thomas' char
Jun 26, 2010 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who love well written and lyrical novels built around historical events, Thomas Steinbecks IN THE SHADOW OF THE CYPRESS will provide several hours of reading pleasure as well as a captivating and informative history lesson.

His tale begins with the recovery of ancient Chinese artifacts accidently unearthed in the vicinity of Monterey Bay, California circa 1906. This discovery provides the foundation for this illuminating chronicle that not only tells of the lives of Chinese immigrants
Apr 07, 2010 drey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Shadow of the Cypress is a two-part story. The first details the discovery of ancient artifacts that seem to show that the Chinese had actually arrived on California soil way before the Spanish did, with the fleet that the Ming emperor Zhu Di sent out to explore the world. The grand admiral heading this expedition is none other than Zheng He, whom I like to imagine is an ancestor in my family tree... Yes, I have a very active and fertile imagination! Now, to find someone who can look up a ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Cinnamon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review
IN THE SHADOW OF THE CYPRESS by Thomas Steinbeck was certainly an interesting read. First following an ancient discovery and then finding out how that impacts the lives of the researchers who come in contact with it, readers are taken through a whirlwind of events that leave the mind excited and energized.

If there is one thing I can say about Mr. Steinbeck’s writing, it’s that he really does seem to have a way of instilling life into this book. It’s easy to get bogged down in a complicated stor
Jun 02, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Thomas Steinbeck's "In The Shadow of the Cypress" shows him to be an outstanding heir to his father's literary legacy.

Steinbeck the younger presents a tale that starts in Monterey's Chinatown in 1906. Dr. Charles Gilbert, of the Hopkins Marine Station, writes a journal about some artifacts found buried at the base of a cypress: a carved jade seal with an imperial "chop" and a navigational tablet -- items which may just prove that the Chinese explored the West Coast before the Spanish. His
Nov 19, 2016 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has been sitting around a while, waiting to be read. I finally got to it. I was underwhelmed and disappointed.

Although the basic premise of the story is interesting, it was Thomas Steinbeck's writing that made this a bit of a slog. A mystery story devoid of conflict and with minimal suspense isn't exactly an edge-of-your seat read. To make it worse, the younger Steinbeck, unlike his father, does not draw the reader into the lives of his characters. In fact, the characters are barely al
Laura de Leon
Mar 30, 2010 Laura de Leon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, review-copy
How odd-- a hidden treasure novel with no villain.

In the last third of the book, I was trying to figure out why the pacing seemed so strange. The plot was moving along, the events were interesting, but it still felt like nothing was happening. I then realized that we were straightforwardly moving towards the resolution of the puzzle, and no one was trying to keep this from happening!

I'm not sure that this is good or bad. It makes for a very intellectual plot, and there is no "thriller" aspect to
Juliet Doubledee
Dec 27, 2012 Juliet Doubledee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: california, history
Really enjoyed this book! Was very informative and made one ask questions about who really did explore North America first, China or Spain.

As a Californian who enjoys visiting the Monterey Peninsula Area it was great to heard about areas I have visited, and the possibilty that an ancient fleet from China could have explored this area in the 1400s and planted the famous Cypress.

This book by Thomas Steinbeck tells a fictious story about the finding of a tablet and offical jade seal in 1906 that wa
From my blog...
In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck is a unique story told primarily through the journal entries of Dr. Charles H. Gilbert beginning with the China Point fire of 1906. China Point was a fishing village and will prove later in the novel to be a pivotal point of mystery and intrigue. Before that point the reader is taken back to when Dr. Gilbert first became acquainted with and hired, William "Red Billy" O'Flynn to work one day a week at Hopkins Laboratory. Dr. Gilbert
Feb 09, 2011 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
I delved into this novel with much anticipation and found it enjoyable on several levels. Being a great fan of Thomas' father John made this a must read. Visiting Steinbeck country back in 2007 furthered my interest because I was familiar with the setting. My attention was piqued with the wealth of historical information regarding Chinese culture in California. The novel's premise of the Chinese exploring and assimilating into native American culture before Columbus is certainly intriguing and w ...more
Jul 14, 2010 J.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There are familiar aspects to this novel. Monterey. Marine biology. Affection for the Chinese. An assortment of odd characters. These I anticipated, given the author’s name and relationship.

The plot also attracted me. A scientific treasure hunt which could overturn centuries of smug certainty and reveal great historical mysteries. This was the promise.

Steinbeck tells his story in three voices. First we have the viewpoint of the scientist, Dr. Charles Gilbert who accidently stumbles onto the secr
Jan 06, 2013 Gordon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read 1421: The Year China Discovered America I thought there was ample material for a novel or perhaps a series of novels. I thought I'd give it a whirl since I have written a couple of piles of unpublishable pages. Upon more research I found that 1421 was already a novel disguised as history and based largely on supposition. I'll wait for a truly scholarly work on the subject.

When I started In the Shadow of the Cypress I soon realized where it was headed. The book is two parts. The
Jason H
Oct 02, 2013 Jason H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me mixed feelings. The first and middle portion of the book was very fascinating, well depicted and very detailed. The last portion was not as well written in my opinion. Still it was good, but not as good as the previous sections. The characters from the first two sections were very well described, I felt like I knew them personally. The characters in the last section however, made me think differently about them and I couldn’t relate as well. The second section of this book was ...more
Jun 17, 2010 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wasn't sure when I started to read this book, whether I would like it or not. It's not my usual genre. I only read it because it's what I was sent to read for the Library's Readers Choice program. I work at Magna Library and as staff, we get to read books they are considering for Reader's Choice. Even though it wasn't Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I decided to read it. AM I glad I made that choice. What a unique gem of a book! It begins in the early 1900s with a Professor at a University in Northern Califor ...more
William Bentrim
In The Shadow of The Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck

This book is a multigenerational saga of mysterious treasures and information. It reads like a journal in some spots and more like fact than fiction.

My initial reaction to the book wasn’t overly positive. It seemed somewhat dry and boring. The style was almost contrary to excitement. The story turned out to be interesting and thought provoking. I’m fond of history so I ended up enjoying the story as it read like history. It is speculative fiction
The first two sections were sort of interesting, but I'd have liked either a little more narrative of the treatment of Chinese people in California in those days (awful, by a long shot); or village life, and how the village council was set up; or the politics of the Three Families and how they ran things, how far their reach was. I feel like I needed something more in the first two sections, because the last part was great. I liked the modern search for the sunken treasure and the young man's su ...more
May 16, 2011 james rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yep! You got it right. The author is the son of the famous author John Steinbeck. This is his first novel, published when he was 65. The action takes place in Monterey, CA one hundred years ago and also present times. The basis of the story is a fictional tale of a massive Chinese fleet that explored the Pacific coast of North and South America in the early 1400s. (Check out the book 1421.) Those early explorers planted artifacts with writing in Chinese, Persian, and Tamil describing the fleet a ...more
ted strutz
After reading a glowing book review I was looking forward to reading In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck. The book was slow to get into, but enjoyable to read and with a great plot premise I was expecting a good story. It was okay, but ended when it should be getting started with an epilogue that tied everything up in neat 'happy ending' bows. With the exception of the first character, who is introduced writing in his journal and the Chinese Dr., the modern day characters were not b ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Older teen through adult
I finished this book a few days ago, and as much as I enjoyed "In the Shadow of the Cypress", I found that the characters themselves weren't very memorable. I wanted a more personal feel for the characters with a bit more development - maybe then they would have felt more real, and stuck in my mind more.

The storyline was very interesting with a wonderful historical background rich in Chinese culture. I enjoyed the description of the fishing experience, and could almost smell and taste the food.
Sean Macmillan
Jan 17, 2015 Sean Macmillan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Steinbeck definitely inherited his dad's writing gene. The story begins in 1906 when, after the big quake that shook California, Chinese artifacts are discovered buried beneath a Cypress tree along the Monterrey coast. The man who finds them brings them to his employer, Dr. Gilbert. The two go on to try and uncover just what they have found. Dr. Gilbert believes the artifacts might prove that the Chinese had explored the Americas long before Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately, through ci ...more
This is a tale of the consequences of a discovery of Chinese artifacts in California. If I had not already read 1421: The Year China Discovered Americaby Gavin Menzies, I might have been more enthralled by this book. This is the sort of book that rises or falls based on the impact of its ideas rather than its characters or plot. These ideas weren't new to me.

On the other hand, if Thomas Steinbeck does write the novel dealing with the origins of the Olmec heads that he playfully mentions in his a
Dr. Lucas, a Marine Studies professor has possibly com across one of the most exciting finds in his life. While reading a journal written back in 1906 by another Marine Biology professor, Dr. Gilbert. In this diary, Dr. Gilbert writes about the Chinese, who at the time were outcasts. When Dr. Lucas finds the part about some priceless pieces that belonged to the Chinese and the possibility that they were here first. The answer lies in the shadow of the cypress.

The writing is good and I liked that
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Thomas Steinbeck was an American novelist, screenwriter, photographer, and journalist. He published numerous works of fiction, including short stories and novels. He was the oldest son of American novelist John Steinbeck.
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