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Tobacco Road

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  8,657 ratings  ·  393 reviews

Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1922. 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

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Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published April 1st 1932 by Recorded Books (first published 1932)
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Scot
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
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
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
...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
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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
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Fewlas
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
Megan
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
...more
Trudi
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
Travelin
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
Sheri
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
Stela

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
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David
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
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Shaun
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 intentions...at the end of the day, he
...more
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
Frederick
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
tai
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
...more
Dan
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
Harley
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
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.
Veronica
Mar 19, 2012 Veronica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Veronica by: Modern Library's 100 Best Novels
By God and by Jesus (oft repeated by Tobacco Road’s Jeeter Lester), this was a distressing read. If this is any indication of the effects of severe poverty and economic depression, we’d better get our heads out of our proverbial backsides posthaste.

The depression era Lester family is living, or rather, eking out a living south of Augusta, Georgia. Once cotton farmers, they lose their plantation and then their home to modern equipment and rapacious money lenders. Without food, money or purpose, o
...more
Susan Klinke
Bad off, bankrupt, beggared, behind eight ball, bereft, broke, busted, dead broke, deficient, depleted, deprived, destitute, devoid of, dirt poor, divested, down-and-out, drained, empty-handed, exhausted, flat broke, fortuneless, hard up, impecunious, impoverished, in need of, in want, indigent, insolvent, lacking, moneyless, necessitous, needy, on the breadline, on the rocks, pauperized, penniless, penurious, pinched, played out, poor, poverty-stricken, stone broke, strapped, stripped, totaled, ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
May I be honest? I'd forgotten this piece of......waste material, until I ran across it here. I had it on my shelf in paperback form back in the flaming days of my youth when anything supposedly "racy" will catch a young man's attention. Here's a secret. It's not racy, it's not daring and if it's accurate about some of the poverty in the south in it's era, it's purely by accident. I didn't bother to slog all the way through this book and I have no idea what happened to the copy from my shelves.

M
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Curtis
Absolute garbage- both the novel and its characters. Although I am originally from New Hampshire, I spent over a decade living in various small and medium sized communities in the South, some of them very poor and rural. The depictions of "poor white trash" engendered by Mr. Caldwell are such stereotypical cliches, they are barely worth analyzing. Having worked as a physician in some of the most poverty stricken areas in Mississippi and Louisiana, I found that while lacking in certain social cha ...more
Pamela
This is one of those books which, as you read a sentence or paragraph or episode, seems trivial and slightly annoying, but as soon as you move onto the next sentence, paragraph, episode, you realize how brilliant and disturbing/moving/upsetting what you just read really is. It is also one of those books where, when you finish it, you can't get it out of your mind.

To be fair, Lester Jeeter is trash. His family is trash. Neither he nor they have anything closely resembling what any "normal" peopl
...more
Dominic
Erskine Caldwell book plays tricks with the reader. It is part comedy, part tragedy. Part social commentary, part farce. But the book is so well written, so subtle even in its blunt and shocking escapades, that the reader is left in wonder.

The Lester family is so unlikeable, so depraved and so deprived, it is hard to read Tobacco Road without your mouth hung open in astonishment--as if you were staring dumbly down Bessie's "double barrel" nose or the slit in Ellie May's lip. The humanity of thes
...more
J
In 1998, the Modern Library released a list of the 100 Best American Novels to much acclaim and much derision. Randian poltroons and sci-fi nerds and feminists and African-Americans and librarians and English majors and everyone but my mom whipped up a complaint about the list’s validity, but I was enchanted. I love lists; I love year-end best-of lists; I love lists by the famous and infamous; I love supposedly impartial lists; and I love self-improvement reading lists. With books, I tend to tak ...more
Jessica Snyder
The Plot:

The story follows a few days in the lives of the Lesters -- a hillbilly family of former sharecroppers living on their former employer's land beside a "tobacco road." Jeeter, the self-doomed patron of the Lester family, is obsessed with trying to farm the land again despite its increased infertility and his toxic reputation amongst creditors. His family is so consumed with hunger that they have room for few thoughts, other than wanting a fashionable dress to die in, (his wife), a workin
...more
Wafa
رواية ذات أسلوب رائع جدا، تحكي قصة مزارع في أمريكا يشكو الفقر والعوز إلى درجة عجز معها الحصول على طعام لعائلته.
يبدأ أفراد عائلته بالتخلي عنه واحدا بعد الآخر عدا ابنته اللي ماي و ديود اللذان لم يجدا مكانا يذهبان إليه...

تجسد الحكاية كيف أن وله شخص بشيء ما لا ينتهي أبدا حتى عندما يدرك الجميع والشخص ذاته أيضا أن الشيء مستحيل.. فهنا يحاول جيتر(المزارع) أن يزرع الأرض ببذور القطن عاما بعد عام مع أنه لا يملك لا بذور القطن ولا السماد للأرض ولا بغلا ليحرث الأرض..

استعجبت جدا من العلاقة الإنسانية التي تربط
...more
Daryl
Extreme poverty in the rural south in the years of the depression. That about says it all. There's not one admirable -- or even likable -- character in this novel, but I was still fascinated with their story. The characters are ignorant, helpless, and hopeless, but the writing is smart, crisp, and intriguing. Caldwell doesn't romanticize the characters, but presents them realistically with all their flaws (and they have plenty) intact. The destruction of a brand-new car (through nothing but igno ...more
Jeff
Tobacco Road, Erkine Caldwell, 1932. A strange and vulgar little novel set in rural Georgia during the Great Depression. The main characters consist of a family of poverty stricken share croppers. All are illiterate, shallow, with out guilt or remorse, almost sub-human. Reptilian like in action, they react impulsively to their needs of food, sex and shelter. The Depression, like a horrific sledge hammer, has fallen upon them with terrific blows, leaving only hopelessness and despair. This book w ...more
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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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erskine_...
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“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
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