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Extended Audio Sample Tobacco Road Audiobook, by Erskine Caldwell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.22 out of 53.22 out of 53.22 out of 53.22 out of 53.22 out of 5 3.22 (36 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Erskine Caldwell Narrator: John MacDonald Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9781455171644
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Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road 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 one day descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them.

Caldwell’s skillful use of dialect and his plain style make the book one of the best examples of literary naturalism in contemporary American fiction. The novel was adapted as a successful play in 1933.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Caldwell displays a talent which is unique.”

    New York Times

  • “A good many people will be shocked, but it is a story of force and beauty.”

    New York Post

  • “Mr. Caldwell’s humor, like Mark Twain’s, has its source in an imagination that stirs the emotions of the reader.”

    New York Herald Tribune

  • “An original, mature approach to people who ignore the civilization that contains them as completely as it ignores them.”

    Nation

  • “Caldwell’s book is…well served by this classy performance, which manages to highlight the realism amid the rambunctiousness.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 2/20/2014

    " This was a surprise for me. I expected to it to be more down. But Erskin C. has a way of describing situation and people that is funny and touching and takes away the depression you expect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Old_airman | 2/17/2014

    " An interesting read about a place far far away. Rather strange behavior, IF this had taken place in the last 50 years. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michelle | 2/16/2014

    " This might have some value as a look into the poverty of white sharecroppers in the 1930s. But, man alive, I'd rather hit my head on a wall than listen to this audio book again. The characters were all complete dimwits and just repeated over and over and over and over their same thoughts. It was all-around a pretty horrible story of suffering, destitution, hopelessness, ignorance, and cruelty. Blah. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 1/30/2014

    " Funny and heartbreaking and, despite the satire, still so very true. Also oddly relevant to our current times. For me the best comic novels are rooted in the profoundly tragic. It is a hard line to walk, but Caldwell holds his own for the most part. Not perfect, but close enough. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca Behar-johnson | 1/24/2014

    " Good book. Vibrant portrait of share cropping, farming and poverty. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Penny | 1/19/2014

    " E Caldwell wrote two books about the cultural aspects of Georgia/North Carolina in the 1930's. The book was repetitious. E Calwell has been compared to William Faulkner, but I didn't feel his writing was strong or noteworthy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol Waters | 1/18/2014

    " OK, I laughed. A lot. Sucks to be a Lester. GREAT death scenes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa Kayden | 1/17/2014

    " Not the most uplifting book, actually kind of depressing. I'm pretty sure Jeeter might be the mist unlikable character I've read. This book made me realize how bleak life can seem if you are truly living in poverty. An interesting classic from the 30s that I'm glad I got around to reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Rhodes | 1/6/2014

    " I read this so long ago that i hardly remembered it until i read others reviews on it and I do agree with most of them but i like to see what the different writers have to give us. I also read the others by mr caldwell. He is an excellent writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Catherine Mustread | 1/5/2014

    " Jeeter Lester, a poverty stricken Georgia farmer, finds hope when his 16-year-old son Dude marries sister Bessie, a woman preacher. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Grace | 1/5/2014

    " This is well-written but it's relentlessly depressing. I might have enjoyed it more if I was in a different frame of mind but my contempt for the characters prevented me from developing any sympathy for them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emily | 12/20/2013

    " Meh. Didn't have the depth of a Steinbeck novel, and left me wondering what the point was. Not un-readable by any means, just pass-over-able. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 George | 11/20/2013

    " Wonderful, I must read other books by this author. Is this his best book? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candace Petersen Martineau | 11/18/2013

    " Fascinating book. Some parts were just unbelievable, lacking Steinbeck's realism, but still thought-provoking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 10/22/2013

    " Dark humor at its best (or worst, I can't decide). A complete mixture of the extremely comical with the extremely disturbing. Sex, voyeurism, and religion, oh my. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlton | 4/25/2013

    " The characters in Tobacco Road are probably the most frustrating I have encountered since "Sophie's choice" (read: well-written). The combination of ignorance/stubbornness lends itself to tragically comical situations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 3/31/2013

    " Good grief, how messed up can one family be? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 12/21/2012

    " Different, but not always interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mjackman | 10/27/2012

    " Wow. I can't believe this was one of the best-selling books of the 1930s. It's a ribald, ruthless, riotous and raw look at rural folk hard-bitten by the Depression. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Henry | 9/18/2012

    " I learned how to play the song in the 60's but hadn't ever read the book. It is intense. I can't imagine living like this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lainy | 9/4/2011

    " Very different kind of book. The characters are....interesting? bizarre? disgusting? all of the above! It's short and a fast read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 5/8/2011

    " If there are a more pathetic, imbecilic group of individuals than the Jeeters....then I want to know about them. This is hilarious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lainy | 4/29/2011

    " Very different kind of book. The characters are....interesting? bizarre? disgusting? all of the above! It's short and a fast read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christina | 3/27/2011

    " One of the most disturbing books I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 3/22/2011

    " Southern Gothic at its best. A little trashy and absurd, but I couldn't wait to find out what they were going to do next. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Grace | 3/10/2011

    " This is well-written but it's relentlessly depressing. I might have enjoyed it more if I was in a different frame of mind but my contempt for the characters prevented me from developing any sympathy for them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deb | 3/3/2011

    " I was so incredibly disappointed with this book. Kept waiting to care about the characters. Never happened. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 2/11/2011

    " Dark humor at its best (or worst, I can't decide). A complete mixture of the extremely comical with the extremely disturbing. Sex, voyeurism, and religion, oh my. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 1/25/2011

    " Portrays a humanity most of us will never know. Superb in use of local dialect akin to Twain's in Huckleberry Finn.

    After reading this, I am even more grateful for having at least a modicum of education and seasoned understanding. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 1/25/2011

    " Not the most uplifting book, actually kind of depressing. I'm pretty sure Jeeter might be the mist unlikable character I've read. This book made me realize how bleak life can seem if you are truly living in poverty. An interesting classic from the 30s that I'm glad I got around to reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 1/19/2011

    " A sad tragedy of errors, not unlike Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. So far this year, Dead Author's Book Club has been pretty depressing... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 12/29/2010

    " It is said to be comedic and at points I could see that, however the book is so thouroughly tragic, my heart broke for every individual character for different reasons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Koz | 12/22/2010

    " I would give this 3.5 if I could. Hate not having half stars.

    I know I will probably have my liberal arts degree revoked, but this book is what "Grapes of Wrath" could have been: Entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Drew | 12/6/2010

    " Haunting, yet riveting throughout. The ending is very tragic in an almost Grapes of Wrath style. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leanne | 11/21/2010

    " Pulled it off the shelf as a young teenager. Hated it. Would love to read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marget | 11/2/2010

    " I love this time frame/era. Caldwell writes as if he IS the characters in the book...You really get a feel for what life was like during the depression. "

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About the Author
Author Erskine Caldwell

Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987) was an American author known for his writings about poverty, racism, and social problems in his native South. As one of the first authors to be published in mass-market paperback editions, he is a key figure in the history of American publishing. Three of his books were made into movies, and the stage adaption of Tobacco Road made American theater history when it ran for seven-and-a-half years on Broadway.

About the Narrator

John MacDonald (1952–2008) was a director, producer, and founder of the Washington Stage Guild in Washington, DC. A graduate of Catholic University, MacDonald was a popular figure in the Mid-Atlantic theater scene. He made dozens of recordings for the Talking Book program at the Library of Congress before entering the commercial audiobook field.