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Sir Brendan Barber on John Steinbeck

Episode 8 of 9

Trade unionist Sir Brendan Barber chooses the American novelist, John Steinbeck. With Matthew Parris. From 2013.

Matthew Parris is joined by trade unionist Sir Brendan Barber who nominates American author John Steinbeck as his Great Life. The author of The Grapes of Wrath aimed to fight the cause of the common man, was derided by the right as a Communist and by the left as a sell-out for supporting the Vietnam war. Brendan Barber picks through the politics and explains how Steinbeck influenced him as a teenager to look towards joining the trade union movement.

After early success, describing the catastrophic effects of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl in Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck became war correspondant, nobel laureate, presidential speechwriter, Hollywood scriptwriter, and environmentalist. Professor Christopher Bigsby from the University of East Anglia helps guide us through the life of a man described as 'America's Charles Dickens'.

Producer: Melvin Rickarby

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2013.

Available now

30 minutes


Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Parris
Interviewed Guest Brendan Barber
Producer Melvin Rickarby


  • Tue 24 Sep 2013 16:30
  • Fri 27 Sep 2013 23:00
  • Thu 17 Oct 2019 18:30
  • Fri 18 Oct 2019 00:30

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