Book Reviews of The Good Earth

The Good Earth
The Good Earth
Author: Pearl S. Buck
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ISBN-13: 9780743272933
ISBN-10: 0743272935
Publication Date: 9/15/2004
Pages: 368
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 497

4.1 stars, based on 497 ratings
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

115 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Good Earth on + 373 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
Beautifully rich in writing, this epic novel tells the tale of man you'll love and hate, and love again. You'll feel for him as he struggles, cry with him as he despairs, and cheer with him as he triumphs. It's a good comment on the class system in place in China at the time, but also a comment on perseverance of spirit and integrity of character.
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Helpful Score: 9
I hadn't read this book since 8th grade. Now, 25 years later, I read it again and weep with the beauty of this book. Love, tolerance, deception, greed, pride all flowing as poetry. If you haven't read this book since high school, you, now as an adult must re-read to truly appreciate what makes this book the classic it is.
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Helpful Score: 6
You know, I've never lived on a farm - in fact I think I'd hate it - but I'm finding I love novels about farming and communing with land. They're very...(shudders) grounding. I really wish that weren't a pun, but it's the best word I know to describe it, and I suppose it helps explain the metaphor of spiritually settling things being described as grounding. The point is, I feel very settled at the moment.

Buck writes in a very stylized, almost awkward English that helps set the mood. It works, of course, in the subconscious expectation (at least I have) to hear about life in China in a stilted language, but it also evokes an almost biblical feeling, especially in her heavy use of repetition of the same words for the same things, over and over, and the repetition of phrases close together in a limited vocabulary.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil anything for anybody, but you're going to get Wang Lung, the simple farmer made good, and you're gonna get him warts and all, and you're gonna like him and you're gonna like him more and you're going to want things for him and you're gonna be sorry when the book ends.

And you're not going to be surprised that the book is called The Good Earth.
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Helpful Score: 5
I read this book for a book club that I was participating in. I found it to be very thought-provoking, and a great choice for a book club. One particular topic of interest to discuss in our club after reading the book is the perception of and treatment of women in the time of the book vs today.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 113 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I read this book many years ago, probably for school. I really liked it then, so when it was chosen as an Oprah book and I saw it in the store I picked it up to glance through it. Imagine my surprise when I was drawn in from the first page and so I bought the book. It was a nice surprise to reread this classic book and enjoy it as much as I did.

The story of Wang Lung, a poor farmer, and his wife O-lan is set in the time of the last Emperor and moves up to the start of the People's Revolution. It is a story filled with drama, love, loyalty, betrayal, perseverance and more. We come to care about Wang and O-lan and their extended family as they struggle with famine, drought, flooding, plague and more and yet always persevere, until achieving success beyond their dreams. This book was published in 1931, yet it doesn't feel dated at all. I am very glad I chose to read this book again.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 334 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I first read this book when I was a teenager, and it still speaks to me today, 40 years later. Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel of China long ago, its terrors, its passions, its rewards. Beautifully written novel.
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Helpful Score: 2
A WONDERFUL STORY. VERY EASY READ. SHOULD BE ENJOYED BY ALL.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Of course this book is hard to read for such hardships are always so perturbing, but this book is quite remarkable. The writing, storyline, and characters are all so superb that this book has stuck with me over a decade and I can read and re-read it a hundred times and it never gets old.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Pulitzer Prize winning classic tale of China. China when the Last Emperor rules and the rumbling of change is just a whisper of unease. Wonderful and humane book. One of the world's great books.
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Helpful Score: 2
This is a beautiful book that I wish I had read years ago. I look forward to reading his other novels as well. I loved reading about the Chinese history of classes and the protagonist's humble beginnings.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 132 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a classic that I read while in high school and just had to read it again recently. This particular book has several pages of photos that make it more interesting.
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Helpful Score: 2
A timeless classic. A must read for anyone...from 10 years old to 100 years old1!! Meant to read at different times on one's life.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
One of my all time favorites -- great look into China's history.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A wonderful story of China; but, more than that, a story of the lusts and passions of man. Wang Lung became that which he admired (a rich man) and lost the peace and goodness which the land gave to him.
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Helpful Score: 2
Maybe the best book I have ever read.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 57 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great classic. I read it about every 10 years.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The classic story of a Chinese farmer who makes something of himself. If your only memory of this novel is being forced to read it in high school, you might want to recoinsider it. It has much to say about wealth, true success, marriage, family, tradition and lots more. It's a great novel that holds up well through time.
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Helpful Score: 1
One of the greatest classics of our time, this is the powerfully moving story of peasant Wang Lung - of the family he founded that would one day become a powerful dynasty; of the gods he implored, sometimes with humility, someties with anger and above all of the earth that sustained him the land that he made to prosper against the ravages of nature and the savage attacks of bandit tribes.
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Helpful Score: 1
I first read this book when I was 10 years old. It was my introduction to Chinese culture and I have been interested in it ever since.

This book is not just a fascinating glimpse into another time and place though.. It is a thoughtful, endearing look at humanity at it's greatest and at it's worst.

I will never forget these people they have made such an impact on my life. Obviously I highly recommend this book. I never even blink when people ask me my favorite book of all time it's been the same since I was 10 and it will always be "The Good Earth."
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Helpful Score: 1
amazing Book!!!
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Helpful Score: 1
One of my all time Favoriates
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Helpful Score: 1
Pearl S. Buck led an incredible life, and so much of that life shines through in her novels. The Good Earth is captivating not only for the story, but for the lush, rich language that is the hallmark of Pearl Buck's novels. Definitely worth a read...or two...or three...
reviewed The Good Earth on + 5327 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book. Like a lot of other folks, I read it in high school, i re-read it now, and it stands up pretty well. She wrote it in 1931, and she uses a King James Version Old Testament style of writing, starting a lot of paragraphs with conjunctions-type words (and, but, then, now). Since it is something of a moralistic tale (a lot of what an American would recognize as being valued American traits), it works.

It mostly takes place in Anhui province (the wife O-Lan comes from Shandong), covering a period from the main character's wedding day until his old age approximately 30 years later, I perused looking for hints, it would appear to start at around 1900, since about 10 years in they take a train to an unnamed city in the south, and there were very few lasting train lines before 1900. But then she wrote a sequel to this called "Sons", which took the family story many years further (from Buck's perspective, that would have been the future), so the dates are a little of a mystery. However, that isn't really the key focus of the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
I read this book in high school (a VERY long time ago) and thoroughly enjoyed reading it again. This story is so rich and multi-layered as it describes life in rural China of years past. The storyline follows one family's life journey beginning with the central characters as young adults through the years as they become parents and grandparents. But their story represents all that is human: love, lust, greed, pride, compassion, understanding, respect, traditions, what is lasting and what is fleeting. It exposes and contrasts life in extreme poverty to the rich abundance and decadent indulgence of the extremely wealthy. A true classic.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book moved slowly in parts - but the story was Epic and very enjoyable.
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Helpful Score: 1
I was really excited to read this book. I read it in High School and remembered it well. This is a moving classic story of Wang Lung and his self-less wife O-Lan. It sweeps across China and shows the the changes that have occured in the lives of the Chinese people in the last century. It was depressing and awful. Yet wonderful at the same time.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a really good book. I loved the insight of Eastern culture.
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Helpful Score: 1
My mom started asking me to read this book when I was in High School, I was reluctent to read it as she was facinated with asian countries and I was more interested in Europe. I finally read this book about 4 years ago and as it always goes I wish I would have followed her advice years ago. Go Mom! this is one of the best books I have ever read. Read it you will love it.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was an amazing read. I could not put it down.
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Helpful Score: 1
The Good Earth is one of the best novels I have ever read. Even though it was written during the early part of the 20th century (around 1930, I think) it still applies today. Pearl S. Buck's writing style is still captivating today. This is truly a classic! As the story develops you can't help but find yourself evaluating your own life and values. It's refreshing to read a novel that makes you examine your own priorities in life. I recommend this book to everyone!
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Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. It opened my eyes to a whole culture.
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Helpful Score: 1
An amazing story of pre-revolutionary China told by Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning author, Pearl S. Buck.
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Helpful Score: 1
Fantastic book. Brought to light a whole lot of "Big Questions."
reviewed The Good Earth on + 97 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great book! Very enjoyable read. Timeless topics that are still relevant today. A true classic.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book is excellent! It is one of my all time favorites and left me in awe upon finishing. "A poignant tale about the life and labors of a chinese farmer during the sweeping reign of the country's last emperor" - from back cover
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Helpful Score: 1
This book is humbling and just incredible!!! If you have children you should read this!
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a classic I only just got around to, and that's fortunate. The Good Earth isn't a book I could have appreciated fully earlier in my life, but today I find a lot that resonates with me. Wang's attachment to the land and to his family defines him, but it's his sometimes petty behavior--his often insensitive treatment of O-lan, his greed, his stubborn pride--that humanizes him. In the essentials, he isn't foreign, he's utterly familiar, and I found myself becoming very involved in his life and troubles and triumphs. I'll think of him, and of what the book's eloquently simple language says about all of us, for quite a while.
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Helpful Score: 1
If you didn't read this in high school or college, read it now! For me, this story is the life of a farmer who is born poor and, until the very end, desires so much more of his life and for his family - including his wife, who is long-suffering and regal in her misery. It is a story of heartache and triumph, of slight and might - and in the end, it is the story of any place, time or people. I suppose you could call that timeless, although it doesn't quite fit here. Well-written and full of wisdom hidden in the struggles the farmer faces, I would recommend this book to anyone, young or old.
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Helpful Score: 1
though more than 60 years have passed since this remarkable novel won the pulitzer prize,it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics.i can only write what i know,and i know nothing but china,having always lived there., wrote miss buck.the good earth she presents a graphic view of a china when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for ordinary people.this moving , classic story of the honest farmer wang lung and his selfless wife o-lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occured in the lives of the chinese people during this century.nobel proze winner pearl s. buck traces the whole life cycle of life:its terrors, its passions,its ambitions and rewards.her brilliant novel- beloved by millions of readers-its universal tale of the destiny of man.
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Helpful Score: 1
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about China at a time when the last emperor reigned and centers on the life of a farmer, Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-lan. It's a wonderful book!
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Helpful Score: 1
Whether you are considering Pearl S. Buck for the first time, or re-reading her from years ago, it doesn't get much better.
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Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating insight to the Chinese culture. Having traveled to China 20 times, I must say that this book is beautifully written and true to the history and people of China. It is one of my favorite books. I've read it three times over the years and each time it seems like a new adventure. If you haven't read it yet, do. If you have read it, read it again and you might find even more that you missed the first time. It is a great modern classic. It was written in 1931 and yet this story is still considered must reading for students. It is a story that warms your heart and enlightens your mind and is as fresh today and it was when it was first published. Consider this book to be a literary gift.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting read by a great writer. As is usually the case, this novel is better than the film version, which starred Katherine Hepburn. I'm not criticizing Hepburn's acting abilities; it's just that I think they made a big mistake by 'Americanizing' the main female character, O-lan. We must remember that the novel is set in China of the 1920's, a time when Pearl Buck was also living there. At that time, Chinese women had few rights of their own, and though not to the extent depicted in the film, the novel does depict O-lan as a strong female character.

THE GOOD EARTH is an enjoyable, well written read, and it gives the reader great insight into rural and political China at a time when the last emperor reigned. It's the story of a young farmer and his new wife and their life together into old age.

Pearl Buck was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize. Thoughout her life, she was a human rights activist in many arenas, including campaigns for African American civil rights. She founded 'Welcome House' to find homes for mixed-race children fathered by servicemen in Asia and established the 'Pearl S. Buck Foundation' to provide foster care for Asian-American children that remained unadopted by American families.
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Helpful Score: 1
What a great book. I had never read this before and my interest was piqued by Oprah. It's a somber and fascinating insight into Chinese life at that time, I couldn't put it down once started.
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One of the best books I've ever read!!
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This book changed my life.
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This was such I good book. I couldn't not put it down!
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Highly recommended!
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Good lesson on values dragged in spots
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Very pleasantly surprised. Extremely engaging and interesting.
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If you need the extra help writing a paper, (or participating in class discussion), this copy would be very helpful, it has explanatory notes and an overview of key themes. If this book isn't still on required reading lists, it should be.
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The writing is superb. It drew me in and kept me reading. Very revealing of another side of the world and the raw human emotions and how they were dealt with in by the characters in such a different way than what we her in the US are familiar with. On the other hand I haven't finished it because I find it sad and had to put it away for another time to finish. What I have read so far sticks in my mind in a very emotional way. Read it for yourself and see if it moves your emotions.
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The writing was beautiful, and drew me in completely -- but so sad!
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This was a very enjoyable read. The chineses culture and classes were personalized and I could feel the draw that the farmer had to his land.
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The first part of this book is a wonderful depiction of a newly married poor man. He and his amazing wife are dedicated to their land and family, working hard together. The next part is gut wrenching as it shows terrible poverty and famine but the last part is worse as the reader witnesses how low humanity can get when wealth and lack of constructive activity are combined. The characters were happiest living a simple, honest life of labor on their bit of "good earth". Well worth reading for it's cultural perspective as well as it's lessons but it ends on a low note.
Parent info: I find it odd that this book was required high school reading since it's a bit sexually explicit.
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Of course this is a classic and very sad indeed.
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This was a book that was required reading for me in high school when I went back in 1969. Back then I thought this book was to high browed since had to be something required to read. Have found that her other books are more interesting now since have changed some of views about what is good and not.
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very interesting, we have no idea what poverty is!
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I loved this book
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The excellent simplicity of this book, was wonderful. I belong to a book club and we really discussed how the simple life living off the earth and giving back to the earth can make you happy. Excellent book, a pleasure to read.
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Great historical fiction, loved it.
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This book really drew me into the main character and pre-revolutionary China.
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A BEAUTIFUL story. I cannot believe that I had never read it before. It took me 28 years to pick this one up, and I am so glad I did.
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This was a wonderful book. The characters were so believable, I couldn't the book down.
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Loved it.
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I really loved this story and all the characters. I think my favorite part was how the story comes full circle, and I was also really moved by the struggle of this family as they are extremely poor when the novel starts, but with hard work and determination become a very wealthy family.
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This book was wonderful...and wonderfully written.
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"Though more than sixty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. "I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there," wrote Pearl Buck. In The Good Earth she presents a graphic view of a China when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for the ordinary people. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this century."
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Brand New, Excellent Condition
Oprah's Book Club
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Wonderful story,I could not put it down!
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One the the greatest classics of our time.

Moving story of peasant Wang Lung.
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I reread this book. I really enjoyed it the second time around more than the first. You really get a feel for the time and place of China. Peal Buck did an outstanding job on this most famous book
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I truly enjoyed the Good Earth, It was written in the 1930's about a very different China, that is today, yet gives some insight into the people and culture that is China.
Very well written, and a story of familial love and ambition and hard work, that paid off, but to what price?
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I remember reading this in elementary school, and it left quite an impression (along with the sequel, SONS). It tells of the rise of a young farmer, Wang Lung, from rags to riches (without giving too much away, it's not quite an Horatio Alger story). I can't tell exactly where it takes place, but, based on hints in SONS, this story appears to start in about 1870.
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A modern classic. The book shows graphic view of a China that was before the vast political and social upheavals transformed a agrarian country into the world power it is today. This touching story is a must read for those who would fully appreciate the remarkable changes that have occurred in the lives of Chinese people during the last half century.
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One of the greatest classics of our time, this is a powerful story of a peasant, Wang Lung and the dynasty he founded based on the acquisition of land and the importance of family. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
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Well written and interesting detail of life in China. But way too depressing for me.
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One of the great modern classics.
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In The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck present a graphic view of the China that was-when the last emperor reigned, and the vat political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for the ordinary people. Tis moving epic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this century.
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Buck's classic Nobel Prize-winning novel of a peasant in China, struggling with issues of class and issues of love. Simply written but emotionally powerful and accurate.
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Very good portrayal of Chinese life early 20th century written by Nobel Prize winner. This edition includes Reader\'s Supplement with historical background information, biographical data as well as photos, author\'s writing style and technique, and critical excerpts.
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I never had to read this in school, for which I was grateful for at the time - always heard other students complaining about it. I don't know why! I found this a very interesting story, which moved along quickly. Opium dens, adultery, wars, secrets, betrayls, lots of juicy stuff! I wish it had more detailed historical information, but it definitely gave me better appreciation of Chinese culture.
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I read this book as a required reading in 9th grade in high school English and it still stands out in my mind after ALL THOSE YEARS!! Highly recommend this one!!!
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One of several books in my high school required reading that I enjoyed.
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great,classic read.poignant story
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this was a wonderful book that we read at our book club. it stimulated great discussion!
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Masterpiece by a Nobel Prize winner - - This was one enjoyable read! I didn't want it to end although it pulled at my heart strings and made me teary-eyed in parts. The book offers a great historical account of pre-revolutionary China. When examining pre-revolutionary China, the American reader will develop an appreciation of our blessings in this life. The book depicts all kinds of love (marital love, parental love, friendly love, physical love). The book also follows the progression of life from youth, to adulthood, to the elder years. One of the best that I have read in quite some time. Should be on every college student's required reading list and every adult's to-be-read list if they missed it in high school or college.
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Fascinating historical bits ... a bit repetitive in it's storytelling devices. Still, very enjoyable.
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Very interesting! Well written.
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This 1935 Pulitzer Prize winner is a good example of why we miss out on some fantastic reading if the only books we read are those that have been published recently!Written over 70 years ago, this novel begins a generation before the Chinese revolution and centers around the life of an impoverished peasant, Wang Lung and his attempts to rise above poverty and live a respectable life as a land-owner. As his story unfolds we feel like were invisible observers peeking over his shoulder as he goes about doing the things that people like him had been doing for centuries. We first meet him as he prepares to go into the village and bring home the slave woman who his father has arranged for him to marry. Were also shown what life was like for Chinese peasant women at that time a time when women were not allowed to walk alongside their husbands, and mothers were congratulated for bearing sons but criticized if the baby happened to be a girl in which case she was frequently killed, sold into slavery, or subjected to the painful prospect of having her feet bound which was still being done at that time (because tiny little feet were considered to be an asset especially when men were looking for concubines.) I found it interesting that while the major characters in this novel were vividly portrayed especially Wang Lung, O-Lan his wife, Lotus his Concubine and her slave Cuckoo, many of the others were very rarely even referred to by name even though they were equally important to the narrative and just as well developed. Children were spoken of as first son and second son, siblings were older brother and younger brother and characters often referred to each other as that one or the son of your fathers brother, rather than by name. In fact, several important characters in the novel remained nameless to the reader all the way through. It seemed to underscore the importance of kinship relationships and the strict social norms that revolved around them. And so we watch the events and circumstances of Wang-Lungs life unfold within the cultural context of the late 19th century, but at the same time we are being reminded that the major themes of the book courage and conviction, the will to survive, family responsibilities and conflicts, hard work and the love of the land are universal.
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pulitzer prize winning novel...amazing read...about china when the last emperor rulled..a classic and honest story
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Great classic
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I liked this book even though it was sad in parts - it really made me think about how womens' lives are so different from mens' lives even in this day and age. This was very interesting reading and it was rich in the culture and history of China.
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Lovely read, old classic from the 1930's. VERY enjoyable.
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Great story of hope and despair. a glimpse at an interesting culture
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Classic reading.
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This is an incredible book! One of my all time favorites! This book will really make you appreciate everything you have!
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It took me a while to get through this book. It was recommended to me as a must read. I don't think it is a must read, but it ended up being a pretty interesting book about that time period.
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The story of a farmer and his selfless wife, The Good Earth draws the reader into the lives of ordinary Chinese people living prior to the twentieth century. Pearl Buck lived in China as both a child and as an adult. She has great empathy for the Chinese people and tells their stories beautifully and with great compassion.
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Always heard of this book and never got around to reading it. Didn't realize what I was missing. What a touching story.
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Oh my gosh, This is a beautiful book,I loved reading every page of it and I think everyone should read it.Could not put it down and I most likly will read it again.
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very interesting
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one of the best stories I've ever read- captivating view of a China in transition- the struggle between old and new ways, etc.
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Great Great book. As time changes, people really don't. Power and corruption see no generation. A must read!
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The author of the book obviously had great respect for her subjects. I adore this book and the characters will always remain with me.
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my copy is on the oprahs book club
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One of my all time favorite books. A must read for everyone.
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a great, great read
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This book is great. Easy to read and nicely written. Wonderful story.
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A book considered a classic whose author was unfortunately blinded by orientalism. Buck uses the Chinese as a sort of "yellow face" to explore the Western psyche, rather than truly picturing China.
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I found this old classic to be quite enlightening as when read by me as a teen, I don't think that I grasped its depth. But reading it as an adult has been a wonderful experience, although the book is very very long. For anyone who wishes to know how life was before our time here on this good/great earth, this would be a valuable learning experience plus get you to know what a wonderful writer Pearl Buck was.

I recommend it highly.
Cynthia B
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Excellent book!
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Excellent read
reviewed The Good Earth on
Having to read for a second time after about 40 years since the first time I read, it wasn't too bad. Wang Lung reminds me of many people in the news today or were previous newsmakers who rise above poverty and lose the humility they once had that made them successful. Although he is an early 20th century Chinese farmer, his story is universal. He wonders at times as he ages why he can have no peace in his household. He forgets the woman who worked daily by his side to make sure that his land would produce the crops that would eventually enable him to acquire more land and become wealthy. In his obsession to the land he loses touch with his children and his way of life. Pearl Buck's writing made me feel as if I were reading a Biblical parable at times. I think it is worthwhile to revisit a book that has been around a long time. What produced a Wow moment so many years ago, still had an effect, just not quite the same, not exactly a WOW moment.
reviewed The Good Earth on + 78 more book reviews
The story of the peasent Wang Lung who strives to better his life by first buying a the plain, hard-working slave girl, O-lan as his wife.