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The Octopus: A Story Of California
by Frank Norris
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This is a turn-of-the-century epic of California wheat farmers struggling against the rapacity of the Pacific and Southwestern Railroad, which will stop at nothing to extend its domination. The company controls the local paper, the land, the legislature and, when the farmers organize to protect themselves, even manages to control their representative on the state rate-fixing commission. An unremitting tale of greed and betrayal, originally intended as one-third of Norris' never-completed "Epic of the Wheat" trilogy.
There had not been much of a crop to haul that year. Half of the wheat on the Broderson ranch had failed entirely- and Derrick himself had hardly raised more than enough to supply seed for the winter’s sowing.\' (Excerpt from Chapter 1)
Ulsteen gave his decision yesterday, he continued, reading from his father's letter. "He holds, Ulsteen does, that 'grain rates as low as the new figure would amount to confiscation of property, and that, on such a basis, the railroad could not be operated at a legitimate profit. As he is powerless to legislate in the matter, he can only put the rates back at what they originally were before the commissioners made the cut, and it is so ordered.'
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