Perhaps no other writer is more closely associated with Central California than John Steinbeck. His experiences as a young man while exploring the natural beauty of the Salinas Valley made a lasting impression on him, particularly when it came to the migrant workers who labored in fields. Profoundly affected by their plight, Steinbeck traveled with workers, which became the basis for two of the greatest books in American Literature. Through The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck exposed their harsh lives as never before. It was this compassion and dedication to celebrating the human spirit that sets Steinbeck s writing apart and makes him one of America s most important and influential writers, not just during his own lifetime but for modern readers as well.