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The Moon Is Down Paperback – November 1, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


John Steinbeck knew and understood America and Americans better than any other writer of the twentieth century. (The Dallas Morning News) A man whose work was equal to the vast social themes that drove him. (Don DeLillo)"

About the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 


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Product Details

  • Series: Twentieth-Century Classics
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140187464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140187465
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience.
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Format: Paperback
The Moon is Down is not the most well-known of Steinbeck works, probably in part due to its unusual genesis, but it is a remarkably stirring work. Written as anti-German propaganda in 1942, it was by far the most successful work of Allied propaganda, with hundreds of thousands of copies in circulation in many different languages (despite Axis attempts to suppress it).
As propaganda, the work was criticized as being too easy on the Germans -- portraying the occupying soldiers as very human and real instead of as cold and heartless. There is no doubt in my mind that this is precisely the reason for its success (and that Steinbeck is a genius in this respect). Steinbeck wrote about the plight of the occupied citizenry in a way that was so real that he reached them. It is also precisely in the occupying army's humanity that Steinbeck places the weapon that ultimately inspires the occupied and destroys the occupier: fear. One of the occupying soldiers articulates the fear very clearly: "The enemy's everywhere! Their faces look out of the doorways. The white faces behind the curtains, listening. We have beaten them, we have won everywhere, and they wait and obey, and they wait" (p. 64). He goes on to liken the occupying army's success to that of flies who conquer flypaper. And of course the novel itself brings the fear to life -- the flypaper ultimately proves quite inhospitable to the flies.
Steinbeck's work is interesting on deeper levels, too. Freedom and leadership are clearly top-of-mind for him, and he elegantly describes both. Steinbeck's Mayor is a wonderful leader and a powerful advocate for freedom as indefatigable. He tells the colonel of the occupying forces, for instance: "You and your government do not understand.
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Format: Paperback
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck is a classic novel dealing with the emotional effects of war. Set during World War II, we are introduced to the "conquerers" and the town that has been sieged. A once docile, peaceful people, the villagers are quickly changed into a people full of hatred and malice. The Moon Is Down tells us how war can change people for the good, and for the worse. The townspeople become consumed with rage, and want nothing more than to free themselves by killing their conquerers. The conquerers, who were once strictly militant in every move and thought, become affected by what they have done to the once peaceful villagers, and gain more compassion througout the novel. The Moon Is Down is facepaced, and not long length-wise. Contrary to other Steinbeck works, this book is written almost in "play" style. It moves quickly with much of the story being dialog. It reads increadible fast and is very entertaining, as well as thought provoking. It forced the reader to sympathize with the conquerers and become emotionally attached with both the protagonists and the antagonists. This book forces the reader to delve deaper into their own minds and think more deeply about war, and it's effects on all of humanity.
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Format: Paperback
John Steinbeck fully represents a great American author. His novel, "The Moon is Down" was written as a form of propaganda for its time, and Steinbeck uncovers profound, often unsettling truths about war-and about human nature. In every chapter you read, you can find a descriptive image about the town which has been conquered, and the feelings of its people. This book reveals the evil in human nature, and the reaction of a conquered people. A small town has just been taken over and is now Nazi occupied. The troops come in, and immediately the attitude of this once peaceful town, turns into vengeance. The mayor represents the word of the people. He stays office for a in while, however under the influence and control of the Nazi's. The people of the town show no kindness, and much disrespect to the officers, which in turn makes the Nazi's angry. This leads to the death of many innocent lives. There is much loneliness and danger in the town, which results in many citizens trying to escape to England. Some successfully do, and get to the English leaders to ask for help. The English sends planes over, and drops boxes and parachutes filled with bombs and ammunition for the people of the town to use against the Nazi's. This is where the trouble begins, and certain important lives are lost. Steinbeck includes striking images and fine dialogue throughout the entire novel. Every chapter contains a descriptive image of the town adding to the drama. This, for example, found on page 51, "And over the town there hung a blackness that was deeper than the cloud, and over the town there hung a sullenness and a dry, growing hatred." Even when a line is not in context, we can understand the story by Steinbeck's creative and vivid scenes.Read more ›
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