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The Moon Is Down Paperback – November 1, 1995
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Usually not into reading about WWll, however this book club choice was a great read. Unfortunately, I got to the ending and kept looking for more. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Bea Three
The book always left you thinking. It was an easy and quick read, and was able to finish it in less than a week.Published 14 days ago by Nancy Leeming
Steinbeck is my favorite author and this is different for him. Love this story. He never disappoints.Published 16 days ago by Gail Scalzo
Basically the same as my other reviews of John Steinbeck. If you know his work then it speaks for itself.Published 2 months ago by maxaxam
Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down" came out at the low point's of Allied involvement in WWII. Europe had been decimated by Hitler, America had been bombed at Pearl Harbor and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joel S. Frady
If only dropping this small book by the millions would encourage people to read it, here and now, before whatever the future may hold takes place. Read morePublished 3 months ago by A.M.D.G.
A tale that posits how a fascist regime could rise to power and that it can happen anywhere. Hitler was not an anomaly, and those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by JFleit
This is one of my favorite of Steinbeck's works. He portrays the soldiers and civilians of an occupation and talks about the horrors of war from both sides. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Alyssa