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In Dubious Battle

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  8,899 Ratings  ·  532 Reviews
In the California apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up in dubious battle against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own -- stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism -- on the courage never to submit or yield.
Hardcover, Large Print, 412 pages
Published September 18th 2000 by Thorndike Press (first published 1936)
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Jul 02, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Steinbeck’s 1936 novel In Dubious Battle (with a title and opening quote from Milton) tells the tragic story of a labor strike amongst apple growers and pickers in a fictionalized California.

Considered by some to be his first major novel, Steinbeck readers will notice many themes that would later become central focuses of his writing like labor injustices, group dynamics, and man’s ability for and propensity for cruelty and inhumanity. These same themes would later be explored in Steinbeck’
Jun 17, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

Writing novels about the poor and dispossessed in 1930s California and in the process attracting the wrath of farmers’ organisations and the attention of the FBI gave John Steinbeck a reputation which has persisted to this day. Many people assume that he was a communist, or at the very least a socialist. This novel, along with The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men is a work which cemented Steinbeck’s reputation in that regard.

However, the characterization of Steinbeck’s politics as socialist
Mahdi Lotfi
در نبردی مشکوک داستان افرادی است که علیه ظلم طبقه بالای جامعه ایستاده اند و مبارزه می کنند . جیم از گذشته از زندگی اش خسته شده و به انجمن می پیوندد و در گوشه ای از کشور حقوق سیب چینان کم شده . جیم و مک به آنجا می روند تا اعتصاب را رهبری کنند. این رمان نه فقط یک داستان درباره بخشی از تاریخ امریکا است بلکه راهنمایی برای همه فعالان اجتماعی است. مخاطرات فعالیت اجتماعی چنان به تصویر آمده که با یک جزوه آموزشی برابری می کند. مخاطراتی همچون همراهی نکردن کسانی که برای حقوقشان می جنگیدند. از اینرو در نبرد ...more
Dec 27, 2016 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Dubious Battle is the first of Steinbeck’s three Dust Bowl novels, with Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath being the other two. While all three books amply display Steinbeck’s profound empathy for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised, In Dubious Battle is arguably the more overtly political of the three books. As the book opens, one of the main characters, Jim Nolan, joins the Communist Party. For his first assignment, Nolan is sent with Mac, one of the Party’s veteran labor or ...more
[Editor: For unexpressed reasons, the author of this review has requested with utmost fervency that the reader watch this YouTube video before continuing to read and then imagine its main subject, Dr. Steve Brule, reading the body of the review aloud as a monologue.]

This was a very good book. It displays all the hallmarks of Steinbeck's greatest writing: wonderful dialogue and characterization, heartbreaking turns of plot, and the permeating sense of optimistic pessimism*.

The problem that this
Sep 16, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This hasn't been my favorite Steinbeck book.

I read it for one of my English classes this semester, and I think the subject matter of the class ("Race, Ethnicity, Gender in American Lit. and Film") definitely influenced my perspective when reading this novel. I grew annoyed with the lifelessness of the female characters in the story--when they ARE presented, they're dull, one-dimensional mothers or daughters or caretakers, and it's just so unoriginal. Because the story takes place during the Ind
Jun 22, 2017 Adriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ale-mele-citite
Desi inrudit cu Soareci si oameni prin tematica abordata, acest roman nu e la fel de puternic. E, in schimb, un bun studiu al dinamicii grupurilor. Merita citit.
Il Dottor John Steinbeck

Quello che lascia senza fiato è la potenza e l'attualità di questo romanzo che nonostante affondi le proprie radici in pieno New Deal potrebbe benissimo essere stato scritto in un'epoca molto più recente.
Dopo alcune letture che mi avevano lasciata più freddina, qui riconosco il vero Steinbeck, quello che ho iniziato ad amare con Furore e Vicolo Cannery; quello che riesce a tirar fuori dai suoi personaggi tutta l'umanità e tutta la rabbia che secoli di privazioni e soprusi
Jun 13, 2014 Allan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having set myself a challenge of reading at least one Steinbeck book per month, I decided to tackle 'In Dubious Battle' this month due to interest within the Goodreads Ireland group to enjoy it as a Buddy Read.

Published in 1936. 'In Dubious Battle' was Steinbeck's first novel after his breakthrough 'Tortilla Flat'. However, while this breakthrough was a relatively easy going book, very much in keeping with the future classic 'Cannery Row', 'In Dubious Battle' tackles more serious subject matter,
May 03, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is not a Steinbeck novel I don't like, but In Dubious Battle has stayed with me the longest. This novel is also the one that Steinbeck fans often "forget" about. Its tale of the struggles between a party organizer and the agricultural "system" doesn't fit well with reader's depiction of good and bad sides. While Steinbeck identifies with the worker and the union organizers, he also recognizes the fact that each side manipulates and sacrifices often in a cynical way. Much of the novel relat ...more
Sarah Anne
No more lone cries came from lone men. They moved together, looked alike. The roar was one voice, coming from many throats.

This book had some of the most quotable moments I've read. I liked it, although I didn't really love it. I felt the book was very obviously trying to make a point and so it felt heavy handed at times. It was, however, a very educational look at the lives of migratory workers during the depression. He covers the topic in The Grapes of Wrath but this one was from the perspecti
Susan Johnson
May 22, 2014 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Steinbeck writes another memorable novel that I had neither read or heard of before which says a lot for my ignorance of an author who writes about places in my back yard. I had read "Grapes of Wrath" and "Mice and Men" in school and then never thought of him until Oprah made "East of Eden" a book club selection and I fell in love with Steinbeck.

This novel takes place in the 1930's in the Central Valley of Calif. and concerns a strike among fruit pickers for more money. Although the s
Brent Ecenbarger
Jan 07, 2009 Brent Ecenbarger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steinbeck
"In Dubious Battle" is a great book, one that is sure to make you angry and sad while reading it. Steinbeck does a great job of showing both sides of the labor battle, while making one side as good and the other as bad, but still showing both sides to be manipulative. The book follows the character of Jim along, as he joins the "party" and eventually accompanies Mac into apple picking country to organize a strike. The bulk of the book's philosophy is expunged in conversations between Jim, Mac, a ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, fiction
Steinbeck is in good form with this novel, covering the struggle of orchard workers against a rich farmer, giving his usual eloquent description and engrossing characters. I don't hear this one being mentioned too often of Steinbeck's works, which is a shame.
Jenny (adultishbooks)
Read this one during bouts of sleep deprivation and red wine drowsiness so I'll have to cross-reference some online summaries.

I got the gist and it was beautiful and had so many Steinbeck tropes I love. Not ideal for a readathon though.
Zeynep Nur
Jan 08, 2016 Zeynep Nur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klasikler, roman
Bitmeyin Kavga'yı daha iyi anlayabilmek için ilk iş John Steinbeck'in hayatını bilmek bana kalırsa. Çünkü bir işçi ailesinin çocuğu olarak dünyaya gelen ve okuyabilmek için birçok farklı işte çalışan Steinbeck işçilerin düşünce yapısını, onları örgütleyen 'kızılları', sosyalist olmayanların bakış açısını çok güzel yansıtıyor. Tek taraflı yazılmış bir kitap değil anlayacağınız. Sırf bu yönüyle bu zamana kadar yazılmış birçok kitabın önüne geçiyor Bitmeyen Kavga.

Kitabı okurken beni en çok etkileye
May 20, 2009 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first review on Goodreads. Back in PBT days (circa 2004), I used to write little snippet reviews for every book I read but since I started using GR last summer, I've been so impressed by the high caliber of Quinten's reviews that I've been too intimidated to write my own. And lazy. But I'm going to start anyway.

In Dubious Battle completes my run of all of the Steinbeck books at the Central Library, and certainly ends it on a high note. When I first added this book as "to-read," I was
I did not read Steinbeck's novel about an attempt to organize migrant workers as part of My Big Fat Reading Project because it was published before 1940, the year I chose for the beginning of my project. I read it now for a reading group and must say, it is a much better book than The Grapes of Wrath.

All of the qualities I love best about Steinbeck are here. Great complex characters, description that brings the locations and the weather and the events to life, and a thoughtful look at a big hum
This is the first Steinbeck I've read. I managed to avoid reading most American and British classic lit during high school and college. While this isn't Steinbeck's best known work, it should rank among his best. He tells the story of a labor dispute in an agricultural community in California. This novel was written in the 1930's and the Great Depression had it's hold over the US until the late 1930's and in some places into the 1940's. Agricultural workers at the time were white men who lived o ...more
Don Stanton
Timing is everything, or so it seems. I read this book long ago and I feel about it the same now as I did then, except then I didn't know how how express it. So Looking back I See JS as

Iconic American author Check
Nobel Prize winner Check
Failed as a labor Check
Quasi Recluse Check
Depression era writer Check
Proletariat Check
Socialist Check
Communist Possibly
outlook: Big Guy Wins
Little guys looses Check
Like USSR policies Check
Depressing as Hell Double Check
Alcoholic Check
Defeatist Check

My conclusi
Sep 07, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fantastic read and a aurprise as even though it continues upon many of Steinbeck's themes in 1930s America, it introduces radical trade unionism and politics. All centred around California and apple picking and how the workers were low paid and downtrodden, while the owners rich and set apart from the workers. Where a strike spirals out of control and how a principaled strike can rapidly spiral out of control.

The book is like all Steinbeck's work - well written with beautiful imag
Jun 27, 2017 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, I love the voice of the characters, it transports a reader to an era that no longer exists. Told from the perspective of capitalist-hating men sympathetic to "red Russia", trying to fight a battle they might not be able to win. I imagine this book was very unpopular at the time, maybe seen as anti-American, but I don't think that's the point of the story, I think the point is that people are desperate, are apt to follow pack mentality and quick to justify violence and murder in the na ...more
Jul 10, 2017 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, I love Steinbeck's voice and style.. I also loved that he dropped the F- bomb in this novel.

It reminded me of Émile Zola's 'Germinal', and Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'.. both great novels about the struggles of the working class. We've gained a lot from work strikers and unions. They fought many a hard battle for equality in the workforce.

I feel pretty spoiled (after reading this book) in our current economy, so it's nice to have these novels to put things in perspective.
Guy Portman
Aug 04, 2013 Guy Portman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Dubious Battle is a politically engaged novel that was, at the time of its publication at the height of the 1930’s Depression, highly controversial. The book follows Jim Nolan, a young man from poverty stricken circumstances, who is disillusioned with a system that he perceives as unjust, in which his father fought a losing battle for justice all his life, while his mother futilely sought salvation in a God that does not exist. Joining a group of communists determined to bring about a new wor ...more
Sep 22, 2011 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a lifelong fan of author John Steinbeck, but it wasn’t until I went back to the university as a mature adult that I first read IN DUBIOUS BATTLE. Published in 1936, before THE GRAPES OF WRATH, it is not one of Steinbeck’s better known novels, but I believe it is definitely one of his strongest. As a piece of literature, IN DUBIOUS BATTLE is a multi-layered story of Jim Nolan, who joins “the party” in farm country, California. The party is not identified but assumed to be the American ...more
I thought this book would be too propagandistic at first, but once Steinbeck moved away from the city into the orchards and the midst of the strike, I, like the migrant workers, was swept up in the action. A few scenes do scream of talking heads, mouthpieces, and forced symbolism - no one's wrong when they call this the forerunner to Grapes of Wrath, rather than its equal- but it's still incredibly exciting and compelling journalism. And what it lacks in GoW's scope and artistry, it makes up for ...more
Aug 16, 2016 DoctorM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit
Steinbeck's "In Dubious Battle" was one of the first American political novels I read--- something I bought for some forgotten reason back in high school, through something called Scholastic Books, a service where high school English classes could buy "literature" in discounted paperback editions. That's a good memory in an of itself--- all the books I bought that way over my years at high school.

I knew the Depression only through grandparents' tales of hardship in 1930s Pittsburgh and southern
Nov 16, 2015 Barb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1936, this early novel by John Steinbeck is a showcase for the plight of the downtrodden, specifically California apple pickers during the great depression. The protagonists are party members (the reds) who for good or bad, put the interests of the poor workers as a group, over the the interests of individuals as they organize a strike. The writing is superb, evoking time and place with dialog, character development and atmosphere. The sentiments of the novel still hold up today and ...more
by Ax
Aug 21, 2014 by Ax rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
L'unione e le sue forze

Uno Steinbeck più concreto del solito, che focalizza l'attenzione sulle azioni dell'unità di un gruppo, e grazie a esse sonda problemi eterni di ogni singolo uomo.
La battaglia per i diritti dei lavoratori passa anche per la realtà di queste pagine, portata avanti attraverso i punti di vista dei vari personaggi che le popolano, restituendone una visione cruda e dannatamente amara.
Carlos Fonseca
Oct 06, 2016 Carlos Fonseca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta leitura de "Batalha Incerta", cuja acção tem lugar na Califórnia, nos tempos da Grande Depressão, foi, de facto, uma "releitura". Sucede que, de vez em quando, volto a livros já lidos de que gostei (o próximo será, provavelmente, "O Leopardo"), e sucede também que raramente acontece não encontrar um ou outro pormenor (ou pormaior) que me tinha escapado na leitura inicial.

Gostei, tantos anos depois, de voltar à greve dos apanhadores de maçãs, contra os grandes proprietários dos pomares de ma
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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“Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile.” 13 likes
“I want to see the whole picture - as nearly as I can. I don’t want to put on the blinders of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and limit my vision. If I used the term ‘good’ on a thing I’d lose my license to inspect it, because there might be bad in it. Don’t you see? I want to be able to look at the whole thing.” 4 likes
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