The Moon Is Down
John Steinbeck
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The Moon Is Down

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  9,445 ratings  ·  643 reviews

Today, nearly forty years after his death, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. We have begun publishing his many works for the first time as blackspine Penguin Classics featuring eye-catching, newly commissioned art. This season we continue with the seven spectacular and influential books East of Eden, Cannery R

Published by Turtleback Books (first published 1942)
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Propaganda is a word often spewed in anger or indignation at some form of manipulative or self-serving communication. It’s generally viewed as objectionable, ugly, and immoral.

Meet the honorable, dignified exception to that stereotype.

John Steinbeck’s 1942 novel, written to support the Allied effort during WWII, is propaganda as pure as freshly fallen snow, as righteous and moral as love for humanity. It is propaganda in affirmation of freedom, self-determination, and the indomitable will of pe...more
Jason Koivu
Short and bitter sweet, The Moon is Down shows what becomes of docile countryfolk when they are invaded and subjugated.

Not sure what to expect from this lesser known work by Steinbeck, my first impression after a few pages was that I was in for a light comedy, a sort of Catch-22 anti-war declaration, apparently with silly citizens and gullible army officers acting out a daffy pre-"Hogan's Heroes" farce.

But then it turned serious and dark, and actually hopeful. There are small heroes, tiny victo...more
“Give me liberty or give me death.”-- Patrick Henry, American Revolutionary

To invade a country is easier than to occupy one. Have we not observed this throughout history and in our own lifetimes? A successful invasion does not necessarily a successful war make, and the corollary is--to be invaded is not necessarily to be conquered.

In 1942, Steinbeck dramatized the relationship between occupiers and occupied. Though he does not identify any nationality, it is clear that the setting is WWII, an...more

Well before the United States entered World War II, John Steinbeck became involved in several government intelligence and information agencies because he wanted to fight fascism. By September 1941 Steinbeck decided that he would write a work of fiction using what he had learned from European refugees about the psychological effects of occupation on people living in countries which had come under Nazi control. This novella is the result. Set in a village in an unnamed country, it focuses on the e...more

I read this in one night when I flopped drunk on my friend's girlfriend's couch after a night around the bars.

It's so timely as to be telepathic.

One character literally remarks, regarding the town his troops are occupying, how he is puzzled that there were no flowers or candy thrown at the soldiers who "liberated" them, as everyone had promised they would.

I mean, Come On, how can that not blow your mind, just a little bit?

It was written as Allied propaganda during WW2 explicity at the request o...more
Dec 19, 2008 Bruce rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bruce by: Carla Nagle
This little novella was written in 1942 as a work of propaganda to assist the Allied war effort. At the time Steinbeck came under some criticism for portraying the Germans (the conquerors were not actually identified as German in the book itself) too sympathetically, in contrast to the more virulent and crude propaganda that tried to demonize them. After the war, the work was more universally praised when it became apparent that it had greatly encouraged the resistance in Nazi-occupied countries...more
This is filled with ironic humor. Line after line after line. Or is my brain twisted?!

Isn't it kind of funny that the value of propaganda, which is what this was when it was originally written in 1942, all depends on which side you stand? Propaganda is usually seen as "bad literature". Not here. This is the first time I have read propaganda that gets its message across through humor, and it is good!

Here is a little background information:

"By 10:45 it was all over. The town was occupied, the defenders defeated, and the war was finished."

Not quite. In Steinbeck's 1942 story of a small unnamed town invaded by an unnamed enemy, the war was far from finished.

The book begins with an almost farcical tone - the mayor needs to have his ear hairs trimmed before his meeting with the conquering colonel, the ratfink mole who's been informing on the townsfolk seems surprised that he should not continue to live amongst them, and one of the s...more
E' un romanzo breve, parla di guerra, di un popolo pacifico che viene conquistato con le armi.
Più si va avanti nella lettura più questi invasori prendono la forma dei tedeschi nella II guerra mondiale.
Il medico del villaggio li definisce così: "La mosche hanno conquistato la carta moschicida disse Winter."

E infatti, il momento più intenso del libro riguarda la condizione psicologica, a volte estrema dei soldati stranieri, che passa dall'arroganza e sicurezza degli ordini che impartiscono ed ese...more
If you're ever scouting for a robust, fast read, Steinbeck's war novella might be the ticket. Very popular when it was published in 1942, THE MOON IS DOWN concerns an invading force snatching a small European town. Troubles ensue. Though the names aren't given, you know Steinbeck is talking about the Nazis probably occupying Norway. "The Leader" is Hitler. There's a patriotic verve here, but it doesn't grow overly hokey or schmaltzy. The violence isn't graphic, and Steinbeck's prose often shines...more
Aug 28, 2009 Daniel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Rose
Shelves: 2009
“The Moon is Down” is a fine work of wartime propaganda, and more nuanced than most, which explains why it's still read so long after its initial purpose was served. A modern-day reader can easily see how it must have provided encouragement to members of the resistance in Nazi-occupied countries. Nevertheless, it's still a work of propaganda, and suffers from being didactic, as such works always are. (It's even more didactic than most John Steinbeck novels, including his best, tended to be.) Whi...more
Jun 29, 2009 Christina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans and anybody who believes war is not the answer.
Shelves: 2009, fiction, library
If all propaganda was this intelligent and well-written, human beings could stand up a bit taller and a bit prouder. Steinbeck wrote this as during WWII to support the people and countries occupied by Nazi-Germany - Denmark being one of them - and he did a marvellous job.

The book is about a small, peaceful town in a small, peaceful country which is occupied by a conquering force - helped on the way by a traitor in the town. At first, the town people are surprised and not really able to grasp it...more
I just had a little itch to read a lesser-known Steinbeck book, and I found a cheap copy of The Moon Is Down, so I figured that was the one, right? Well, I must say, the details I gleaned from the back cover didn't exactly excite me, but it's a novella, comparable in length to Of Mice and Men and The Pearl, so I gave it shot.

I'm really glad I did. Unlike the better-known Cannery Row, I couldn't put this one down. It's about "the effects of invasion on both conqueror and conquered" (according to...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
First published in 1942, this book was translated into many languages and secretly circulated as "propaganda" in Europe during WWII. It's a little fable about how you can't suppress the will of the people when they are determined to be free.

I love Steinbeck, but his abrupt and unresolved endings always bother me. Still well worth reading, though.
Heba Elsayed
ثم غاب القمر
ما قراته هو مسرحيه مقتبسه عن روايه لجون شتيانبك "ثم غاب القمر"
و تحكى المسرحيه عن احتلال الالمان لقريه إبان الحرب العالميه الثانيه و يتنقل من خلالها الكاتب بين مشاعر اهل القريه الغاضبه المتتوقه للتحرر و بين صرامه و قسوه الحياه العسكريه لجنود الاحتلال
و قد وصف شتاينبك كلا الشعوريين بمهاره
و الجنود فى هذه المسرحيه لهم بعدين ..
.الاول: كأى جنود مشبعون بخيالات الواجب الوطنى و موهومون من قبل من يعلوهم بانهم اقوى الجنود و اعظمهم فاحتلوا القريه بغته سهلها لهم خائن من اهلها لم يلاقوا مقاومه و...more
Although the back cover mentions a Nazi occupation of a town, inside the book, there is no mention of the identities of the conquerors and the vanquished. Steinbeck thereby elevates this story from yet another WWII tale to the universal lesson inherent in a conflict between occupiers and the occupied, which has eerie parallels with what has happened in Afghanistan and Iraq recently, something he had probably never envisaged when writing this novella as part of his contribution to the Allied war...more
Regina Lindsey
When you think of Steinbeck, The Moon is Down is probably not the first title that comes to mind. This work is vastly different than his more acclaimed work, but it still holds an important spot in the annals of literature history. In the early 1940's Steinbeck volunteered for the COI and OSS (two precursors to the CIA) and submitted a piece of work to be used as propoganda in Nazi-Occupied Europe. The Moon is Down was secretly translated, printed, and distributed with proceeds (sometimes copies...more
The Moon is Down was a surprise for me. I just finished The Winter of Our Discontent, and had this next title in my bag. I'd give it a look, and then probably take it back to my place and swap it with something else, like Libra, the Don Delillo I've started and been meaning to get back to.

I ended up finishing this one by the next day. Its a book unlike most Steinbeck, similar really only to Of Mice and Men in its ability to fix readers, grasping hold until the last page is turned. This book is s...more
The Moon is Down was written in 1942 as a piece of propaganda when Steinbeck was working for the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI), a precursor of the CIA. It depicts a peaceful country, similiar to Norway or Finland, that has been invaded by a larger, stronger country. It tells of the local townspeople's efforts to regain freedom from the invaders, who are shown similiar to the Nazis. The invading soldiers are portrayed with real human emotions, not just as a cold military machine. Fac...more
Jess Michaelangelo
I went into this Steinbeck novella not knowing anything about it, and just at first, it was off to a slow start. This is not the typical Steinbeck setting; instead of the Salinas Valley or some ranch somewhere in California, this novella takes place somewhere presumably in Europe during WWII. It was incredibly thought-provoking for me. I've said it before, I'll say it a hundred times: Steinbeck makes me think, and for that, I adore him. Here, he writes about what it means to be at war, to be the...more
Mike Frost
There is no attempt to hide the fact that "The Moon is Down" is a work of wartime propaganda. Steinbeck worked with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the early days of World War II, and was asked, or decided himself, to write a piece of propaganda that would bolster resistance movements among U.S. allies. This was just after he had won the Pulitzer Prize for the Grapes of Wrath in 1940.

According to the forward of the edition I read, Steinbeck initially wrote his story of a resistance...more
….ed ecco perché sono sempre gli uomini-gregge che vincono le battaglie, ma gli uomini liberi vincono le guerre.

Ispirandosi ad un fatto realmente accaduto in Norvegia durante l’occupazione nazista, Steinbeck scrive nel 1942, in piena seconda guerra mondiale, questo breve romanzo che è l’esempio della capacità di un popolo pacifico e democratico di fare muro comune contro l’invasore, non senza ribellioni e attentati dinamitardi, ma anche e soprattutto attraverso una sorta di resistenza pacata e s...more
Dale Jr.
"I prophesy to you who are my murderers that immediately after my--departure punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you...If you think that by killing men you can prevent someone from censuring your evil lives, you are mistaken."

As the words of Plato's Socrates ring with a haunting truth of the grim future which lies ahead for his accusers, the recitation of these words by Mayor Orden in Steinbeck's "The Moon Is Down" cast a haunting shroud over the conquering arm...more
Preston Fleming
Though the THE MOON IS DOWN is set in Europe early in the Nazi Occupation and was written to stir resistance among captive peoples, it is not a novel about World War II and should not be pigeonholed as mere wartime propaganda. By not identifying the nationality of the occupiers or the occupied, Steinbeck allows readers to project their own feelings on the dramatic conflict between tyranny and freedom. For that reason, and because the oppressors are portrayed sympathetically rather than as carica...more
Mar 20, 2012 Geevee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Geevee by: ☯Bettie☯
Shelves: fiction
A short story set in a Northern European town with rich coal reserves and access to the sea that is captured by enemy soldiers and sees collaboration, some limited fraternisation and resistance.

Although the book is just over 100 pages it presents the dilemmas and challenges of the occupiers against the worries, concerns and behaviours of the local population well and the story moves quickly to its conclusion.

The copy I read (Penguin 1995) had an introduction that helped me understand the context...more
I read this for book club, and I'm still a little dazed. It is a very short and easy read, but there is so much meaning packed into each sentence that I feel like I need to read it over and over in order to understand all of Steinbeck's meaning. I wish I had some kind of guide to read along with it. I did like the psychological aspect of the book, and I really like the way he showed both sides to a war: the conquered and the conqueror. It puts into perspective how conquerors are real people and...more
This book is hands down an amazing piece of work. It's not one of his more well known novels like "The Pearl", "The Grapes Of Wrath"(which I hated ps) or "Of Mice and Men" but if you haven't read it you should.


This book does something no other book has in the past, it humanized "the other side". It gave the enemy a face, a human face and at the time that was unheard of. You feel bad for them, you want them to somehow win even though they're the "bad guys". Just because their ideas don't matc...more
I read this when I was fifteen and loved it. I was always interested in World War Two and was fascinated by the whole idea of a villiage being taken over by Nazi soldiers and how resistance grows, almost inevitably.

When I read it again recently I was surprised by how some of the characters were much less interesting than I had remembered them. The part where the woman looks like she is about to have sex with the German soldier really effected me as a fifteen year old, but not quite as much as a...more
Jun 23, 2008 Carla rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carla by: book group
Written by Steinbeck as a propaganda novelette during WWII, now also considered good literature. It was a contrast to then-current attempts at propaganda, and it was controversial, but it was proven very successful in Nazi-occupied countries in Europe and also in China.

After reading just one chapter of this very short (about 100 pages) book, I have been struck by its cleverness and find it quite droll in its approach. The subject is not at all droll, in and of itself. (Surprised me with its ton...more
I really enjoyed this book. Thanks for David and Ali for recommending it. There are great strategies for being occupied and seemingly outflanked. I think this is going to tie in nicely with my book club's reading of "David and Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell. I think my favorite bit was the delivery of chocolate with dynamite for the locals. The idea of going without for so long, then having a single bite of chocolate was a good lesson. The occupiers homesickness was a good storyline too. I think t...more
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maah penhan ast.. 2 31 Jul 05, 2011 02:39PM  
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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
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Cannery Row

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“Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.” 16 likes
“I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir--but I do have a choice of how I do it. If I tell them not to fight, they will be sorry, but they will fight. If I tell them to fight, they will be glad, and I who am not a very brave man will have made them a little braver.” 12 likes
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