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Bombs Away

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  113 ratings  ·  16 reviews

A magnificent volume of short novels and an essential World War II report from one of America's great twentieth-century writers

On the heels of the enormous success of his masterwork The Grapes of Wrath-and at the height of the American war effort-John Steinbeck, one of the most prolific and influential literary figures of his generation, wrote Bombs Away, a nonfiction acc

Hardcover, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1942 by Viking Books
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East of Eden by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckCannery Row by John SteinbeckThe Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck Country
47th out of 55 books — 29 voters
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33rd out of 50 books — 4 voters

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Paul Haspel
Be advised, if you read Bombs Away, that you will not find it to be the "typical" John Steinbeck book -- if indeed there is such a thing. It is not an epic novel like The Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden, nor is it a short tale on the order of Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, or The Pearl. Rather, Bombs Away is a nonfiction work chronicling, as its subtitle indicates, the story of a bomber team from World War II. Steinbeck wrote the book in 1942 on behalf of what were then called the U.S. Army Air F...more
Steinbeck, John. BOMBS AWAY: THE STORY OF A BOMBER TEAM. (1942). ***.
A few months after America entered WW II, the United States Army Air Force asked Steinbeck to aid the war effort by writing a report to help recruit airmen. Published in 1942, “Bombs Away” the result of this endeavor, is much more than typical army recruiting propaganda. Instead, Steinbeck produced a chronicle documenting the real life of a bomber crew based on a conglomerate of all the men he talked to during his research. Th...more
Charles Moore
Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team by John Steinbeck. (Penguin Classic, 156 pages, paper, 1942) Never heard of Bombs Away by Steinbeck? (Neither had I. I found this at the Johnson City Public Library book sale.) Probably because you never thought Steinbeck would write such a bias pro-military book. Which this is. Bombs Away is hardly a masterpiece on the order of Canary Row or The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck wrote this for the military to help bolster support for the Air Force in 1942. Steinb...more
For the purpose this book was written for, it was extremely insightful. My father served in WWII as an aerial tail gunner in a bombardier group and it was extremely fascinating to get a glimpse into what he went through in terms of selection and training. The book was considered propaganda when it came out, before the term had such a negative connotation. The definition of propaganda is information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause. There had been much talk about the mortali...more
A few years ago I saw an exhibit and lecture on war photography at the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Included were aerial combat photographs by John Swope. Swope's photographs also illustrated a book called "Bombs Away" by John Steinbeck.

A page from the book was on display in a vitrine and I was immediately struck by Steinbeck's simple, direct prose. His words were like rivits holding pieces of metal together: perfectly positioned, aggressively applied, just large enough and just numerous...more
"Ernest Hemingway once said he 'would rather have cut three fingers off his throwing hand' than to have written such a book as Bombs Away (Baker 371)" (xi).

Written in 1942, Bombs Away is a promotional piece for the airforce. It idealizes and glamorizes the work of the bombing squadron, in part as a recruitment effort. The insightful introduction by James H. Meredith contrasts Steinbeck's glorification of American teamwork and the collective man (a familiar trope in Steinbeck) to Hemingway's...more
Tyson Call
In order to enjoy this book, one must have a strong interest in the history of aviation and the U.S. Air Force, as well as a love for Steinbeck's writing. There is not much story beyond the general "men enlist and go to war, here is where they are from and what they are like" theme.

It is a very detailed account of the training process for all the members of a bomber team, including pilot, crew chief, gunners, bombardier, and navigator. This information is of course dated to the early 1940's, so...more

A magnificent volume of short novels and an essential World War II report from one of America's great twentieth-century writersOn the heels of the enormous success of his masterwork The Grapes of Wrath-and at the height of the American war effort-John Steinbeck, one of the most prolific and influential literary figures of his generation, wrote Bombs Away, a nonfiction account of his experiences with U.S. Army Air Force bomber crews during World War II. Now, for the first time since its original

Tom Leonhardt
This is a wonderful piece of journalism and shows Steinbeck's versatility and understanding of the American psyche in the early 1940s. I am not sure that anyone could write about military training today and certainly not as well. Besides, we are a different country now, one that would likely make Steinbeck uncomfortable.
Bombs Away is also propaganda but is it intentionally misleading or simply extended hyperbole intended to help Americans understand what it took to use the Flying Fortresses (B-1...more
Curious Lines:

"Because they are healthy young men they will like girls very well indeed. Because their co-ordination and sense of timing and rhythm is acute, they will generally be good dancers and will like to dance."

- From the chapter 'The Bomber'

I instantly am disgusted at the introduction of our bombardier. His depiction of the wholesome and assumed correctness of his upbringing is vomit inducing.

I enjoyed the descriptions of what the men had to go through, but not the descriptions of thes...more
This may not be the typical Steinbeck read, but I knew that going in. It was fascinating exploration of the training required for each man of a WWII heavy bomber crew. Although it lacks the characterization and other things I love about Steinbeck, it is tightly written and is never dull.
Martin Matous
Reading this book I immediately recalled Catch 22 and maybe also the gunner Garp from World according to Garp. Steinbeck is beating the patriotic drum writing this book for the US government before/during WW2 and providing material for comedy writers for next decades...
Purely propaganda, but interesting as a time capsule, nonetheless. Plus, it's Steinbeck, so you know it's readable. How does he stay so enthusiastic?
Early in the war recruitment book about the training of a bomber team holds up well. Has some nice photos too.
Interesting considering when it was written but pretty dry. Reads like the script to an old newsreel.
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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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