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The Moon Is Down

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  19,761 ratings  ·  1,477 reviews
Taken by surprise, a small coastal town is overrun by an invading army with little resistance. The town is important because it is a port that serves a large coal mine. Colonel Lanser, the head of the invading battalion, along with his staff establishes his HQ in the house of the democratically elected and popular Mayor Orden.

As the reality of occupation sinks in and the w
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 30th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1942)
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Kelly I'm not sure if this book would be appropriate for a 12 year old. There are no graphic violent or sexual scenes, but I don't know if a 12 year old wou…moreI'm not sure if this book would be appropriate for a 12 year old. There are no graphic violent or sexual scenes, but I don't know if a 12 year old would really understand the themes. If the 12 year old is precocious, it may be fine. There is a scene where a German soldier wants a Norwegian woman to fall in love with him, and she asks if he wants her to be a whore- but nothing happens. There is brutality- the woman stabs the man with a pair of scissors and people are shot. Steinbeck does not go into grisly details, these things happen "off stage". (less)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
‎The Moon is down, John Ernst Steinbeck
The Moon Is Down, a novel by John Steinbeck fashioned for adaptation for the theatre and for which Steinbeck received the Norwegian King Haakon VII Freedom Cross, was published by Viking Press in March 1942. The story tells of the military occupation of a small town in Northern Europe by the army of an unnamed nation at war with England and Russia (much like the occupation of Norway by the Germans during World War II).

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 19
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
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Steinbeck published The Moon is Down in 1942.

While not directly naming either Norway or Germany, the reader understands that the setting is Norway during the Nazi German occupation, which began in 1940. Written for easy adaptation to the theater, Steinbeck evokes Ibsen with his play-like, scene-focused action.

When the novel was published, Nazi German forces occupied much of Europe and North Africa and the Anglo-American and Russian allied forces had yet to check Nazi aggression and expans
Jason Koivu
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 sol
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

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
Henry Martin
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I must admit that my reading this year has been all over the place - some philosophical works, some Balzac, some classics, some indie titles, some surrealism - so when I reached for this unknown-to-me Steinbeck, I had no idea whether I was going to like it or not.

But alas, it is Steinbeck.

Despite being rather short, this book delivers much food for thought. Looking at the GR database, many readers have labeled this book as propaganda (apparently, it was written as such). Yet, I cannot label it
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.

Such a thing is war where a haze creeps over our minds, a foggy mist of confusion that dilutes the outline of real versus unreal. Then some words are put together on makeshift pieces of paper to form a book that gets circulated stealthily and the strength is delivered. A strength which
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it and very nearly rated it as a 5. Written ostensibly as intelligent propaganda for the allies in WWII - and from reading the afterword in the edition I read, it was seemingly massively effective and influential in that context across many occupied countries. Whilst being criticised as being over simplistic, I feel the book stands extremely well indeed as a novel in its own right - simply written and with such clarity, it goes to the heart of the human experience and is all the more power ...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
“We’ve taken a job haven’t we?”

“Yes, the one impossible job in the world, the one thing that can’t be done.”

“And that is?”

“To break man’s spirit permanently.”
Jon Nakapalau
A small town is forced to decide to what extent it will cooperate with a tyrannical invader. Powerful and haunting - evil has rarely been exposed in truer banality.
I went through most of my life not knowing that The Moon is Down even existed. I haven't been the most fervent fan of John Steinbeck, so that could be the explanation, but in all the classes I've been in, in all the discussions of Steinbeck's work or dicussions of stories of WWII, I've never heard of this book.

When I stumbled upon it in my local used book shop I couldn't help wondering why it was new to me. I figured it must just be a terrible book, unworthy of attention, a rare Steinbeck failu
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: norway, humor, downpour, hf, alt
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:

Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, american
Still as good as the first time I read it some 20 years ago. Steinbeck is such an amazing writer who has me quite in his thrall.

More details to come.
Christina Gouthro
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Withdrawn from Llanilltud Fawr English Department. No dedication.

Opening: By ten-forty-five it was all over. The town was occupied, the defenders defeated, and the war finished.

HATTIP: It was Melki reading this a short while ago that sent me ferreting out my copy.

I couldn't help but see Klaus Kinski in the rôle of Tonder.

Uplifting read and suddenly I want to make millions of little blue parachutes to help those beleagured females in America who would prefer an abortion without the Victorian sh
Conor Ahern
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nobel
This was a quick little bit of agitprop from one of my favorite authors. It's short and reads a lot like a play--apparently by design--and has an interesting history. But I wasn't very invested until the very end.

The simple reminder that "herd men" win battles but independent minded people win wars is a helpful and hopeful one to remember.
Connie G
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Steinbeck wrote this novel in support of the occupied territories of Europe during WWII. The novel centers on the invasion of an unnamed Northern European country (like Norway) by unnamed conquerors (like the Germans), and reads almost like a play. In fact, it was later adapted for the theater by Steinbeck himself. Its atmosphere of staunch socio-political defiance reminded me of Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People'. It's not perfect; the setting and some of the conversations could have been better, ...more
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jenny Bunting
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first "obscure" John Steinbeck I've read and it wasn't on my radar until a week ago. This is totally out of Steinbeck's typical wheelhouse of the working class in California during the 1930s. This book was used as propaganda in the Second World War and the Nazis threatened to (and probably did) kill people who were found with copies of this book. It was copied in secret and garnered some criticism for making the invaders "human."

I found this book fascinating. It's set up as a caution
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliant 4.5 Stars

They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.

This may be a novella, but one that contains a strong message. I read this with such rapture, even felt sorry as the book was very short. The Leader here is sardonically meaning Hitler, whose imbecile way o
Rod Brown
What an odd little Steinbeck relic! Purposely written as anti-Nazi propaganda during World War II, it carefully avoids actually naming the Nazis or Germany or the invaded country where it is set. The fable-like story aims to motivate and aggrandize underground resistance movements.

It seems that Steinbeck intended the novel to be released simultaneously as a stage play, which explains the heavy reliance on dialogue with a very stagey tone and the unmistakably awkward way characters enter and exit
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans and anybody who believes war is not the answer.
Shelves: fiction, 2009, 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
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
Feb 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I like John Steinbeck and I plan on reading more of his work, but I hated this book. I just could not connect with it at all. I didn't like any of the characters or plot points. I know it was written as propaganda but I was hoping for a little more. I only finished it because it fit a task in a reading challenge. ...more
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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

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