Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bombs Away” as Want to Read:
Bombs Away
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bombs Away

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  261 Ratings  ·  45 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 ac

Hardcover, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1942 by Viking Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bombs Away, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bombs Away

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 02, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hemingway said he would willingly cut three fingers off his throwing hand rather than write a book like this one. I think he was being generous.
Charles Moore
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Borge Arild
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Bombs Away is a little known work of Steinbeck and for good reasons. The positive view of air power and the prowess of the heavy bomber was disputed over Schweinfurt barely a year after the book was written and in modern times the overt propaganda style is not in good taste. However, this book is interesting because of the vision Steinbeck has of the American society in the 40s. Gone are the time of the depression and young American men are given the chance to rise to the occasion (women are bar ...more
Paul Haspel
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
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
Aug 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't really expect to like Bombs Away--it's a propaganda novel, and I'm not American, I'm not in the middle of a war, and I know that the details described are so outdated that they must have very little modern relevance. However, despite all this, the book turned out to be fascinating. I liked the blow-by-blow descriptions of how each member of the team is selected and trained. I like the hint of Steinbeck you see in the novel, even though he is trying to keep his opinions to himself and pl ...more
Daniel Bratell
Aug 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is Steinbecks attempt at helping the allied during the war and he might have chosen the worst possible way of doing it by writing propaganda to recruit people to the American bomber force. He wrote this book, some 150 pages, of descriptions of the life of every member of a crew of a heavy bomber with real people (or made up real people) as examples.

There are a few problems here. First, what the heavy bomber crews did might have been heroic the same way as it is heroic swimming with sharks w
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-american
It’s a pretty good description of the training a bomber team went through. I actually really enjoyed reading those parts. But there’s not much else going for it. Steinbeck seems to have really phoned it in. It’s missing his normally descriptive writing and is instead written in a very basic style that feels aimed at grade schoolers. His best novels and nonfiction work are full of great characters, but the people here are totally generic and aren’t explored at all (I'm assuming they're creations ...more
Larry Dacus
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
United States Goes to War

Something different from John Steinbeck. Written to assure parents and populace that their men were getting the best training possible before entering the war theater. I would have wanted to read this if my son was heading into action in WW2 I think Penguin should consider a new introduction. The author of the current one makes way too much of a fuss over this being propaganda and it's almost if he wants the allies to apologize for beating the Axis forces I found this to
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a strange, almost mystical thing that happens to flying men. It is as though the experience had cut them off so that they can only communicate with their own kind, can only be understood by other flying men. When they meet they go away together and perhaps they don't talk about flying, although that isn't likely. But at least they know and understand each other. They have been through something that has the impact of religion, and while most of them are never able to say it, never want to ...more
David Macpherson
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was fascinating and engaging,but not for the reason intended. This was written as a recruitment tool in 1942 to get the kids in the bombers instead of back on the farm. The writing is clunky and everything is peachy and perfect, but it was so damned funny. Thisis the perfect thing to read while reading Catch 22. Everything Steinbeck says here is shown to be false in Heller. I loved when Steinbeck wrote that the officers are all intelligent and thoughtful. It is the ideal that the Catch ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Προπαγάνδα του Β'ΠΠ για εσωτερική αμερικανική κατανάλωση τύπου "στείλτε τα παιδιά σας στον πόλεμο θα είναι τέλεια!". Μέτριο.
Antonio De Cunzo
Uninspired propaganda.
Steven Hull
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this book by chance at a local bookstore skimming the stacks. In Dubious Battle was my introduction to Steinbeck forty-five years ago. I liked it. Over the years others followed—The Moon is Down, East of Eden, and the timeless Grapes of Wrath. I read Ayn Rand too. Steinbeck was an antidote to Rand.

Bombs Away is unique—a historical treasure, freezing for all time a prominent American writer’s perspective on the cutting edge World War II bomber war, and the training for the American warr
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
"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
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I should say that I would read a book which narrated paint drying if it were written by John Steinbeck. The man was a genius, narrative magician, and American master. There are very few things I know with absolute certainty, but Steinbeck's awesomeness is one of them.

That being said, OF COURSE this story is a little dry. Published in 1942, the year after the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into World War II, Bombs Away is propaganda written by the writer of the American peopl
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it
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
David Patrick
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
The common review of this book is that it is plain propaganda for the U.S. department of war and for recruiting. I'd like to comment on its narrative quality. Claiming the need for secrecy, it's stated somewhere in the book that the men he profiles are amalgamations of people he met. I don't know if he actually met the men in the Army Air Corps training or not, but there is something weak about the writing that makes me think he may not have. Or that his heart wasn't in the project. He never rea ...more
Kent Winward
Aug 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This was interesting as a World War II propaganda piece by an amazing writer. Seeing how Steinbeck pandered to the ideas of American exceptionalism at the time of war is why you would read this book. The relentless advance of technology is also abundantly clear when comparing the bomber crew with foot pedals, skylights for navigation, and wires as bomb tripping mechanisms to today's drones.

The book should probably be read in conjunction with Slaughterhouse-Five and Islands in the Stream (Heming
Tyson Call
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Joe Frankie
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is key and interesting in this book?

It is John Steinbeck's, one of America's Nobel Laureates for Literature, view of what made America great from a people perspective. He relates why America was going to prevail in World War II. We should all take note, given our current times, of the kind of leadership and individual responsibility prevailed in the pre-World War II years.

John Steinbeck wrote this work in 1942 with America embroiled in World War II. It is a plainspoken description of what a
Tom Leonhardt
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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

Propaganda Steinbeck

Intendiamoci, il libro è propagandistico, ma non nel senso deteriore del termine: vuole illustrare compiti ed addestramento dell'equipaggio ( o meglio, della "squadra" ) di un bombardiere, quando l'America era appena entrata in guerra e l'aviazione era ancora in sviluppo. Insiste molto sulla "naturale" capacità degli americani di fare gioco di squadra, tema presente anche in altre opere dell'Autore.

Certo, non rappresenta il vertice della sua produzione, ma risulta comunque un
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Brandon O'Neill
This is a non-fiction Steinbeck book, but one in which he is not a character. Originally written as a propaganda piece for the Air Force during WW II, it is an interesting glimpse at the positions that make up a bomber crew. While Steinbeck's voice is there, I wonder if an editor really looked over his words. He is very repetitive at times (ex. - The gunner needs to be a smaller guy. He goes on and on about the little guy having a complex and how he can be respected as a gunner. I get it - he i ...more
I really didn't enjoy this book. It is propaganda, though I think Steinbeck openly acknowledges this. Steinbeck's love for the American 'everyman' and for Smallltown USA seem grossly out of place when talking about WW2, and his constant celebrations of US soldiers as the finest people on the planet get old after the second page. Also, the constant comparisons of military units to sports teams get quite repetitive.
Adam Burnett
Jul 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
John Steinbeck is my favourite author of all time and I have read all his books save two (Log from the Sea of Cortez and The Acts of King Arthur) and I can say with absolute confidence that this is his worst book by far. There is absolutely NOTHING redeeming in it. As others have said, pretty much reads like an extended pamphlet of propaganda. Save yourself some time and go back and read East of Eden again instead.
Brian Willis
An authoritative study of the bombers of World War II, Steinbeck examines the various roles and crew members that go into a bombing mission. It certainly is thorough and it paints a vivid portrait of these important missions. It may be a bit dry for some, but it is generously full of photographs that detail the technical side. An accomplished report.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Battle for Iwo Jima
  • History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past
  • December 1941: The Month That Changed America And Saved The World
  • High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline
  • Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II
  • Gifts of War
  • Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances
  • Top Secret Recipes Unlocked: All New Home Clones of America's Favorite Brand-Name Foods
  • Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare
  • Armored Cav: A Guided Tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment (Guided Tour)
  • The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs
  • Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall  (War Memoirs, #4)
  • War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror
  • The Saboteurs (Men at War, #5)
  • California Schemin' (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective, #45; Malibu Mayhem Trilogy, #1)
  • Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq
  • Victory Point: Operations Red Wings and Whalers - the Marine Corps' Battle for Freedom in Afghanistan
  • Rights of Man, Common Sense and Other Political Writings
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

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court
    $11.99 $4.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »