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The Moon Is Down

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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 weather turns bleak, with the snows beginning earlier than usual, the "simple, peaceful people" of the town are angry and confused. Colonel Lanser, a veteran of many wars, tries to operate under a veil of civility and law, but in his heart he knows that "there are no peaceful people" amongst those whose freedom has been taken away by force. The veil is soon torn apart when Alexander Morden, an erstwhile alderman and "a free man," is ordered to work in the mine. He strikes out at Captain Loft with a pick axe, but Captain Bentick steps into its path and dies of it. After a summary trial, Morden is executed by a firing squad. This incident catalyzes the people of the town and they settle into "a slow, silent, waiting revenge." Sections of the railroad linking the port with the mine get damaged regularly, the machinery breaks down often, and the dynamo of the electricity generators gets short circuited. Whenever a soldier relaxes his guard, drinks or goes out with a woman, he is killed. Mayor Orden stands by his people, and tries to explain to Col. Lanser that his goal – "to break man’s spirit permanently" – is impossible.

The cold weather and the constant fear weighs heavy on the occupying force, many of whom wish the war to end so that they can return home. They realize the futility of the war and that "the flies have conquered the flypaper." Some members of the resistance escape to England and ask the English for explosives so that the townspeople can intensify their efforts. English planes parachute-drop small packages containing dynamite sticks and chocolates all around the town. In a state of panic, the army takes the Mayor and his friend Dr. Winter, the town doctor and historian, hostage and lets it be known that any action from resistance will lead to their execution. Mayor Orden knows that nothing can stop his people and that his death is imminent. He tells his wife that while he can be killed, the idea of Mayor (and freedom and democracy) is beyond the reach of any army. Before his execution, Mayor Orden reminds Dr. Winter of the dialogues of Socrates in the Apology, a part he played in the high school play, and tells him to make sure that the debt is repaid to the army, i.e., that the resistance is continued.

144 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1942

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About the author

John Steinbeck

959 books21.8k followers
John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (1902-1968) 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 region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later, he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack, and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,221 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
December 30, 2021
‎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 سال1968میلادی

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، مترجم: پرویز داریوش؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، سازمان کتابهای جیبی: موسسه انتشارات فرانکلین، سال1341، در182ص، اندازه11در5/16س.م.، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا، سده20م، جنگ جهانی دوم، سال1939م تا سال1945م؛

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، ترجمه: پرویز داریوش؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، اساطیر، سال1365، در162ص؛

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، ترجمه: پرویز داریوش؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، امیرکبیر، سال1377، در153ص، شابک9640004626، شابک9789640004623؛ چاپ پنجم سال1389؛

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، ترجمه: پرویز داریوش؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، انتشارات علمی فرهنگی، سال1384، در161ص، شابک9644456734؛

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، ترجمه: کریم احمدی؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، عارف، سال1362، در192 ص، عکس

عنوان: ماه پنهان است؛ اثر: جان اشتاین بک، ترجمه: احمد حسینی؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، ناژ، سال1393، در205ص، شابک9786006110172؛

نیروهای مهاجم وارد قصبه ای کوچک شده، با کمترین خونریزی، آنجا را تسخیر میکنند؛ قصبه یا جزیره، یک مقام رسمی به عنوان شهردار دارد؛ نیروهای مسلح آنجا دوازده تن هستند، که آنها هم صبح روز یورش، به لطف جاسوس نفوذی، دنبال نخود سیاه فرستاده شده اند؛ مردمانی که سالهاست رنگ جنگ به خود ندیده اند؛ مقام رسمی خودش هم نمیداند چندتا اسلحه دارد، و اسلحه ها کجا هستند، ولی مهاجمین میدانند؛ مردمان قصبه، در روزهای نخست، چنان آرام هستند که برخی از مهاجمین، قصد ماندگاری دارند، و از ازدواج و گذران دوران بازنشستگی خویش در آنجا، سخن میگویند؛ آنجا دارای یک معدن ذغال سنگ است، و نیروی مهاجم، به محصول آن معدن نیاز دارد؛ نخست همه چیز ساده به نظر میرسد، اما...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 18/09/199هجری خورشیدی؛ 08/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
May 16, 2012
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 people to persevere and overcome.


The story begins with a peaceful, democratic village swiftly invaded and occupied by aggressive, fascist army bearing all of the telltales of Nazi Germany. “By 10:45 it was all over. The town was occupied, the defenders defeated, and the war was finished.” The brilliant irony of the novel’s first words is revealed only later as we learn that “the war” has barely even begun.

We meet the simple, hardworking people of the village, who seem perplexed, but not, initially, embittered by the invaders. We meet the enemy, Colonel Lanser and his officers, none of whom are presented as “mustache-twirling” villains. Just soldiers doing a job. The initial interactions are cordial, almost bizarrely so, and there is a sense that things may not be so bad.

Wrong..it is...and Steinbeck deftly, methodically commences to bleed the air of lightheartedness out of the narrative, and reveals the underlying severity of his message.

This brings me to the first major kudo I wish to bestow on Steinbeck. His manipulation and control over his material is impressive, and he effectively confounds your expectations through the slowly escalating gravity of the story’s tone. After the initial brutal invasion, including the killing of a group of the town’s soldiers, is glossed over and depicted in a casual, almost humorous fashion, I was thinking that this may be something akin to a black comedy.

Not the case, and Steinbeck begins to turn the screws.

The invaders need the townspeople to work the coal mine (the town’s coal resources were the reason it was targeted). The town people do not take kindly to being “forced” to work the mines. The invaders insist…

Tension…animosity…hatred…violence ensue that I will leave for you to discover.


The horror of war, the enduring strength of freedom, and the self-defeating process of using humans to impose “inhuman” oppression, these are the messages of Steinbeck's work.

I want to talk a little about this latter aspect first, because it’s something you don’t see portrayed enough in stories about occupying forces. Usually, you see the damage that is inflicted on those that have been deprived of their liberty, and Steinbeck certainly does reflect this in the story. However, he also shows the dehumanizing, destructive effect of the occupation on the occupier.

As the townspeople become resentful and openly antagonistic, it begins to take a devastating toll on the enemy soldiers, who simply want to go home to their own families and feel like they have been lied to by their superiors. They find they must constantly be on their guard and can never travel alone, which has a serious effect on their morale. “Fear crept in on the men in their billets and it made them sad and it crept into their patrols and it made them cruel.” These soldiers, just like their captives, have lost their freedom, and Steinbeck’s portrayal of their desolation powerfully closes the circle on the “there are truly no winners in a war of aggression” theme.

There are only victims.

On the other side of the coin, Steinbeck extols the right of people to live free and inner resolve that comes from the yearning to self-determine.

His message, delivered throughout the second half of the story, is that the very nature of invasion and occupation give rise to the invaders downfall by reorganizing the previously self-interested and peaceful townsfolk into a cohesive band of freedom fighters.
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.
The armies measures to try and maintain control over the populace backfire, as they must, and the extremes to which the oppressed will go to secure that which was taken only becomes more amplified. “Don't you know you will have to kill all of us or we in time will kill all of you? You destroyed the law when you came in, and a new law took its place."

Finally, I will begin my wrap up with one of my favorite quotes from the story, in which Steinbeck sums up his view on the futility of war.
War is treachery and hatred, the muddling of incompetent generals, the torture and killing and sickness and tiredness, until at last it is over and nothing has changed except for new weariness and new hatreds.
Steinbeck’s novel is a large story told on a very small stage. He doesn’t mince around with nuances or delicate philosophies. He goes straight at the fundamentals.

It will stay with you long after you reach the end.


Profile Image for s.penkevich.
965 reviews6,840 followers
August 6, 2023
I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame.

John Steinbeck has always championed the spirit of survival in the face of great opposition, with novels about worker’s strikes, families struggling to survive the Depression, or even the survival of morality in a society increasingly concentrated on profits over people. In his short, 1942 novel, The Moon is Down, written to be adapted to the stage, Steinbeck turns his attention to the battle for democracy in the face of looming totalitarianism. While the countries remain nameless, the brief story concerns the invasion of Norway by the Nazis and the growing resistence of the townspeople in response to the Nazis attempts to control the population. The irony, of course, is the conquerors demands for “civility” in the face of their oppression, tone policing the townsfolk for active resistance in order to self-condone the public executions on the freedom fighters. While brief, this is a powerful book that gives Steinbeck a fresh setting to orchestrate his familiar themes as he examines survival, hierarchy, control and the will of people to rise above and resist in a story that is, ultimately, quite hopeful.

The people don’t like to be conquered, and so they will not be. 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.

Set in a Norwegian coastal town that is of military importance for its shipping port, this small cast of characters consists of the “conquerors” who take up residence in the mayor’s palace, and the “conquered” who grow increasingly agitated in an attempt to drive back their invaders. The story was adapted into a stage play for which Steinbeck was awarded the King Haakon VII Freedom Cross in Norway, and it is easy to see how this was aimed for the theater with the story being dialogue-driven and mostly consisting of people coming and going from the same room with only two major scene changes that would function as an act I act II on stage. This allows Steinbeck to do what he does best: give brief monologues on the human spirit, morality, and instill hope in the hopeless.

The flies have conquered the flypaper

The Nazis have tried to establish an impression of cooperation with the town, setting up in Mayor Orden’s home (note the name calls to mind the idea of “order”) and attempting to use him in order to control the populace. When an act of resistance kills an officer when he jumps in the way of a pick-axe to defend a fellow officer, the Nazi troops decide to execute the townsperson as a show of strength. The townspeople begin to organize together in a ‘slow, silent, waiting revenge’ that makes the conquerors uneasy, with an underground network spreading information and characters such as the local store keeper who works with the enemy as a spy and was modeled off Vidkun Quisling. ‘It disturbs the invaders now, I am told, how news runs through censorships, how the truth of things fights free of control,’ says Dr. Winter, and as in almost every Steinbeck book, we can look to the doctor character as a pillar of philosophical morality.

Steinbeck’s story turns into a tale about sacrifice and the icons we build to drive the spirits of others. With the enemy soldiers, we see them attempt to control and create “order,” something ironic as it is their presence and invasion that disrupted the order. The palace in which they reside is an attempt to create a symbol of dominance and peacekeeping, but as the novel progresses we see the palace deteriorating from their continued presence, a sure sign of them as the rot from inside. On the other hand, we see the resistance as lighting a fire in the hearts of the people even in the face of their own deaths. ‘To break man's spirit permanently,’ as the enemy is attempting, cannot occur if the people uplift each other. The Nazis order Orden to control his people but he knows he cannot, and he will go to his death to remind them to resist. ‘I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir--but I do have a choice of how I do it,’ he says, ‘ I who am not a very brave man will have made them a little braver.’ He quotes Socrates saying the debt of his life must be paid, encouraging the resistance to continue larger and braver than ever.

The Moon is Down is a quick little read with a big punch. I would enjoy seeing this as a play and it captures all the classic Steinbeck elements in something that feels so grand scale and epic, showing the power of good over evil represented here as democracy over fascism. He never lets me down.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
November 4, 2017
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 expansion. Steinbeck has created a simple, strident and moving declaration of the indomitable will of a people who refuse to give in to tyranny. The character Mayor Orden, a symbol of unassuming yet steadfast resistance and leadership, sums up the theme of the novel when he says:

“Our people are invaded, but I don’t think they are conquered”.

Profile Image for سـارا.
248 reviews240 followers
September 13, 2018
بعد از خوندن چهار کتاب از جان اشتاین بک با قطعیت به عنوان ‌یکی از نویسنده‌های مورد علاقم در ادبیات کلاسیک ازش نام می برم.
این کتاب به مقاومت مردم‌ شهر قصبه ( شهر کوچیکی در نروژ ) در مقابل سربازان متجاوز آلمانی می پردازه که در ادوار مختلف همیشه در صلح بودن و دور از جنگ.
چیزی که تو متن توجه ام رو جلب کرد این بود که تنفر سربازان از وضعیتشون و زندانی شدن در یه شهر تسخیر شده دقیقا به اندازه تنفر مردم شهر قصبه از جنگ و متجاوزان بود. اما به جای تلاش برای رهایی از وضعیت پیش اومده بیشتر در منجلاب قوانینی فرو ‌می رفتند که عمل به اون ها به مثابه‌ی پرستش یک بت (پیشوا) براشون اهمیت و ارزش داشت.
دیالوگ های رد و بدل شده ما بین سرهنگ آلمانی و شهردار قصبه جذاب ترین و به یاد موندنی ترین بخش داستان رو تشکیل میدادند.
جان اشتاین بک از روح و قداست زندگی مینویسه. اونقدر عمیق و دوست داشتنی که آدمو وادار میکنه چندین و چندبار کتاب هاشو بخونه و هربار بیش از پیش ازشون لذت ببره.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews489 followers
June 1, 2023
“The people don’t like to be conquered, and so they will not be. 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." This powerful quote voices Steinbeck's views on freedom and democracy and his severe criticism on the dictatorial "one leader" concept and the Nazi despotism. Although I've heard that Steinbeck was considered a "Communist", there is no mistaking here of his support of democracy.

Steinbeck wrote The Moon is Down to uplift the morale of the allied forces during World War II. Modelled on the Nazi occupation in Norway, it tells the story of a military invasion on an unarmed small town in Northern Europe and the subsequent rise of the conquered against the conqueror. Having published it in 1942, Steinbeck expresses both his wish and belief that the "conquerors" (the Nazi) may not have their own way for long and the "conquered" (the people of the invaded countries), with the assistance of the friendly allies, will rise against the conquerors and defeat them thoroughly.

The story in itself isn't easy to read. The clash between the two sides and the ruthless suppression of the unarmed by the armed is grim and difficult to stomach. And it is a mercy that the story was short. However, the voice is clear and the message conveyed across is powerful. Steinbeck's ordinarily colourful writing is replaced here with an impressive vitality that suited the subject of the story. The story's end mark Socrates's last words to Crito (as was noted in Plato's Phaedo) where Socrates requests his friend to pay his debt and Crito answers "the debt will be paid". These words were pertinent and prophetic. The "debt" was finally paid when the war came to an end in 1945, but at what cost?

This was a moving tragedy. Though the story was a little too much for my sensitive mind, I'm glad to have read it. The story prompted me to write a small tribute, and it will be shared below. I'm no poet so please bear up with me. :)

A Tribute to John Steinbeck's The Moon is Down:

The moon is down
The darkness descends
Embracing in slow degrees
The earth and men.

The creeping blackness darkens
The chilling coldness, freezes
The mind, body, and soul
Confused first, then angered

Biding time,
till a speck of light flashes
The path to walk.

The speck turns in degrees
Into a beam, bringing radiance
Swallowing with tentative bites
The enclosing darkness,

Until a fire is kindled
Fierce and burning
Ominous and menacing
Vowing to engulf,

The chilling coldness
The maddening darkness
Promised by the invading hand
Choking free life.

They rise,
worse than any earthly force
Burning everything
In its ferocious force
Even as one by one falls

To taste the sweetness
of freedom that will come
When the moon shines bright
once again, on the clear sky.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,109 reviews724 followers
July 4, 2023
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. So many of the lessons in this book apply to situations we are seeing all over the world today. Recommended for those going into the military.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
July 13, 2014
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 victories. The struggle is not valiant. There are no action-packed depictions. It is furtive. Victory over their oppressors is implied. But the main point is that those supposedly conquered should struggle against their oppressors. Most will and most will never give up the fight.

Aspects of The Moon is Down had a deja vu familiarity about them and then one particular scene jarred my memory and sent me back 30 years or more to a TV version of All Quiet on the Western Front. In it actor Richard Thomas (aka "John Boy") plays a German. I think in the early 80s he was trying to get away from his good-guy Waltons persona. Playing a soldier from an antagonistic army pushing himself on a woman from the conquered country would do it. Well anyway, the scene in question is not, to my recollection, from All Quiet..., but rather from this book. I hope Steinbeck got some credit.
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
March 3, 2021
في مغيب القمر رواية كتبها جون شتاينبك ونشرت عام 1942 أثناء الحرب العالمية الثانية
بلدة صغيرة يدخلها جيش الاحتلال لاستغلال مناجم الفحم الموجودة فيها, يحكي شتاينبك عن عمدة البلدة وأهلها البسطاء في مواجهة ومقاومة الاحتلال
ويصف حال جنود الاحتلال وما يدور في نفوسهم ما بين الشعور بالقوة والغرور, وبين العزلة والغربة ورغبتهم الشديدة بمرور الوقت للعودة لبلادهم وأهلهم
الأكيد انه ما في شعب مسالم إذا ما تعرض هذا الشعب لاحتلال أرضه وفقد حريته
هذه الرواية البسيطة كان لها أثر مشجع ومساند لسكان الدول التي احتلتها ألمانيا في الحرب العالمية الثانية
Profile Image for مجیدی‌ام.
213 reviews124 followers
February 7, 2022
*بدون خطر لو رفتن داستان

کم کم داشتم نگران می‌شدم که نکنه سلیقه‌ام عوض شده! یا چون سن‌ام رفته بالا، دیگه هیچ کتابی به دلم نمی‌شینه، و داشتم می‌ترسیدم از اینکه مدت‌ها، از آخرین کتابی که پنج ستاره کامل بهش دادم می‌گذره!
همش با خودم کلنجار می‌رفتم که چرا انقدر عنق شدم! چرا نسبت به اکثر کتاب‌ها دید خوبی ندارم...
تا اینکه ماه پنهان است رو شروع کردم! و تازه اونجا بود که یادم اومد من جان اشتاین بک رو می‌پرستم!
اونجا بود که یادم اومد من عاشق کتاب‌های ضد جنگ و بخصوص جنگ‌های جهانی هستم.
اونجا بود که فهمیدم هنوز هم سلیقه‌ام تغییری نکرده و این ترش‌رویی طولانی، فقط به این دلیله که این مدت کتاب خوبی دستم نگرفته بودم!

ماه پنهان است، یک رمان کوتاه ولی با ارزشه! اثریه که شاید در نگاه اول حس خوبی در مخاطب ایجاد نکنه، اما همون چند صفحه اولش کافیه تا هر خواننده‌ای بدونه که داره یک کتاب فاخر ضد جنگ می‌خونه!

در نقدهای قبلی‌ام که برای کتاب موش‌ها و آدم‌ها، و همچنین برای کتاب خوشه‌های خشم نوشته بودم، قید کرده بودم که اشتاین بک، خدای توصیف کردنه! در این کتاب هم، کاملا میشه حس کرد که این توصیفات فقط از قلم اشتاین بک برمیاد!
صحنه‌های برفی و دنیای سرد و یخ زده‌ای که در بعضی از صفحات این کتاب به رشته‌ی تحریر دراومده، بهتر از دیدن چندین عکس و فیلم می‌تونن اون فضاها رو در ذهن خواننده ترسیم کنن!
زیبایی داستان، گیرایی قلم و ترجمه نسبتا خوب، همه و همه باعث شدن که بسیار زیاد از این کتاب لذت ببرم و اون رو بعنوان اولین کتاب پنج ستاره‌ی سال 2022 ثبت کنم.
بیش باد!

این کتاب، قیمت و البته حجم زیادی نداره، پیشنهاد می‌کنم بخونیدش.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book562 followers
May 16, 2023
This story, published in 1942, was a contribution by Steinbeck to the effort to mentally shore up the countries under invasion by Germany at that time. In a town, in a country that is almost without doubt meant to mirror Norway, a conquering invasion force is subjected to the unfaltering resistance of a free people.

The plot is fairly predictable, because we know how the Nazi’s operated during the war when met with resistance. The characters are more stereotypes than individuals, although Steinbeck does manage to make the invaders mostly humans rather than monsters. They are, in fact, soldiers following orders in a situation that they neither understand nor control.

At one point, one of the soldiers laughs hysterically and says “the flies have conquered the flypaper,” and this would pretty much sum up the purpose of the story. You may win the battle with sheer force, but the minds and hearts of free people will continue to fight until they have won the war.

Lucky for us all, Steinbeck was right.
Profile Image for Kushagri.
59 reviews
May 21, 2023
A complex and powerful interplay of various emotions of anger, revenge, remorse, and loneliness, associated with the conquerors, the conquered, the traitors and the rebels, in case of an invasion. The backdrop of snow just added to the sombreness of the situation.

"The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. 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. You will find that is so, sir."

I loved this intricately crafted story and the mesmerising prose. The author makes as setting an anonymous peace-loving country which is invaded unprovoked and suddenly by a powerful neighbour. In the initial days of the invasion the population of the town are confused and dazed, and they are in a dreamlike state. But then they start to understand the consequences of being conquered.

It not only highlights the psychology of those who have been conquered but those who are the soldiers carrying out the invasion. Because in many cases, these soldiers are pawns in the hands of the people in power, who call all the shots, not to say they are completely absolved of their doings in such situations. But like I said it is very complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted.

Thus it came about that the conquerors grew afraid of the conquered and their nerves wore thin and they shot at shadows in the night. The cold, sullen silence was with them always.

And the officers were a reflection of their men, more restrained because their training was more complete, more resourceful because they had more responsibility, but the same fears were a little deeper buried in them, the same longings were more tightly locked in their hearts. And they were under a double strain, for the conguered people watched them for mistakes and their own men watched them for weakness, so that their spirits were taut to the breaking-point. The conquerors were under a terrible spiritual siege and everyone knew, conquered and conquerors, what would happen when the first crack appeared.

Steinbeck adds humanity to the invaders. They are depicted as soldiers on duty obeying orders, who miss their country, their home, their family, but have a misguided view that may have been propagated by the people in power, that the invaded victims should accept them. That their dissent is unjustified. But among them is seasoned Colonel Lanser, who has seen wars and who knows the true picture. He is portrayed as a very practical man yet a man who requires our understanding.

Lanser had been in Belgium and France twenty years before and he tried not to think what he knew--that war is treachery and hatred, the muddling of incompetent generals, the torture and killing and sickness and tiredness, until at last it is over and nothing has changed except for new weariness and new hatreds. Lanser told himself he was a soldier, given orders to carry out. He was not expected to question or to think, but only to carry out orders; and he tried to put aside the sick memories of the other war and the certainty that this would be the same. This one will be different, he said to himself fifty times a day; this one will be very different.

I would highly recommend this impactful story by a fantastic author.
Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
413 reviews116 followers
March 25, 2018
Ένα τάγμα στρατιωτών καταλαμβάνει την πόλη. Αντίσταση δεν προβάλλεται. Ο πληροφοριοδότης των κατακτητών – ευηπόληπτος δημότης - είχε φροντίσει να απομακρύνει τους ελάχιστους διαθέσιμους στρατιώτες. Η πόλις εάλω, λοιπόν. Απλά, ήσυχα, με λιγοστούς νεκρούς∙ και τα όποια διαθέσιμα όπλα παραδίδονται στους κατακτητές.

Πριν την πόλη είχε κατακτηθεί η χώρα και πριν τη χώρα η μισή υφήλιος. Ο κατακτητής δείχνει ανίκητος, αλλά δεν είναι. Οι φαντάροι σκέφτονται αδιάκοπα το σπίτι τους, σιχαίνονται τον τόπο που κατέκτησαν. Κι ο λαός με τη σειρά του σιχαίνεται τους φαντάρους. Και νιώθει μίσος γι’ αυτούς. Ένα μίσος που δυναμώνει, που είναι βαθιά στα μάτια του λαού, που φέρνει φόβο στην καρδιά και κάνει τους κατακτητές να φοβούνται τους κατακτημένους. «Και όλοι ήξεραν, καταχτημένοι και καταχτητές, τι θα συμβεί όταν θα εμφανιζότανε το πρώτο ράγισμα».

Ένα ψυχογράφημα είναι το βιβλίο αυτό του Στάινμπεκ, μια περιδίνηση στα τρίσβαθα του ανθρώπινου ψυχισμού. Ένας ύμνος στην ανθρωπιά κι ένα τραγούδι ελπίδας που εν έτει 1942 (όταν και πρωτοδημοσιεύτηκε το βιβλίο) δεν μπορεί να υποστηρίξει κανείς ότι περίσσευαν στον κόσμο.

Τέσσερα ολόλαμπρα αστέρια στο στερέωμα του ουρανού, πλάι σε ένα φεγγάρι που έχει ήδη πέσει και μια δικαιωμένη αίσθηση ότι ο Στάινμπεκ δεν θα με απογοητεύσει ποτέ.
Profile Image for Shaghayegh.
74 reviews89 followers
January 25, 2023
من راجع به آن ها هیچ نمی‌دانم، جز آنکه اسیرند و درست همین موضوع است که مرا ناراحت می‌کند. زندگی‌شان تار و مبهم و خالی و پوچ است. اگر آن‌ها را بیشتر می‌شناختم، اسمشان را می‌دانستم، می‌دانستم چه زندگی‌ای دارند، در انتظار چه هستند و چه دردی دارند، آن‌وقت احساسات من شکل می‌گرفت و شاید به ترحم و دلسوزی مبدل می‌شد. حالا آنچه از این عده می‌بینم، می‌فهمم رنج بشریت، عزای زندگی و بی‌رحمی انسان‌هاست. فرمانی نظامی، این انسان های ساکت و آرام را دشمن ما کرده است و فرمان دیگری می‌تواند آن‌ها را دوست ما کند. بر سر میزی، چند نفر که ما آن‌ها را نمی‌شناسیم، ورقه‌ای امضا کردند و سالیان دراز آدم‌کشی و جنایت را برجسته‌ترین شغل و هدف زندگی ما ساختند. همان جنایتی که همه‌ی مردم دنیا محکومش می‌کردند و آن را مستحق شدیدترین مجازات‌ها می‌دانستند، ولی کیست که این انسان‌های آرام و صورت‌های بچه‌گانه‌ی آن‌ها را که ریشی همچون حواریون عیسی دارند، ببیند و کشتن آن‌ها را جنایت نداند؟ هر گروهبانی در نظر سرباز و هر معلمی در نظر شاگرد، دشمن‌تر از این‌ها در نظر ما هستند. با این وصف، اگر این‌ها آزاد بودند، به طرف ما و ما به طرف آن‌ها تیراندازی می‌کردیم و یکدیگر را می‌کشتیم.
در جبهه غرب خبری نیست از اریش ماریا رمارک

با اینکه فقط موش‌ها و آدم‌ها رو ازش خونده بودم، اما مطمئن بودم با خوندن بقیه آثارش جا پاش رو تو دلم محکم میکنه و تبدیل میشه به یکی از نویسنده های موردعلاقه‌م.
و خب این شما و این جان استاین‌بک. کسی که بلده چطور داستان بنویسه و روح شخصیت‌هاش رو عریان کنه. همونی که از توصیف طبیعت و جزئیات ساده غافل نمیشه و به نظرم بهترین پایان‌ها رو میتونه رقم بزنه.
این بار من رو به دل یه سرزمین اشغالی برد. جایی که تا قبل از این اتفاق شوم، مردمش آزاد بودن و هیچ تصوری از جنگ و خونریزی نداشتن. و آروم آروم بهت نشون میده که چطور اون سرزمین، اون مردم مهربون و ساده، اون زندگی‌ای که در جریان بود تحت تأثیر اشغالگرا قرار می‌گیره. دشمنانی که فکر میکنن ظلمشون پابرجا می‌مونه و قدرتی که دارن توان سرکوب و امر و نهی رو می‌تونه داشته باشه. صدالبته که داره! اما نه همیشه.
و خب طبق معمول همیشه، این داستان هم برام دور از ذهن نبود. تاریخی که تکرار میشه و هر بار فکر می‌کنیم این دفعه با دفعات قبل فرق می‌کنه. گرچه از نظرم هیچ تفاوتی ندارن. فقط اسامی عوض میشن.

این کتاب کمی من رو یاد داستان کوتاه رویای آدم مضحک از داستایفسکی انداخت. و تا حدودی کتاب در جبهه غرب خبری نیست. به این خاطر که تو هر دوی این‌ها شاهد هستیم که چطور دنیای اشغالگرها و مردم اسیر به هم شباهت دارن:)
دقیقا مثل کتاب قبلی‌ای که ازش خوندم حجم داشت و میشه سریع خوندش. به نظرم اگر در این دوران خونده بشه، تلخیش خیلی خیلی کمتر از اونچه که می‌کشیم هست و بعضی بخش هاش حتی برام شوخی محسوب می‌شدن!
درباره‌ی ترجمه هم کمی اذیت شدم. مخصوصا سر زمان افعالی که مترجم انتخاب کرده بود.
مورد دیگه‌ای به چشمم نخورد.
فقط اینکه خیلی سر موقع خوندنش دلم خواست یکی از این روزهایی که درش دست و پنجه نرم می‌کنیم بنویسه. طوری که خارجیا با خوندن�� زیر لب بگن: این چطور میتونه رئال باشه؟ ماها اینا رو تو دسته‌ی علمی_تخیلی قرار می‌دیم!
Profile Image for Melki.
6,038 reviews2,388 followers
November 3, 2014
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 soldiers is bitten by the mayor's feisty cook. Because of the ease the invading army had in taking the town, the officers assume that the local citizens will fall into line and accept them as their new rulers. The mayor predicts that things will not be that easy. "The people are confused now. They have lived at peace so long that they do not quite believe in war. They will learn and then they will not be confused anymore."

Things turn ugly after an incident at the local mine, and the mayor's prediction comes true as the oppressed people begin to exact their revenge.

Steinbeck presents a unique look at life during wartime, and humankind's desire to be free.

Profile Image for Kim.
426 reviews512 followers
August 23, 2012

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 experiences of the locals as they deal with occupation by the armed forces of another unnamed country. The text makes it clear that the occupier is meant to be Germany, and while the occupied land could be a number of European countries, it is very much like Norway. The narrative describes the arrival of the enemy soldiers, the reaction of the villagers to occupation and of the soldiers to the act of occupying, the involvement of a local collaborator and the population's growing determination to resist the enemy and fight for freedom.

Even though the work was specifically designed to be a piece of anti-Nazi propaganda, Steinbeck avoided stereotyping the invading soldiers. Instead, he showed them as human beings with differing attitudes to their role, missing home and their families and trying to justify their position to the locals. He was criticised for this. While many critics praised the work, some influential critics accused Steinbeck of being soft on the Nazis and suggested that the novella would demoralise victims of Nazi aggression in occupied Europe. Those particular critics were wrong. After the war, the King of Norway gave Steinbeck a medal in honour of the influence of the work in Norway and it later came to light that although the Nazis banned the book, it was translated, illegally printed and distributed throughout occupied western Europe. And not only in Europe: the book was also circulated in parts of China under Japanese occupation. If anything, by portraying the occupying soldiers as human beings and not as monsters, Steinbeck showed that they could be defeated.

The work has the feeling of a parable, almost of a fairy tale. It is heavy on dialogue and relatively light on description. In common with many short works, the characters are lightly sketched in rather than well-developed. As befits a work of propaganda, it is somewhat didactic in tone. Overall, it's fair to say that in terms of literary merit, this is far from Steinbeck's best work. However, the simplicity of the writing had a purpose. As I was reading, it struck me that the work would have been relatively straightforward to translate. To translate a work of literature generally requires background-speaker level fluency in the original language and the language into which the work is to be translated. However, the language in this work is relatively simple and the complexities of metaphor and idiom are avoided. Anyone reasonably competent in English could have translated the work with the assistance of a good dictionary. That Steinbeck could adapt his writing style to such an extent, while still producing elegant prose, is a testament to his skill.

Even though this is not Steinbeck's best work, it's still a thought-provoking read. It gets four stars for being a satisfying literary work and an additional star for being an interesting historical artifact.
Profile Image for kian.
198 reviews51 followers
July 7, 2018
كتابي درباره جنگ... توصيفات فوق العاده جان اشتاين بك طوري بود كه همه چيز مثل يك نمايشنامه از جلوي چشمت رد ميشد... با اينكه داستان رو خيلي ساده بيان كرده بود اما از همون اول، با شخصيتهاي شهر فتح شده، همذات پنداري ميكردي.. تا جايي كه انگار، خودت يكي از اونا هستي... تا حالا دو كتاب از اشتاين بك خوندم. موشها و آدمها و ماه پنهان است....و ازش خيلي راضي ام...

مالي گفت: مردم شهر ميگويند. سپس قامتش را كاملا راست كرد و با لحني آميخته به التماس و انتظار گفت آقا! شما كه چنين كاري نميكنيد، ميكنيد؟ اوردن گفت: چطور مردم خبر دارند و خودم بي اطلاعم؟ دكتر وينتر گفت: اين خودش راز بزرگي است. رازي كه همه فرمانروايان جهان را نگران كرده: مردم از كجا خبر دارند؟ طوري كه شنيده ام، خود اشغالگران هم نگرانند. چطور اخبار برغم اينهمه سانسور پخش ميشود و حقايق خود را از قيد و بندها رها ميكنند؟ راز بزرگي است...
Profile Image for Henry Martin.
Author 102 books151 followers
November 15, 2014
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 the same way and maintain clean conscience. This little book is so much more than propaganda. In fact, it reminds me a little of my all-time favorite war story - Pins and Needles by Boris Vian.

Why? Well, for starters, neither one is about a war. They both use war as a backdrop to a larger drama - the drama of human beings and their inability to coexist together in peace. They both center on the uselessness of war, on the idiocy of following out-of-touch leaders, of the blindness of following orders, and of the struggle to reconcile with the inutility of it all.

Where Vian centered on a single soldier as a part of the machine, Steinbeck centers not on the machine itself, but rather on the players (the wheels) that make the machine turn. He focuses equally on the conquerors and the conquered, and their interactions. The details about the location are so minimal that the location itself becomes almost impertinent. And isn't that true in a real war, after all? Wars are not about places; they are about victories and losses. And as Steinbeck points out, the conquerors often win battles, but the conquered win wars, because they are not following a leader or an agenda. They are in it for themselves.

Unlike the more contemporary books I read recently, The Moon is Down is written almost entirely as a dialogue between the various parties to the story. And here is where Steinbeck shines - in the dialogue, which advances the story without being boring, overdone, or cliched. We have friends talking, enemies talking, and through their exchanges we not only see the progress of the war itself, but also the progress of the change which is taking place inside the oppressed.

This is a wonderful story about two men - one conquered and one conqueror. One elected and one appointed. They both know the nonsense of it all, and they both agree on it, yet both have to follow their duty as required by their office.

An excellent read.
Profile Image for Maede.
287 reviews412 followers
June 25, 2023

پروپاگاندا یک شیوه ارتباطی است که برای دستکاری یا تأثیرگذاری بر عقاید گروه‌ها و یا برای پشتیبانی از یک علت یا عقیده خاص استفاده می‌شود.

تعریف کلمه‌ی پروپاگاندا به آدم این حس رو میده که نمی‌تونه مثبت باشه. اما اشتاین‌بک نظر دیگری داشته. بعد از اشغال بخشی از اروپا توسط آلمان نازی در جنگ‌ جهانی دوم، او اعتقاد داشت که همانطور که هیتلر با استفاده از پروپاگاندا اهداف سیاسی خودش رو پیش می‌بره، کشورهای اشغال‌شده و در جنگ هم باید پروپاگاندای خودشون رو داشته باشند.

چه پروپاگاندایی؟ امید.

داستان با حمله و اشغال یک شهر توسط نیروهای دشمن شروع میشه. کدوم کشور؟ نمی‌دونیم. کدوم دشمن؟ نمی‌دونیم. این کتاب برای یک ملت و یک جنگ نوشته نشده. مهم اینه که مردم شهر با اینکه به راحتی در ظاهر مجبور به تسلیم می‌شن، در باطن روحیه‌ی آزادگی خودشون رو حفظ می‌کنند.

یکی از نکات جالب این کتاب اینه که افسران دشمن رو هم خیلی انسانی به تصویر می‌کشه و از اندوه درونیشون میگه. این مسئله باعث میشه که وقتی کتاب در بحبوحه‌ی جنگ‌جهانی منتشر میشه، انتقادات زیادی به اشتاین‌بک وارد بشه. اما پس از جنگ مشخص میشه که این کتاب یکی از محبوب‌ترین کتاب‌های ممنوعه و قاچاقی در کشورهای اشغال‌شده بوده و حداقل مردم درگیر جنگ این نگاه واقع‌گرایانه رو دوست داشتند.

اما من. با اینکه هیچوقت از توصیفات و قلم اشتاین‌بک سیر نمی‌شم و این کتاب هم کم زیبایی نداشت، با داستان‌هایی با پیام‌های واضح و کلی کمتر ارتباط برقرار می‌کنم. پروپاگاندا، اینوری یا اونوری، اول و آخر هم یک‌چیزه. فشار دادن یک طرز فکر. حتی اگر این فکر آزادگی انسان باشه.

کانال تلگرام ریویوها و دانلود کتاب‌ها و صوتیشون
Maede's Books

Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,430 reviews693 followers
April 14, 2016
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب، از 182 صفحه تشکیل شده است و پیامِ اصلی داستان، نبرد برایِ پیروزی و مبارزه در راهِ آزادیست
داستانِ در موردِ مردمِ شهرِ « قصبه» و مبارزۀ آنها با اشغالگرانِ آلمانیست... « قصبه» دهکدۀ کوچکی در « نروژ» است... مردمانش بسیار آرام و صلح جو هستند و تنها 12 نفر نیرویِ مسلح و قوایِ محلی دارند که در همان لحظاتِ اولیۀ حملۀ آلمان ها تار و مار شدند
عزیزانم، برخلافِ مردمِ میهن پرست و شجاعِ « قصبه»، نخست وزیرِ پست و میهن فروشِ « نروژ» کشورش را دو دستی تقدیم به آلمان ها و هیتلر میکند، اما مردمِ « قصبه» زیرِ بارِ این خفت نرفته و به رهبریِ شهردارِ پیر و فلسفه دوستِ شهرشان « اوردن»، دست به دستِ یکدیگر داده و با راهنمایی هایِ « اوردن» در برابرِ آلمانها مقاوت کردند و جنگیدند
یکی از نکاتِ جالب در این داستان برایم این بود که « اشتاین بک» ساعت هایِ دقیقِ وقوعِ حوادث و رویداد ها را اعلام میکرد... به عنوانِ مثال: ساعتِ ده و سی و هشت دقیقه، 6 سربازِ کشته شده به خاک سپرده شدند
دوستانِ خردگرا، این داستانِ زیبا، من را به یادِ خیانتِ « سلمان فارسی» حرام زاده، یا همان « روزبه» میهن فروش انداخت که با اعرابِ کثیف و غارتگر همدست بود و برعلیهِ سرزمینِ پاکمان اقدام کرد... و مقاومتِ مردمِ « قصبه» برایم رشادت ها و دلاوری هایِ زنان و مردانِ مظلوم و بی آزارِ سرزمینِ عزیزم « ایران» را یادآوری نمود
شهردارِ قصبه، « اوردن» گفت: تنها کارِ غیرِ ممکن در دنیا، در هم شکستنِ روحِ انسان به نحوِ دائمی است
یادِ تمامی انسانهایِ آزاده و میهن پرستِ سرزمینمان « ایران» همیشه گرامی باد
پیروز باشید و ایرانی
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
531 reviews280 followers
June 12, 2020
کتاب ماه پنهان است را شاید بتوان اثری در ستایش مقاومت دانست ، مقاومت و جنبش های مقاومتی که در دوران جنگ جهانی دوم در اروپا شکل گرفتند ، از هر گروه و طبقه جامعه ، کارگر ، معلم ، پزشک و پرستار با دیدگاه های مختلف به هم پیوستند و بر ضد اشغالگران با هم متحد شدند و شروع به خرابکاری کردند در راه آهن ها ، مخابرات ، بنادر ، جاده ها و معادن و هر جای دیگر که ممکن بود .
کتاب به شکل خلاصه تبدیل شدن مردمی آرام و صلح طلب به پارتیزان و چریک و خرابکار را شرح می دهد و از طرف دیگر هم روحیه متزلزل سربازان و افسران اشغالگر را بیان می کند ، این که دو طرف جنگ چگونه به تدریج از هم متنفر می شوند و کشتن و کشته شدن تبدیل به امری عادی می شود .
نکته ای دیگر که اشتاین بک بیان می کند نبود رهبری واحد در جوامع دموکراتیک است ، در حالی که کشورهای توتالیتر دور یک نفر مانند پیشوا یا دوچه جمع می شوند و اگر او نباشد سرنوشت کشور متفاوت خواهد بود ، اما در کشورهای دموکراتیک فرد شاخصی وجود ندارد ، پیشوایی هم وجود ندارد ، این مطلب را نویسنده به زیبایی از طرف شهردار شهر می گوید :

ما مردمی آزادیم , به تعداد جمعیت مان پیشوا و سر داریم و در مواقع احتیاج رهبران واقعی مانند قارچ میانمان می رویند.
February 14, 2021

بعد از "موش‌ها و آدم‌ها" این دومین کتابیه که از جان استاین(اشتاین، حالا هرچی)بک خوندم و فکر میکنم دیگه یکی از نویسنده‌های محبوبم شد. استاین بک، خدای پایان‌بندیه. جوری که وقتی میرسی به صفحه‌ی آخر با خودت میگی: پشمام! بهتر از اینم مگه میشد تمومش کرد؟
Profile Image for Mohammad Hrabal.
296 reviews200 followers
April 9, 2019
عالی بود. ترجمه هم خوب بود. ولی فکر می کنم یه ترجمه امروزی ازش بکنند هم خوب باشه. نمیدونم باز ترجمه شده یا نه.
Profile Image for Carlo Mascellani.
Author 18 books262 followers
April 17, 2020
Silenzioso,ma tenace, in valore della libertà si spiega come una voce stentorea in tutto il romanzo. Libertà bramata dal popolo conquistato, che non soggiace ad alcun sopruso o imposizione, in nome di una dignità umana e personale irrinunciabile. Libertà bramata dal conquistatore stesso, ingannato dalle menzognere prospettive del propri capi, costretto a proseguir una guerra in cui spesso si ritrova a non credere o a eseguire ordini che non sente più propri.
Profile Image for Yegane.
125 reviews217 followers
June 27, 2019
چقدر پشیمونم از اینکه به کتابخونه ی مدرسه پس دادمش
(جز معدود کتاب هایی بود که امانت گرفتم ولی پس دادم)
Profile Image for Himanshu.
73 reviews225 followers
March 26, 2018
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 is unquantifiable and unfathomable as it is a strength of the heart. What can the enemy do to tackle it really? What torture, treachery or massacre could break this resolve? None, because those words in some surreptitious way have provided a freedom to the foggy minds. A freedom which paves an unassailable path towards a single objective of defeating the enemy.

I have a very good habit of not reading the reviews before picking up a book and a very bad habit of forgetting the ones that I've read long back. So luckily for me, I didn't know the background of this novel until I read the brilliant Afterword by Donald V. Coers. Imagine my countenance when I came to know that this work by an author who I utterly adore has been labeled as "Propaganda" and it turned out to be successfully so.

To put it simply: Through an anonymous pseudo plot, Steinbeck has written a simple yet powerful work on the Nazi occupied Norway during the WW-II. Over the period of 1940-1942, Steinbeck had actively volunteered for various government information and intelligence agencies, which brought him in contact with various displaced refugees from recently occupied countries like Norway and Denmark among others. This brought to his notice various underground resistance activities going on in their native lands, thus subsequently leading him to write this piece of fiction which was first published in USA in 1942 after making a few changes and borrowing the title from the beginning of Act 2 of Macbeth. It was released at the time of the attack on Peal Harbor, making it one of the biggest literary controversies of that time. The critics even went on to label Steinbeck as naïveté. But by this time, the book had found its way to western Europe as a stealth dagger to give it's people the much needed fuel to carry on the resistance.

But, how does a man living thousands of miles away write something so simple yet powerful that most of a continent and even China for that matter, amidst the most cruel war of all time, recognize it as one of the indispensable contributors towards their independence? To which Steinbeck responded: "I put myself in your place, and thought what I would do." OK sir, if you say so.

All of that said, this book was different from his other works, the strong muscled The Grapes of Wrath, or the earthly wise Of Mice and Men, or the life encompassing East of Eden. It was a war book alright, but the enemy was so human, the native's emotions so palpable, the atmosphere so dense, and the revenge so deep rooted that it breaks the shackles that binds a propaganda book to the war time, and transcends to the glorious eternity. There were to be found the elements of Wodehousian humor and Dostoevskian tragic psyche too. What more could I ask for? Maybe just my epitaph by his words that would forever refuse to die against the coldest of steel.
Profile Image for Mohammed  Ali.
475 reviews1,151 followers
February 6, 2017
" لقد أتى الجنود بالشتاء قبل موعده , طالما قال أبي إن الحرب تجلب الأجواء الرديئة , أو أن الأجواء الرديئة تجلب الحرب...لم أعد أذكر ما كان يقول

لقاء مع الكاتب الأمريكي المشهور جون شتاينباك و روايته القصيرة في مغيب القمر , حيث يسلط الضوء على زمن الحرب و الإحتلال و لكن من زاوية مختلفة نوعا ما...بعيدة عن القتال و الجبهات الساخنة .

" إن الشعب لا يحب أن يغزى يا سيدي , و هكذا لن يبقي على الغازي , إن أحرار الرجال لا يبدؤون حربا , و لكنها حين تبدأ سيواصلون الجهاد و إن أحاطت بهم الهزيمة . إن القطعان من الناس الذين يتبعون زعيما , لا يقدرون على هذا , و هكذا تجد القطعان دائما هي التي تكسب المعركة , و الأحرار دائما هم من يكسبون الحرب, ستتبين أن الحقيقة هي ما أقوله "

Profile Image for James.
430 reviews
October 26, 2016
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 powerful for doing so. An overlooked classic in my eyes - don't miss.
Profile Image for Amaranta.
551 reviews211 followers
September 16, 2018
“Alle dieci e quarantacinque tutto era finito.” .
E’ così che Steinbeck comincia a raccontare di un’invasione che più che fisica è psicologica, di una guerra che non si vede ma si percepisce nelle coscienze, attraverso la paura, gli sguardi, i bagliori nella notte. Quest’idea di una guerra senza la guerra mi ha ricordato molto “ Il silenzio del mare” di Vercors, un piccolo testo di rara bellezza. Lì era solo silenzio. Qui i dialoghi solo veloci, di poche parole, frasi brevi e incisive che ci raccontano di un mondo che davanti alla morte si ribella. “Siamo tutti destinati alla morte e allora se morte deve essere meglio farlo da uomini liberi, con coraggio e a testa alta. Non c’è altro scampo”. E’ questo il pensiero degli abitanti del villaggio occupato. Un atto chiaro, come una dichiarazione d’intenti dà l’avvio a quella che è una resistenza silenziosa che avvelena lentamente l’invasore.
“Tu farai del popolo un uomo solo” .
E quel veleno diventa paura, odio, voglia di tornare ad essere un uomo e non più un soldato e li sfianca. Il popolo si piega ma non si abbatte.
“I popoli non amano essere conquistati e per questo non lo saranno. Gli uomini liberi non possono scatenare una guerra, ma una volta che questa sia cominciata possono continuare a combattere nella sconfitta”.
Il sole sta tramontando quando Socrate dice: “ Critone debbo un gallo ad Asclepio, ti ricorderai di pagare il debito?” Asclepio è il dio guaritore. Socrate sta andando incontro alla morte a testa alta, fiero del suo pensiero. E’ in debito con il dio, perché neanche la morte vince sul suo spirito che rimane saldo, guarito.
La luna è tramontata quando Socrate muore.
Una lettura densa, intensa. Uno Steinbeck di livello che porta il lettore ad interrogarsi sulla coscienza comune, sullo spirito, sulla libertà. Una lezione dal conquistato al conquistatore. Dal debole al forte.
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