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In Dubious Battle

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At once a relentlessly fast-paced, admirably observed novel of social unrest and the story of a young man’s struggle for identity, In Dubious Battle is set in the California apple country, where a strike by migrant workers against rapacious landowners spirals out of control. Caught in the upheaval is Jim Nolan, a once aimless man who finds himself in the course of the strike.

274 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1936

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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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Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
January 28, 2022
In Dubious Battle, John Steinbeck

In Dubious Battle is a novel by John Steinbeck, written in 1936.

In Dubious battle, is the story of those who stand up and fight with the upper echelons of society, Jim is tired of his life, and joins the association, and in one corner of the country, the salary of apple pickers has been reduced.

Jim and Mac go there to lead the workers to quit. This novel is not only the story of a part of American history, but also a guide for all social actors. Jim Nolan meets Harry Nilson who initiates Jim's application process to become the newest member of the Party.

Mac "Doc" McLeod, the Party organizer, tells Jim they will go to the Torgas Valley (a composite location) in an attempt to rouse the two thousand fruit tramps against the Growers' Association, and to encourage the strike to spillover into the cotton fields in Tandale.

Momentum for strike action builds after old Dan breaks two rungs out of a ladder and falls. London becomes chairman of a committee of seven men, while Mac convinces Alfred Anderson's father, Al, to loan five acres as a base for the fruit tramps in exchange for them picking his crop for free.

Doc Burton is hired by Mac to maintain the sanitation of the strikers' camp, so as to prevent it from being disbanded by the Red Cross. Jim joins Sam in a picket as they go after some 'scabs' in the apple orchard. Sam's pickets violently injure them. In the aftermath, Jim is injured by a high-powered bullet but manages to limp back to the camp relatively unscathed. While out on the road Dakin, the leader of the pickers, is ambushed by a vigilante group at gunpoint. This is disrupted by the arrival of traffic cops whose presence is enough to tame the feral Dakin. As Jim learns of Dakin's whereabouts, Mac tells him they cannot delay Joy's funeral as his death––or the grisly manner of it––has become the animating impulse to undergird the strike.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال1982میلادی

عنوان: در نبردی مشکوک؛ نویسنده: جان اشتاین بک؛ مترجم: محمد قاضی؛ تهران، نشر آگاه، چاپ دوم سال1360؛ در375 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر روایت، سال1370، چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر مصدق، سال1393، در408 ص؛ شابک9786007436158؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

در «نبردی مشکوک»؛ داستان آنهایی است، که با جور بالانشینان جامعه، برپا ایستاده، و مبارزه میکنند؛ «جیم» از زندگی خویش خسته شده، و به انجمن میپیوندد، و در گوشه ای از کشور نیز، دستمزد «سیب چینان» کم شده است؛ «جیم» و «مک»، به آنجا میروند، تا دست از کار کشیدن کارگران را رهبری کنند؛ این رمان نه تنها داستان بخشی از تاریخ «آمریکا»، بلکه راهنمایی برای همه ی کنشگران اجتماعی است؛ بیم و هراس از کنش اجتماعی، چنان به نگارش درآمده، که با یک جزوه ی آموزشی برابری میکند؛ بیم و هراسی همچون: همراهی نکردن کسانیکه، انجمن برای حقوق آنهاست که میجنگد؛ از اینرو عنوان داستان «در نبردی مشکوک» نام گرفته است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/02/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 07/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for emma.
1,867 reviews54.4k followers
Want to read
June 5, 2023
if john steinbeck has 1,000 fans i'm one of them. if john steinbeck has 100 fans i'm one of them. if john steinbeck has 1 fan it's me. if john steinbeck has 0 fans i'm dead
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
964 reviews6,817 followers
January 1, 2022
Don’t Mourn. Organize.
-Joe Hill

While Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle is overshadowed by books such as The Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden having become such household names of American Literature, it is the book I tend to think back on the most. Published in 1936, Steinbeck had spent years interviewing laborers and strikers and created this novel out of their experiences. While a fictional strike novel, Steinbeck essentially created a rallying cry for workers rights that has carefully placed advice (like legal regulations about strikers camps) to aid the organizing of strikes as well as give people a look into the labor movement’s struggles. Criticisms of being overly romanticized or idealistic are probably valid—though I feel the character Dr. Burton is an excellent foil to the more idealized strike leaders—but idealistic or not, this was the book that hit me in college and inspired an engagement in activism for me. Sharp, short, and full of passion, In Dubious Battle is an engaging fictional case study of labor strikes that captures the mood of a disillusioned Depression Era America and remains important and inspiring all these decades later.

The book follows strike leader Mac McLeod and his young protege Jim Nolan as they find work as fruit pickers in Torgus Valley (a fictional location that was a composite of many real strikes that Steinbeck researched) to win the loyalty of the men and organize a strike. They work for a Communist labor group and Steinbeck begins the novel with a wonderful list of books for reading up on labor struggles and organizing. The strike begins and the workers trade volleys with the anti-strike town members and farm owners, with things becoming increasingly dangerous and violent. A centerpiece of the story is when strikers load up in trucks to fist fight the scabs who have been brought in. While Mac and Jim can be read as a bit idealistic, Steinbeck introduces Dr. Burton, a medic sympathetic to the cause but not without criticism for their methods and idealism. ‘Violence begets violence,’ he warns as things become increasingly tense. The novel ends with a body count and a look at how martyrs to a cause are created. Steinbeck makes it clear that the labor practicies of these farms are troubling, but does not sugarcoat that the struggles against them will be easy. He also warns of the violence that is likely to occur when hostilities to workers struggles have law enforcement and State-sponsored murder on their side.

‘I don’t believe in the cause, but I believe in men,’ Dr. Burton responds to Mac when questioned why he is helping, ‘I guess I just believe they’re men, and not animals.’ This seems to be the heart of the novel, and all the ambiguities of the violence and hardships boil down to that this is a fight for people to live without being merely crushed for profit. There is a long history of labor organizing that has shaped the workforce and brought about things like a 40hr work week and minimum wage laws, and there is a long struggle ahead as well with debates over unions being pretty prominent. Steinbeck sees the difficulties in this and acknowledges that there will always be in-fighting over methods and direction but he wants to be clear that we must always fight for humanity and for people over profit.
I want to see the whole picture - as nearly as I can. I don’t want to put on the blinders of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and limit my vision. If I used the term ‘good’ on a thing I’d lose my license to inspect it, because there might be bad in it. Don’t you see? I want to be able to look at the whole thing.

Early in the book In Dubious Battle, Jim Nolan is told by strike leader to ‘never use a word the men don’t know,’ warning him he will lose their trust and never get them back. Of all the lessons Steinbeck imparts in this book, this one has stuck with me the most and is always at the forefront of my mind when I’ve worked in organizing or campaigning (something I like to credit this book for inspiring in my life). Sure, we all love to learn words and be well read, but when you are fighting for workers rights the last thing you want is to be mistaken as condescending. Which I think is something we all often struggle with, particularly if you position yourself as someone with big ideas and this is a line I’ve quoted often. While I’m not really into in-fighting over messaging when an opponent's bad faith rhetoric can be devastating despite not having any bearing on reality, it is a good reminder that your ideas need to reach their audience.

This has been a favorite of mine a long time. I remember being at the end of my time in university and ready to take on the world when I read this, and this was certainly a boost of energy that really went deep into my heart. I actually read most of this in one sitting, sitting in a Planned Parenthood waiting room because it was the only way as seniors in college we were going to afford to be able to have our daughter (I ended up reading a lot of books at this time that would become my favorite and joke with her--now 11--that she inspired my best reading). I’ll never forget being spit on by a single protestor that stood outside it every day, being called a murderer as I was walking in excited to learn more about my child and how she was doing, and looking back I sometimes wish I would have slapped him with some Steinbeck (I disagreed with him regardless but that’s not the reason I’m writing this). Maybe it was all the nervous energy, maybe it was the right time to read this, but this book has always stuck with me. And I hope it can be meaningful for you too, particularly as a piece of history that reached for a brighter future. ‘We’re probably going to lose this strike,’ Mac admits at one point. He goes on to say “But we maybe raised enough hell so maybe there won’t be a strike in the cotton… It doesn’t make any difference if we lose. Here’s nearly a thousand men who’ve learned how to strike.’ For those looking for a little inspiration in hard times, this book is a good reminder that even things that seem like small efforts can snowball forward and ‘Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
July 24, 2017
John Steinbeck’s 1936 novel In Dubious Battle (with a title and opening quote from Milton) tells the tragic story of a labor strike amongst apple growers and pickers in a fictionalized California.

Considered by some to be his first major novel, Steinbeck readers will notice many themes that would later become central focuses of his writing like labor injustices, group dynamics, and man’s ability for and propensity for cruelty and inhumanity. These same themes would later be explored in Steinbeck’s seminal work The Grapes of Wrath (published in 1939 and winning the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize – and Steinbeck would go on to win the Nobel Prize in 1962).

In a style reminiscent of his work Of Mice and Men (as well as Jack London’s writing due to the theme) Steinbeck tells the story of Jim Nolan, a young and impressionable man who has committed himself to a socialist of communist party to take part in a labor strike between apple pickers and the growers association. Mentored (and used ) by veteran labor activist Mac McLeod, Jim learns the fundamentals of labor organization and also learns, the hard way, about society’s reactions to and against such activities.

Told with sympathy towards labor movements and the nobility of the common man, Steinbeck remains objective and also provides some stern criticisms for socialism as well, especially in regard to practices that are no better than the capitalists they fight.

Using strong, powerful language, Steinbeck describes the enforcers of the establishment:

“they’re the dirtiest guys in any town. They’re the same ones that burned the houses of old German people during the war. They’re the same ones who like to lynch Negroes. They like to be cruel. They like to hurt people, and they always give it a nice name, like patriotism, or protecting the constitution.”

Simply told, with languages and images that are evocative, and with a message that is timeless, In Dubious Battle is one of Steinbeck’s lesser known, but more serious works.

Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
January 3, 2022
At a time when the divide in this country between rich and poor is as great as it's ever been, a book like In Dubious Battle becomes quite pertinent once more.

It's the Great Depression and the Red Scare has the nation suspicious of anyone who might organize a strike for better wages, for something higher than the starvation-level pay the bosses are handing out to hard-up fieldworkers.

Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle follows Jim, a newcomer to the Communist Party. Mac, a strike agitator takes him under his wing and off they go to a California apple valley, where the bosses have cut wages. Here they meet a number of different individuals who represent the various sides of the conflict.

Steinbeck's character development is quite impressive here, considering he constructed an ensemble cast and breathed life into each of them, so that they all appear almost real and not just two dimensional caricatures. And while the author originally set out to write a non-fiction account of a workers' strike, he has succeeded in portraying this as an utterly believable fiction that does not drag due to political agenda proselytizing.

While Steinbeck is for the working man, his sympathies do not make him entirely blind to the failings of the "radical left". He questions, when man rules the Earth, why would he subject his fellow man to a sub-subsistence existence? Why not share the wealth? Well, Steinbeck points to the lazy and shiftless who prefer to shirk duty and steal to get by rather than do their fair share of the heavy lifting. And then there's the greedy need in some men to rule others. They gather up all the wealth and power they can for their own selfish desire. So, there it is again, extremists screwing things up for the rest of us who are stuck in the middle of an inane tug-of-war.

Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews535 followers
May 22, 2020
Mac is a communist labor organizer in the 1930s. He is willing to use anyone and do anything necessary to further his cause. He and Jim, his recently recruited young colleague, set out to start a strike of apple pickers, who are burdened by low wages and poor working conditions. The only person towards whom the manipulative Mac is sincerely solicitous is Jim. The strikers face opposition from well organized farmers and law enforcement.

I wasn’t aware of this book before this year, but it is now one of my favorite books by this author. He is so good at creating realistic characters and using them to illustrate societal problems. The book’s themes include economic disparity and group dynamics. Mac brilliantly herds the crowd of farm workers, no matter the costs. It seems that blood incites action.
Profile Image for سـارا.
247 reviews240 followers
September 14, 2020
این کتاب اولین رمان جدی جان استاین بکِ که از موضوعی شبیه به خوشه‌های خشم و موش‌ها و آدم‌ها (تلاش برای ایستادگی مقابل جامعه سرمایه‌داری و ظلم به کارگران) پیروی میکنه، منتهی با پختگی کمتر.
فضای قصه و شخصیتا رو دوس داشتم اما داستان بنظرم کم کشش بود، با سختی پیش می‌رفتم و از سمت دیگه خیلی بخش‌ها به نوعی تکرار و تاکید قسمت‌های قبل بود. با تمام اینا پایان بندی رو خیلی دوس داشتم. قطعا اگر این کتاب تو حدودا ۲۵۰ صفحه جمع بندی میشد میتونست کار درجه یکی از آب دربیاد.
Profile Image for Kim.
426 reviews511 followers
August 16, 2013

Writing novels about the poor and dispossessed in 1930s California and in the process attracting the wrath of farmers’ organisations and the attention of the FBI gave John Steinbeck a reputation which has persisted to this day. Many people assume that he was a communist, or at the very least a socialist. This novel, along with The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men is a work which cemented Steinbeck’s reputation in that regard.

However, the characterization of Steinbeck’s politics as socialist or communist is incorrect. While he had a passion for supporting the underdog, he wasn’t any further to the left politically than New Deal Democrat. Steinbeck was, if anything, disparaging about communists, commenting in a letter to a friend shortly after this novel was published:
I don’t like communists either. I mean I dislike them as people. I rather imagine the apostles had the same waspish qualities and the New Testament is proof that they had equally bad manners.
The plot of this novel - Steinbeck’s fifth - focuses on fruit growers in a fictional valley in California. Two “Party” (presumably Communist Party) activists – the seasoned campaigner Mac MacLeod and his young apprentice Jim Nolan – infiltrate a group of itinerant fruit pickers with the intention of provoking a strike and violent confrontation with the growers. From the beginning Mac is aware that the strategy is doomed to failure because of the superior resources of the growers. However, he doesn’t hesitate to manipulate the fruit pickers and to use whatever means at his disposal to achieve the Party’s objectives.

The novel works on a number of levels. At its simplest level, it analyses the process of manipulating a group of people to achieve a political end. However, it’s also an exploration of one of Steinbeck’s favourite themes – group behaviour and the way in which it differs from the behaviour of individuals. The novel also functions as Jim Nolan’s bildungsroman, the psychological portrait of a young man moving from disaffection to self-knowledge as he discovers his skills and strengths.

Unusually for Steinbeck, the novel contains relatively little description of the natural world. Instead, most of the action is contained in dialogue. However, even with the absence of descriptive language, there is a cinematic quality to the narrative. I could picture scenes in the novel as scenes from a film – detailed, vivid and striking. The characters are also striking with a solidity and reality I’ve come to expect from Steinbeck’s writing.

Writing a novel like The Grapes of Wrath meant that everything else Steinbeck wrote either before or after was going to be compared to it. That was a burden for Steinbeck as it would be for any writer. Given the subject matter of this novel, the comparison with The Grapes of Wrath is even more inevitable. That’s a shame, because this work has its own power. And according to Wikipedia it’s Barack Obama’s favourite Steinbeck novel, which may well be another reason to read it, should a reason be required.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,172 reviews8,386 followers
April 10, 2023
In many ways this is a very Steinbeck-ian novel with its attentive descriptions of nature, examinations of the human psyche, and compelling dialogue that keeps you turning the pages. But in other ways it feels more modern and direct in its themes than other works I've read by Steinbeck. From the outset the ideas are at the forefront, and the characters are there to serve the plot and concepts. Of course because he is Steinbeck, he doesn't neglect creating interesting characters along the way. Jim's transformation, especially, is intriguing and arguably the crux of the entire novel. I found this, considering its subject matter, to be a thought-provoking and enjoyable read. Perhaps only Steinbeck could make me want to keep reading about a depression-era apple orchard strike. For readers who like novels of strategy and debate, this one will please.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
June 30, 2020
Maybe I am being too stingy with my stars here, maybe the book deserves five! This is one of Steinbeck’s best.

The ending is perfect. There is not a misstep taken. The distrust that has been mounting adds a pinch of ambiguity, not concerning . The pinch of ambiguity adds a superb touch to an ending that is realistic and feels absolutely right.

Let’s backtrack a bit. Published in 1936, the book is about labor unions. It is set in the years of the Depression, in the fruit fields of California. The pickers are struggling. The growers are struggling. Those in the unions, fighting for the rights of the pickers, are struggling too. They are pointed at and declaimed as Reds, dangerous subversives from abroad. The situation is explosive.

A union is a group of many. Each participant plays a different role. The organizers, the strikers, the picketers, those on the sidelines and those smack in the middle--all have a role to play, but no two roles are the same. Each participant has also a different goal. Steinbeck shows how each one is thinking, feeling and reacting to what happens around them. Their fear and anger, as well as the hopelessness that lead many to throw in the towel and give up, is what is drawn. On the opposing side we meet those of the growers’ organization, the police and the strikebreakers.

Th book excels in its character portrayal.

The writing shines. Steinbeck creates true to life dialogues. He had me marveling at his ability to create an atmosphere of suspense, fear, anger, impending danger and relief when the danger is washed away. I felt the last when a . A wide variety of emotions are felt. Steinbeck draws places and people so you see them. You hear the roar of a truck revving up, the stealthy, muffled sounds of one person creeping up on another. The prose is quite simply special, very special. Steinbeck writes well, very well.

I recommend this book highly. I have never read a book that portrays so well the different sorts of people that make up and are necessary to a union.

Tom Stechschulte narrates the audiobook wonderfully. He uses different intonations for the different characters. You hear who is speaking, but he does not exaggerate. You simply forget that the narrator is there. Every word is clear. Five stars to Stechschulte’s performance.

Steinbeck’s books in order of preference :
*Of Mice and Men 5 stars
*The Grapes of Wrath 5 stars
*In Dubious Battle 4 stars
*Travels with Charley: In Search of America 4 stars
*The Moon Is Down 4 stars
*Cannery Row 4 stars
*The Winter of Our Discontent 3 stars
*A Russian Journal 3 stars
*The Pearl 3 stars
*Sweet Thursday 2 stars
*East of Eden 2 stars
Profile Image for Mahdi Lotfi.
447 reviews105 followers
April 16, 2017
در نبردی مشکوک داستان افرادی است که علیه ظلم طبقه بالای جامعه ایستاده اند و مبارزه می کنند . جیم از گذشته از زندگی اش خسته شده و به انجمن می پیوندد و در گوشه ای از کشور حقوق سیب چینان کم شده . جیم و مک به آنجا می روند تا اعتصاب را رهبری کنند. این رمان نه فقط یک داستان درباره بخشی از تاریخ امریکا است بلکه راهنمایی برای همه فعالان اجتماعی است. مخاطرات فعالیت اجتماعی چنان به تصویر آمده که با یک جزوه آموزشی برابری می کند. مخاطراتی همچون همراهی نکردن کسانی که ب��ای حقوقشان می جنگیدند. از اینرو در نبردی مشکوک نام گرفته است.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,101 reviews722 followers
June 12, 2023
Do mobs find people or do people find mobs? Once the mob becomes the collective will of the people how far will it take the ends to justify the means? And when that 'means' is accomplished how will it 'end' for all who have participated? This book examines these questions - read at the same time as Eric Hoffer's The True Believer for an excellent "book pairing."
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,042 followers
March 23, 2018
Perfectly titled. All American workers, the common men, are caught between Communists & Capitalists. Only one sentence in the book speaks for the Capitalists, the market price of apples has gone down, thus the migrant pickers wages are lower when they arrive than they expected. Already on the bitter edge, the migrant workers are at the mercy of the growers, the Capitalists, unless they can band together to be a force to be reckoned with which makes them ripe picking for the Communists.

Jim, a new recruit for the 'Reds', wades into this maelstrom with all the good intentions in the world. He sees the workers' plight, fights for them, & wants to do more. Learning from Mack, he soon outstrips his mentor. Along the way, a lot of people get hurt, but he keeps his eye on the Big Picture.

It's a perfect book for the times in which we live where everyone is talking about the 1%, the imbalance between the haves & the have nots. On the surface, the book seems to espouse the cause of Communism, but there is a lot unsaid & a rather ugly subtext. Very little sympathy is wasted on anyone who has anything no matter how hard they worked for it.

The Reds don't really care what they have to do to create conditions for their revolution. It doesn't matter how poorly they use anyone nor who they hurt so long as the Cause goes forward. The Capitalists don't care about the workers so long as their apples get picked, but that's as true of the little guys as it is the bigger ones. The workers just want to be able to eat, but are often nothing save a fickle mob mentality easily swayed by whoever has the last say. Most are more worried about their next meal than the future. It was ugly & so true, a truly dubious battle.

The characters were great & spoke volumes. There was a lot of dialogue that described the scene far better than I would have expected. I liked that method better than plain narration. Best of all, the book made me think a lot. I'm still thinking about it & will for ages. Highly recommended.

PS - English Teachers, please consider this as a reading assignment rather than The Red Pony, the worst book by Steinbeck that I was forced to read 3 times in school. It SUCKS. I was turned off Steinbeck for decades. If my own son hadn't read Of Mice and Men & badgered me into reading it, I never would have read another of his novels & would have missed out on so much.
Profile Image for Daniel Villines.
396 reviews54 followers
September 1, 2023
In Dubious Battle highlights the long running struggle between business owners and the laborers that they employ. It’s not a new story. Writers have been tapping into this conflict from the very beginning of the industrial revolution.

Underlying the details of all of these stories is the question of how the profits from any business that relies on labor should be apportioned between the two entities. In the times of Steinbeck’s story, the division was settled with the least amount of profit possible going to labor simply because there were numerous other people willing to work for less profit than the person presently employed. “Supply and demand” was the slogan and the means that was used to great advantage by business owners.

In Dubious Battle, however, focuses on a secondary but more human question associated with such conflicts. That question is how to keep humans banned together to achieve a common good, which was the only means that labor had at their disposal during the struggle. Steinbeck demonstrates that on its own, a single idea of more profit for labor cannot compete with the myriad of individual notions working against unity. These notions stem from our fundamentally distrusting nature and tap into fear, greed, and jealousy. Steinbeck asserts that additional forces are necessary to keep people focused and banned together in order to carry out the collective acts that can lead to success. The absence of such forces dooms the collective and makes the battle for a common good dubious from the very start.

Present Day Thoughts

From the 1920s to now, the struggle between owners and labor has continued, but it has evolved. Society, partly for its own survival and partly for altruistic reasons, has incorporated a number of reforms and improvements. These range from the creation of formal unions to giving government checks that can be used mange the struggle between owners and laborers. Even with all these changes, however, the individual notions that work against unity are still there working against equitable outcomes for laborers.

The Future

As society moves into its future, there will come a time where automation will virtually replace labor. As we approach that time, it would behoove us to recognize that society is predominately comprised of laborers. Furthermore, society will need to realize that profits from businesses are only possible due to the structure and stability that society provides. At such a point in our future, the struggle will be renewed, but business owners and society will then be the antagonists in what will hopefully be, by then, an indubious battle.
1,818 reviews65 followers
September 8, 2018
This book is the immediate precursor to "The Grapes of Wrath", one of the greatest books ever written, and for that reason alone deserves 3 stars. Many of the themes and issues in "Grapes" were first introduced here. However, the communists or reds, were not very sympathetic or even interesting. I really didn't care what happened to them. But the Jobes in "Grapes" could have fallen right out of my family tree (my mother's family went to Arizona in '39 to pick cotton) and were much more believable and true to life. Steinbeck is my favorite author and should be read by anyone who likes great writing.
Profile Image for Burak Candan.
85 reviews6 followers
March 29, 2022
Steinbeck'in büyük buhran dönemi Amerika'sında kaleme aldığı Bitmeyen Kavga, berbat şartlar altında çalışan mevsimlik elma işçilerinin iki komünist parti üyesi tarafından örgütlenerek greve götürülme sürecini işliyor. Roman, geçmişi acı ve kayıpla dolu, bir anlam arayışıyla yenice partiye katılmış çömez Jim ile grevlerde defalarca başı çekmiş, kaşarlanmış bir kızıl-aktivist olan Mac'in üzerinden aktarılan bir devrim mücadelesinin hikayesi gibi görünse de, esasında ezelden beri devam eden insanın insana karşı anlamsız zulmünü, yani bitmeyen kavga'sını anlatıyor. Steinbeck'in romanı komünist bir topluluk olan Amerikan Yazarlar Birliği'ne üye iken kaleme alması, doğal olarak romandaki karakterleri ve olayları iyisiyle kötüsüyle birebir gözlemlerinden devşirmesi eserin bu bilerek ideolojik arada bırakılmışlığını açıklıyor. Devrim amacıyla toplanan fakat çok farklı eğilimlere/fikirlere sahip olanları, bu hareketin tam öbür ucunda bulunan ve onu halk nezdinde şeytanlaştıranları ve de bunların davasına inanmayan ama yalnızca vicdan sahibi bir yardımsever olan bambaşka karakterleri kusursuzca çarpıştırıyor Steinbeck. Mesela bu son gruba örnek olarak kanımca eserin en çarpıcı karakteri Dr. Burton'ı yaratıyor. Burton, davanın başarıya ulaşması uğruna gözünü kırpmadan binlerce insanı bir çırpıda feda edebilecek, davasını insana takas eden iflah olmaz bir makyavelist olan Mac'in karşısına; fanatik olmayan, yüce bir amaca değil insanın olağan dertlerine odaklanan, duygularından ziyade aklıyla hareket eden bir karakter olarak çıkıyor. Mac'in, işçileri yalnızca mideleri olan ve devrim uğruna harekete geçirilmeleri gereken birer yaratık oldukları iddiasına kanımca romanı özetleyen şu cevabı veriyor;

“Siz pratik adamlar daima midesi olan pratik insanlara liderlik edersiniz. Ve bir şeyler daima yoldan çıkar. Adamlarınız yoldan çıkar, sağduyunun yolunu izlemez ve siz pratik adamlar bunu inkâr edersiniz ya da üzerinde düşünmeyi reddedersiniz. Biri çıkıp midesi olan bir insanın sizin kurallarınızda belirtilenden fazla bir şey olup olmadığı üzerine sorgulamalara girdiği zaman da ‘hayalci, mistik, metafizikçi’ diye ulumaya başlarsınız. Bilmiyorum neden pratik bir adama bunlardan söz ediyorum. Bütün tarih boyunca, midesi olan insanlara liderlik eden pratik bir insan kadar kafası karışık olan biri daha görüşmemiştir.”
Profile Image for Jon.
179 reviews33 followers
December 30, 2016
In Dubious Battle is the first of Steinbeck’s three Dust Bowl novels, with Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath being the other two. While all three books amply display Steinbeck’s profound empathy for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised, In Dubious Battle is arguably the more overtly political of the three books. As the book opens, one of the main characters, Jim Nolan, joins the Communist Party. For his first assignment, Nolan is sent with Mac, one of the Party’s veteran labor organizers, to help foment a strike among migratory fruit pickers in a small California valley. When the pickers arrived in the valley for the yearly harvest, the Grower’s Association announced that their wages would be dramatically reduced, creating the perfect conditions for the organizers to capitalize on the residual anger of the pickers and strike a blow for economic equality. The book follows their efforts to get the strike off the ground and Jim’s growth as an organizer as he learns from his more experienced partner.

While both Mac and Jim are often sympathetic, the book is far from a love letter to the Communist Party. Mac is ruthless and, in his own way, as equally manipulative of the workers as the Grower’s Association is. To Mac, the workers are merely a means to an end and the potential suffering that the strike might inflict upon them doesn’t even merit consideration. In fact, he fervently hopes that things will turn bad:

“There's the bulk of power in the hands of a few men. That always makes 'em cocky. Now we start our strike, and Torgas County gets itself an ordinance that makes congregation unlawful. Now what happens? We congregate the men. A bunch of sheriff's men try to push them around, and that starts a fight. There's nothing like a fight to cement the men together. Well, then the owners start a vigilantes committee, bunch of fool shoe clerks, or my friends the American Legion boys trying to pretend they aren't middle-aged, cinching in their belts to hide their pat-bellies- they I go again. Well, the vigilantes start shooting. If they knock over some of the tramps we have a public funeral; and after that, we get some real action. Maybe they have to call out the troops. Jesus, man! The troops win, all right! But every time a guardsman jabs a fruit tramp with a bayonet a thousand men all over the country come on our side. Christ Almighty! If we can only get the troops called out”

if the strike succeeds and the growers capitulate, it will be a small victory, but Mac and Jim really don't want a small victory. Instead, a spectacular failure serves their cause better. This complexity is one of the book's strengths. Steinbeck isn't content to write a simple story of good versus evil and while Mac and Jim support workers in general, they see nothing wrong with exploiting and manipulating these workers to acheive their goals. Throughout the book, Steinbeck also offers a crash course in mob mentality as the fruit pickers are eventually coaxed and manipulated into staging their strike and then to keep their resolve up in the face of inevitable pushback from the growers and local authorities. Sprinkled throughout the book are philosophical arguments between the two organizers and one of their helpers, Doc Burton, a man sympathetic to their goals but distrustful of their methods. In Burton’s opinion the end doesn’t justify the means, instead, the means determines the end:

“The end is never very different in its nature from the means…you can only build a violent thing with violence…It seems to me that man has engaged in a blind and fearful struggle of a past he can’t understand, into a future he can’t forsee nor understand”

Mac and Jim’s goal is to use the strike as a means to bring together countless other exploited workers across the country. The ultimate goal of which is to destroy the capitalistic system that is oppressing them. That the battle will be lost is foreshadowed with the quote that opens the book. The title is a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost. In it, Satan describes his attempt to overthrow God :

"Innumerable force of Spirits armed,
That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?"

The book does have some weaknesses, with the lack of strong female characters being the most glaring. While there are plenty of women in the book, most of them are non-entities that aren’t even given the benefit of a name. The one female character that Steinbeck spends any time on is portrayed rather negatively and isn’t particularly bright. Still, while it doesn’t rise to the level of Steinbeck’s best work, the book is worth reading and contains some of Steinbeck’s classic themes.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,331 followers
May 4, 2009
There is not a Steinbeck novel I don't like, but In Dubious Battle has stayed with me the longest. This novel is also the one that Steinbeck fans often "forget" about. Its tale of the struggles between a party organizer and the agricultural "system" doesn't fit well with reader's depiction of good and bad sides. While Steinbeck identifies with the worker and the union organizers, he also recognizes the fact that each side manipulates and sacrifices often in a cynical way. Much of the novel relates this view through dialogues between Jim, the new volunteer in the party and Mac, a long time organizer who knows reality all too well. This is a novel that gets down in the mud with the characters and takes you into a world that you may not want to go but need to know about. This is a forgotten classic that should be mentioned right along with The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.
Profile Image for Phil.
1,755 reviews128 followers
January 21, 2023
One thing that transcends Steinbeck's novels seems to be a young protagonist facing maturity under adverse conditions and In Dubious Battle this would be Jim Nolan. Jim grew up hard in Southern California; In Dubious Battle was first published in 1936, which meant Jim was a child during the Great Depression. His father was a blue collar labor organizer, often coming home beaten and bloody. With his parents passed away, Jim rather naively decides to join the communist party and work as a labor organizer.
"Well, why do you want to join, then?"
Jim's grey eyes half closed in perplexity. At last he said, "In the jail there were some Party men. They talked to me. Everything's been a mess, all my life. Their lives weren't messes. They were working toward something. I want to work toward something. I feel dead. I thought I might get alive again."

After joining the Party, a fellow traveler named Mac takes Jim under his wing and eventually they hook up with the 'fruit tramps' getting ready to harvest apples in a valley controlled by a handful of landowners. Through the network of sympathizers and such, Mac finds out that the landowners have cut the rate for picking apples and this was announced after most 'tramps' already spend their last dollar to get there. Mac thinks this would be an ideal time for a strike and gaining more recruits for the Party, and indeed, the revolution...

On the one hand, In Dubious Battle tells the tale of a strike, workers versus the capitalists, and gives a blow by blow of the details. On the other hand, however, and I think more profoundly, the novel explores the meaning of identity and desire. Mac is frequently called 'ruthless' or 'cool' in the novel due to his desire to exploit the current strike to further the Party's agenda; yes, he is a solid organizer, but really, the people involved are just means to an end, and if some die along the way, it is for the greater good. Jim is 'reborn' with these beliefs as it gives his life meaning. A doctor friendly to the Party (and Mac) arrives shortly after the strike is called and he and Mac have a great dialogue, where Mac asks why the Doc (Burton) keeps helping out when he is not a member of the Party, and is accused by Mac of not believing in the cause:
"Well, you say I don't believe in the cause. That's like not believing in the moon. There've been communes before, and there will be again. But you people have an idea that if you can establish the thing, the job'll be done. Nothing stops, Mac. If you were able to put an idea into effect tomorrow, it would start changing right away. Establish a commune, and the same gradual flux will continue."

Burton here basically argues Mac is beholden to an utopian vision, and while he himself is not, perhaps some good will come about as they work toward it. Steinbeck presents Mac in the same way as 'reborn' Christians, locked into their faith, and Jim has also found the 'truth'. Steinbeck does a fantastic job here of explicating the wants and desires of the laborers involved, who are tired of being exploited. Yet, Mac also exploits them and Jim follows along like an eager disciple. Caught in the grist are the workers and their families who just want a better life.

Finally, while the labor conditions in this fictional strike are of course unique here, the way the press rallied around the landowners and vilified the strikers is still germane today for sure. The powers that be versus the oppressed. What ever happened to labor reporters in the mainstream media? A complex tale on several levels, In Dubious Battle remains a classic, tragic tale. 4.5 stars!!
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
964 reviews354 followers
January 20, 2017
Il Dottor John Steinbeck

Quello che lascia senza fiato è la potenza e l'attualità di questo romanzo che nonostante affondi le proprie radici in pieno New Deal potrebbe benissimo essere stato scritto in un'epoca molto più recente.
Dopo alcune letture che mi avevano lasciata più freddina, qui riconosco il vero Steinbeck, quello che ho iniziato ad amare con Furore e Vicolo Cannery; quello che riesce a tirar fuori dai suoi personaggi tutta l'umanità e tutta la rabbia che secoli di privazioni e soprusi hanno accumulato e covato sotto la cenere, come magma di un vulcano pronto ed esplodere.
A mio parere non il capolavoro di Steinbeck, come viene indicato da alcuni critici, ma sicuramente appena sotto Furore che alla tematica a tratti simile, unisce una costruzione narrativa ancora superiore.
La battaglia è comunque un romanzo che non può lasciare indifferenti, che costringe a ripensare a quante battaglie siano state sostenute affinché alcune classi sociali, gli agricoltori in questo caso, potessero far valere il proprio diritto "ad avere il pane" - non il guadagno quindi, ma la sopravvivenza - e a quante lotte in altre zone del mondo si è costretti a fare, oltre settant'anni dopo, per ottenere la stessa giustizia.
Se La battaglia è un romanzo comunista, se Steinbeck era comunista - di questo fu accusato ripetutamente arrivando persino alla censura di Furore in alcuni stati degli Stati Uniti d'America - allora anche io sono comunista.
Ma Steinbeck, ancora una volta, si pone al centro della battaglia, non limitando la propria intelligenza di osservatore a schierarsi dalla parte dei padroni piuttosto che da quella degli agricoltori, ma cercando di rappresentare, attraverso le diverse figure presenti, anche tutte le sfumature esistenti fra essi.
La più bella, quella che secondo me riassume in essa non solo tutte le contraddizioni umane, ma anche la curiosità, il desiderio di scoperta e la sete di conoscenza della nostra specie, è quella del Dottore, in cui non fatico a riconoscere la passione ed il desiderio dell'autore stesso, colui che mette a disposizione se stesso e le proprie competenze, colui che vuole trovarsi al centro della battaglia per studiare l'infezione e, forse, attraverso l'osservazione del dolore stesso, trovare la cura per annullarlo.
Profile Image for Christopher.
659 reviews212 followers
August 2, 2013
[Editor: For unexpressed reasons, the author of this review has requested with utmost fervency that the reader watch this YouTube video before continuing to read and then imagine its main subject, Dr. Steve Brule, reading the body of the review aloud as a monologue.]

This was a very good book. It displays all the hallmarks of Steinbeck's greatest writing: wonderful dialogue and characterization, heartbreaking turns of plot, and the permeating sense of optimistic pessimism*.

The problem that this book runs into is that its author went on to write a book you may have heard of: the towering, hulking Great American Novel known as The Grapes of Wrath, in the shadow of which In Dubious Battle humbly resides. In every way possible, this book feels like a practice run for The Grapes of Wrath.

This is the first book in what some call Steinbeck's Dust Bowl Trilogy. In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath. Where Of Mice and Men tells a mostly nonpolitical, simple, perfect little story, In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath tell essentially the same story. They examine the fates of migrant workers fleeing the desolation of the Dust Bowl who find themselves entangled in a battle with the powers that be.

My recommendation: if you haven't read The Grapes of Wrath, go read it, ya dummy! If you have, go read Steinbeck's other books. Then read this one.

*Meaning, of course, that in a Steinbeck novel, you know that the world wants to beat you down and you'll end up sad, but let's give it a good heave-ho and shoot for happiness.
Profile Image for Kevin.
134 reviews41 followers
April 5, 2018
John Steinbecks' novel deals with two Communist Party activists who learn of a strike going down in California amongst migrant workers who are employed to pick the annual Apple harvest during the mid-1930s (the novel was published in 1936, just as Roosevelt's New Deal was taking effect, post Depression era, which is what Steinbeck's main works deal with, such as Grapes of Wrath). Mac and Jim, the activists, go along to the dispute, which was caused by a cut in wages and they try to organise the workers to become united in the face of the employers offensive against them. All the workers have is their unity and 'class consciousness' (however shaky that actually is) in the face of intimidation and repeated attempts to break the strike by the equally organised County employers, who use law-enforcement to try and control the dispute, along with vigilantes who use much more questionable methods to try and break the strike (arson and murder essentially). The employers use every available means to crush the dispute, such as intimidation of supporters, the press, as well as limiting the strikers access to food and so on.

The main purpose I believe of In Dubious Battle, is showing how far the agitators would go to win; Jim, the younger of the two, has great idealistic notions about standing up for the 'workers', and this is his first dispute he has taken part in, whilst Mac, a veteran activist is a lot more harder and jaded. Then there is the Doctor who is a sympathiser but not a Communist, having disagreements with the methods and means that the Communist Party activists use. Do the 'ends justify the means', I believe is one of the main tenets of the novel, and whilst you begin to have great sympathy with the plight of the migrant workers in the face of nasty intimidation, hunger, demoralisation and dissent within their own ranks etc, the methods employed by the CP members sometimes are equally questionable too, such as using the shooting of a striker to 'rouse' up the workers. The conversations between Mac, Jim and the Doctor deal with this central theme: How far would you go to win? What is acceptable to gain the end result? And so on.

The conclusion is forgone. There is no way the strikers could win in the face of organised hostility from the employers and what power they could wield (State Law Enforcement with guns and tear gas vs clubs and fists is not a winning formula), and despite holding on to the last, the strike quite tragically ends with the murder of Jim (I assume his martyrdom had some effect, but the book ends at that point), but as Mac states throughout the book, many strikes he had been involved in were lost, but all were remembered. I found the book an interesting insight into post-depression USA, and just how tough you had to be to be a Union Organiser as well as a Communist during the 1930s America. A good read.

Of note, there was a film released last year (2017) based on this novel; I never knew and it is on my 'to watch' list now.

Profile Image for Jim.
1,167 reviews73 followers
August 26, 2020
This book is a precursor you might say to Steinbeck's classic "The Grapes of Wrath." It's about the farmworkers and their struggle against injustice in California in the Thirties. It is filled with Steinbeck's sympathy for the common man. The story focuses on two "reds" or communists who manipulate the workers and bring about a strike for their own ends, i.e. that of the Party. I had some sympathy for the agitators--how do you end a system of oppression?-- but felt things would go badly for the men. I didn't see the strike ending well at all. After all, the Party men didn't care if the strike succeeded or not--they wanted the unrest to continue and intensify until the revolution is carried out.
I have to say I was somewhat surprised-- and maybe disappointed-- by the ending (I'm still thinking about it). Certainly a worthwhile read, if not quite on the level of " The Grapes of Wrath."
Profile Image for Adriana.
183 reviews70 followers
June 22, 2017
Desi inrudit cu Soareci si oameni prin tematica abordata, acest roman nu e la fel de puternic. E, in schimb, un bun studiu al dinamicii grupurilor. Merita citit.
Profile Image for Sarah.
114 reviews32 followers
October 7, 2013
This hasn't been my favorite Steinbeck book.

I read it for one of my English classes this semester, and I think the subject matter of the class ("Race, Ethnicity, Gender in American Lit. and Film") definitely influenced my perspective when reading this novel. I grew annoyed with the lifelessness of the female characters in the story--when they ARE presented, they're dull, one-dimensional mothers or daughters or caretakers, and it's just so unoriginal. Because the story takes place during the Industrial Revolution, the absence of female laborers really struck me. Additionally, Steinbeck was known to do extensive research before writing his novels, so the lack of historical accuracy, with respect to women's critical presence in the work-force during the Industrial Revolution, was a bit unbelievable. Then again, I try not to judge white, early 20th century American authors too harshly because they're a product of their time; we all are.

That aside, the overall plot and theme is very interesting. I want to give Steinbeck credit for what I did like. It shows the way in which power can corrupt, even when those in power are fighting against even more powerful people. Mac, the head of The Party, is an example of this corruption, having used his authority to further The Party's agenda, with little regard for the lives that may be lost on that journey.

Jim's character (the protagonist) serves as a symbol of the raw material that those in power utilize, with little/no personal regard, to gain more power. The ending is very solemn and thought-provoking. I do think this novel is worth reading, especially if you're a Steinbeck fan, as it provides some elements of classic Steinbeck (working-class struggle) and presents interesting questions and perspectives; it's good food for thought.
Profile Image for Michelle Curie.
783 reviews377 followers
October 5, 2021
What a tragic, suffocating tale! What a classic Steinbeck. Fictionalising the great divide between the rich and the poor, this was the novel that set the course for Steinbeck's future career and for everything he stood for as a writer in later years.

Set against the backdrop of a fictionalised California in the 1930s, In Dubious Battle tells the story of Jim Nolan, who becomes involved in labor strikes amongst apple growers and pickers. Jim, an idealistic man with only the best intentions, soon finds himself in situations where he has to learn the hard way how society treats disobedience.

Steinbeck writes with incredibly sympathy for the common man. To me, he's a master of setting a scene and making you feel for characters. The group around Jim are a handful of good and honest men, equipped with a strong will and hope for a better world. There's a lot of sharp criticism of the capitalistic world of the 30s in here, but the devil is in the details.
"There aren't any beginnings. Nor any ends. It seems to me that man has engaged in a blind and fearful struggle out of a post he can't remember, into a future he can't force nor understand. And man has met and defeated every obstacle, every enemy except one. He cannot win over himself. How mankind hates itself."
Fighting for the good is a heroic aim, but what good is can never be determined for sure. While Steinbeck's positioning is clear, he's not failing to question his beliefs. Voiced through the character of Jim, there are various situations in which he questions what he's doing, wondering what the ultimate aim of it all is. It is easy to be sucked into a group and become part of a dynamic, becoming blind for the failings that an individual might have picked up on. There are also questions of how well a sharing of wealth would actually work in practice. It's the common criticism of communistic ideas, but very valid nonetheless.

One other thing I highly enjoyed about this is it's cinematic feel. There's just so much vibrancy in the writing! I know Steinbeck as someone who loves his nature descriptions and I on the other hand love him for that, but we get surprisingly little of that in here. Instead, it's short, but crisp characterisations that made everything come alive. Take this bit for example:
"He had fat, comfortable white arms, bare to the elbows. He carried a damp cloth with which he wiped and wiped at the counter, with little circular movements. His manner of learning close when he spoke made every speech seem secret."
And here we are, three sentences later and I can feel and see this guy. It's little things like that, which made this heavy and tragic story really come alive. It's definitely one to point towards for anyone who cares about Steinbeck's work or ideas!
Profile Image for Allan.
478 reviews68 followers
June 19, 2014
Having set myself a challenge of reading at least one Steinbeck book per month, I decided to tackle 'In Dubious Battle' this month due to interest within the Goodreads Ireland group to enjoy it as a Buddy Read.

Published in 1936. 'In Dubious Battle' was Steinbeck's first novel after his breakthrough 'Tortilla Flat'. However, while this breakthrough was a relatively easy going book, very much in keeping with the future classic 'Cannery Row', 'In Dubious Battle' tackles more serious subject matter, portraying an apple pickers' strike orchestrated by 'the Party' (which party is never made clear)in a Californian valley.

The main action of the novel is held together by the following of Jim Nolan, a new member of the party, whose father was legendary in 'red' circles, and who becomes active under the mentorship of Mac, an experienced strike organiser, as they seek to organise the apple pickers in their fight for better terms from the farmers whose crops they are picking. Initially, one feels sympathetic for the workers' cause, but as the book progresses, while the injustice of the poor conditions suffered by the workers is clear, the actions of the strikers, led by London but manipulated by Mac and Jim becomes increasingly ugly, and ultimately results in a tragic finale.

I absolutely loved this novel, as I have done the majority of the Steinbeck works I have read. In this narrative he writes simply yet vividly, and does a great job in guiding the readers' feelings about the strike, and no doubt the industrial unrest at the time, by commenting on the strike and its ideology through the impartial character of Doc Burton. It sets the pattern for the later and more widely read 'Grapes of Wrath', and is a book that I'd recommend highly to everyone!
Profile Image for Harmonyofbooks.
500 reviews196 followers
November 26, 2018
Ve insan, karşısına çıkan her engeli aşmış, her düşmanı yenmiş. Yalnız bir tanesinin üstesinden gelememiş. Evet, yalnızca kendisini yenememiş. İnsanlık nasıl da nefret ediyor kendi kendisinden.
John Steinbeck'i uzun zaman sonra okuma fırsatı bulabildim ve yazardan okuduğum ilk kitabı adını en çok duyduğum Gazap Üzümleri olmuştu ve her ne kadar baştan sona sabır isteyerek okunan bir kitap olsa da son bölümlerinin mükemmelliği karşısında ağzım açık kalmıştı. Bu beğeni hissiyle yazardan ikinci okumaya karar verdiğim kitap Bitmeyen Kavga oldu. Kitaba ilk başladığımda gayet merakla okudum. Jim Nolan'in aile geçmişi, kominist bir partiye katılmasına neden olan yaşantısı ve yeni tanıştığı insanlarla gayet güzel gidiyordu. Fakat bir süreden sonra ya benden ipler koptu ya da kitabı okumaya özenle devam ettiğim halde beğenimi katlayacak ya da sürdürecek bir şeye rastlayamadım. Hatta bu son bölümlere kadar devam etti. Son bölümde Jim'in başına gelenlerle arkadaşının onun için kurduğu cümle gerçekten surata atılan bir tokat gibiydi. Sanırım belirli aralıklara bölerek okuduğum için sabredip okuyarak elde edeceğim beğeni de gıdım gıdım azaldı. Benim için ortalama bir kitaptı. Yakın zamanda çok sevdiğim oyunculardan oluşan bir kadroyla sinema versiyonu çekilmiş. Onu da ileride birgün izlerim diye tahmin ediyorum. Yazardan sırada okuyacağım kitapları ya İnci ya da Fareler ve İnsanlar olacak. Yorumlarıyla görüşmek üzere..
Profile Image for Sarah.
733 reviews73 followers
July 25, 2016
No more lone cries came from lone men. They moved together, looked alike. The roar was one voice, coming from many throats.

This book had some of the most quotable moments I've read. I liked it, although I didn't really love it. I felt the book was very obviously trying to make a point and so it felt heavy handed at times. It was, however, a very educational look at the lives of migratory workers during the depression. He covers the topic in The Grapes of Wrath but this one was from the perspective of strikers. He shows all of the ways that the local power structure tried to prevent and break strikes, as well as all of the steps the strikers had to take to keep from running afoul of those laws. And, not surprisingly, the laws were not on the side of the strikers.

I have no true understanding of economics so it was actually fascinating to me to learn things like the majority of the apples were being disposed of to keep the prices artificially high.

Overall, it was interesting and I'm glad I read it, but I doubt I'll be reading it again soon.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
December 28, 2007
I recently read this for the first time. Steinbech has always been a favourite, he was one of the first writers I ever read lots of.

I work in a Trade Union as a Trade Union Organiser - but this is a vrey confronting book about the sort of strike I'm very glad I've never had to try to organise.

Everyone manipulates and is manipulated in this book, except perhaps the doctor. It would be hard to say that I liked this book, harder to say that I found any of the characters at all likeable - but this is an important book. Not in the sense that it is good to see where many of our rights have come from - but more to show what happens when capitalism is unconstrained and what it then does to people who can do no other than to give their all to overcoming these excesses.
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