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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A spark in little men can burst into flame."
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a...
Published on 31 Oct 2005 by Mary Whipple

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oddly stilted tale of anti-fascist resistance
A strange little novel about the invasion of a small European town by a fascist army and the town's subsequent resistance. It reads more like a play than a novel and some vital spark seems to be missing - explained, perhaps, by the fact that this was Steinbeck's 'war effort', a piece of anti-fascist propaganda. However, Steinbeck can't write badly and his characters...
Published 17 months ago by SEAPWilliams


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A spark in little men can burst into flame.", 31 Oct 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience. The depiction of the Germans as ordinary but flawed humans--"herd men who win the battles"--rather than as terrifying monsters, makes their defeat seem possible. Depicting the townspeople as resourceful but ordinary--"free men who win the wars"--rather than as heroes, makes their resistance seem a natural, and victory seem possible.
Though the characters are shallow, Mayor Orden does grow and change, and his references to Plato's defense of Aristotle in a crucial conversation with Doctor Winter put the relationship of the individual to authority into a wider context. Simple, direct, concise, and humane, this may be the most effective piece of mass propaganda ever written. Mary Whipple
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A spark in little men can burst into flame.", 16 Nov 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Moon is Down (Paperback)
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience. The depiction of the Germans as ordinary but flawed humans--"herd men who win the battles"--rather than as terrifying monsters, makes their defeat seem possible. Depicting the townspeople as resourceful but ordinary--"free men who win the wars"--rather than as heroes, makes their resistance seem a natural, and victory seem possible. Though the characters are shallow, Mayor Orden does grow and change, and his references to Plato's defense of Aristotle in a crucial conversation with Doctor Winter put the relationship of the individual to authority into a wider context. Simple, direct, concise, and humane, this may be the most effective piece of mass propaganda ever written. Mary Whipple
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 years on, this story could be about Iraq., 28 April 2004
By 
Brett Mcclelland "greenyear_books" (Teddington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a story of the German occupation of a Norwegian town during WW II,a town important for its coal mines. The German troops don't want to bethere, and the locals don't want them there. The psychologicalinteraction between occupier and occupied is fascinating, and it's clearthat the Germans, treated sympathetically by Steibeck, are the realprisoners. They yearn for their homes, and are deeply stressed by beingstationed in a strange land. Their commander, Col. Lanser, is determinedto avoid the senseless brutality he alone witnessed in the Great War. Butthe free-thinking Norwegians resist, and the Germans, with only a hammerin their toolbox, are forced to hit the nail with ferocity, thus sealingtheir own fate.
It is so tempting to substitute Iraq for Norway, and Oil for Coal, andeven the Iraqi Governing Council for the Norwegian Quislings. To do sogives an insight into the extreme stresses that US and British soldiersmust face daily in their imprisonment in Iraq, and why the level ofviolence seems to be escalating so steadily on both sides.
This book was distributed to resistance fighters throughout Europe, andwas banned in Italy where the penalty for reading it was death. I expectthe present-day occupiers would not be best pleased to see this booktranslated into Arabic and parachuted into Baghdad.
A book as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. Not recommended,however, if you have loved ones serving over there...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A spark in little men can burst into flame.", 6 Jan 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Moon is Down (Paperback)
In an unnamed country (similar to Norway) during World War II, a German sympathizer lures local men and the town's twelve soldiers into the forest long enough for the Germans to take the town. They occupy the home of the mayor as a sign of their power and commandeer the local coal mine. Mayor Orden has never before been a brave or very forceful man, but he is not a fool, and while he tries to keep order in the town, as the Germans demand, he refuses to use the power of his office to betray the ideals of his people. Soon the locals begin to sabotage everything the Germans can use to prolong the war.
The narrative is dramatic, full of conversation and containing minimal description, which gives it the feeling of a simple morality tale. Steinbeck depicts the German soldiers, at first, as almost bumbling--organized, to be sure, but basically human, showing footsoldiers getting homesick, seeking understanding of the orders they must fulfill, complaining about the weather, and wondering if their mail will arrive on time. Gradually, as Berlin exerts more and more pressure to take out the coal, the German occupiers must impose more drastic measures. Local resistance becomes more violent in response: soldiers disappear and are found dead in snowbanks, small explosions blow up rail lines, and the miners have "accidents" which prevent the coal from being removed. Even the arrest of Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter cannot force the citizens to give in to tyranny.
Though the novel was published in 1942 expressly for "propaganda" in Europe's occupied countries (where it was quickly translated and disseminated secretly), it is a good story which transcends its original purpose and, as a result, it continues to find an audience. The depiction of the Germans as ordinary but flawed humans--"herd men who win the battles"--rather than as terrifying monsters, makes their defeat seem possible. Depicting the townspeople as resourceful but ordinary--"free men who win the wars"--rather than as heroes, makes their resistance seem a natural, and victory seem possible. Though the characters are shallow, Mayor Orden does grow and change, and his references to Plato's defense of Aristotle in a crucial conversation with Doctor Winter put the relationship of the individual to authority into a wider context. Simple, direct, concise, and humane, this may be the most effective piece of mass propaganda ever written. Mary Whipple
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it is a masterpiece, 13 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a book that was considered so seditious by the Nazis that owning it was punishable by death. This is the book that was illegal during the war and was dropped in to occupied territories by the allies as they flew over. This is the great John Steinbeck at the height of his literary skills. If you have ever doubted what the power of the written word can do then read this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars captures the emotion of the occupied and the occupier, 9 May 2001
This book is quite brilliant and has proved how good it really is by still been a powerful today.The book tells the story of a town that has been occupied by enemy soliders . The book shows the soliders just to be normal man that miss there family and hate the way they are treated by the local people and how the soliders are the ones that become prisioners , never daring to feel at ease or lower there guard .The book never shows the soliders as beasts that hurt people for no reason , infact it shows the soliders trying harder and harder to be liked and just live in peace . The book shows how to defeat occupies that are more in numbers and armed .By making the soliders human ,Steinbeck made the soliders have weakness that could be exposed ,that everyone could relate to and understand . This gives greater hope to the occupied people as they can see that what they are doing would slowly get themselves down and so is working on the enemy. There is one line in the book that sums up what Steinbeck was trying to say "hurded man wins battles , free man win wars" .The book does lack depths in its characters , but makes up for this with the emotion that steinbeck is able to genrate in the book. Great book .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oddly stilted tale of anti-fascist resistance, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A strange little novel about the invasion of a small European town by a fascist army and the town's subsequent resistance. It reads more like a play than a novel and some vital spark seems to be missing - explained, perhaps, by the fact that this was Steinbeck's 'war effort', a piece of anti-fascist propaganda. However, Steinbeck can't write badly and his characters become engaging as they muse on questions of freedom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moon Is Down, 6 Mar 2010
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Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Despite being written specifically as wartime propaganda `The Moon is Down' is still a credible Steinbeck novel in it's own right. Set in a northern European town this looks at how the resistance grows up against the invaders and how they react to it. The town and countries are never specified, but it is normally agreed to be Norway and Germany, especially as this was written to bolster morale during WW2. This is a short novel, but typically for Steinbeck, it is perfectly crafted. His descriptions take you immediately to the scene and you feel the rebellion and disgust of the townsfolk and the despair and weariness of the invaders. This is a very subtle piece of propaganda and this is in no way brash or overtly anti German. Instead you see the human aspect of both sides in the conflict and how the enemy begin to fray around the edges in the face of the towns cold resistance. This redeeming quality of humanness is the soldiers strength and also their weakness and makes this a potent piece of propaganda. You see how the soldiers are human, just as much as the next man and if they seem machinelike and unbeatable in public it pays to be aware they are fraught and plagued with doubts in private. This must have been powerful to realise for those in occupied Europe. Ownership of this book was punishable by death in Italy during the war and it's nuanced and masterful story telling shows you exactly why this was so. This may not be as great as some other Steinbeck novels, but this is still a wonderful story, written with all of Steinbecks verve and skill and in hindsight is a great example of wartime propaganda at it's very best. This also has an informative introduction to add to your understanding and appreciation of the story.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing., 29 May 2014
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A. Paton (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Steinbeck, as usual, first class. In fictional form tells of the Norwegian peoples' résistance to the Nazis. Remember that this was written during the war when little was known about the invasion of Norway.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for your reccommondation, 18 May 2014
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It was so important for the general public of mainland USA to again send troops and supplies to Europe during WW2. Sadly they were then sucked without a referendum into fighting the cold war
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The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Moon is Down (Penguin Modern Classics) by John Steinbeck (Paperback - 30 Nov 2000)
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