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In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
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In Dubious Battle (1936)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,512334,895 (3.83)1 / 117
  1. 10
    Les "Raisins de la colere" de John Steinbeck (Foliotheque) (French Edition) by Marie-Christine Lemardeley-Cunci (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: L'exploitation des travailleurs agricoles aux Etats-Unis. La lutte des classes, l'organisation d'une grève. Les pratiques anti-communistes aux Etats-Unis dans la premiere moitié du XXè siècle.
  2. 00
    Germinal by Émile Zola (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: La lutte des classes, l'organisation d'une grève. La répression des grévistes par la troupe.
  3. 00
    The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: La lutte des classes, l'organisation d'une grève. Les pratiques anti-communistes aux États-Unis dans la première moitié du XXè siècle.
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English (29)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
In my experience there are two kinds of Steinbeck novels. There are the character-driven stories that are often entertaining (think Cannery Row) and there are the moral tragedies where big lessons are learned (think Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl.) This definitely falls into the latter category. Two men join a group of apple pickers in the 1930s with the goal of getting them to strike for better wages.

Mac and Jim are the men behind the cause, recruiting the local leader, London, to gain the trust of the workers. Jim is new to the world of unions, but not to injustice. He is naive at first, but grows stronger as he focuses on his purpose. The battle escalates and the belief that the men perpetuate is that the ends justifies the means, no matter who is hurt along the way. The men, who are actually fighting for the cause, are often the manipulated pawns of bigger men with bigger goals. The character of the Doctor gave some interesting perspective to the motivation behind Mac’s work.

It's good; the writing is crisp and vivid. But I feel like it's a precursor to greater work. The partnership and friendship that grows between Jim and Mac is better personified between George and Lennie in "Of Mice and Men." The strike for higher wages and the struggle for a better life for the workers are better demonstrated in "The Grapes of Wrath." In Dubious Battle is a good story and a tragic one, but it didn't dig quite as deep for me.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s not my favorite Steinbeck, but he’s written so many that I love. As with his other work this story gives a voice to an often overlooked group of people and I think it would have been particularly powerful during the time in which it was originally released.

“There’s no better way to make men part of a movement than to have them give something to it.”

“It seems to me that a man has engaged in a blind and fearful struggle out of a past he can’t remember, into a future he can’t foresee nor understand. And man has met and defeated every obstacle, every enemy except one. He cannot win over himself.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Oct 10, 2014 |
DESCRIPTION FROM BACK OF BOOK
"In the California Apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own - stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism on the "courage never to submit or yield.
"In Dubious Battle" cannot be dismissed as a "propaganda" novel - it is another version of the eternal human fight against injustice. It is an especially good version, dramatically intense, beautifully written. It is the real thing; it has a vigor of sheer storytelling that may sweep away many prejudices."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY REVIEW

This is the third Steinbeck book I've read, and while it was an excellent, moving book, I think it was missing a little something when compared to "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men." It was an interesting story, and very moving, but I don't think enough time was really spent on the characters on this one, which I think was one of the greatest strengths of the other two.

Despite this, however, this was an excellent book. I really liked how it showed the strikers not as godlike heroes without fault, but as fallible men who could be just as brutal as the people they were fighting against. While the book was certainly biased towards the strikers (as fits with Steinbeck's politics in his other books), the fact that he made them fallible makes this book all the more realistic. I also really liked the way Steinbeck makes the scope of the battle the strikers were fighting for very clear. It was not something to be won in a day, or a year, or even a lifetime, but an idealistic war that even those fighting it didn't understand exactly. My mom, who works for a union, should definitely read this book. Both as an inspiration and as a cautionary tale. ( )
  sammii507 | Aug 19, 2014 |
DESCRIPTION FROM BACK OF BOOK
"In the California Apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own - stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism on the "courage never to submit or yield.
"In Dubious Battle" cannot be dismissed as a "propaganda" novel - it is another version of the eternal human fight against injustice. It is an especially good version, dramatically intense, beautifully written. It is the real thing; it has a vigor of sheer storytelling that may sweep away many prejudices."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY REVIEW

This is the third Steinbeck book I've read, and while it was an excellent, moving book, I think it was missing a little something when compared to "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men." It was an interesting story, and very moving, but I don't think enough time was really spent on the characters on this one, which I think was one of the greatest strengths of the other two.

Despite this, however, this was an excellent book. I really liked how it showed the strikers not as godlike heroes without fault, but as fallible men who could be just as brutal as the people they were fighting against. While the book was certainly biased towards the strikers (as fits with Steinbeck's politics in his other books), the fact that he made them fallible makes this book all the more realistic. I also really liked the way Steinbeck makes the scope of the battle the strikers were fighting for very clear. It was not something to be won in a day, or a year, or even a lifetime, but an idealistic war that even those fighting it didn't understand exactly. My mom, who works for a union, should definitely read this book. Both as an inspiration and as a cautionary tale. ( )
  Anniik | Sep 7, 2013 |
Started listening to this book on Book Radio, and since it was mostly dialogue it was a good way to start it (had to check it out of the library to finish). I love Steinbeck, love labor union history, and understand the influence of the American Communist Party in the movement. Steinbeck showed both sides of mob mentality, its usefulness, it's uncontrollable consequences. He also was able to illustrate the fact that both sides of a noble cause are users and easily forget the individual for the sake of the "vision". Fatal flaw of pure communism and pure conservativism, in my opinion. ( )
  Elpaca | May 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
French, WarrenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kossin, SanfordCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stechschulte, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velde, Frédérique van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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?

All is not lost--the unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield:

And what is else not to be overcome?

PARADISE LOST
Dedication
First words
At last it was evening.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
An exploration of the power of the mob - for good and for evil. In the California apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up 'in dubious battle' against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own - stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism - on the 'courage never to submit or yield.'
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039636, Paperback)

This 1936 novel—set in the California apple country—portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Set in the California apple country this novel portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.

» see all 3 descriptions

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