The Moon is Down

125196Did you know John Steinbeck wrote THE most persuasive piece of propaganda during World War II?

That’s right. The same guy who gave us, ‘East of Eden’ and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ penned ‘The Moon is Down’ in early 1942. (Also think it would be good to add that it was made into a movie in 1943 and a play, adapted by Steinbeck himself.)

At that point in time, Nazi Germany controlled most of Europe and northern Africa while Japan was an undefeated power looking to next grasp Australia in its claws.

Steinbeck wrote ‘The Moon is Down’ to motivate the millions of people whose countries had been overrun by the Axis powers. It succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Throughout Norway, Denmark, Holland and France, it was translated, printed on clandestine presses and distributed by resistance groups everywhere. The Nazis banned ‘The Moon is Down’ and possession of it was grounds for an automatic death sentence.

What made ‘The Moon is Down’ so powerful? It argued that free people everywhere will find ways to overthrow the yoke of a conquering army. It depicts both the Nazis and townspeople of the occupied village as sensitive caring people, tasked with opposing goals. The Nazis were following orders. The townsfolk were following their basic human instinct to remain free.

‘The Moon is Down’ is only 112 pages in length. But, it provides more wisdom than any Presidential state of the union address I’ve heard as well as any Tea Party platform I’ve read.

More importantly, ‘The Moon is Down’ explains why no one country can ever hope to permanently subjugate another. It should have been must reading for Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld before we became entangled in Iraq and Afghanistan.

People everywhere yearn to be free. That’s why ‘The Moon is Down’ makes for timeless reading. It also presents a powerful reason why the United States should abandon our role as the world’s policeman. It’s bankrupting us, ruining our image AND forcing subjugated people to respond in the same way as Steinbeck’s townsfolk.

Pick up a copy. I think you’ll find it highly relevant.

5 thoughts on “The Moon is Down

  1. I love John Steinback but I’ve never even heard of this book! Do you own it? I’d like to borrow it!

  2. Valid questions, Matt. One must keep in mind that, had Pearl Harbor not occurred, the US might have entered the war too late to stop the Nazi juggernaut. As far as our being the world’s policeman, we should be part of a coalition of countries that monitor and, if need be, engage in a limited degree to defeat evil. We simply cannot afford to be everywhere anymore. And, to think, as Rumsfeld and Cheney did, that Iraqis would welcome invading US troops with flowers, was shortsighted and flawed. Whether they be French villagers fighting Nazis or Sunni Muslims tossing grenades at our half tracks, local populations will always do whatever’s necessary to resist an occupation force.

  3. Very, very interesting post, Steve. This begs the question: What is the role of a powerful democracy in helping people around the world achieve freedom and peace? Surely you’re not suggesting that we send this book to the families of the gassing victims in Syria to help them defeat their tyrannical ruler. As an author, I will agree that words are powerful. But those living under Nazi subjugation in the 1940s might still be in that terrible state if not for the might of the arsenal of democracy.