The Moon Is Down

John Steinbeck, 1942



This is American author John Steinbeck's novel The Moon Is  Down, written in 1942.    I hope that reading this will prompt some who have never heard of it to buy your own copy.  Online options include Amazon and Bookfinder. 

I believe it should be distributed to every American soldier in Iraq, and anyone on his way there, because it is so much better to kill the lies that move men by using a word of truth than it is to kill their bodies with a bullet or a roadside bomb. 


European resistance movements against the Nazis translated and published The Moon Is  Down themselves in over 20 languages.  To that end in our day, in that noble tradition, this online edition is dedicated to the Iraqi people and their friends everywhere in this hour of imperial occupation and oppression.  May it serve as it did 60 years ago, its American author in this way making some small restitution for the crimes of his country, long after his own death.

In 1942, the book was about World War 2, but today I think that, in spite of certain differences between Iraq and the little Norwegian town in the story, you'll think of Iraq when you read. The occupiers can learn a lot from Steinbeck about how their occupation feels on Iraqi skins, and what that means for the occupiers.


"We want to get along as well as we can.  You see, sir, this is more like a business venture than anything else.  We need the coal mine here and the fishing.  We will try to get along with just as little friction as possible."



"Defeat is a momentary thing.  A defeat doesn't last.  We were defeated and now we attack.  Defeat means nothing.  Can't you understand that?  Do you know what they are whispering behind doors?"
Lanser stood up slowly and spoke as though to himself.  "So it starts again.  We will shoot this man and make twenty new enemies.  It's the only thing we know, the only thing we know."



"Mayor Orden, you know our orders are inexorable.  We must get the coal.  If your people are not orderly, we will have to restore that order by force."  His voice grew stern.  "We must shoot people if it is necessary.  If you wish to save your people from hurt, you must help us to keep order.  Now, it is considered wise by my government that punishment emanate from the local authority.  It makes for a more orderly situation."



"Alex, these men are invaders.  They have taken our country by surprise and treachery and force."



"Conquest after conquest, deeper into molasses.  His laughter choked him and he coughed into his handkerchief.  "Maybe the Leader is crazy.  Flies conquer the flypaper.  Flies capture two hundred miles of new flypaper!"



The patrol talked as they walked, and they talked of things that they longed for - of meat and hot soup and the richness of butter, of the prettiness of girls and of their smiles and of their lips and their eyes.  They talked of these things and sometimes of their hatred of what they were doing and of their loneliness.



"I will not lie to you, Lieutenant.  They should have trained you for this, and not for flower-strewn streets.  They should have built your soul with truth, not led it along with lies."



"Do you remember in school, in the Apology?  Do you remember Socrates says, 'Someone will say, "And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life that is likely to bring you to an untimely end?"  To him I may fairly answer, "There you are mistaken; a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether he is doing right or wrong."'"


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