Once There Was a War

Once There Was a War
First edition cover

Once There Was a War, published in 1958, is a collection of articles written by John Steinbeck while he was a very special war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune from June to December 1943. It is a non-fiction novel.

Steinbeck's articles include descriptions of life on a troop transporter, an account of the liberation of a small Sicilian town, a description of how homesick US soldiers tried to grow their native vegetables in the English gardens where they billeted, and an account of how a detachment of US paratroopers tricked the German garrison at Ventotene into surrendering.

Steinbeck did not report 'straight news', as he put it: he did not cover battles, or interview national or military leaders. As befitted the author of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck wrote about the experiences of the ordinary people, those who were doing the actual fighting, and those who did the vast number of unglamorous but vital support jobs which kept the armed forces operating.

In his Introduction, Steinbeck confesses that he felt 'a visitor' to the war, and was uncomfortable knowing that he could go home at any time, while the serving personnel could not. For this reason, he said, 'I never admitted to seeing anything myself, but always put my story in the mouth of another.' How much of his reporting is therefore of the 'eyewitness' class cannot be determined. For example, his descriptions of American and British torpedo boats in action against German forces seem like first-hand accounts, yet he nowhere refers to himself as present, despite his inclusion of convincing dialogue and detail. However, in his Travels With Charley, Steinbeck mentions wearing a naval officer's cap, 'Given me by a British torpedo boat captain, a very gentle gentleman and a murderer,' which phrase suggests that Steinbeck may well have observed action at first hand.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Once There Was a War (film) — Once There Was a War Directed by Palle Kjærulff Schmidt Produced by Bo Christensen Written by Klaus Rifbjerg Starring Ole Busck …   Wikipedia

  • Once upon a time — For other uses, see Once Upon a Time. Frontispiece to The How and Why Library, 1909 Once upon a time is a stock phrase that has been used in some form since at least 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) in storytelling in the English …   Wikipedia

  • War of the Austrian Succession — The Battle of Fontenoy by Édouard Detaille. Oil on canvas …   Wikipedia

  • WAR OF INDEPENDENCE — (Heb. מִלְחֶמֶת הָעַצְמָאוּת Milḥemet ha Aẓma ut, or מִלְחֶמֶת הַקּוֹמְמִיּוֹּת Milḥemet ha Komemiyyut, or מִלְחֶמֶת הַשִּׁחְרוּר Milḥemet ha Shiḥrur (the War of Liberation), war waged by the Jews of Palestine for survival, freedom, and political …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • War in Afghanistan (2001–present) — War in Afghanistan Part of the Afghan civil war and the War on Terror …   Wikipedia

  • War of the Spanish Succession — Philip V of Spain and the Duke of Vendôme commanded the Franco Spanish charge at the Battle of Villaviciosa by Jean Alaux (1840) …   Wikipedia

  • War against Islam — (also War on Islam, or Attack on Islam) is a critical term used to describe a perceived campaign to harm, weaken or even annihilate the religion of Islam, using military, economic, social and cultural means. The campaign is alleged to be waged by …   Wikipedia

  • War (U2 album) — War Studio album by U2 Released 28 February 1983 …   Wikipedia

  • Once Upon a Time (The Prisoner) — Once Upon a Time The Prisoner episode Episode no. Season 1 Episode 16 Directed by Patrick McGoohan Written by …   Wikipedia

  • War in Vietnam (1945–1946) — War in Vietnam (1945 1946) Part of the Indochina Wars and the Cold War A Japanese off …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.