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This 1936 novel—set in the California apple country—portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throuThis 1936 novel—set in the California apple country—portrays a strike by migrant workers that metamorphoses from principled defiance into blind fanaticism.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators....

Title : In Dubious Battle
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 21393490
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 250 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

In Dubious Battle Reviews

  • Lyn
    2019-04-10 11:08

    John Steinbeck’s 1936 novel In Dubious Battle (with a title and opening quote from Milton) tells the tragic story of a labor strike amongst apple growers and pickers in a fictionalized California.Considered by some to be his first major novel, Steinbeck readers will notice many themes that would later become central focuses of his writing like labor injustices, group dynamics, and man’s ability for and propensity for cruelty and inhumanity. These same themes would later be explored in Steinbeck’s seminal work The Grapes of Wrath (published in 1939 and winning the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize – and Steinbeck would go on to win the Nobel Prize in 1962).In a style reminiscent of his work Of Mice and Men (as well as Jack London’s writing due to the theme) Steinbeck tells the story of Jim Nolan, a young and impressionable man who has committed himself to a socialist of communist party to take part in a labor strike between apple pickers and the growers association. Mentored (and used ) by veteran labor activist Mac McLeod, Jim learns the fundamentals of labor organization and also learns, the hard way, about society’s reactions to and against such activities.Told with sympathy towards labor movements and the nobility of the common man, Steinbeck remains objective and also provides some stern criticisms for socialism as well, especially in regard to practices that are no better than the capitalists they fight.Using strong, powerful language, Steinbeck describes the enforcers of the establishment:“they’re the dirtiest guys in any town. They’re the same ones that burned the houses of old German people during the war. They’re the same ones who like to lynch Negroes. They like to be cruel. They like to hurt people, and they always give it a nice name, like patriotism, or protecting the constitution.”Simply told, with languages and images that are evocative, and with a message that is timeless, In Dubious Battle is one of Steinbeck’s lesser known, but more serious works.

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-04-04 11:07

    At a time when the divide in this country between rich and poor is as great as it's ever been, a book like In Dubious Battle becomes quite pertinent once more.It's the Great Depression and the Red Scare has the nation suspicious of anyone who might organize a strike for better wages, for something higher than the starvation-level pay the bosses are handing out to hard-up fieldworkers. Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle follows Jim, a newcomer to the Communist Party. Mac, a strike agitator takes him under his wing and off they go to a California apple valley, where the bosses have cut wages. Here they meet a number of different individuals who represent the various sides of the conflict. Steinbeck's character development is quite impressive here, considering he constructed an ensemble cast and breathed life into each of them, so that they all appear almost real and not just two dimensional caricatures. And while the author originally set out to write a non-fiction account of a workers' strike, he has succeeded in portraying this as an utterly believable fiction that does not drag due to political agenda proselytizing.While Steinbeck is for the working man, his sympathies do not make him entirely blind to the failings of the "radical left". He does question why, when man rules the Earth, would man subject man to a sub-subsistence existence? Why not share the wealth? Well, Steinbeck points to the lazy, shiftless who prefer to shirk duty and steal to get by rather than do their fair share. And then there's the greedy need in some men to rule, to gather up all the wealth and power they can for their own selfish desire. There it is again, those extremists who go screwing it up again for the rest of stuck in the middle.

  • Kim
    2019-04-11 14:24

    Writing novels about the poor and dispossessed in 1930s California and in the process attracting the wrath of farmers’ organisations and the attention of the FBI gave John Steinbeck a reputation which has persisted to this day. Many people assume that he was a communist, or at the very least a socialist. This novel, along with The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men is a work which cemented Steinbeck’s reputation in that regard. However, the characterization of Steinbeck’s politics as socialist or communist is incorrect. While he had a passion for supporting the underdog, he wasn’t any further to the left politically than New Deal Democrat. Steinbeck was, if anything, disparaging about communists, commenting in a letter to a friend shortly after this novel was published:I don’t like communists either. I mean I dislike them as people. I rather imagine the apostles had the same waspish qualities and the New Testament is proof that they had equally bad manners. The plot of this novel - Steinbeck’s fifth - focuses on fruit growers in a fictional valley in California. Two “Party” (presumably Communist Party) activists – the seasoned campaigner Mac MacLeod and his young apprentice Jim Nolan – infiltrate a group of itinerant fruit pickers with the intention of provoking a strike and violent confrontation with the growers. From the beginning Mac is aware that the strategy is doomed to failure because of the superior resources of the growers. However, he doesn’t hesitate to manipulate the fruit pickers and to use whatever means at his disposal to achieve the Party’s objectives. The novel works on a number of levels. At its simplest level, it analyses the process of manipulating a group of people to achieve a political end. However, it’s also an exploration of one of Steinbeck’s favourite themes – group behaviour and the way in which it differs from the behaviour of individuals. The novel also functions as Jim Nolan’s bildungsroman, the psychological portrait of a young man moving from disaffection to self-knowledge as he discovers his skills and strengths. Unusually for Steinbeck, the novel contains relatively little description of the natural world. Instead, most of the action is contained in dialogue. However, even with the absence of descriptive language, there is a cinematic quality to the narrative. I could picture scenes in the novel as scenes from a film – detailed, vivid and striking. The characters are also striking with a solidity and reality I’ve come to expect from Steinbeck’s writing. Writing a novel like The Grapes of Wrath meant that everything else Steinbeck wrote either before or after was going to be compared to it. That was a burden for Steinbeck as it would be for any writer. Given the subject matter of this novel, the comparison with The Grapes of Wrath is even more inevitable. That’s a shame, because this work has its own power. And according to Wikipedia it’s Barack Obama’s favourite Steinbeck novel, which may well be another reason to read it, should a reason be required.

  • Mahdi Lotfi
    2019-03-23 15:27

    در نبردی مشکوک داستان افرادی است که علیه ظلم طبقه بالای جامعه ایستاده اند و مبارزه می کنند . جیم از گذشته از زندگی اش خسته شده و به انجمن می پیوندد و در گوشه ای از کشور حقوق سیب چینان کم شده . جیم و مک به آنجا می روند تا اعتصاب را رهبری کنند. این رمان نه فقط یک داستان درباره بخشی از تاریخ امریکا است بلکه راهنمایی برای همه فعالان اجتماعی است. مخاطرات فعالیت اجتماعی چنان به تصویر آمده که با یک جزوه آموزشی برابری می کند. مخاطراتی همچون همراهی نکردن کسانی که برای حقوقشان می جنگیدند. از اینرو در نبردی مشکوک نام گرفته است.

  • Jon
    2019-04-02 15:32

    In Dubious Battle is the first of Steinbeck’s three Dust Bowl novels, with Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath being the other two. While all three books amply display Steinbeck’s profound empathy for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised, In Dubious Battle is arguably the more overtly political of the three books. As the book opens, one of the main characters, Jim Nolan, joins the Communist Party. For his first assignment, Nolan is sent with Mac, one of the Party’s veteran labor organizers, to help foment a strike among migratory fruit pickers in a small California valley. When the pickers arrived in the valley for the yearly harvest, the Grower’s Association announced that their wages would be dramatically reduced, creating the perfect conditions for the organizers to capitalize on the residual anger of the pickers and strike a blow for economic equality. The book follows their efforts to get the strike off the ground and Jim’s growth as an organizer as he learns from his more experienced partner.While both Mac and Jim are often sympathetic, the book is far from a love letter to the Communist Party. Mac is ruthless and, in his own way, as equally manipulative of the workers as the Grower’s Association is. To Mac, the workers are merely a means to an end and the potential suffering that the strike might inflict upon them doesn’t even merit consideration. In fact, he fervently hopes that things will turn bad:“There's the bulk of power in the hands of a few men. That always makes 'em cocky. Now we start our strike, and Torgas County gets itself an ordinance that makes congregation unlawful. Now what happens? We congregate the men. A bunch of sheriff's men try to push them around, and that starts a fight. There's nothing like a fight to cement the men together. Well, then the owners start a vigilantes committee, bunch of fool shoe clerks, or my friends the American Legion boys trying to pretend they aren't middle-aged, cinching in their belts to hide their pat-bellies- they I go again. Well, the vigilantes start shooting. If they knock over some of the tramps we have a public funeral; and after that, we get some real action. Maybe they have to call out the troops. Jesus, man! The troops win, all right! But every time a guardsman jabs a fruit tramp with a bayonet a thousand men all over the country come on our side. Christ Almighty! If we can only get the troops called out”if the strike succeeds and the growers capitulate, it will be a small victory, but Mac and Jim really don't want a small victory. Instead, a spectacular failure serves their cause better. This complexity is one of the book's strengths. Steinbeck isn't content to write a simple story of good versus evil and while Mac and Jim support workers in general, they see nothing wrong with exploiting and manipulating these workers to acheive their goals. Throughout the book, Steinbeck also offers a crash course in mob mentality as the fruit pickers are eventually coaxed and manipulated into staging their strike and then to keep their resolve up in the face of inevitable pushback from the growers and local authorities. Sprinkled throughout the book are philosophical arguments between the two organizers and one of their helpers, Doc Burton, a man sympathetic to their goals but distrustful of their methods. In Burton’s opinion the end doesn’t justify the means, instead, the means determines the end:“The end is never very different in its nature from the means…you can only build a violent thing with violence…It seems to me that man has engaged in a blind and fearful struggle of a past he can’t understand, into a future he can’t forsee nor understand”Mac and Jim’s goal is to use the strike as a means to bring together countless other exploited workers across the country. The ultimate goal of which is to destroy the capitalistic system that is oppressing them. That the battle will be lost is foreshadowed with the quote that opens the book. The title is a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost. In it, Satan describes his attempt to overthrow God :"Innumerable force of Spirits armed, That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring, His utmost power with adverse power opposedIn dubious battle on the plains of HeavenAnd shook his throne. What though the field be lost?"The book does have some weaknesses, with the lack of strong female characters being the most glaring. While there are plenty of women in the book, most of them are non-entities that aren’t even given the benefit of a name. The one female character that Steinbeck spends any time on is portrayed rather negatively and isn’t particularly bright. Still, while it doesn’t rise to the level of Steinbeck’s best work, the book is worth reading and contains some of Steinbeck’s classic themes.

  • Christopher
    2019-04-15 08:34

    [Editor: For unexpressed reasons, the author of this review has requested with utmost fervency that the reader watch this YouTube video before continuing to read and then imagine its main subject, Dr. Steve Brule, reading the body of the review aloud as a monologue.]This was a very good book. It displays all the hallmarks of Steinbeck's greatest writing: wonderful dialogue and characterization, heartbreaking turns of plot, and the permeating sense of optimistic pessimism*. The problem that this book runs into is that its author went on to write a book you may have heard of: the towering, hulking Great American Novel known as The Grapes of Wrath, in the shadow of which In Dubious Battle humbly resides. In every way possible, this book feels like a practice run for The Grapes of Wrath.This is the first book in what some call Steinbeck's Dust Bowl Trilogy. In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath. Where Of Mice and Men tells a mostly nonpolitical, simple, perfect little story, In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath tell essentially the same story. They examine the fates of migrant workers fleeing the desolation of the Dust Bowl who find themselves entangled in a battle with the powers that be.My recommendation: if you haven't read The Grapes of Wrath, go read it, ya dummy! If you have, go read Steinbeck's other books. Then read this one.*Meaning, of course, that in a Steinbeck novel, you know that the world wants to beat you down and you'll end up sad, but let's give it a good heave-ho and shoot for happiness.

  • Marvin
    2019-03-30 10:22

    There is not a Steinbeck novel I don't like, but In Dubious Battle has stayed with me the longest. This novel is also the one that Steinbeck fans often "forget" about. Its tale of the struggles between a party organizer and the agricultural "system" doesn't fit well with reader's depiction of good and bad sides. While Steinbeck identifies with the worker and the union organizers, he also recognizes the fact that each side manipulates and sacrifices often in a cynical way. Much of the novel relates this view through dialogues between Jim, the new volunteer in the party and Mac, a long time organizer who knows reality all too well. This is a novel that gets down in the mud with the characters and takes you into a world that you may not want to go but need to know about. This is a forgotten classic that should be mentioned right along with The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

  • piperitapitta
    2019-04-05 11:18

    Il Dottor John SteinbeckQuello che lascia senza fiato è la potenza e l'attualità di questo romanzo che nonostante affondi le proprie radici in pieno New Deal potrebbe benissimo essere stato scritto in un'epoca molto più recente.Dopo alcune letture che mi avevano lasciata più freddina, qui riconosco il vero Steinbeck, quello che ho iniziato ad amare con Furore e Vicolo Cannery; quello che riesce a tirar fuori dai suoi personaggi tutta l'umanità e tutta la rabbia che secoli di privazioni e soprusi hanno accumulato e covato sotto la cenere, come magma di un vulcano pronto ed esplodere.A mio parere non il capolavoro di Steinbeck, come viene indicato da alcuni critici, ma sicuramente appena sotto Furore che alla tematica a tratti simile, unisce una costruzione narrativa ancora superiore.La battaglia è comunque un romanzo che non può lasciare indifferenti, che costringe a ripensare a quante battaglie siano state sostenute affinché alcune classi sociali, gli agricoltori in questo caso, potessero far valere il proprio diritto "ad avere il pane" - non il guadagno quindi, ma la sopravvivenza - e a quante lotte in altre zone del mondo si è costretti a fare, oltre settant'anni dopo, per ottenere la stessa giustizia.Se La battaglia è un romanzo comunista, se Steinbeck era comunista - di questo fu accusato ripetutamente arrivando persino alla censura di Furore in alcuni stati degli Stati Uniti d'America - allora anche io sono comunista.Ma Steinbeck, ancora una volta, si pone al centro della battaglia, non limitando la propria intelligenza di osservatore a schierarsi dalla parte dei padroni piuttosto che da quella degli agricoltori, ma cercando di rappresentare, attraverso le diverse figure presenti, anche tutte le sfumature esistenti fra essi.La più bella, quella che secondo me riassume in essa non solo tutte le contraddizioni umane, ma anche la curiosità, il desiderio di scoperta e la sete di conoscenza della nostra specie, è quella del Dottore, in cui non fatico a riconoscere la passione ed il desiderio dell'autore stesso, colui che mette a disposizione se stesso e le proprie competenze, colui che vuole trovarsi al centro della battaglia per studiare l'infezione e, forse, attraverso l'osservazione del dolore stesso, trovare la cura per annullarlo.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-28 10:33

    This hasn't been my favorite Steinbeck book. I read it for one of my English classes this semester, and I think the subject matter of the class ("Race, Ethnicity, Gender in American Lit. and Film") definitely influenced my perspective when reading this novel. I grew annoyed with the lifelessness of the female characters in the story--when they ARE presented, they're dull, one-dimensional mothers or daughters or caretakers, and it's just so unoriginal. Because the story takes place during the Industrial Revolution, the absence of female laborers really struck me. Additionally, Steinbeck was known to do extensive research before writing his novels, so the lack of historical accuracy, with respect to women's critical presence in the work-force during the Industrial Revolution, was a bit unbelievable. Then again, I try not to judge white, early 20th century American authors too harshly because they're a product of their time; we all are.That aside, the overall plot and theme is very interesting. I want to give Steinbeck credit for what I did like. It shows the way in which power can corrupt, even when those in power are fighting against even more powerful people. Mac, the head of The Party, is an example of this corruption, having used his authority to further The Party's agenda, with little regard for the lives that may be lost on that journey. Jim's character (the protagonist) serves as a symbol of the raw material that those in power utilize, with little/no personal regard, to gain more power. The ending is very solemn and thought-provoking. I do think this novel is worth reading, especially if you're a Steinbeck fan, as it provides some elements of classic Steinbeck (working-class struggle) and presents interesting questions and perspectives; it's good food for thought.

  • Adriana
    2019-04-07 13:27

    Desi inrudit cu Soareci si oameni prin tematica abordata, acest roman nu e la fel de puternic. E, in schimb, un bun studiu al dinamicii grupurilor. Merita citit.

  • Allan
    2019-03-22 12:25

    Having set myself a challenge of reading at least one Steinbeck book per month, I decided to tackle 'In Dubious Battle' this month due to interest within the Goodreads Ireland group to enjoy it as a Buddy Read.Published in 1936. 'In Dubious Battle' was Steinbeck's first novel after his breakthrough 'Tortilla Flat'. However, while this breakthrough was a relatively easy going book, very much in keeping with the future classic 'Cannery Row', 'In Dubious Battle' tackles more serious subject matter, portraying an apple pickers' strike orchestrated by 'the Party' (which party is never made clear)in a Californian valley.The main action of the novel is held together by the following of Jim Nolan, a new member of the party, whose father was legendary in 'red' circles, and who becomes active under the mentorship of Mac, an experienced strike organiser, as they seek to organise the apple pickers in their fight for better terms from the farmers whose crops they are picking. Initially, one feels sympathetic for the workers' cause, but as the book progresses, while the injustice of the poor conditions suffered by the workers is clear, the actions of the strikers, led by London but manipulated by Mac and Jim becomes increasingly ugly, and ultimately results in a tragic finale.I absolutely loved this novel, as I have done the majority of the Steinbeck works I have read. In this narrative he writes simply yet vividly, and does a great job in guiding the readers' feelings about the strike, and no doubt the industrial unrest at the time, by commenting on the strike and its ideology through the impartial character of Doc Burton. It sets the pattern for the later and more widely read 'Grapes of Wrath', and is a book that I'd recommend highly to everyone!

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-04-04 12:19

    No more lone cries came from lone men. They moved together, looked alike. The roar was one voice, coming from many throats.This book had some of the most quotable moments I've read. I liked it, although I didn't really love it. I felt the book was very obviously trying to make a point and so it felt heavy handed at times. It was, however, a very educational look at the lives of migratory workers during the depression. He covers the topic in The Grapes of Wrath but this one was from the perspective of strikers. He shows all of the ways that the local power structure tried to prevent and break strikes, as well as all of the steps the strikers had to take to keep from running afoul of those laws. And, not surprisingly, the laws were not on the side of the strikers.I have no true understanding of economics so it was actually fascinating to me to learn things like the majority of the apples were being disposed of to keep the prices artificially high.Overall, it was interesting and I'm glad I read it, but I doubt I'll be reading it again soon.

  • Tarcinlikurabiye
    2019-03-25 08:08

    Steinbeck, insanlığın kapitalist sistemle ve en çok da kendisiyle ettiği o bitmeyen kavgasını anlatıyor. Son derece kötü çalışma koşullarına sadece elleriyle direnmek isteyen mevsimlik işçilerin karşısında her grevde olduğu gibi silahlar ve iki yüzlü yöneticiler var. Fakültedeyken sık sık duyduğumuz işçi grevlerini adeta yaşamışçasına hissettiriyor Steinbeck. Ve koşullar değişse de geçen yıllara rağmen emek-sermaye dengesizliğinin asla değişmediğini görmek gerçekten çok üzücü. Steinbeck kalemiyle hala tanışmamış kitap severler için başlangıç kitabı olabilecek kadar güzeldi!

  • Susan Johnson
    2019-03-29 11:25

    4.5 stars Steinbeck writes another memorable novel that I had neither read or heard of before which says a lot for my ignorance of an author who writes about places in my back yard. I had read "Grapes of Wrath" and "Mice and Men" in school and then never thought of him until Oprah made "East of Eden" a book club selection and I fell in love with Steinbeck. This novel takes place in the 1930's in the Central Valley of Calif. and concerns a strike among fruit pickers for more money. Although the strike is about apple pickers, Warren French who wrote the introduction, says it's based on a peach picker strike in Tulare County. That part makes little difference. The story made me think of my maternal grandfather who was an almond rancher in the Northern Central Valley and I think probably had experiences similar to the people in the book. Fruit pickers are really the bottom of the barrel jobs and tend to go to recent immigrants. In the book, the workers are Italians and Irish. As they assimilate the workers became Hispanic and now many are Vietnamese and Hmong. As they are new to the country they seem to have lower expectations of proper working conditions which makes it easier to prey on. But there's a point where people break and decide it's just not right. This is what happens. Pushed and prodded they decide to strike. A "party" organizer, Mac shows up with his young protégé, Jim Nolan, and start to create situations that make people want to strike. He seems to have a masterful use of mass psychology and no expectations of actually winning the strike. He has no problem with the havoc he causes in people's lives. A business owner is burned out for helping him, another's farm is destroyed and others lose everything they have in the world just to fuel Mac's fierce determination and a losing cause. French says it's a dubious battle because it shouldn't have happened and Steinbeck was trying to call for an end of man's inhumanity to man. This is where I dropped my rating a 1/2 star because I'm not sure that it shouldn't have happened. It was the strikes by Caesar Chavez that brought better conditions for agriculture workers. I think there becomes a point when people just can't take their situation anymore and take a stand. I think that's what happened to Rosa Parks. One day it was just enough. The book was also quite interesting on mob psychology. Mac knew how to whip a crowd around and how to develop a man's thirst for blood. It was quite evident how lynch mobs occur. That's a story that goes on today. Overall, this was a fantastic book that really makes you think. It's still so relevant today when people are faced with dubious battles. People still tilt at windmills and even facing certain defeat, they make a stand. Aren't they the real heroes?

  • Brent Ecenbarger
    2019-04-15 13:15

    "In Dubious Battle" is a great book, one that is sure to make you angry and sad while reading it. Steinbeck does a great job of showing both sides of the labor battle, while making one side as good and the other as bad, but still showing both sides to be manipulative. The book follows the character of Jim along, as he joins the "party" and eventually accompanies Mac into apple picking country to organize a strike. The bulk of the book's philosophy is expunged in conversations between Jim, Mac, and Dr. Burton.Steinbeck takes a sociological perspective of labor unions, specifically at mob mentality. This borders on ecological, as man is described as an animal that does not always understand what he does, or can control it, nor predict it. Steinbeck is a master at portraying the common man, and keeping the book exciting even when you can guess how it will play out.

  • Carlos Fonseca
    2019-03-22 10:30

    Esta leitura de "Batalha Incerta", cuja acção tem lugar na Califórnia, nos tempos da Grande Depressão, foi, de facto, uma "releitura". Sucede que, de vez em quando, volto a livros já lidos de que gostei (o próximo será, provavelmente, "O Leopardo"), e sucede também que raramente acontece não encontrar um ou outro pormenor (ou pormaior) que me tinha escapado na leitura inicial.Gostei, tantos anos depois, de voltar à greve dos apanhadores de maçãs, contra os grandes proprietários dos pomares de macieiras que, depois da chegada dos trabalhadores, decidiram reduzir o pagamento dos valores previamente acertados.Greve que apenas existiu porque dois membros do Partido (cujo nome nunca é referido) se tinham infiltrado entre os apanhadores, acabando por, de modo discreto, dirigir a acção por interposta pessoa - um dos trabalhadores a quem os outros reconheciam uma certa autoridade - que usaram sem revelar os seus motivosJohn Steinbeck voltaria ao tema dos trabalhadores explorados durante a mesma época, no romance "As Vinhas da Ira", que considero a sua melhor obra.

  • Barbara
    2019-03-24 16:24

    This is the first Steinbeck I've read. I managed to avoid reading most American and British classic lit during high school and college. While this isn't Steinbeck's best known work, it should rank among his best. He tells the story of a labor dispute in an agricultural community in California. This novel was written in the 1930's and the Great Depression had it's hold over the US until the late 1930's and in some places into the 1940's. Agricultural workers at the time were white men who lived on the margins of society. The two main characters in the book are radicals, and I surmised the Party they constantly mentioned was the Communist Party. The story centers on the strike and the dynamics of power in the hands of a few local big growers, reduced wages for people with few other options for work, and questions of how to fight the big guys and if the "little" guy can win. The details of their lives seem very authentic, including language, attitudes, and actions taken. I am now definitely going to read more Steinbeck.

  • Buddy
    2019-04-19 14:28

    I realized a little way in that I had read this before. It is an early Steinbeck novel and it is very good. It follows Communist Party agitators in the early 30s who deeply believe in what they are doing, as flawed as it may be. It reminded me of the show "The Americans" in the ability of people on all sides to convince themselves of their righteousness. The old 1946 copy I have was my parents and it virtually fell to pieces as I read it.

  • Hadrian
    2019-04-08 15:29

    Steinbeck is in good form with this novel, covering the struggle of orchard workers against a rich farmer, giving his usual eloquent description and engrossing characters. I don't hear this one being mentioned too often of Steinbeck's works, which is a shame.

  • Jenny (adultishbooks)
    2019-03-27 08:36

    Read this one during bouts of sleep deprivation and red wine drowsiness so I'll have to cross-reference some online summaries.I got the gist and it was beautiful and had so many Steinbeck tropes I love. Not ideal for a readathon though.

  • Zeynep Nur
    2019-03-21 12:33

    Bitmeyin Kavga'yı daha iyi anlayabilmek için ilk iş John Steinbeck'in hayatını bilmek bana kalırsa. Çünkü bir işçi ailesinin çocuğu olarak dünyaya gelen ve okuyabilmek için birçok farklı işte çalışan Steinbeck işçilerin düşünce yapısını, onları örgütleyen 'kızılları', sosyalist olmayanların bakış açısını çok güzel yansıtıyor. Tek taraflı yazılmış bir kitap değil anlayacağınız. Sırf bu yönüyle bu zamana kadar yazılmış birçok kitabın önüne geçiyor Bitmeyen Kavga.Kitabı okurken beni en çok etkileyen Doktor Burton ile diğerlerinin konuşmaları oldu. Burton, sosyalist değil ama bu zamana kadar hep onlara yardım etmiş biri. Grevi ve insanların davranışlarını bir yaranın mikrop kapmasına benzetiyor. Yaşananları ve ileride yaşanacakları 'görmek istediğini' belirtiyor. Kendi içinde oldukça tutarlı bulduğum ve sanırım bu yüzden çok sevdiğim bir karakter Doktor Burton.Mac, yılların deneyimli aktivisti. Kimi zaman soğukkanlılıkla konuşma yapıyor kimi zaman bunu kaybediyor ama tecrübesi ve Jim'den aldığı destek onu ayakta tutuyor. Duygulu biri mi? Bana kalırsa davası uğruna çok sevdiği insanların ölüsünden yararlanacak kadar düşük biri. Etik bulmadığım bir karakterdi.Jim ise başlarda hayatına bir mana ya da bir heyecan bulmak için katılmış biri gibi duruyordu. Zamanla, Mac'in yanında dura dura kişiliği değişiyor, bazen Mac'ten bile daha soğuk oluyor. Yazar, Jim'in değişimini çok iyi yansıttığı için en çok onun başına gelenler beni dehşete sürükledi. London, grevdeki işçilerin lideri. Yönlendirilmeye açık olsa da otoritesini sağlayabiliyor. Kitabı okurken onun biraz geri planda kaldığını hissettim. Biraz daha dikbaşlı bir karakter olsaydı ya da diyaloglar içerisinde daha güçlü cümleler edinmiş olsaydı işçilerin bakış açısını daha net görebilirdik diye düşünüyorum.Kısacası, işçilerin bir kıvılcımla nasıl bir araya geldiğini ve toprak sahiplerine karşı nasıl mücadele ettiklerini veya edemediklerini görmek açısından harika bir kitaptı. 4/5.

  • Katie
    2019-04-14 12:36

    This is my first review on Goodreads. Back in PBT days (circa 2004), I used to write little snippet reviews for every book I read but since I started using GR last summer, I've been so impressed by the high caliber of Quinten's reviews that I've been too intimidated to write my own. And lazy. But I'm going to start anyway.In Dubious Battle completes my run of all of the Steinbeck books at the Central Library, and certainly ends it on a high note. When I first added this book as "to-read," I was somewhat dismayed that the average GR rating didn't seem that high (a fraction under 4). So I was pleasantly surprised by how immediate and engaging it turned out to be. Whereas I felt like I had to slog through Tortilla Flat (which immediately preceded this book in publication) and The Grapes of Wrath (three books later in the migrant workers series) , the relatively fast-paced plot and action in this one made it practically a page-turner. If this were a preview for a summer blockbuster, the deep male announcer voice would say "GRIPPING." It's certainly an enormous improvement from Tortilla Flat's flat characters and aimless meandering.Of course, the introduction was terribly dry and dull as almost all introductions to Steinbeck novels are for some reason. And while I know from history that there's unlikely to be a happy ending to the fruit workers' strike, I wanted so much for them to win and it seemed *just* possible enough that maybe... To paraphrase Mathnet: The names are made up, but the problems felt real.

  • Judy
    2019-04-20 16:29

    I did not read Steinbeck's novel about an attempt to organize migrant workers as part of My Big Fat Reading Project because it was published before 1940, the year I chose for the beginning of my project. I read it now for a reading group and must say, it is a much better book than The Grapes of Wrath.All of the qualities I love best about Steinbeck are here. Great complex characters, description that brings the locations and the weather and the events to life, and a thoughtful look at a big human problem.The trouble with trying to help a person or specific group with a problem is that the helper is not the person or a member of the group. The main characters from "the party" (Steinbeck does not call them communists but the growers do) come in from the outside. They are desperate characters for their own reasons but they are not migrant workers and their agenda stems from a political consciousness.Steinbeck gives a brilliant exposition of the methods used to organize downtrodden workers into people who will fight the system: finding or even creating an incident that will ignite them out of apathy, the "end justifies the means" mentality, and the justifications for violence and criminal activity. It has been ever thus when the dregs or unfortunates rise up.He shows all of it, making his book still vital today. The novel moved me as much as East of Eden.

  • Don Stanton
    2019-04-04 14:11

    Timing is everything, or so it seems. I read this book long ago and I feel about it the same now as I did then, except then I didn't know how how express it. So Looking back I See JS asIconic American author CheckNobel Prize winner CheckFailed as a labor CheckQuasi Recluse CheckDepression era writer CheckProletariat CheckSocialist Check Communist Possiblyoutlook: Big Guy Wins Little guys looses CheckLike USSR policies CheckDepressing as Hell Double CheckAlcoholic CheckDefeatist Check My conclusion: His work can turn victory into a defeat and a sunny dark. Never to be read when you are having bad day. Should I read it again? Hum...Read it again or slash my wrists....Hum...about a tossup.

  • Paul
    2019-04-16 16:32

    This book is a fantastic read and a aurprise as even though it continues upon many of Steinbeck's themes in 1930s America, it introduces radical trade unionism and politics. All centred around California and apple picking and how the workers were low paid and downtrodden, while the owners rich and set apart from the workers. Where a strike spirals out of control and how a principaled strike can rapidly spiral out of control.The book is like all Steinbeck's work - well written with beautiful imagery and use of language, a wonderful story written by the best (to me anyway) American storyteller of all time.

  • Ian Anderson
    2019-03-31 09:16

    In Dubious Battle is a solid book. It's Steinbeck's first full-length novel considering the others up to this point are more like novellas. What I enjoyed about this one is that Steinbeck's straightforward storytelling ability shines through. He doesn't do anything fancy but his writing is effective. The novel is easy to get into and each scene is crystal clear. It's one of those that I imagined could be made into a film, which I found out it was in 2016 directed by James Franco. It's fast-paced for Steinbeck standards, has a distinct atmosphere, and has enough memorable scenes to translate to the big screen. Of Mice and Men features these same characteristics. In Dubious Battle takes place during the dust bowl and is bolstered by two male leads, also in line with Of Mice and Men. I wonder if aspects of In Dubious Battle inspired Of Mice and Men considering all the factors that align so closely. It also generates an emotional response from the reader, one of anger and frustration, which builds throughout. I would argue it's his first book that successfully generates these emotions in a serious, non-satirical manner. It's almost like witnessing him discover this sweet spot that readers adore in his later work. In Dubious Battle also differs from his other books up to this point because it has a political side to it in which he addresses communism in a multitude of ways. This is symbolized through the story rather than adding a separate political dialogue, so I didn't find it to be invasive. The story is about a group of orchard pickers who go on strike and seek other's to fight for their cause. It doesn't sound all that exciting, but trust me when I say this -- things happen. I thought it was enjoyable but I doubt it will remain in my mind for years to come. Mac and Jim were especially interesting character studies so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to other Steinbeck fans.Full Blog Post

  • Andrew
    2019-03-21 11:32

    First off, I love the voice of the characters, it transports a reader to an era that no longer exists. Told from the perspective of capitalist-hating men sympathetic to "red Russia", trying to fight a battle they might not be able to win. I imagine this book was very unpopular at the time, maybe seen as anti-American, but I don't think that's the point of the story, I think the point is that people are desperate, are apt to follow pack mentality and quick to justify violence and murder in the name of a greater cause and purpose. So who is the villain? Capitalism is not a person, it's an idea. Socialism is not a person either, and even today is seen as the villain, but socialism is not a human person and so can only be a construct or a philosophy. The reader followed the story from the view point of the men on strike, fighting for fair wages against men portrayed as colluding capitalists with big government on their side. Police are portrayed as siding with the land owners and business people, laws are depicted as benefiting the wealthy and hurting the working man, and honestly, that may be true, but I don't believe the social dynamic of this story is only black or white, it is instead somewhere in the middle. From the times of land owning aristocracy, to social changes transpired trough mercantilism, industrialism until the modern age, there have always been examples of human deceit, social injustice and suffering. Humans can be savage, especially when fighting for our families or our communities. Recall back to Steinbeck's other stories, the family is a central figure in every story, and that's true for many today. Even when our definition of "family" is more broad than the nuclear father/mother and single household construct, and encompasses friends, work, community, country, religion, politics, sex, pain, pleasure, people show a pattern of craving belonging, crying for mercy and demanding justice.

  • Todd
    2019-04-14 08:22

    As always, I love Steinbeck's voice and style.. I also loved that he dropped the F- bomb in this novel.It reminded me of Émile Zola's 'Germinal', and Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'.. both great novels about the struggles of the working class. We've gained a lot from work strikers and unions. They fought many a hard battle for equality in the workforce.I feel pretty spoiled (after reading this book) in our current economy, so it's nice to have these novels to put things in perspective.

  • Guy Portman
    2019-03-23 12:32

    In Dubious Battle is a politically engaged novel that was, at the time of its publication at the height of the 1930’s Depression, highly controversial. The book follows Jim Nolan, a young man from poverty stricken circumstances, who is disillusioned with a system that he perceives as unjust, in which his father fought a losing battle for justice all his life, while his mother futilely sought salvation in a God that does not exist. Joining a group of communists determined to bring about a new world order, Jim is desperate to prove his devotion to their ideals and an opportunity soon presents itself. It has been announced that pay rates have been reduced for the apple pickers in the orchards that year, this after the arrival of itinerant workers at the site. The organisation decides to manipulate this disharmony to bring about a general strike amongst the workers. Jim is to serve as an apprentice to the experienced Mac McLeod, a shrewd, idealistic and courageous labor organiser and campaigner.As the ensuing strike develops it becomes apparent that the radicals are less interested in whether the strike is successful and more in mobilising support for the ongoing war that lies ahead. Steinbeck is adept at capturing the turmoil of the times in his description of the escalating hardships of the disenfranchised migrant workers; the poverty, hunger, the fear of the police and the ever present threat of vigilantes, as the strike rises in intensity, destruction and ultimately ends in tragedy. The worker versus capital confrontation is described in great depth from the tactics deployed by both sides to the psychology of manipulation, the importance of gathering public support and the significance played by propaganda, factors that have lost none of their relevance today.This thought provoking novel is perhaps one of Steinbeck’s most compelling works, in which the author skillfully resists the temptation for commentary, leaving the reader to reach their own conclusion on where the real exploitation lies and whether its deployment is justifiable as a means to an end.

  • Neil
    2019-03-23 12:32

    I have been a lifelong fan of author John Steinbeck, but it wasn’t until I went back to the university as a mature adult that I first read IN DUBIOUS BATTLE. Published in 1936, before THE GRAPES OF WRATH, it is not one of Steinbeck’s better known novels, but I believe it is definitely one of his strongest. As a piece of literature, IN DUBIOUS BATTLE is a multi-layered story of Jim Nolan, who joins “the party” in farm country, California. The party is not identified but assumed to be the American Communist Party, whose goal is to increase its presence through agitation among fruit pickers, pitting them against the orchard owners. Conservatives of the era were quick to believe that Steinbeck’s sympathies lie with his communist leaning protagonist, and in many religious and educational institutions through the following years (like the one I attended), Steinbeck’s works were discouraged and oftentimes banned. This censorship was not only unfortunate for the author but also for potential readers, who missed an opportunity to challenge status quo beliefs they had never before considered questioning. Under the tutelage of Mac McLeod, Jim Nolan infiltrates the fruit pickers, and through him we experience a cynical view of capitalism, as harsh working conditions and low wages lead the fruit pickers to strike, which itself is a symbol of man’s eternal warfare against his own species. Who’s exploiting who in this story? Is it the orchardists taking advantage of the fruit pickers, or is it “the party” exploiting them for their political ends? Is the struggle really dubious, or is there something to be gained by it and the loss of life? Steinbeck offers a glimmer of hope: “Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile.” For serious literature readers and fans of Steinbeck, this is one of his strongest works and a must read. I rate it five out of five stars.