Review of 'The Moon is Down'

The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck

A foreign military power steps in to occupy a small European village. At first the reactions of Mayor Orden and the townspeople are comedic as they are not entirely sure how to cope with the situation and offer no resistance. As time goes on their resentment builds to the point of outright rebellion as the snow beings to fall. The occupying army accepts it's occupation orders reluctantly with Colonel Lanser knowing full well what the reaction will be and how it will pay out. Though they attempt to maintain civility and order with as light a touch as possible events very quickly spiral out of control as a populace forced to work in the mines begin to rebel…

“The Moon is Down” is one of those stories where you pretty much know how it is going to turn out, regardless of the specifics. It is with trepidation you read of the gradual breakdown in the society until the blood eventually starts to flow. There are small vignettes where we see how the different people of the village cope and why they eventually react in the way they do. I have shivers thinking of one scene when a woman is approached in her home by an occupying soldier who is simply desperate for company, her extreme reaction and what eventually happens is truly horrific - For both.

Quite an easy book to read, it is a bit unclear as to any particular message of the story beyond the obvious polemic against war. There are no apologies made here and there is the sense that the characters are fully aware of their role and they way the story will play out. I suppose it is the cold clinical way the events unfold and the clear, utter inevitability of it all is the key message I will take away.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-03-20

Genre: Classic

Publication Date: 1942

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