John Steinbeck: Once there was a War

OnceThereWasAWar

Once There Was a War, published in 1958, is a collection of articles written by John Steinbeck while he was a 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.

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