Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Teamby John Steinbeck
On the heels of the enormous success of his masterwork The Grapes of Wrath and at the height of the American war effort John Steinbeck, one of the most prolific and influential literary figures of his generation, wrote/b>
A magnificent volume of short novels and an essential World War II report from one of America's great twentieth-century writers
On the heels of the enormous success of his masterwork The Grapes of Wrath and at the height of the American war effort John Steinbeck, one of the most prolific and influential literary figures of his generation, wrote Bombs Away, a nonfiction account of his experiences with U.S. Army Air Force bomber crews during World War II. Now, for the first time since its original publication in 1942, Penguin Classics presents this exclusive edition of Steinbeck's introduction to the then-nascent U.S. Army Air Force and its bomber crew--the essential core unit behind American air power that Steinbeck described as "the greatest team in the world."
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- Paragon House Publishers
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
- Date of Birth:
- February 27, 1902
- Date of Death:
- December 20, 1968
- Place of Birth:
- Salinas, California
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Written for the U.S. Army Air Corps in the early days of World War II, Bombs Away gives readers insight into the training of individual members of a heavy bomber (B-17 and B-24) crews and their molding into a functioning team. Throughout the book, Steinbeck emphasizes that, although the pilot may be the most visible person on the crew, each member had a vital job to perform. Of course, the pilot, navigator and bombardier were all commissioned officers, the rest of the crew NCOs – an important distinction in any hierarchical organization. Those of higher rank were ostensibly treated better as prisoners of war, something the author never alludes to. That’s why there were no privates on a bomb crew. Steinbeck mentions more than once that the Army Air Corps took “the cream of the crop” from among Army enlistees – following extensive testing; he emphasized that, although one could apply as a pilot, the determination of which job a man was to be trained for was decided by those tests. I found the section on the training programs for various jobs – pilot, gunner, radio engineer, etc. – fascinating. I didn’t know that bombardiers alone were entrusted with the top-secret Norden bombsight – they took it from the safe in which it was stored when not in use and installed it into the plane, then removed it and returned it to the safe when a run was done. It is little details like that that make Bombs Away so interesting and revealing. Bombs Away is a quick read and invaluable for anyone who wants to understand the air war in Europe during World War II. But I had to constantly remind myself that this was very much a piece of propaganda and to be read as such.
An inspiring and thrilling account about ordinary people drafted to become airmen within a flying bomber squadron during World War Two. They come from all walks of life, may be the guys next door and undergo training in preparation to their mission. Steinbeck provides us with much information military-wise but his accounts stresses the human side of those people to create a link with the reader. What war correspondence should be : information and observation within high-quality journalism. The introduction by James H. Meredith is particularly enlightening.