Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team

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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 ...

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Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team

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Overview


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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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A reprint of the Viking Press edition of 1942. Steinbeck was commissioned by the US Army Air Forces to recruit flyers. With 60 photos by John Swope. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557783110
  • Publisher: Paragon House Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1990
  • Pages: 192

Meet the Author

James H. Meredith is an internationally respected scholar on the literature and films of twentieth-century wars. He lives in Summerville, Georgia.

Biography

John Ernst Steinbeck, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Salinas, California February 27, 1902. His father, John Steinbeck, served as Monterey County Treasurer for many years. His mother, Olive Hamilton, was a former schoolteacher who developed in him a love of literature. Young Steinbeck came to know the Salinas Valley well, working as a hired hand on nearby ranches in Monterey County. In 1919, he graduated from Salinas High School as president of his class and entered Stanford University majoring in English. Stanford did not claim his undivided attention. During this time he attended only sporadically while working at a variety jobs including on with the Big Sur highway project, and one at Spreckels Sugar Company near Salinas.

Steinbeck left Stanford permanently in 1925 to pursue a career in writing in New York City. He was unsuccessful and returned, disappointed, to California the following year. Though his first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929, it attracted little literary attention. Two subsequent novels, The Pastures of Heaven and To A God Unknown, met the same fate.

After moving to the Monterey Peninsula in 1930, Steinbeck and his new wife, Carol Henning, made their home in Pacific Grove. Here, not far from famed Cannery Row, heart of the California sardine industry, Steinbeck found material he would later use for two more works, Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row.

With Tortilla Flat (1935), Steinbeck's career took a decidedly positive turn, receiving the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. He felt encouraged to continue writing, relying on extensive research and personal observation of the human drama for his stories. In 1937, Of Mice and Men was published. Two years later, the novel was produced on Broadway and made into a movie. In 1940, Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Grapes of Wrath, bringing to public attention the plight of dispossessed farmers.

After Steinbeck and Henning divorced in 1942, he married Gwyndolyn Conger. The couple moved to New York City and had two sons, Thomas and two years later, John. During the war years, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches reappeared in Once There Was A War. In 1945, Steinbeck published Cannery Row and continued to write prolifically, producing plays, short stories and film scripts. In 1950, he married Elaine Anderson Scott and they remained together until his death.

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "...for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and keen social perception.." In his acceptance speech, Steinbeck summarized what he sought to achieve through his works:

"...Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species...Further more, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity of greatness of heart and spirit—gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature..."

Steinbeck remained a private person, shunning publicity and moving frequently in his search for privacy. He died on December 20, 1968 in New York City, where he and his family made a home. But his final resting place was the valley he had written about with such passion. At his request, his ashes were interred in the Garden of Memories cemetery in Salinas. He is survived by his son, Thomas.

Author biography courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Amnesia Glasscock
      John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (full name); Amnesia Glasscock
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 27, 1902
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salinas, California
    1. Date of Death:
      December 20, 1968
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2013

    a quick read and invaluable for anyone who wants to understand the air war in Europe during World War II

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Bombs Away

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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