In Dubious Battle

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In the California apple country, 900 migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own--stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike springs from his tragic idealism, from the "courage never to submit or yield."

In a time when the book was dismissed as propaganda, the New Republic called it "another version of the eternal human fight ...

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In Dubious Battle

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Overview

In the California apple country, 900 migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own--stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike springs from his tragic idealism, from the "courage never to submit or yield."

In a time when the book was dismissed as propaganda, the New Republic called it "another version of the eternal human fight against injustice, dramatically intense and beautifully written."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Not among the author's best-known works, this 1936 story of a young man drawn into labor disputes between migrants workers and apple orchard landowners foreshadows the events of Steinbeck's 1939 masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, and offers many of the same societal criticisms and questions. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Steinbeck
JOHN STEINBECK (1902—1968) was born in Salinas, California. He worked as a laborer and a journalist, and in 1935, when he published Tortilla Flat, he achieved popular success and financial security. Steinbeck wrote more than twenty-five novels and won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Nearly all of his books are available in Penguin Classics.
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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 4.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2007

    My first Steinbeck novel, but not my last!

    During the summer, I was required to read John Steinbeck's, In Dubious Battle, as part of the summer reading list for my schools advance placement language arts course. I also had to read Catch 22, The Glass Menagerie, and A Raisin in the Sun. Out of every novel, In Dubious Battle was the novel i enjoyed the most. Steinbeck's description of characters and surroudings is so vivid it makes them jump of the page. Not only is the novel highly descriptive, it is also fast paced. The characters, whether through speach or action, are always planning or carrying out plans. I have to say, this being my first Steinbeck novel, that I am thoroughly impressed with this novel. In fact, I have read other Steinbeck novels since then and have chosen John Steinbeck as the subject of my term paper for my language arts class. I recommend this to anyone interested in reading John Steinbeck's work.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2011

    FANTASTIC

    "In Dubious Battle" was a fascinating insight into the lives of the fruit pickers of the Great Depression era, and how their stories (while often unheard) are a great testament to the fearlessness and righteousness that many Americans feel living in this country. I feel as though the author's intended audience was a wide variety of people, but was mostly aimed at a group of individuals who wanted to feel a sense of pride and awe for a group of individuals that faced up to a giant when odds were against them. Even the name "In Dubious Battle" has both a literal meaning to the story, and a metaphysical one. The author kept me guessing to how the book was going to end from the very first page up until the last word. What I found most fascinating about this novel was how the characters were portrayed throughout. I found myself making a personal connection with the protagonist as he went through his trials, changing his persona slightly but steadily throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be inspired to do something greater than themselves, and to those who may feel that when times are bad, there is always an alternative route.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2001

    One of the best of Steinbeck

    I had previously read Of Mice and Men as well as The Grapes of Wrath before encountering this novel. I picked it up because it was one mentioned as part of Steinbeck's three novels depicting the labor movement, the other two aforementioned. It was a great book, filled with detailed characters, a clear history of the events, and great footnotes for historical details (such as the Wobblies). It was captivating and read like a movie. I would call it thrilling if I didn't feel it was such a hackneyed word. Truly, one of my favorites of Steinbeck.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Hhh

    Amazing!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Amazing perspective of a labor movement

    Really interesting

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Historical Key to The Present...and our Stuggling Economy

    John Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle is really a tale of two tales. One, depicts Steinbeck's views on the Socialist and Communist struggle in the Depression. The other is society's struggle during the depression. The ladder is told by the two most prevalent characters in the book, Jim and Mac. Both these men symbolize the heroes of the Depression era. When no one would take a stand for the workers, these two, by themselves took an entire valley by storm. When Jim and Mac reached the Torgas Valley, predominantly dominated by the migrant apple farm workers, Steinbeck's tale of the socialist-communist struggle begins. Jim and Mac who in the reader's eyes seem to be radicals, really are not. Steinbeck's strategy can easily portray them as heroic-radicals, or just normal man earning a wage. This is what truly makes In Dubious Battle remarkable. Two spins on one minor event, which can majorly turn the reader to two conclusions. As the struggle for worker rights nears an apparent end, Steinbeck captivates the reader, by twisting and turning the plot until it seems as though you've embarked on another story. This is society's struggle, told by two men, read by millions. Jim and Mac, working together to unite the toughest group of workers, possibly in the entire Depression.

    In this book, I came to admire Steinbeck's character Jim. This man was dirt poor one minute, and the next he was leading a group of men in a way no one could imagine. It's because of Jim I realized that in our economic downfall, all we need is one person to stand up and speak out for the greater good. This is what Jim did, and he had no connection with any of the workers. Although it's hard imagine that Steinbeck wanted us to think like this while reading In Dubious Battle, I find it hard not to. The near poetic writing has a fluent and powerful hook that grabs your attention every page.

    Neither author, nor book is more needed in any present American library than John Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle. The link between a struggling economy of today, and of the depression is one of this books focal points. Besides being a tale of two stories, this book also is an ingenious key to unwrapping the mysteries of economic downfall. Who ever knew an apple farmers strike could have so many meanings? ...Steinbeck.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 20, 2010

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