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The Moon is Down
by John Steinbeck
narrated by George Guidall
Copyright: 2011 Penguin Audio
Duration: 3 hours 42 minutes unabridged
Genres: classic fiction
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews
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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: "Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat." This compelling, dignified and moving novel was inspired by and based upon the Nazi invasion of neutral Norway. Set in an imaginary European mining town, it shows what happens when a ruthless totalitarian power is up against an occupied democracy with an overwhelming desire to be free.
©1942; 1970 John Steinbeck; Elaine A Steinbeck, Thom Steinbeck, John Steinbeck IV (P)2011 Penguin
AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: A small, coastal town in northern Europe is occupied by an invading army that is at war with England and Russia. The town is peaceful, but its coal mining operation makes it a desireable target. The poor people of the town never really had a chance to resist, but being betrayed by one of their own sealed the deal. The people reluctantly begin to settle into their new lives as the snows come early that year and a harsh winter begins to clamp down. The fragile peace is shattered however, when one of the town’s aldermen goes before a firing squad.
Alexander Morden was a peaceful man, and well respected among his fellow townsfolk. But when two of the occupying soldiers order him to work in the coal mine, he snaps and kills one of them with his pick-axe. Alexander firmly believes that free men should not be ordered about. Alexander is placed before a firing squad and summarily executed, ending the peace between citizen and soldier.
The people of the town show no open hostility, obeying orders and doing their work, but the resistance has begun. The workers grow suddenly clumsy, equipment mysteriously malfunctions, sections of railroad track are damaged regularly. Bombing raids from England fly over, and blackouts are ordered in the town so that no target will be visible, but lights always seem to be left on at the coal mine. Guards become tempted by women or drink, and disappear one by one.
Eventually, two men are able to sneak away in a fishing boat, and head for England. Not long after, airplanes begin parachuting in small packages of dynamite over the town. The message to the occupying force is clear: people can be held against their will and forced to obey, but the human spirit can never be diminished.
John Steinbeck wrote The Moon Is Down in 1942, during the height of World War II. He doesn’t actually say so, but it’s safe to say that the invading army in the story represents Germany. The novel was sponsored by the United States government as a bit of propaganda in hopes that it would inspire resistance among the territories that Germany occupied. The book was translated into many languages and distributed widely across Europe, often illegally, making it the most popular piece of propaganda to be circulated. Steinbeck was awarded the Medal of Honor for his work.
As I have said before, George Guidall is the finest audiobook narrator in the business. It is difficult, however, to say exactly what I like so much about his narrations. His character voices are not great, although I’ve often thought that he does women’s voices better than most men. He just reads so naturally. When he reads dialogue, it sounds the way people really sound when they talk. I’m guessing this is a skill that can’t be learned. George Guidall was born to narrate the way Beethoven was born to write music.
John Steinbeck has a very clear understanding of the human spirit, and this shows in his various works. He has a knack for capturing people’s thoughts and feelings in his words. The Moon Is Down is a good example of his story-telling ability.
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Special thanks to Penguin Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.