Steinbeck in a "Huey" Helicopter

Steinbeck in a "Huey" Helicopter in Vietnam

by Megan Moser, Baily Schultz, Madison Lowry, Taylor Campbell, and Jacob Blackwell

Oklahoma was the only state in the country where Steinbeck’s writing as a World War II correspondent were not syndicated. Steinbeck’s reports from London, North Africa, Sicily, and the Italian mainland captured the everyday experiences of American troops as memorably as any other American reporter, with the potential exception of his friend Ernie Pyle. In addition, Steinbeck served as a propagandist during World War II, writing a novel about the Nazi occupation of a Scandinavian country, The Moon is Down (1942) and a book promoting the U.S. Air Force, Bombs Away (1942) (Simmonds 4, 43, 97, 131). A little over two decades after the war ended, Steinbeck was in Vietnam, serving again as a war correspondent, going on combat missions (as he had during World War II), offering a sympathetic account of U.S. operations, and even doing guard duty one night outside the tent where his son John was sleeping (Parini 566-71). Steinbeck’s experience during the Cold War was perhaps the most complex; he not only studied the conflict but became the subject of scrutiny by the CIA, too (Kannard).

Works Cited

Parini, Jay. John Steinbeck: A Biography. London, Heineman, 1994.

Ray, William. Steinbeck: Citizen Spy. The Untold Story of John Steinbeck and the CIA. Nashville: Grave Distractions, 2013.

Simmonds, Roy S. John Steinbeck: The War Years, 1939-1945. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1996.