Best 1942 Adventures (6)

By: Joshua Glenn
January 10, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1942 adventure novels. Happy 75th anniversary!


John Steinbeck’s WWII adventure The Moon is Down.

Taken by surprise, a crucial mining town in northern Europe — presumably Norway — is overrun by an invading army. Colonel Lanser, the head of the invading battalion, seeks to rule the town under a veil of civility and law; but when a citizen is executed by firing squad, the townspeople begin to resist. (Although the text never names the occupying force as German, they’re from a nation at war with England and Russia.) The mine’s railroad and electricity generators are sabotaged; and occupying soldiers are picked off, one by one. English planes parachute-drop small packages containing dynamite sticks, to aid the resistance. The occupiers take the popular mayor hostage — but the mayor, inspired by the example of Socrates (which he remembers from a high-school play), is willing to be martyred in the name of freedom.

Fun fact: A translation of The Moon is Down was circuited illegally, by the French Resistance, in Nazi-occupied France. Numerous other editions were secretly published across all of occupied Europe during the war.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1942 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists