John Steinbeck’s life was framed by global conflict. Born on 27 February 1902, in Salinas, California, he was twelve years old when World War I began and sixteen when Germany and the Allies signed an armistice bringing to cessation the “War to End All Wars.” Unfortunately, World War II began in 1939. Echoes of the rise of Adolf Hitler and threats of war occur throughout his early works, as in the journals accompanying The Grapes of Wrath (1939), in which he writes of the angst of his times, fearing the inevitably approaching conflict. When World War II came, he became involved in the wartime efforts, working as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and experiencing the London Blitz, with sixty-six of his eighty-five dispatches gathered in Once There Was a War (1958). Recognizing Steinbeck’s expertise as a writer and desiring to enlist public support, the government commissioned him to write Bombs Away (1942), an account of a bomber team and its specially equipped plane. Hence, he observed American airmen as they trained and went into battle, flying on forays with them. Similarly, during the Vietnam War Newsday hired him as a war correspondent, and again he went to the front and into battle with the enlisted men, with his accounts collected in Letters to Alicia (1965). On the home front, the San Francisco News commissioned him to report on Dust Bowl migrants working as harvesters in California. Incensed by what he witnessed—the specter of starvation, babies and children dying, and malnutrition taking a toll on the very humanity of the migrants—he wrote The Harvest Gypsies (1936), background for The Grapes of Wrath. An early ecologist, Steinbeck loved the land, depicting the earth as a living, sensate character in The Grapes of Wrath—an elegiac mourning over its the desecration. Later, his nonfiction America and Americans (1966) decried pollution and the felling of redwood trees. Looking into the future with some hope but much trepidation, this work also addressed ethnic and racial prejudices, questionable politics, ageism and sexism, loss of ethical moorings. Believing his country to be infested with a deadly immorality, he warned Americans to root out this cancerous growth in order to survive. His last work of fiction, The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), carried these same concerns, with protagonist Ethan Allen Hawley portrayed as an Every American, who must rise above his failings. John Steinbeck died 20 December 1968, of congestive heart failure.