Steinbeck for Steinbeck's sake. Nothing particularly brilliant or memorable here, but these essays are full of that signature Steinbeck voice. Though I've read the majority of Steinbeck's writing, it wasn't until reading Once There Was a War that I saw in Steinbeck's lighthearted writing a comparison to Twain's charm and anecdotal style.
Written originally as war correspondence to be published in newspapers, these vignettes of WWII were later collected in this volume. Certainly some of Steinbeck's stories here add fodder to the was-he, wasn't-he arguments (ie Communist, misogynist) that are still debated today. Ultimately, this book only fills in a small segment of the life and works of John Steinbeck. As for WWII, Once There Was a War merely adds a few tall tales, hope, and the occasional laugh to an otherwise dismal war.