John Steinbeck's, In Dubious Battle is a relentlessly faced-paced, novel of social unrest and the story of a young man's struggle for identity, In Dubious Battle is set in the California apple country, where a strike by migrant workers against rapacious landowners spirals out of control. Caught up in this upheaval is Jim Nolan, a once aimless man who finds himself in the course of the strike, briefly becomes its leader, and is ultimately crushed in its service.
Jim Nolan's father was a working man driven to his death by blow of police clubs and pistol butts. As a youngster, Jim witnessed both his father's courage and his despair. He saw his mother loose even her religious faith as poverty and starvation overwhelmed the family.
Older, but still keenly remembering his youth, with the scars of brutality and starvation deeply embedded in his heart, Jim Nolan became a member of the Communist Party.
He was assigned to work with Mac, an able experienced organizer. Together they became the fruit pickers, at a time when the fruit growers had cut wages lower than any worker thought possible. A strike was brewing, and Mac and Jim were determined to carry it along and direct its course.
Luck was with them. Shortly after their arrival at the camp of the workers, Mac, by giving the impression that he was a doctor, delivered the camp leader's grandchild. Word of his accomplishments spread throughout the area. After Mac and Jim became friends with London, the leader of the camp, and the other workers, they persuaded the fruit pickers to organize and strike for higher wages, and better living conditions. This was not easy to do. As usual the orchard owners had made effective use of communism. Furthermore, the vigilantes were a constant menace,