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The Thin Red Line

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"When compared to the fact that he might very well be dead by this time tomorrow, whether he was courageous or not today was pointless, empty. When compared to the fact that he might be dead tomorrow, everything was pointless. Life was pointless. Whether he looked at a tree or not was pointless. It just didn't make any difference. It was pointless to the tree, it was "When compared to the fact that he might very well be dead by this time tomorrow, whether he was courageous or not today was pointless, empty. When compared to the fact that he might be dead tomorrow, everything was pointless. Life was pointless. Whether he looked at a tree or not was pointless. It just didn't make any difference. It was pointless to the tree, it was pointless to every man in his outfit, pointless to everybody in the whole world. Who cared? It was not pointless only to him; and when he was dead, when he ceased to exist, it would be pointless to him too. More important: Not only would it be pointless, it would have been pointless, all along." Such is the ultimate significance of war in The Thin Red Line (1962), James Jones's fictional account of the battle between American and Japanese troops on the island of Guadalcanal. The narrative shifts effortlessly among multiple viewpoints within C-for-Charlie Company, from commanding officer Capt. James Stein, his psychotic first sergeant Eddie Welsh, and the young privates they send into battle. The descriptions of combat conditions—and the mental states it induces—are unflinchingly realistic, including the dialog (in which a certain word Norman Mailer rendered as "fug" 15 years earlier in The Naked and the Dead appears properly spelled on numerous occasions). This is more than a classic of combat fiction; it is one of the most significant explorations of male identity in American literature, establishing Jones as a novelist of the caliber of Herman Melville and Stephen Crane.


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"When compared to the fact that he might very well be dead by this time tomorrow, whether he was courageous or not today was pointless, empty. When compared to the fact that he might be dead tomorrow, everything was pointless. Life was pointless. Whether he looked at a tree or not was pointless. It just didn't make any difference. It was pointless to the tree, it was "When compared to the fact that he might very well be dead by this time tomorrow, whether he was courageous or not today was pointless, empty. When compared to the fact that he might be dead tomorrow, everything was pointless. Life was pointless. Whether he looked at a tree or not was pointless. It just didn't make any difference. It was pointless to the tree, it was pointless to every man in his outfit, pointless to everybody in the whole world. Who cared? It was not pointless only to him; and when he was dead, when he ceased to exist, it would be pointless to him too. More important: Not only would it be pointless, it would have been pointless, all along." Such is the ultimate significance of war in The Thin Red Line (1962), James Jones's fictional account of the battle between American and Japanese troops on the island of Guadalcanal. The narrative shifts effortlessly among multiple viewpoints within C-for-Charlie Company, from commanding officer Capt. James Stein, his psychotic first sergeant Eddie Welsh, and the young privates they send into battle. The descriptions of combat conditions—and the mental states it induces—are unflinchingly realistic, including the dialog (in which a certain word Norman Mailer rendered as "fug" 15 years earlier in The Naked and the Dead appears properly spelled on numerous occasions). This is more than a classic of combat fiction; it is one of the most significant explorations of male identity in American literature, establishing Jones as a novelist of the caliber of Herman Melville and Stephen Crane.

30 review for The Thin Red Line

  1. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    A true masterpiece and one of my favorite novels. Although it has all the realistic, gritty detailing that any novel recounting World War 2 Guadalcanal should have, it is so much more. The reader will indeed learn which gun is which and which rank is which. They will understand what needs to happen to take a hill. They will know what a crowded ship full of men will smell like. They will come to understand the practical intricacies of making war. But, as anyone who viewed the recent version of A true masterpiece and one of my favorite novels. Although it has all the realistic, gritty detailing that any novel recounting World War 2 Guadalcanal should have, it is so much more. The reader will indeed learn which gun is which and which rank is which. They will understand what needs to happen to take a hill. They will know what a crowded ship full of men will smell like. They will come to understand the practical intricacies of making war. But, as anyone who viewed the recent version of the film will know, the story is not one based on narrative but one based on a specific philosophy: we are all, as humans, forever destined to never truly understand one another, we are forever destined to never truly achieve the kind of empathetic meeting of heart & mind & soul that we may yearn for - a yearning we may not understand or even recognize. War is, if it is anything, an insane metaphor for that lack of understanding, that true lack of connection, and to be a part of that metaphor is to be, in a way, as insane. This is a novel of many voices, each individualized and each specifically unique and amusingly detailed. And yet there is a similarity to the themes that emerge from the thoughts of each of the characters, whether they are trying to understand their brothers, their girls back home, their commanders, their enemy, their next target, or the war itself: the feeling of distance. It is a melancholy and confusing feeling. Each one blunders through his life in his own way, barely grasping what is happening around him, barely grasping what is happening inside himself as well. The novel is epic in its depiction of war, but it is intimate in its depiction of the levels of mystery within each of us and between us as well. It is surprisingly funny at times. James Jones has a mordant voice and he knows the ridiculousness of men, how amusing our little concerns and irritations and idiosyncrasies can be when depicted at times gently but more often pointedly. He also knows that throwing dozens upon dozens of characters in the narrative will confuse and annoy the lazy reader – but how else to illustrate the confusion of wartime? The coming and going of bodies, of places, of times that all blur together. Jones himself was a WW2 veteran, and so the details are impressively laid out – but what is even more impressive is the poetic, sorrowful mourning that is suffused throughout the novel, one that builds and builds and builds. It is hard to imagine the number of his fellows he saw slain, and how it impacted him. But beyond that, to see the melancholy within the man, not just the soldier, not just the circumstance? He is the rare author I would love to have known, and yet the idea of his experience and his sadness is so intimidating, it makes me feel like less of a grown man when thinking of the person who could write all of this down. What have I done in my life in comparison? It is interesting to compare the film with the novel. The theme of the distance between humans is there, as is the idea of many narrative voices recounting many different things but all ending in despair over our lack of ability to truly understand ourselves, the world, each other. But Malick widens the melancholy even further by including his usual theme of man’s distance from nature as well. It works beautifully. Two character differences stand out: Pvt Witt and Cpl Fife. In the film, Pvt Witt is played by James Caviezel as a beatific savior of men, spiritually connected to nature and prone to daring displays of bravery. In the novel, Witt is a spiteful hick, also prone to daring displays of bravery, but also an unrepentant racist towards all non-whites, and is filled to the brim with petty contempt towards all forms of authority. I like both portraits, but the novel’s Witt seems so much more human, so much more real. You don’t have to be a saint or even particularly likeable to be brave, to save lives, to accomplish daring deeds, to be loveable. He is a hero, ignorant redneck and all, precisely because he is not particularly heroic in thought – only in deed. He comes through, again and again. In the film, Cpl Fife is reduced to a couple cameos by Adrien Brody, standing distraught by a soldier’s corpse or looking terrified during a river crossing. In the novel, he is so much more: a dissection of the falseness of the concept of “cowardice” during war. He is full of fear, he calls himself a coward, each path he chooses is one that has self-protection at its core; and yet his depiction is entirely sympathetic and rational: what sane man isn’t a coward when it comes to the insanity of war? Who wants it, who wants to be in it? It is not something to run to, it is something to run from. Fife is the secret hero of The Thin Red Line, the rational man not understanding the irrational world around him, and rejecting any attempt to bend him to that irrational world’s rules. I can see how that character would not translate successfully to audiences yearning for heroes, and so Fife in his entirety barely makes it to the screen. The book’s great success may not just be in its depiction of the distance between humans, but in the illustration of war as the ultimate insanity. As we all know, World War 2 was the Good War, the one in which we all should be proud, the one with truly golden heroes and truly evil villains, the one we all are glad was fought and would have fought in if we could. We had the right reasons after all; at least that is my own perspective. But a good war is still war, and war entails the deaths of the young, the destruction of lives and of love, of cities and of countryside, of innocence, of tradition, of everything. So why do we love it so?

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Putnam

    Really enjoyed this book. The voice was great and the descriptions really put me in the time and place. Highly recommend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ursula

    I saw the 1998 movie version of this book in theaters when it came out. I remember that I was completely mesmerized and transported by it. It was a movie about war unlike any I'd ever seen before - it was mostly quiet and internal. Walking out of the theater, I found out I was pretty much alone in my enjoyment of it - people all around me said it was slow, boring, pointless. I mention this because I think the movie version prepared me for the book, which is probably just as divisive. The story I saw the 1998 movie version of this book in theaters when it came out. I remember that I was completely mesmerized and transported by it. It was a movie about war unlike any I'd ever seen before - it was mostly quiet and internal. Walking out of the theater, I found out I was pretty much alone in my enjoyment of it - people all around me said it was slow, boring, pointless. I mention this because I think the movie version prepared me for the book, which is probably just as divisive. The story floats among a wide cast of characters as they arrive on Guadalcanal. (A special note at the beginning of the book points out that the terrain and battles contained in the book are fictitious, but that Jones placed the imaginary battles on Guadalcanal because of the emotion the island evoked.) You meet Pfc Doll, Cpl Fife, Sgt Welsh ... just about everyone has a simple, one-syllable name which is also a word: Band, Queen, Tall, Bell, Dale, Witt, Field, Cash, Beck. At the beginning, they're green recruits who miss the relative comforts of army life in a non-combat zone (and one where it's not constantly raining), apprehensive about what lies ahead. Shortly, as they're thrust into the thick of fighting, they become battle-tested veterans. How they react to their experiences is varied, and we are privy to each man's thoughts, reactions and self-assessments. The inability to ever really know what's going on in someone else's head is a theme visited frequently. You often see things from more than one point of view - what caused someone to act like they did, or what they were trying to convey, and how it was viewed by someone else. I think that you have to just surrender yourself to the experience of the book. Jones' terrain may be fictional, but he is absolutely certain about how it looks and feels. He transports you to the humid, muddy island, its jungles and rocky hills. The progress made toward the next target is often slow, then suddenly shots are fired and you're thrown into confusion. People act heroically for the wrong reasons, cowardly for the right ones, and the reverse of both of those as well. The soldiers are frustratingly human, and occasionally disturbingly inhuman. If you're looking for Band of Brothers, this isn't the war experience you want to read about. The men of C-for-Charlie company aren't members of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation," they're just scared young men wondering how they can keep their fear from showing. They fight because there's no way to get out of it. The book explores the idea that a war is fought by an army, but the army is made up of individuals who are each fighting their own war. They all have go through the same things, and yet no one experiences them the same way. Through a number of different characters, Jones repeats the idea that "many more people were going to live through this war than got killed in it," and you realize its value as a mantra when you're in a life-and-death situation that often seems to be a lottery. Recommended for: fans of Catch-22 and/or The Things They Carried, anyone looking for an antidote to the romanticizing of war, people who know better than to get too attached to characters in a war zone. Quote: "It was easy to see, when you looked at it from one point of view, that all prisoners were not locked up behind bars in a stone quadrangle. Your government could just as easily imprison you on, say, a jungled island in the South Seas until you had done to its satisfaction what your government had sent you there to do."

  4. 4 out of 5

    W

    The war movie based on this book,makes for compelling viewing.In addition,another book by James Jones,From Here to Eternity,also became a very good film. But when I read that book,his writing style didn't impress me all that much.The book was also extremely lengthy. Sheer length seems to be an issue with The Thin Red Line,as well.The movie takes three hours,too. The film works beautifully,as it explores what soldiers go through in wartime.Should they obey direct orders,which mean certain death,or The war movie based on this book,makes for compelling viewing.In addition,another book by James Jones,From Here to Eternity,also became a very good film. But when I read that book,his writing style didn't impress me all that much.The book was also extremely lengthy. Sheer length seems to be an issue with The Thin Red Line,as well.The movie takes three hours,too. The film works beautifully,as it explores what soldiers go through in wartime.Should they obey direct orders,which mean certain death,or should they refuse such orders and face the consequences ? Should they capture enemy soldiers,or should they kill prisoners as revenge for killing their mates ? Would their women back home wait for their return or would they rather find someone else ? Is a soldier a hero because he dies,but what if there is no way out and he has to die anyway ? After all,survival in battle,more than anything else is a matter of sheer luck. And how pointless life seems,when death is staring you in the face ? Great film,kept me riveted.Hopefully,the book is as good,too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Igor Ljubuncic

    I really love James Jones's books. As a former military man, he brings the story of war in such vivid color that you don't get from any thousand blockbusters. Think Saving Private Ryan. Then toss that into a bin. Completely not like that. There's melancholy, there's sadness, there's mad happiness in what's essentially total despair and chaos. Don't expect a happy ending, only a bitter sweet one. Don't expect miracles, because there won't be any, only a bunch of human stories coming together I really love James Jones's books. As a former military man, he brings the story of war in such vivid color that you don't get from any thousand blockbusters. Think Saving Private Ryan. Then toss that into a bin. Completely not like that. There's melancholy, there's sadness, there's mad happiness in what's essentially total despair and chaos. Don't expect a happy ending, only a bitter sweet one. Don't expect miracles, because there won't be any, only a bunch of human stories coming together loosely, only because they happened to be there at the same time, and sought meaning to their participation in madness, to try to justify the pain, the loss, and the lack of logic. Don't expect heroes or extraordinary people, because they are all just ordinary folks who got pulled into war. One of them wrote a book. We don't know who JJ was, but I surely know who his favorite is. If you're read From Here to Eternity, you will see some common characters come and go. Part reality, part memory, part artistic embellishment, but they must have existed somewhere sometime, and they found themselves in another war story, because you can't have a war story without them. I think this book is ever so slightly less powerful than FHTE, but it's still damn good. I can't tell you more, as it will spoil the story. A bunch of green soldiers, thrown into the Pacific hell on the island of Guadalcanal. It can't be pretty. JJ has his unique style that touches the heart. Like Joseph Heller, like Leon Uris, this man writes his life, so you can't not be affected by what he's telling. And you know that in some way, some form, somewhere, it happened. Brutal, meaningless, inspiring, heroic, terrific. No limericks, as they aren't befitting the genre. Roger, over and out. Igor

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Krakovsky

    The heroic stand of the of the 93rd Highlanders against the Russian cavalry in the Crimean War in 1854 was referred to as 'the thin red line.' At a time when the standard infantry formation was a square when defending against charging cavalry, the Highlanders in their bright red jackets spread out in a thin red line so the enemy could not bypass them. This story starts out in WWII with troops waiting their turn to board landing craft to go ashore. After reading 30-some pages of a 500 page book in The heroic stand of the of the 93rd Highlanders against the Russian cavalry in the Crimean War in 1854 was referred to as 'the thin red line.' At a time when the standard infantry formation was a square when defending against charging cavalry, the Highlanders in their bright red jackets spread out in a thin red line so the enemy could not bypass them. This story starts out in WWII with troops waiting their turn to board landing craft to go ashore. After reading 30-some pages of a 500 page book in which not much was happening, I decided this was more the likes of the old TV show Payton Place than the WWII classic (by a guy who was there) 'Guadalcanal Diary,' and being as life was too short, I moved on to something else.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

    I found The Thin Red Line by James Jones a disappointment. The literary technique was passé, the characters unappealing, and the prolonged episodes of navel-gazing and angst-ridden obsessing over myriad slights -- real and imagined -- rather tedious. Jones's long-windedness turned a 300 page story into a volume of 500 pages. I understand the book's appeal in the climate of 1961, but it has not withstood the test of time. It rated a weak Three Stars from me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I had the same reaction to this as I did to From Here to Eternity, which is to say that the beginning was so irritating that it almost made me put it down, but I ended up glad that I didn't. I haven't read too many other books that were written around this time, but the prose style in this seems lackluster. Yeah, there are some poetic bits, but there are also bits that seem really lazy. In the first handful of pages, for example, Jones uses the words 'unpleasant' and 'supercilious' to describe I had the same reaction to this as I did to From Here to Eternity, which is to say that the beginning was so irritating that it almost made me put it down, but I ended up glad that I didn't. I haven't read too many other books that were written around this time, but the prose style in this seems lackluster. Yeah, there are some poetic bits, but there are also bits that seem really lazy. In the first handful of pages, for example, Jones uses the words 'unpleasant' and 'supercilious' to describe Doll at least four times each. I normally wouldn't advocate using a thesaurus to help you write, because if you're having trouble thinking of synonyms, you've probably got bigger problems. But Jones definitely could have made use of one. From Here To Eternity's full of similar things; what I remember most of all was the construction "he ____ed ____ly" over and over again, page after page. But both books' characters grow on you via sheer force of repetition. The Thin Red Line is much shorter, but it's still over 500 pages, and though there are tons of characters, almost all of them get enough page space to make a lasting impression. And Jones clearly has a good sense of what motivates or demoralizes soldiers, and communicates it well. In particular, I found the interactions between enlisted men and officers pretty fascinating. At one point, several men of varying ranks go off on a special mission, and succeed. Afterward there's a lot of backslapping and promises of medals. Unfortunately, they don't seem to come through, which seems to be a pretty forceful statement about the army's regarding men as tools and nothing more. But then, eventually, they do get their medals unexpectedly. So what does that mean? I'm not sure about that one, exactly. I am, however, sure about this novel's classic status. It's worth a read, and it seems like it's better than the 1998 Terrence Malick film, which is itself supposedly pretty good, although I haven't seen it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    War is hell. I first came across James Jones' novel with the Terrence Malick film released in 1998. In that year there were two amazing popular war films released, the other was Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'. I liked them both. However the Terrence Malick film was the more philosophical and held a deeper meaning than that of Spielberg, but both are different films, different theaters of war and different messages. It has taken me twenty years since then to finally read James Jones' novel. War is hell. I first came across James Jones' novel with the Terrence Malick film released in 1998. In that year there were two amazing popular war films released, the other was Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'. I liked them both. However the Terrence Malick film was the more philosophical and held a deeper meaning than that of Spielberg, but both are different films, different theaters of war and different messages. It has taken me twenty years since then to finally read James Jones' novel. The book comes in at just over 500 pages long, with chapters amounting to sometimes near 100 pages with no break inbetween. So sometimes it became a grind, but not an unpleasant one because I found that I became attached towards certain characters, of which there are so many that it does become confusing to work out and remember (casualties, being transferred elsewhere and so on). There is a roster at the beginning which helps understanding who is who in C-for-Charlie Company, that the book is concerned with. Guadalcanal. August 1942. The start of the fightback against the Japanese in the South Pacific, centering on The Solomon Islands, the first invasion of a Japanese held location after their initial success in late 1941. As stated, the book focus is centered around a specific Company (C-for-Charlie) who are reinforcements for the Marines who assaulted the island earlier on. Green troops with no combat experience essentially. I will try and compare the book with what I remember of the movie, because a lot is different, but some sections totally is as written in the novel. They are both different, and yet deal with the more philosophical aspects of warfare (basically the futility of it all). The main part of the book and film deal with the attempt to take 'Hill 210', a well dug in emplacement by the Japanese. The relationship of the characters is the most prominent aspect rather than any military excercise here, leading to conflicts with the company commander (Stein) and the Battalion commander (Colonel Tall), Stein being hesitant about sacrificing his company against the assault (which eventually after 4 days of combat with no water, high attrition rates and so on, they eventually take). That part of the novel was well detailed in Malicks film. However, I believe the Terrence Malick film is probably the better medium to use rather than the long winded book, but the book has the most merit in essentially describing the relationships between the men, the dissension within their ranks, the more fleshed out character portrayals, the 'caste' system within the early American military - things like that are, and cannot be translated onto film, unless you want Oliver Stone to make a 4 hour epic journey. Terrence Malick covers the more essential nature of the book into an over 2 hour visual portrayal incredibly well. War is hell. It is an anti-war book, the loss of life, the inter-linked characters and their idiosyncrasies, their conflicts, combat-numbness (you basically become immune to the shellings, the wounded, the deaths whilst being on the line after a certain period of time, etc) are quite realistically portrayed. I do not know who wrote the script of the movie, but the two most interesting characters are 'Witt' and 'Fife' in the book. In the film, after the capture of Hill210, then they are exaggerated completely and the ending is totally different than the novel. Most people would say in most instances the book is usually better than the film version which I agree with, but with the Terrence Malick film of The Thin Red Line, I think in this instance, because the novel is quite long winded, and with artistic license, then the film basically does do what the book attempts to portray, maybe in a much more emotional way. Good book, 5 stars, will read again in another twenty years.

  10. 5 out of 5

    fourtriplezed

    See my review on From here To Eternity. I thought that this would be a let down after that wonderful book but had no issues at all. Fine book indeed. Now to try and force my self to read the final book of the trio.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Megan Openshaw

    If I saw this in a bookshop, the likelihood is I'd walk straight past it without a second glance. I have little to no prior experience with 'war writing' (I'm not sure whether to count The Book Thief) - something like this isn't the kind of thing I'd normally read, but I'm so glad I did! I won't go into too much detail about the plot (no spoilers!), but the basic premise of the novel is that it follows a group of US troops, 'C-for-Charlie Company', and depicts their experiences during the If I saw this in a bookshop, the likelihood is I'd walk straight past it without a second glance. I have little to no prior experience with 'war writing' (I'm not sure whether to count The Book Thief) - something like this isn't the kind of thing I'd normally read, but I'm so glad I did! I won't go into too much detail about the plot (no spoilers!), but the basic premise of the novel is that it follows a group of US troops, 'C-for-Charlie Company', and depicts their experiences during the Guadalcanal campaign in World War Two. The book goes to some pretty dark places; at times it can be very violent and unsettling, and there's a lot of profanity and sexual references. If this doesn't bother you, then I would definitely recommend it! Things I liked - How realistic everything was. -- Jones evidently knew what he was writing about; he makes a military campaign that might otherwise have been boring translate perfectly onto the page. The narrative is constantly moving, even in the quieter moments; when the action finishes with one character, a seamless transition in the omniscient POV takes us to another member of the company, and the story continues. -- This allows Jones to show us all aspects of military life. Although the combat scenes were well done, I personally preferred seeing what the troops got up to in their free time. Some of the moments when they were roaring drunk genuinely made me smile. -- The characters are so well drawn you can easily believe they are/were real people. I wasn't really expecting to get attached to the characters, since I was reading it purely for a school assignment and wasn't sure how much it would engage me, but there was one particular moment (view spoiler)[just before Chapter 7 (hide spoiler)] where I was reluctant to carry on, fearing they'd all wind up dead. Some characters even have their own little habits (such as Stein's constant resettling of his glasses), which contributes to their realism and makes them stand out in what would otherwise have been a faceless mass of generic soldier archetypes. -- I also felt real sympathy towards the Japanese troops, especially the prisoners. Some of the actions taken against them seemed excessively violent/humiliating, but they made sense in the novel's context. And while I understood the notion of 'combat numbness', it honestly terrified me a little. -- The dialogue. It's laden with profanity of every description, but what do you expect from a load of fraught men in constant danger and fear for their own lives and the lives of those around them? And it just made some of the confrontations even more effective in my opinion. -- The setting. Although it's based on a real place and a real campaign, the environment the story itself takes place in is completely fictional. Some of the landscapes I found a tad difficult to imagine, but it was a brilliant display of Jones' knowledge and his experiences during the actual Guadalcanal campaign. Things I didn't like - The constant (what seemed like) overuse of description for certain characters. (view spoiler)[I got sick of 'longnosed, mean, and meanlooking' Johnny Creo after about two repetitions. (hide spoiler)] I understand that it was probably intended for emphasis/as a reminder as the book has such a large cast, but it bugged me. - Some of the characters seemed a bit two-dimensional, if I'm being picky. e.g. Bell was sex-obsessed, Dale was crafty and ambitious, Fife was impetuous and cowardly. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole, but it got on my nerves a little sometimes. - It might just be me, but some of the constant/near-constant sex references made me a bit uncomfortable. Other Favourite character: 'Mad' Welsh. Just when I thought I had him figured out, he'd go and do something that seemed completely out of character. (view spoiler)[I was not expecting what happened with Tella in Ch4 and Fife in Ch6. (hide spoiler)] He was unpredictable, and a total bastard at times, but he was an interesting bastard. The only quibble I have (again, if I'm being picky) was that his motivations for acting like he did, that I can remember, were never explained - it's all chalked up to him being 'plain f*cking crazy'. And what was the deal with his constant 'sly' smile? Least favourite character: I'm not sure about this one. There wasn't really one character who annoyed me particularly, but I didn't really like Tall, Band (view spoiler)[when he was made Company Commander (hide spoiler)] , and although I understood why he did it, Witt's indecisiveness bugged me. Favourite moment: There wasn't one that really stood out for me, but if I had to choose, I'd say the ending when all the surviving characters seemed pretty safe. And I loved those closing lines! (view spoiler)[ I really sympathised with Fife during the incident with Welsh and Weld in Ch6, too. (hide spoiler)] Least favourite moment: Just before the attack on 'Boola Boola' - I was convinced everyone was doomed. Overall... It's harsh. It's blunt. It's brutal. And it's f*cking brilliant. It really is a masterpiece of war writing. 5/5 stars. Marked down for a reread sometime in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doubledf99.99

    One of the best American novels I've read of WWIIL C-of-Charlie company fighting on Guadalcanal in the hill country, then into the jungle. Soldiers scrounging, finding Thompsons, brewing pickle keg mash, fist fights, and jelling as combat veterans fighting as ruthless as a seldom surrendering enemy. Jones writes in such detail that you can feel the heat and the whine of the mosquitoes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This is one of the greatest books on how World War II was fought in the Pacific; it is also unparalleled in its exploration of the nature of war, especially on how it affects the psyches of those bound up in it. It's the second of Jones' trilogy on the Second World War. All of the venues of the three novels were derived from his experiences; Pre-war Schofield Barracks in Oahu, the 1942-43 battles of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse on Guadalcanal, and in military hospitals. This is one of the greatest books on how World War II was fought in the Pacific; it is also unparalleled in its exploration of the nature of war, especially on how it affects the psyches of those bound up in it. It's the second of Jones' trilogy on the Second World War. All of the venues of the three novels were derived from his experiences; Pre-war Schofield Barracks in Oahu, the 1942-43 battles of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse on Guadalcanal, and in military hospitals. The books are not autobiographical, but are deeply personal. Jones served with the 27th Regiment of the 25th Division, which he transposed into his books. Another novel outside the trilogy, "Some Come Running" has its roots in Jones' experiences in returning to his hometown after the war. There is a rather large cast of characters in this book, almost all members of C for Charley Company of 1st Battalion, 27th Inf. Reg., 25th Infantry Division. Jones takes them across the Pacific in a troop ship and lands them on the beach at Guadalcanal. The island had already been attacked by the U.S. Marines, and C Company was among the forces reinforcing the original assault waves. They all experience the shock of being moved into completely unfamiliar and hostile surroundings. Jones bored into their thoughts and fears, and produced a work which debunked the traditional hero war novel. The soldiers of this Company find out that they are in a world in which everyone is powerless about their fate. You may or may not survive today, or any other days. Heroics have no meaning. One of the better known passages from the book has a soldier realizing that his actions, whether heroic or not had no point. The world around him wouldn't change a bit, whether he lived or not. There is a palpable scent of helplessness that permeates the pages. I read this book twice. The first time was not long after it was initially published. It was getting great reviews as the follow-on to Jones' "From Here to Eternity" and it was a war novel, so I wanted to read it. It was interesting and I kind of liked it, although, being in high school, I didn't quite get it. I reread it a number of years later, probably influenced in my decision by the buzz surrounding the movie. The book made much more of an impression on me the second time. The 1998 movie is, in my opinion, one of the best films ever (I know, there was an earlier film in the 1960's, the less said the better about it). I think the great Terrence Malick film is polarizing; you may love it or hate it. Generally, I think it got great reviews. Some people are put off by the constant voice-overs. Again, I found this also improved with repeated exposure, like the book. I wasn't quite crazy about the voice-overs on my first viewing, but, on a recent showing, found them to be perfect mood-setters, in line with Malick's style (I think it is also exceptionally effective in his "The New World"). This was his first feature in twenty years, and it has also been criticized by Malick's deviation of parts of the story from the book. Among other things, the book has no narrator, and there is no opening sequence where an AWOL Private Witt is cavorting on an Eden with Melanesian islanders. This book, however, almost defies any attempt to make into a movie, and I think it was a good choice by the movie studio to allow a director with Malick's stature to freely use his own interpretation of the book. Jones does an effective job of separating the realities of those suffering an ordeal, having their personal outlooks on life changed forever while living under seemingly impossible risky and dirty conditions, knowing that the world they are operating in is indifferent to their well-being. Some people get killed, some survive. Everyone goes nuts in some way. Sgt. McCron takes this to the extreme by going completely insane, even exposing himself to hostile fire and thereby, by not being shot, proving the concept that life and death are random in this place. When this unit finishes its assignment, it will re-fit and reinforce before moving on to the next place it is sent without the ability of anyone in it to exert control over the matter.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Outstanding account of hill battle at Guadalcanal, the first step in taking back Pacific islands from the Japanese in World War 2. The 1964 book, which was the basis of the great Terrence Malick movie in 1998, was founded on Jones' experience as a veteran of the battle. The portrayal of a company of green soldiers from all walks of life becoming transformed by the horrors and challenges of war and their courage and cowardice into an effective fighting force is very moving. There is much life and Outstanding account of hill battle at Guadalcanal, the first step in taking back Pacific islands from the Japanese in World War 2. The 1964 book, which was the basis of the great Terrence Malick movie in 1998, was founded on Jones' experience as a veteran of the battle. The portrayal of a company of green soldiers from all walks of life becoming transformed by the horrors and challenges of war and their courage and cowardice into an effective fighting force is very moving. There is much life and poetry in the dialog, perceptions of events, and internal experiences and feelings. Of his other books, From Here to Eternity was about Pearl Harbor (and made into a fine film), Whistle about recovery from injuries at Guadalcanal (one I read and can recommend), and Whistle reflects Jones' experiences returning to his home town in Illlinois after the war (a "to be read" for me).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    Probably the best WWII book written by an American. Covering the arrival, fighting and drinking of C for Charlie Company during the battle of Guadalcanal. Part autobiography, Jones is in the heads of his many characters as they deal with the luck and misfortune of fighting a war. His reality is that no one matters when there are plenty of reinforcements, soldiers are just cogs in the wheel, the US Army officer typically looks for promotion and medals. At times brutal, it shows that soldering is Probably the best WWII book written by an American. Covering the arrival, fighting and drinking of C for Charlie Company during the battle of Guadalcanal. Part autobiography, Jones is in the heads of his many characters as they deal with the luck and misfortune of fighting a war. His reality is that no one matters when there are plenty of reinforcements, soldiers are just cogs in the wheel, the US Army officer typically looks for promotion and medals. At times brutal, it shows that soldering is not glorious, it is very scary, very unpredictable and very sad.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ola

    I'm surprised that I did not like the book more. I can't even figure out why, but it's definitely not the best war book I've ever read, to say the least. At some points purely boring. I couldn't make myself like any of the characters. It didn't also help that almost all of them had 4- or 5-letter names, many of them even rhyming, and I couldn't figure out who is who. There's Bell, Dale, Blane, Darl, Doll, Culp, Culn, Cash, Bead, Band, Beck, Keck, Gray, Gaff, Carr, Witt, Task, Tall... and more. I'm surprised that I did not like the book more. I can't even figure out why, but it's definitely not the best war book I've ever read, to say the least. At some points purely boring. I couldn't make myself like any of the characters. It didn't also help that almost all of them had 4- or 5-letter names, many of them even rhyming, and I couldn't figure out who is who. There's Bell, Dale, Blane, Darl, Doll, Culp, Culn, Cash, Bead, Band, Beck, Keck, Gray, Gaff, Carr, Witt, Task, Tall... and more. Seriously, didn't the author feel like typing any longer surname or what? I don't like how the soldiers' transformation is portrayed here. They don't know anything about war, but after the first day of the fight - abracadabra! - they're true veterans. Suddenly they're not only brave, but also seem to be the most experienced soldiers ever, miraculously know exactly what to do, and everybody respects and admires them. I get it, the fight gave a real boost to their confidence - but surely going through one or two days under gunfire wouldn't really impress any of the commanders or the older soldiers? The homosexual thread seems quite out of place, forced and rather sketchy. Unexpectedly one of the worst novels I read in 2014.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    This book provides a graphic account of war and how it alters men. I found this a tough read, it was 500 odd pages of dense / emotional writing with a slow start, but after the first chapter I was hooked by the description of men in war, and how they cope with the crazy mixture of emotions (fear / bravery / lust for glory / rage) they must face. The way that chance / luck / fate played in whether they lived or died was well conveyed. Some of the characters are brilliantly drawn.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill Yancey

    Written by the author of From Here to Eternity, which was about the days before Pearl Harbor on Hawaii, this book takes place on Guadalcanal. Jones manages to be inside everyones head, in combat and away from the fighting. His characterizations and detail are amazing. Even though it is a novel, it is obvious that Jones served in the infantry on Guadalcanal during WWII. A great book (and also a movie). Written by the author of “From Here to Eternity,” which was about the days before Pearl Harbor on Hawaii, this book takes place on Guadalcanal. Jones manages to be inside everyone’s head, in combat and away from the fighting. His characterizations and detail are amazing. Even though it is a novel, it is obvious that Jones served in the infantry on Guadalcanal during WWII. A great book (and also a movie).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    110213: this is a much much later comment. i have trouble believing it is almost three years since read, so certain i recall the film, the resolution to read 'from here to eternity' then this again! i have to read this again... first review: this is an unusual book, an unusual history of reading: i read this after seeing it as one of my favourite films, so i cannot tell if it has strong images as all i see are scenes from the movie. characters played by certain actors, tropics played by certain 110213: this is a much much later comment. i have trouble believing it is almost three years since read, so certain i recall the film, the resolution to read 'from here to eternity' then this again! i have to read this again... first review: this is an unusual book, an unusual history of reading: i read this after seeing it as one of my favourite films, so i cannot tell if it has strong images as all i see are scenes from the movie. characters played by certain actors, tropics played by certain islands, actions as presented, edited, perspectives, shooting, sound etc., all as in the movie... this order of reading might be a good thing, for though it is not so clearly a joint work as 2001 by Kubrick/Clarke, the book does fill in the characters. what is surprising is how faithful the adaptation is, how this easy to read, realistic war story, could be visualized so powerfully, the bare narrative so elaborated by the filmmakers, so imagistic, so effective. because it is beautifully shot movie, because it is direct reportage of the combat... this is like the artistic film but probably for most people it is easier to read 'realism' than to follow as 'art', maybe harder to read relative to usual page-turners but: yes i read this fast, yes the prose is more efficient than expressive, yes it tells the story of not a single character but the group of company-c-for-charlie, all dipping in and out of many characters’ minds, yes it resonates after with the unusual mix of pain and fear and strange joy and a thousand other emotions spurred by these actions, this war, those days and nights…

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    The thin red line...whet is it? It is the line that separates life from death, health from injury. The Novel is an anti-war novel. The effects of war are clearly elaborated. The reasons for war is actually left out. We see Welsh asking himself why they are fighting? He seems to be the only one with an answer to that question. Fife also tries to answer that question, but his reasons are vague. Besides being sent by the government, he's in war for his own personal reasons. That is, to prove that he The thin red line...whet is it? It is the line that separates life from death, health from injury. The Novel is an anti-war novel. The effects of war are clearly elaborated. The reasons for war is actually left out. We see Welsh asking himself why they are fighting? He seems to be the only one with an answer to that question. Fife also tries to answer that question, but his reasons are vague. Besides being sent by the government, he's in war for his own personal reasons. That is, to prove that he is not a coward. He could prove this at home without even listing. Bell has experienced the war before and has first hand information to the effects. He is separated from his family which brings on him great loneliness and depression in the front. Beautiful| Beautiful| This book reminds me of Killer Angels, Birdsong and Jeff Shaara. It is sweet, I could almost taste it. It's an anti-war Novel but it made me feel like enlisting in the army. There was Bugger Stein, Welsh, Doll, Dale, Bell, Big Un, Gaff and Tall. It was like a chess game. Tall is a great character, calm and collected inspiring confidence in his men. His strategies to me were agreeable even though Stein never agreed with him. The rest are brave men, men who are fighting because the government told them to fight. They are automatons as Bell described them. They claim to be free but they cannot stop the war. It taught me another lesson, that actually, soldiers can refuse to obey a command when they feel it's wrong? I saw Stein disobey Tall's order to attack.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Benn

    The Thin Red Line, by James Jones, is the fictional account of the trials endured by the men of Charlie Company during their first month on Guadalcanal in the early days of WWII. The book, first published in 1962, has come to be recognized as a classic war novel. I think that designation is well-deserved the book is an incredible examination of the varying ways in which men react to the shock of combat. Jones follows at least a dozen recurring characters through a range of experiences “The Thin Red Line,” by James Jones, is the fictional account of the trials endured by the men of Charlie Company during their first month on Guadalcanal in the early days of WWII. The book, first published in 1962, has come to be recognized as a classic war novel. I think that designation is well-deserved – the book is an incredible examination of the varying ways in which men react to the shock of combat. Jones follows at least a dozen recurring characters through a range of experiences – including combat, death, deprivation, random turns of fate, marital problems, army politics, and flirtations with homosexuality. I found that the range of characters explored by Jones meant that I didn’t have the same deep connection to a single character that I did while reading “Matterhorn” (Karl Marlantas) or “The Things They Carried” (Tim O’Brian) – both of which focus on the experiences of a single protagonist. While some depth of character development may have been sacrificed, Jones still manages to build nuanced portraits of many characters, which affords the reader an outstanding view of how units function (and malfunction) at the Company and Battalion level – something that is sacrificed in “Matterhorn” and “The Things They Carried” which only focus on squad and platoon level groups of men. Overall, I really enjoyed “The Thin Red Line” and think that it is a must-read for people interested in military history.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yair Ben-Zvi

    An incredible book, a few minor issues here and there, but for the most part a great read. James Jones, as Norman Mailer did in his The Naked and the Dead, paints an unflattering but very real portrait of american soldiers at war in the pacific campaign of world war 2. Specifically the taking of Guadalcanal. But where Mailer's work hold its own as a vision of almost unfathomable power and bravado, Jones' work beats it out as a more nuanced and varied look at the psyches of those americans lost An incredible book, a few minor issues here and there, but for the most part a great read. James Jones, as Norman Mailer did in his The Naked and the Dead, paints an unflattering but very real portrait of american soldiers at war in the pacific campaign of world war 2. Specifically the taking of Guadalcanal. But where Mailer's work hold its own as a vision of almost unfathomable power and bravado, Jones' work beats it out as a more nuanced and varied look at the psyches of those americans lost in the tumult of war, both within and outside their thoughts. How does it compare to the movie? (Which I love as one of the most deeply profound sentiments concerning humanity ever put to film)? It definitely stands with it. Not quite as self observant, but more stirring in its action and balancing of the men on the cusp of life and death. If i can fault Jones anything it's maybe his sentence structure and word choice. Nothing technically wrong but a few passages here and there seem to lack the flow that a story as dense as his would definitely benefit by. All in all a fantastic book that you should pick up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I just couldn't finish this. I got to about page 130. Then I realised I couldn't care less about the characters. I started to read this because I lived on Guadalcanal as a child, so I was quite disappointed to learn the author had changed the names of hills/towns etc, to render them unrecognisable. The chapters were overlong. There were so many characters I couldn't remember who was who especially as I was struggling to keep my mind on the book anyway. There isn't much more I can say, really. I just couldn't finish this. I got to about page 130. Then I realised I couldn't care less about the characters. I started to read this because I lived on Guadalcanal as a child, so I was quite disappointed to learn the author had changed the names of hills/towns etc, to render them unrecognisable. The chapters were overlong. There were so many characters I couldn't remember who was who especially as I was struggling to keep my mind on the book anyway. There isn't much more I can say, really. There must be better books out there! I always feel a bit guilty when I hate a "seminal" or "classic" book, like I'm failing somehow, but in all honesty this was sooooooo boring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is a powerful novel about soldiers during the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal. Written in 1962, this is a shockingly blunt and graphic work that focuses on the complex psychological motivations of and effects on soldiers during war. Jones refuses to allow stock, flat characterization. He discusses issues of human tendencies toward violence, age, homosexuality, fear, and loss. A powerful work in Jones trilogy that began with From Here To Eternity, then this work, and ended with the This is a powerful novel about soldiers during the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal. Written in 1962, this is a shockingly blunt and graphic work that focuses on the complex psychological motivations of and effects on soldiers during war. Jones refuses to allow stock, flat characterization. He discusses issues of human tendencies toward violence, age, homosexuality, fear, and loss. A powerful work in Jones’ trilogy that began with From Here To Eternity, then this work, and ended with the posthumously-published Whistle. Look forward to reading more from his list.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Booknblues

    An incredible War story set in the pacific theater of WWII. Packed with action, relationships, drama and a close look at the inferno of war. This would be a good companion book to Catch 22, if one were to chart a course for literature of the second world war.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zach Riffle

    Goodreads Book Review: My personal take on The Thin Red Line I am a war novel enthusiast, but little do I ever read a book so intricate, complete, compelling, psychological, and informational as James Joness The Thin Red Line. I would highly recommend this novel. The novel tells the story of not what character, but of Charlie Company (C Company for short). The characters in the novel represent the tragedies and eternal effects of war. Some officers in the company fear their lives, but are seem Goodreads Book Review: My personal take on The Thin Red Line I am a war novel enthusiast, but little do I ever read a book so intricate, complete, compelling, psychological, and informational as James Jones’s The Thin Red Line. I would highly recommend this novel. The novel tells the story of not what character, but of Charlie Company (C Company for short). The characters in the novel represent the tragedies and eternal effects of war. Some officers in the company fear their lives, but are seem cowards and irrational for attempting to save their men. Others are filled with their own arrogance. The Japanese in the novel seem different from historical accounts and those of my grandparent’s experiences, but Jones does phenomenally well exaggerating the consequences of conflict. Jones goes far beyond the array of emotions effect in battle. He highlights the ideal that war is forever ongoing psychology, that war takes a part of life and sanity from man in can never get back. Characters, however, play just as much significance as does the setting. The condensed, green environment of Guadalcanal doubles as an area of safety or a pathway of hostility. The bunkers seem as impenetrable fortresses, serving as the focal point for one of the major battles. The setting takes a toll on men as they compare their past luxuries to their current state, carrying all they have in their rucksack and tactical vests through treacherous terrain. The mysteries and eerie landscape represent the uncertainty of the men’s future. Jones does extremely well expressing the costs of war. Two major battles, command issues, and low morale as they grow intolerant to the atrocities around them. Jones is great at showing how man can express and cope in different ways. Some show aggression, others hide it to secure their pride. The truth is that all men know the reality of the situation, the reality that you will have to read to find out. If you’re looking for an action-packed, this novel is potentially for you. I would recommend this novel for those who admire to learn about the true realities of war, behind the basic heroism and bravery told in action-based movies. This novel does contain plenty battles, described in gruesome detail. I would recommend this novel as compared to my readings of non-fiction, WWII based novels, this does comparatively well. Not to mention that Jones did serve on Guadalcanal as the novel focuses on his experiences. Now for who shouldn’t read this novel. To begin, if war to you is an avoidable evil, despicable to man, and essentially unnecessary, I would still read this book. The novel gives great insight into all war does to man and what our service members experience. If you do not like to read about war and its detrimental impacts, I would not recommend this novel. I wouldn't recommend this for those who fear gore, blood, and gruesome as this novel has plenty. Lastly, I would not recommend this book to those who don't take it seriously. This book has monumental significance and comprehension is a must to take away as much as possible. Ultimately, The Thin Red Line, by James Jones, has my highest recommendation. Zach Riffle AP American Literature Student

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phillip III

    James Jones' The Thin Red Line was an amazing WWII novel. I know a lot of it was autobiographical. I did not know it was part of a trilogy (From Here to Eternity, being Book 1). It covers fear, homosexuality, and war. The battle scenes are intense. The down-time between battle scenes are intense. There is so much emotion packed into the story. Family at home, betrayal, hope, and doom. Absolutely loved it. Phillip Tomasso

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bene

    At university I had to take a course that was called "Manhood in past and present" which I didnt find very interesting because usually Im not into gender studies that much. This novel, however, really reminded me of some things our professor told us then, which were about the changes a man in combat can go through: sheer terror, bravery, dehumanization or "combat numbness", and how these things define some of our modern views of men at war. As a German I really want to understand how the At university I had to take a course that was called "Manhood in past and present" which I didn´t find very interesting because usually I´m not into gender studies that much. This novel, however, really reminded me of some things our professor told us then, which were about the changes a man in combat can go through: sheer terror, bravery, dehumanization or "combat numbness", and how these things define some of our modern views of men at war. As a German I really want to understand how the machinery and inescapability of war changes its soldiers who most of the time have no other chance than to go along with it. All this themes are greatly explored in Jones´s novel and it made me understand them better. The novel follows an American company during the campaign of Guadalcanal and is narrated through the pov of a variety of characters. The characters I grew fond of the most were Fife, Witt, Bell and Welsh, and the way Jones describes their hopes and fears is the thing I liked the most about the book: Fife is a coward always being shocked to find out he actually is one, but nevertheless constantly trying to overcome his fears and be manly. Witt is a Kentuckian beloved by the company who always gets into conflict with the commanding officers because of his deep loyalty to his comrades. Bell is a husband always afraid of being betrayed by his wife Marty we get to know through flashbacks he remembers during combat. Welsh is a very cynical soldier who tries to see everything determined by people´s fight for ´property´ until in some moments his humanity shines through (he somehow reminded me of Captain Speirs from Band of Brothers). If you find yourself interested in what might happen to these people you might like this book. Note that there are no woman characters and that the plot mostly focuses on the routines and combat experience of the soldiers, which you might find a bit monotone sometimes. The plot generally focuses on two different campaigns on Guadalcanal (not authentic, but based on events that really took place) under two commanding officers with a different style of leading. You will learn a lot about military strategy, ranks and stuff. I´ve found that to be really interesting because only then you really come to understand what challenges a combat soldier had to face during WW2. I would consider this novel neither completely anti-war nor a work 100 percent affirmative of war. It shows which terrors the soldiers had to go through and it´s very graphic by doing that. But it also shows how some characters become heroes in certain situation and it ends on a rather optimistic note as I found (so it´s not as pessimistic in it´s depiction of war as -let´s say - "All quiet on the Western front"). The writing style is very accessible and I especially liked that Jones really let us see what was going on in the protagonists´ head without overly explaining their real motives and emotions. Highly recommended! (Not a native English speaker, so sorry for any language mistakes!)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robynne

    This is an incredible study of war and of men who have participated in battle. This book will not make you feel good; it is not designed for that. Jones, who served in the Guadalcanal campaign, says a lot in his dedication at the beginning of the novel: "This book is cheerfully dedicated to those greatest and most heroic of human endeavors, WAR and WARFARE; may they never cease to give us the pleasure, excitement and adrenal stimulation that we need, or provide us with the heroes, the presidents This is an incredible study of war and of men who have participated in battle. This book will not make you feel good; it is not designed for that. Jones, who served in the Guadalcanal campaign, says a lot in his dedication at the beginning of the novel: "This book is cheerfully dedicated to those greatest and most heroic of human endeavors, WAR and WARFARE; may they never cease to give us the pleasure, excitement and adrenal stimulation that we need, or provide us with the heroes, the presidents and leaders, the monuments and museums which we erect to them in the name of PEACE." For those who have misread this dedication -- and there is at least one reviewer here who has -- it's important to read both the book itself as well as Jones's other works to get a full sense of how he felt about war. There are few "heroes" in The Thin Red Line, at least not the kind of heroes one reads about in the epic heroic works of western civilization or sees portrayed on our monuments and in our museums and in films produced for audiences eager for heroic war. Jones gives us everyman and every type of man at his worst and his best. What else can warfare possibly demand or produce? I am particularly intrigued by Jones's characterizations of masculinity and manhood. In many ways, this book can be read as a study of gender, although I do not claim that was Jones's intent. Throughout the novel, he makes constant reference to the expectations of men in war and the many ways soldiers responded to these social demands. Their actions bear little resemblance to notions of heroism and valor woven so deeply into the tapestry of ways we memorialize war and warfare. "We" (as in the we of Jones's dedication) have great expectations of our soldiers, not the least of which is that they do the ugly work of killing and dying in such a (sanitized) way that "they never cease to give us the pleasure, excitement and adrenal stimulation that we need" to maintain our myths of war, warfare, and heroism.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nate Copeland

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As far as the quality of the writing, especially the portrayal of jungle war in WWII from the perspective of the men of C-for-Charlie was excellent; 5 stars. What he tried to do with sexuality, particularly homosexuality was force and awkward and made me want to put the book down almost every time. I think good authors can put in things into a book that are true and real, even if the audience doesn't like those things and do it in a way that can even add to the book. In this case it was clear he As far as the quality of the writing, especially the portrayal of jungle war in WWII from the perspective of the men of C-for-Charlie was excellent; 5 stars. What he tried to do with sexuality, particularly homosexuality was force and awkward and made me want to put the book down almost every time. I think good authors can put in things into a book that are true and real, even if the audience doesn't like those things and do it in a way that can even add to the book. In this case it was clear he was trying to force a viewpoint. He was clearly Fife in the story based on his own bio and how it corresponded with that particular soldier in the story and my opinion is that he was trying to justify and explain away his own homosexual experience, which was not as universal as he tried to force it to be in the story. What is frustrating is that he dealt with other real issues so well (such as cowardice, numbness of war, the blood-lust that takes over in the moment of battle that those outside like to criticize from their lofty unsoiled heights, the attempt to regain numbness with alcohol to not deal with the things you have done, the personalities and prejudices of the time period, and even the fear and reality of what was happening back home). In many instances he dealt with sexuality appropriately and realistically such as the GIs going out to find a girl or prostitute on their leave, or Pvt/Sgt/1LT Bell dealing with the fear and then reality of his wife cheating on him. However, he tried to force the normalization of homosexual behavior to justify his own experience and it ruined the book for me.

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