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4.3 out of 5 stars21
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 18 September 2012
Another reviewer says this novel by James Jones is primarily about men in war rather than war itself. In part, he is right. It is a magnificent study of the effect war has on men encountering it for the first time.BUT, it is also a study of small unit action (Company level) that comes across as totally realistic. Jones was there, and knows of what he writes. His characterisation of his soldiers is totally believable, his dialogue convincing, and by the end of the book you feel as if you had experienced Guadalcanal yourself. Two films have been made based on this novel, both with the same title, and as war films they are quite good. As adapatations of the novel, however, they are a big letdown. For the real experience of TTRL, read the book. It is, quite simply, majestic.
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on 26 November 2011
Well, I finished the book last night and then watched the 1998 film adaptation. The novel was a big read, with solid dense prose for 500 odd pages that took me two weeks to complete. The writing felt modern especially with the use of the F-word; it hadn't really dated except for the in-depth character description and analysis.

From a slow start, it built to the stage where I needed to settle down with this book and rejoin C-for-Charlie in their battles for the variously named hills. To find out how Witt, Bell, Fife, Welsh, Storm, Queen, et al where surviving. As an ensemble piece it really works, reminding me of Band of Brothers, but of course it pre-dates that.

The book is about men in war, and how they cope with debilitating fear, cowardice, chance, luck, fate, bravery, glory and death. There are some really brilliantly well drawn characters. Welsh and Witt are so so disappointing in the film...

In fact the film is disappointing all round except for Nick Nolte as Tall. It needed character actors not pretty boys. Jones gives us such great insights into all their personalities the casting director should have been taken out and shot!

I think it's worth 4.5 stars - with half a star taken off for the lack of maps - my only gripe about the book. A reader needs to kept informed and I hadn't much of an idea about Guadalcanal's topography before I read this book. Jones could see it in his mind's eye, he'd been there after all... as he tells us on the last page.
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Sometimes I despair when reading reviews of a book of this nature.............this book is not about war......it is about men and the effects that war has on them.James Jones was a fine literary writer who died before being able to complete the sequel to this novel,which was about the Normandy invasion.....and the effect that had on men.Guadalcanal remains paramount,as does Tarawa and Iwo Jima,in the American Psyche and I salute all the Americans who fought those,and many other battles but The Thin Red Line is not about that...........in the same way as Norman Mailers classic 'The Naked And The Dead'is not.Both of these books are about men.Superb and very disturbing writing.
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on 24 October 2007
This book hits you like a ton of bricks. What Stephen Crane did for the Civil War in "The Red Badge of Courage" James Jones does equally imptactful for World War II. As they invade Guadalcanal the men of C-for-Charlie company will each discover what it is to go into combat, to be acutely aware each and every minute that there are other people out there intent only on killing you. Some will lose their lives, others their sanity, and those that live will never be the same as before.

I'm not a particular fan of WW II literature, but this book is surely not only one of the best of the genre but also by far transcends that particular war.
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on 8 January 2004
This book provides a much more detailed account of the battle of guadalcanal than the film. It is an excellent read and i strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in world war II and the battles of the pacific.
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on 22 August 2008
Forget the (rather good) film, it cannot do justice to a book like this. It starts somewhat on the slow side, I was quite a bit through before suddenly, I was hooked. In the end I found it a breathtaking book, one of my all time favorites.
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on 19 March 2016
An absolute masterpiece. I was hooked within the first thirty pages and I had difficulty after that putting it down. Jones' triumph is portraying a range of different characters and their emotions in a multitude of scenarios and making the story-line form around their experience. At times it is dark and harrowing and it's not difficult to feel the emotions and fears of the men in the line, however what makes it a true classic to me is just how human the characters are, they feel alive and their dialogue is insightful and often humorous; put simply they talk and act like men of their time, which makes the whole experience incredibly rewarding and moving.
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on 9 February 2013
I'm reviewing the paperback edition not the Kindle. I've just re read this book having had it a number of years and found it even more absorbing than I remember it before. The story is compelling and really does not let you go until you've finished the last page... A superlative novel written as expertly and knowledgably as I have ever read. One of the, if not THE tops!
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on 27 July 2014
Simply one of the best (and most disturbing) books I've ever read in my life. Jones demystifies romantic view of war and shows it's true colors. The most nonsensical and cruel activity humans engage in. Blood, guts and pain. Credible portrait of human behavior in extreme situations.
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on 22 January 2016
The detailed descriptions of the terrain and troop movements are very difficult to follow or imagine. That said, the book really makes the reader think hard about how they themselves might behave in combat conditions. Sgt. Welsh was right.
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