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The Thin Red Line Paperback – 7 May 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Paperback, 7 May 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 475 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New edition edition (7 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340717521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340717523
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

"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 dialogue (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 calibre of Herman Melville and Stephen Crane. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'An indubitable masterpiece ... THE THIN RED LINE is among the very best novels written about World War II.' (Chicago Daily News ) --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Classic tale that tackles the whole of war - the heroics, the fears, the cynicism. Jones knew war from the inside and my guess is he leaves nothing out. At times reading this I too felt I was really there, facing the enemy or myself. The tactics and manoeuvres often unfortunately become too detailed. And Jones' preference is to report rather than re-create a scene so there is minimal dialogue. I usually like this but often the detailing here becomes overwhelming. And you have to concentrate to keep track of who's who. That said, how Jones transitions/segues between characters and scenes is seamless. His control of his canvas is awesome. And his honesty, commitment to the truth makes this the best novel I've read on WW2, surpassing Mailer. Sex, boozing, looting, jealousy, love, rivalry, hatred, confusion, fear, leadership, responsibility, ambition, doubt, loneliness, the luck involved in whether you survived or not, as well as the general physical slog and daily toil of war are all encountered. To treat homosexuality in a sympathetic and truthful way at this time (1961) was incredibly brave and ground-breaking. Also, the mistreatment of the enemy (dead and alive) and the desire of some soldiers to get out of the war. From the myriad of characters, try to follow Fife, Bell, Doll, Witt and Welsh. Sometimes I got emotional during this novel but by the end I felt I knew the story of what war is really like.
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