The Thin Red Line Paperback – 7 May 1998
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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 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.
'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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An absolute masterpiece. I was hooked within the first thirty pages and I had difficulty after that putting it down. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
brilliant book. I watched film as well which was dire. the film is not the book.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
The detailed descriptions of the terrain and troop movements are very difficult to follow or imagine. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marmaduke
A wonderful anti war book with great characters totally absorbing
Will never forget it
What a great read, captures the scene and the characters so well, its clear he served in the same conflict to be able to put this down on paper so well.Published 22 months ago by AG WATFORD
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. Read morePublished on 27 July 2014 by J. J. Tech
This product is not what I expected. I am having trouble at work protecting my desk space and wished to clearly delineate my work space from that of my co-workers. Read morePublished on 26 May 2014 by Fishtail