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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 12 May 2014
A bit of a slow starter but once it gets going it suck you all the way to the end, don't give up on it, very rewarding read!!
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on 23 September 2013
The book most adults should read a true Classic, even after all these years.
Novels like this are truly rare.
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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2000
Not only is this a classic piece of war fiction it delves deeply into the psyche of men under intolerable pressure.The result is not pretty and Mailer makes no apologies for his unforgiving portrayal of the base and primitive side of men at war.It is as fresh today as it was when first written shortly after the end of World War 11 and still is deeply relevant.This is a powerhouse of a novel with stunning charecterisations of men from the weak General Cummings to the more down to earth but nevertheless phiposophical Sergeant Croft.It is a classic novel by any standards.
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on 16 July 2008
The Naked and the Dead remains the most realistic war novel I have read. It is neither a romance of heroic deeds nor the grinding, dehumanised tragedy that WWI novels tend to be. Showing war as a contrasted field of acts of courage, calculation, treachery and occasionally weakness and cowardice, but mostly as drudgery and sheer blind chance, it feels honest and true to experience.

Norman Mailer, indeed, wrote his account of WWII in the Pacific fresh from returning from the front. His book focuses on one island and tracks the destiny of a platoon, whose 15 or so members, each with their own private life back home, their fears and ambitions, become intimate acquaintances of the reader. The Naked and the Dead encompasses a complete campaign, beginning with the sea landing, building up to a major battle, and including the fighting itself. It then swerves into a wildcat mission to circumvent the Japanese line, turning into a classic nail-biting tale of jungle guerrilla, of ambushes and night-fights and forced marches, where the differences between GIs and NCOs erupt to create as much havoc as the fight with the Japanese. In parallel, the novel follows the general's intrigues among the officer corps, providing a bird's eye view of the campaign, its strategy, and its tactics, as well as their impact on the foot-soldiers.

Mailer's tome combines psychology and character analysis with the excitement of action and the realistic depiction of everyday scenes (the construction of the camp, the long struggle to move an anti-aircraft gun by foot, the night watches). It makes the reader feel present, as close as can be to standing on the actual scene. Of course, this was WWII, and every war is probably unique. Still, this is the closest thing, and it is for sure better than having to fight in one.
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on 17 February 2013
One of the best, if not the best writer in history of american litereture. Norman Mailer, thank You for everything!
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on 29 June 2017
According to Tom Wolfe this is one of the very few good books written by Norman Mailer. Not having read any of his other books, I can only agree that this one is really good. It describes the invasion and struggle to capture a Pacific island, its name does not really matter.
'The Naked and the Dead' is particularly strong on describing the human background; interspersed in the action are 'bios' of the various soldiers, from high to low. To someone who has never been in a war, it seems a very realistic description, as it should be given that Mr. Mailer actually participated in the Pacific war. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 June 2012
At over 700 pages in length Norman Mailer's 1949 novel can rightly be categorised as something of an epic tale, which charts the experiences of a group of American army soldiers fighting the Japanese during the Second World War on the Pacific island of Anopopei. Mailer uses his expansive narrative brilliantly in mixing a number of suspense-filled episodes of conflict between the warring parties, together with the more reflective, but equally engaging, passages during which the author introduces us to the fifteen or so main characters in the army platoon, under the command of the senior officers, General Cummings, Lieutenant Hearne and (perhaps the most brilliantly written character) Sergeant Croft.

Whilst Mailer is well-known for his anti-war views (having been jailed for his part in the anti-Vietnam war protests in 1967), his approach in this first novel, written when he was (amazingly) only in his mid-20s, is actually very even-handed. It is via the progression of his compellingly realistic narrative, featuring the series of personal (and petty) vendettas between individual soldiers (leading in a number of cases to tragic consequences) and the generally much confused views of the troops as to the ultimate objectives of the conflict on which their lives depend, that lead the reader inexorably to a conclusion which homes in on the futility of war. Along the way, Mailer is (for me) at his most brilliant during the passages involving the senior officers, particularly those between General Cummings and Lieutenant Hearne, and then those between Hearne and Sergeant Croft (as the latter two embark on Cummings' hare-brained scheme of patrolling behind Japanese lines). It is during these parts of the novel, which focus on how such (largely personal) relationships can, in effect, determine life and death, that The Naked And The Dead takes on the aura of Joseph Heller's classic satirical novel Catch-22 (in effect, without the laughs). Mailer is also at pains to repeatedly refer to the inter-racial tensions which prevail within the US soldiers, particularly relating to those of Jewish, Hispanic and Italian backgrounds.

Whilst the ultimate conclusion (last 20 pages or so) of the novel could be regarded as somewhat anti-climactic, this is a brilliant, and insightful, account of men enduring the harsh reality of war.
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on 9 July 2009
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer's war novel of highest repute, charts a short campaign on a Japanese island in WW II. This novel is less about war itself, and more about the personal impact it has on the group of characters in the novel.

The novel unfolds character by character, each dealing with his immediate hardship in parallel with his own personal demons, as reflected in his thoughts and memories. Each copes with the war in his own way, having his own agenda or anxieties relating to his own foibles and in turn overlaid onto his immediate relationships with military companions.

From this microcultural perspective, Mailer telescopes out to the wider campaign suggesting parallels between the meaninglessness of individual anxieties and the meaninglessness of greater strategy, and ultimately to the worthlessness of human life.

Mailer's depth of character development, interweaving into the complex intricacy of their inter-relationships adds a fantastic backdrop to this tale. His commentary on such relationships, and through this, his commentary on the war itself and driving forces behind it provide much food for thought.

This is a great book in every aspect I can think of and I would recommend to all. It fulfils, and for me surpasses its formidable reputation, and is one of the few books I will read again, and no doubt will gain yet more from it in the future.
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on 8 June 2013
Being one of the most widely documented subjects in literature, it can be difficult to find a war story that makes an impact; and Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead is definitely ranked among the most resonant of war stories. It's comprehensive, well-written, and, refreshingly, there are no heroes. The characters in TNATD are either cowards or sociopaths. They run from combat, freeze in fear, or kill indiscriminately and without feeling. It was these flaws in the characters I found most gripping. The War Hero is a sacred cow that Mailer has thankfully slain.
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on 19 January 2011
The story is as good as you'd expect from a classic, but the kindle edition is a horrible hackjob. It is missing proper chapter markers and there are hundreds of errors where the publishers obviously scanned a printed book and ran it through OCR. L turns into 1 and such. This is a quality i'd accept for a free book, but unacceptable for a paid one. If anyone from the publisher sees this, go proofread the book or drop the price - this is just not good enough!
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