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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 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.
Jones's 1962 novel follows the men of Charlie Company as they fight on Guadalcanal. Though LJ's reviewer was less than knocked out by it, a forthcoming feature film starring John Travolta, George Clooney, Nick Nolte, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman, and many others should generate heavy interest.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"The Thin Red Line" is not your average war novel. I've read books like "Battle Cry" and "The 13th Valley", and while they explored the feelings and... Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2004 by William Sugarman
The Thin Red Line is not a bad book, in many ways it's a great book. It's just that there is a thin line between great and OK. Read morePublished on Dec 25 2002 by Kim F. Hill
I can only say that I believe all reading is worthwhile, so reading this book wasn't a complete waste of time. I found a great deal not to like about this book. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2002 by Andy Glass
George Plimpton has stated that "The Thin Red Line" contains the best writing about war ever put on paper--"better than Tolstoy, better than anyone. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2002 by R Takamoto
The Thin Red Line is a fast paced exciting novel of combat on Guadalcanal. Forget all that you know about the dull introspective movie of the same name, the book is nothing like... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2002 by suetonius
This novel is about loss on humanity during the battle of Guadalcanal (but it could be any war at any point in history). Read morePublished on July 1 2001 by Jan Dierckx
The Thin Red Line is one of the few warfare novels that entertains the reader with both gripping combat descriptions and believable, developed characterizations. Read morePublished on June 3 2001 by Maury Q. Falkoff
"The Thin Red Line" is one of the best books I've ever read. Even from the first pages the book took a hold of me and I could hardly put it down (eventually you've got to... Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2001