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The Thin Red Line

Imes  “A rare and splendid accomplishment strong and ambitious spacious and as honest as any novel ever written” Newsweek   “A major novel of combat in World War II reminiscent of Stephen Crane in The Red Badge of Courage ” The Christian Science Monitor   “ The Thin Red Line moves so intensely and inexorably that it almost seems like the war it is describing” The New York Times Book Review. War is hell I first came across James Jones novel with the Terrence Malick film released in 1998 In that year there were two amazing popular war films released the other was Spielberg s Saving Private Ryan I liked them both However the Terrence Malick film was the philosophical and held a deeper meaning than that of Spielberg but both are different films different theaters of war and different messages It has taken me twenty years since then to finally read James Jones novel The book comes in at just over 500 pages long with chapters amounting to sometimes near 100 pages with no break inbetween So sometimes it became a grind but not an unpleasant one because I found that I became attached towards certain characters of which there are so many that it does become confusing to work out and remember casualties being transferred elsewhere and so on There is a roster at the beginning which helps understanding who is who in C for Charlie Company that the book is concerned with Guadalcanal August 1942 The start of the fightback against the Japanese in the South Pacific centering on The Solomon Islands the first invasion of a Japanese held location after their initial success in late 1941 As stated the book focus is centered around a specific Company C for Charlie who are reinforcements for the Marines who assaulted the island earlier on Green troops with no combat experience essentially I will try and compare the book with what I remember of the movie because a lot is different but some sections totally is as written in the novel They are both different and yet deal with the philosophical aspects of warfare basically the futility of it all The main part of the book and film deal with the attempt to take Hill 210 a well dug in emplacement by the Japanese The relationship of the characters is the most prominent aspect rather than any military excercise here leading to conflicts with the company commander Stein and the Battalion commander Colonel Tall Stein being hesitant about sacrificing his company against the assault which eventually after 4 days of combat with no water high attrition rates and so on they eventually take That part of the novel was well detailed in Malicks film However I believe the Terrence Malick film is probably the better medium to use rather than the long winded book but the book has the most merit in essentially describing the relationships between the men the dissension within their ranks the fleshed out character portrayals the caste system within the early American military things like that are and cannot be translated onto film unless you want Oliver Stone to make a 4 hour epic journey Terrence Malick covers the essential nature of the book into an over 2 hour visual portrayal incredibly well War is hell It is an anti war book the loss of life the inter linked characters and their idiosyncrasies their conflicts combat numbness you basically become immune to the shellings the wounded the deaths whilst being on the line after a certain period of time etc are uite realistically portrayed I do not know who wrote the script of the movie but the two most interesting characters are Witt and Fife in the book In the film after the capture of Hill210 then they are exaggerated completely and the ending is totally different than the novel Most people would say in most instances the book is usually better than the film version which I agree with but with the Terrence Malick film of The Thin Red Line I think in this instance because the novel is uite long winded and with artistic license then the film basically does do what the book attempts to portray maybe in a much emotional way Good book 5 stars will read again in another twenty years

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They are the men of C for Charlie company “Mad” 1st Sgt Eddie Welsh Pvt 1st Class Don Doll Pvt John Bell Capt James Stein Cpl Fife and dozens just like them infantrymen who are about to land grim and white faced on an atoll in the Pacific called Guadalcanal This is their story a shatteringly realistic walk into hell and back   In the days ahead some will earn medals others will do anything they can dre. I saw the 1998 movie version of this book in theaters when it came out I remember that I was completely mesmerized and transported by it It was a movie about war unlike any I d ever seen before it was mostly uiet and internal Walking out of the theater I found out I was pretty much alone in my enjoyment of it people all around me said it was slow boring pointless I mention this because I think the movie version prepared me for the book which is probably just as divisiveThe story floats among a wide cast of characters as they arrive on Guadalcanal A special note at the beginning of the book points out that the terrain and battles contained in the book are fictitious but that Jones placed the imaginary battles on Guadalcanal because of the emotion the island evoked You meet Pfc Doll Cpl Fife Sgt Welsh just about everyone has a simple one syllable name which is also a word Band ueen Tall Bell Dale Witt Field Cash Beck At the beginning they re green recruits who miss the relative comforts of army life in a non combat zone and one where it s not constantly raining apprehensive about what lies ahead Shortly as they re thrust into the thick of fighting they become battle tested veterans How they react to their experiences is varied and we are privy to each man s thoughts reactions and self assessments The inability to ever really know what s going on in someone else s head is a theme visited freuently You often see things from than one point of view what caused someone to act like they did or what they were trying to convey and how it was viewed by someone elseI think that you have to just surrender yourself to the experience of the book Jones terrain may be fictional but he is absolutely certain about how it looks and feels He transports you to the humid muddy island its jungles and rocky hills The progress made toward the next target is often slow then suddenly shots are fired and you re thrown into confusion People act heroically for the wrong reasons cowardly for the right ones and the reverse of both of those as well The soldiers are frustratingly human and occasionally disturbingly inhuman If you re looking for Band of Brothers this isn t the war experience you want to read about The men of C for Charlie company aren t members of Tom Brokaw s Greatest Generation they re just scared young men wondering how they can keep their fear from showing They fight because there s no way to get out of it The book explores the idea that a war is fought by an army but the army is made up of individuals who are each fighting their own war They all have go through the same things and yet no one experiences them the same way Through a number of different characters Jones repeats the idea that many people were going to live through this war than got killed in it and you realize its value as a mantra when you re in a life and death situation that often seems to be a lotteryRecommended for fans of Catch 22 andor The Things They Carried anyone looking for an antidote to the romanticizing of war people who know better than to get too attached to characters in a war zoneuote It was easy to see when you looked at it from one point of view that all prisoners were not locked up behind bars in a stone uadrangle Your government could just as easily imprison you on say a jungled island in the South Seas until you had done to its satisfaction what your government had sent you there to do

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Am up to get evacuated before they land in a muddy grave But they will all discover the thin red line that divides the sane from the mad and the living from the dead in this unforgettable portrait that captures for all time the total experience of men at war   Foreword by Francine Prose “Brutal direct and powerful The men are real the words are real death is real imminent and immediate” Los Angeles T. The heroic stand of the of the 93rd Highlanders against the Russian cavalry in the Crimean War in 1854 was referred to as the thin red line At a time when the standard infantry formation was a suare when defending against charging cavalry the Highlanders in their bright red jackets spread out in a thin red line so the enemy could not bypass themThis story starts out in WWII with troops waiting their turn to board landing craft to go ashoreAfter reading 30 some pages of a 500 page book in which not much was happening I decided this was the likes of the old TV show Payton Place than the WWII classic by a guy who was there Guadalcanal Diary and being as life was too short I moved on to something else

10 thoughts on “The Thin Red Line

  1. says:

    A true masterpiece and one of my favorite novels Although it has all the realistic gritty detailing that any novel recounting World War 2 Guadalcanal should have it is so much The reader will indeed learn which gun is which and which

  2. says:

    Really enjoyed this book The voice was great and the descriptions really put me in the time and place Highly recommend

  3. says:

    I saw the 1998 movie version of this book in theaters when it came out I remember that I was completely mesmerized and transported by it It w

  4. says:

    I really love James Jones's books As a former military man he brings the story of war in such vivid color that you don't get from any thousand blockbusters Think Saving Private Ryan Then toss that into a bin Completely not

  5. says:

    The heroic stand of the of the 93rd Highlanders against the Russian cavalry in the Crimean War in 1854 was referred to as 't

  6. says:

    I found The Thin Red Line by James Jones a disappointment The literary techniue was passé the characters unappealing and the prolonged episodes of navel gazing and angst ridden obsessing over myriad slights real and imagined rather tedious Jones's long windedness turned a 300 page story into a volume of 500 pages I understand the book's appeal in the climate of 1961 but it has not withstood the test of time It rated a weak Three Stars fr

  7. says:

    I had the same reaction to this as I did to From Here to Eternity which is to say that the beginning was so irritating that it almost made me put it down but I ended up glad that I didn't I haven't read too many other books that were written around this time but the prose style in this seems lackluster Yeah there are some poetic b

  8. says:

    War is hell I first came across James Jones' novel with the Terrence Malick film released in 1998 In that year there were two amazing

  9. says:

    See my review on From here To Eternity I thought that this would be a let down after that wonderful book but had no issues at all Fine book indeed Now to try and force my self to read the final book of the trio

  10. says:

    If I saw this in a bookshop the likelihood is I'd walk straight past it without a second glance I have little to no prior experience with 'war writing' I'm not sure whether to count The Book Thief something like this isn't the kind of thing I'd normally read but I'm so glad I didI won't go into too much detail about the plot no spoilers but the basic premise of the novel is that it follows a group of US troops 'C for Charlie Company' and

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