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Author Topic: The Thin Red Line - James Jones  (Read 2400 times)
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« on: June 16, 2010, 05:13:23 AM »

The Thin Red Line - James Jones
First Published 1963

This is a huge book.It's 'only' 530 pages, which pales into insignificance when compared to a lot of modern blockbusters, but those 530 pages are dense and pretty much solid prose. Where there are conversations they're often covered in single paragraphs rather than through using the usual dialogue rules.

So it's a tough read.

But it was a tough job - it's about the battle for the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific in WW2. It's fiction, but it's steeped in reality - James Jones was part of this battle - and it's that reality that shines through in this book. We're often told to write what we know, but if we can't, to use observation, imagination, and research to fill in the gaps. There are so many moments in this book, so many details, so many things that only one who was there would know about that the cumulative effect is total realism, total shocking realism. It's so effective that it makes me wonder how someone who was never in a war could ever write about one. Maybe they don't.

Although the book goes into huge detail about the battles on the island, about the logistics, about the injuries and crimes and the jungle and the air-raids and so on, by far the main thrust of the prose is about what goes on inside the men's heads. This is the real power of the book. It's not a genre novel. It's not an action novel. It's about men, and what men learn about themselves, about each other, about the world, from being in such hell.

Highly recommended, but you'll need to be highly trained, fearless, have plenty of ammunition, provisions, and courage to get through it.

Similar to: The Naked And The Dead (Mailer) and The Thirteenth Valley (Del Vecchio)

« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 05:15:02 AM by delboy » Logged

"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
Robert B. Parker
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2010, 06:25:13 PM »

I recently watched the HBO/Sky miniseries 'The Pacific', which was based on the memoirs of one of the main characters. I'm guessing they'd be similar books. I think it was called something like 'A Helmet For My Pillow'. Might be worth checking out if you enjoyed that one, Del.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 06:25:32 PM by Ed » Logged

Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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