Naked and the Dead

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Overview

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part of the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially doe the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of ...

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The Naked and the Dead: 50th Anniversary Edition, With a New Introduction by the Author

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Overview

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part of the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially doe the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.

The author's first and most famous novel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The best novel to come out of the . . . war, perhaps the best book to come out of any war."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Best novel yet about World War II."—Time

"Brutal, agonizing, astonishingly thoughtful."—Newsweek

"Nightmarish masterpiece of realism."—Cleveland News

"Vibrant with life, abundant with real people, full of memorable scenes. To call it merely a great book about the war would be to minimize its total achievement."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The most important American novel since Moby-Dick."—Providence Journal

New York Times
Many consider The Naked and the Dead to be the greatest combat novel ever written by an American. In it, the reader engages with Lieut. Robert Hearn, fighting in the Pacific in World War II. As the story progresses, the reader goes inside his thoughs, experiencing both his real and his imagined fears.
Time
Best novel yet about Waorl War II.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Vibrant with life, abundant with real people, full of memorable scenes. To call it merely a great book about the war would be to minimize its total achivement.
Newsweek
Brutal, agonizing, astonishingly thoughtful.
San Francisco Chronicle
The best novel to come out of the... war, perhaps the best book to come out of any war.
Cleveland News
Nightmarish masterpiece of realism.
Providence Journal
The most important American novel since Moby Dick
New York Times Book Review
Many consider The Naked and the Dead to be the greatest combat novel ever written by an American. In it, the reader engages with Lieut. Robert Hearn, fighting in the Pacific in World War II. As the story progresses, the reader goes inside his thoughs, experiencing both his real and his imagined fears.... [The vignettes of war depicted] are a triumph of realism, but without the compassion which gives final authority in the realm of human conduct.
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312265052
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 50
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 149,473
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer's first novel, The Naked and the Dead, is widely regarded as one of the finest American novels of the twentieth century. Among Norman Mailer's other achievements are Why Are We in Vietnam?, The Armies of the Night, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1968, and The Executioner's Song, which won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize.

Biography

One of the most provocative authors of the 20th century, Norman Mailer stood at the forefront of the New Journalism, a form of creative nonfiction that wove autobiography, real events, and political commentary into unconventional novels. In a career that spanned nearly 60 years, he wrote more than 30 books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night,, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; The Executioner's Song, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; Harlot's Ghost; Oswald's Tale; The Gospel According to the Son; and his last novel, The Castle in the Forest, a chilling fictional portrait of the youthful Adolf Hitler. On November 10, 2007, he died of renal failure, leaving behind an astonishing literary legacy.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Nachem Malech Mailer
      Norman Mailer
    2. Hometown:
      Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 31, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      Long Branch, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      November 10, 2007

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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(10)

4 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2009

    Definitely NOT a combat novel.

    Although some have said its a combat novel, I couldn't disagree more. There is very little combat (or 'action') in the book, with nearly the entire book dedicated to the interactions between the very well defined characters. The relationships, interactions, and challenges of the characters could could have just as easily occurred within a mountain climbing team, a sports team, or sailing crew. There is really nothing about the core of story that depends specifically on a war environment.

    What bothered me most was the racial and religious stereotyping: the entrepeneurial but weak Jew, the fast-talking, scam-artist Italian, and the snobbish, detached, and Harvard educated New Englander, etc. Nearly each and every character was incredibly unlikeable, with despicable traits and methods that represented the worst of "their kind". Frankly, I wonder if the characters are more of an instantiation of Mailer's own inner believes and predjudices.

    Finaly, the inconsistencies and flat-out errors in the story bugged me to no end. Mailer apparently doesn't know how long a yard is based on the many distances he describes in yards -- half of them are unbelievable. And logistical errors, such as exhausted men carrying 90lb packs edging along a 1-foot wide mountain ledge, perhaps can be explained by Mailers apparent lack of time spent in the real world.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Naked and the Dead

    It is arguable that no book better captures the feelings and personalities of young soldiers at war better than this one. Every character is unique and wholly believable. When one of them dies the reader feels as though he/she has just lost a friend. A must read for anyone who wishes to gain a better appreciation for the brutality and emotion of war.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    The Naked and the Dead

    The Naked and the Dead is a good book that I found that I could simply jump into and start for hours. What I thought made it so great was that it is such a straight forward read and there are very few parts that I had to go back and check to see what was going on. However, I wish that the book was not so straight forward sometimes because then I would be able to think on other things that the author may try to be saying. Anyways, all in all I think people who like books on wars of any nature should read this book because it really does give a straight forward point of view on war.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    A very interesting book

    The Naked and the Dead was a really interesting book because it took you through a whole different aspect of war. It takes you inside the minds of the soldiers and really makes you think about what would be in your head at a time of war.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Long winded Masterpiece

    Though I would agree with those around me that have read Mr. Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, that it is much too long and wastes a great amount of paper explaining one's emotions on three pages when I'm sure it could have been cut down to a single sentence, I still consider this book one of my favorites. As a vetran of the Marines, I feel that Mr. Mailer has caught every type of man that comes into the military. Young with their personal Heavens and Hells yet come together as a team to get a job done. I enjoyed the banter between General Cummings and Lt. Hearn and imagined the same occuring between officers that I have come into contact with. There are men like Cummings who see the world through ultra Right Wing eyes as there are also men like Hearn that believe that changes can be made in this world. There are also men the decieve eachother, men that cheat on their wives, men that have no purpose but to be alive, and men who are Jewish and feel that some people in this world hate them just for the simple fact that they are Jewish. I have no problem believing that these type of men can come together in one single plattoon, because I had the same type of men in mine. I still believe after reading this novel twice now that it captures the conflicts men have within their own personal lives and how they can come to life in a conflict like World War 2.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    A make believe island and make believe island for a real war.

    The author is trying to tell what men are thinking during war. He spends to much time descibing there fears and uncertianties. He has to much conflict going on among the men. He tell to much about their doubt and fears and it gives the reader and uncomfortable feeling about the characters. Some war stories are timeless such as Red Badge of Courage and can be picked up and read and understood. This book may have been a big hit in the 1940s and 1950s but now I feel that it is tiresome to read and difficult to undrstand why the author felt it necessary some of the parts that he did. It might be better to watch the movie.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2006

    The Naked and the Dead has much to teach you

    This is by far one of the best books i have ever read. Yes its wordy, yes it tries too hard to philosophize, but when it comes to showing the effect of war on the human psyche good luck finding something better. Set in the South Pacific on a ficticious island called Anopopei the book tells the story of a platoon of recon soldiers. Vivid descriptions of the agony and triumph of army life along with flashbacks that tell the story of each individual character, dot the book. The overall message is of the futility of war, but also of how soldiers and officers propel war forward simply by resenting eachother, and how individual ambitions hinder the progress of humanity. So, if you like war novels, or just like have something to think about, pickup a copy of The Naked and the Dead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    the naked and the dead

    The book the Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer is not a book for someone to just jump into. The book is durin wwII on a remote island called Anopopei. The book is about men who fought in the war and giving flashbacks of how they were before the war. This book contains many flashbacks, and also there is alot of characters to remember. So if your good at keeping track of charachters and love war novels then this is a great book and I would recommend it, but if not then I wouldnt recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2005

    really great war book

    The naked and the dead is a great book. I enjoy reading all war books for it gives me a better understanding of war before and after effects, like this book did. I would highly recomend anyone who likes to read about war read this book you will have a great satisfaction after reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    The Naked and the Dead, not all that it's cracked up to be!

    The book the Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer is not a book I would recommend to an average reader. This story takes place during World War Two, on a remote island called Anopopei. The book is about the courageous men who fought in the jungles and how their lives were before they became soldiers. This book bounces back and forth, and also contains many characters to keep track of. Unless you really enjoy war stories, and you are ready to put in the time and effort this book requires. I would not suggest reading it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2005

    'The Naked and the Dead'

    'The Naked and the Dead' by Norman Mailer is the best war novel I have ever read. Although the book is extremely long and very vulgar, the story of the men and their horific battle is worth it. The book is very detailed and helps paint a picture of the reality of war. Although the book is a fiction novel, it still informs readers the history of the second world war that many of our relatives were involved in. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys American history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2005

    Naked and the Dead

    Well Norman Mailer did a wonderful job on this one. He truly captures the second world war and puts in into words just perfectly. The story is a very lond one but is indeed good and it is hard to put in down. The story all in all is a little gross at times but still it is a great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2005

    awesome

    The Naked and the Dead is an awesome book to read. If your interested in war and history then I would choose this book before most. Norman Mailer did a good job at writing this book it gave me a pretty good view of how war really is

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2003

    Great

    I read this book while I was in the Army and let me tell you, this book hits the nail on the head.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2003

    Mailer's war

    This is considered one of the best books written about the Second World War.This shows the tremendous gap between life as it is lived, and literature which can barely touch a small part of life.One online reviewer points to the fact that the essential element in combat survival plays small part in Mailer's book,i.e. the support of soldiers for their buddies, platoon level loyalty. Much research confirms this point ,and does suggest that Mailer's book is very much an ideological centered work whose principle story is the fight against Fascism. Only the Fascists in Mailer's book are not only the enemy , but within the ranks of the American military heirarchy. So Mailer's hero , the liberal Lieutenant Hearn struggles against the Patton like general Cummings. So too within the platoon the soldier Croft by stealth and fear and intimidation rules . Mailer presents too a picture of the absurdity of war , even though there was nothing at all absurd about the Second World War which saved all of humanity from possible slavery . Mailer draws a kind of Dos Passos like encyclopediac picture of American society as a whole .His writing is lean and strong .But the book in a very deep way fails to satisfy ( as Mailer will throughout his writing life ) because somehow he has his head on backwards, and fails to value and appreciate what is good and great in American society , and why a victory for freedom is not meaningless, but something despite the cruelty and the absurdity involved in much of it ,of highest possible value.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2002

    MASTERPIECE

    I READ IT WHILE IN THE ARMY.IT WAS FANTASTIC!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2002

    OVER RATED BOOK OF THE CENTURY

    THE NAKED AND THE DEAD... VERY DEAD By Dave Kovacs A good novel tends to act like a permanent marker. Once it's rubbed onto you it will remain there for quite some time, and only after several days of scrubbing will it begin to fade. A good book might impress itself upon a person, leaving an emotional imprint, until the person reads another good book, or longer if invoked by memories. Norman Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD makes a desparate effort to make an imprint like that, but at the end of its 720 pages I feel only like a hand full of sand has passed over my arm and fallen to the ground, leaving no mark except a few grits stuck in between my finger nails. The main reason Mailer fails at acheiving anything in this book is because he tries too hard, failing to discriminate between brilliance and what Flaubert called 'clever tricks to avoid good writing'. And he does have moments of brilliance; had he edited the book he could have reduced it to pure brilliance, but he would have sacraficed several hundred pages. This would not have made the book the over-rated fodder it has become for pedants who believe a book's merit lies in it's length. If one can sit through several hundred pages there are a few verbal gems, but hardly enough to make it worth while. The story is set around the US invasion of the Japanesse Island of Anopopei. Perhaps the book's strongest point is the accurate detail Mailer works out concerning a military invasion (indeed, Mailed did serve in the army during WW2). But even this strength is a weakness, as the details often become pointless and long winded, leading the reader to skim scores of pages at a time just to find where the plot picks up again. But after about 300 pages one begins to realize the dreaded truth: There is no plot. It's just stories loosely tied together about characters that are difficult to remember, due to the unnecesary number of them as well as poor character development. The style, too, is muddled in an arrogant yet unsophisticated soup of words. Mailer makes no discrimibation towards sentence fragments, comma splices, or unorigial (if not inappropriate) adjectives. And he liberally starts sentences with conjunctions, regardless of need. The dialogue is also filled with futile tricks. He changes spellings of words in dialogue, but without point: 'lieutenant' is spelled 'lootenant', as though it made a difference. The pronoun 'I' becomes 'Ay', making the text all the more difficult to read. The themes of the novel are at best cliches. There is no moral ambiguity for Mailer, who sees the world primarily through stereotypes: soldiers are all vulgar killers; conservatives are essentially evil, while liberals are essentially good; every man and woman is adulterous; every Gentile an anti-semite. If Mailer took 720 pages to say war is bad, he could have at least said why, or explored some of the causes of violence. The attempts at subtleties are botched. In one scene a general's feelings while firing a cannon are described with very sexual imagery; as though it were not obvious enough, the General writes inhis journal in even more explicit and intentional sexual idioms. If you read Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, you will find a few clever and original passages (describing the tired troops as 'envelopes of suffering' comes to mind), but you will have to sit through much tedium to enjoy these rare moments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2002

    A Truly Great War Novel

    This novel remains one of the better books I have ever read. It is a book worth picking up and reading again. If interested in more Mailer I suggest Harlot's Ghost. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2001

    Excellent book.

    I think Mailer did a great job in describing the scenery. He gives a very deep insight of each character that you can almost relate to them. Mailer described the american society in a very brilliant way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2001

    Good writing, bad characters

    There is no disputing Norman Mailer's skill as an author: his descriptions of the miserable Pacific island and torments inflicted on the human body by that environment are incredibly vivid and realistic. However, his characters are utterly unconvincing and inaccurate as soldiers and especially the Marines he would has us believe them to be. While Mailer served during WWII, I have to wonder if he ever made it close to the front lines, as men at the front, in virtually every piece of fiction or history written by veterans that I have read, looked out for each other and cared for each other under the most horrific conditions. In the heat of combat they fought not for grand ideals but for their buddies, but Mailer's soldiers can't even muster that basic compassion. His characters have no discernable motivation whatsoever in combat, and in the real world Mailer's men would not have lasted five seconds in a hostile situation. While I don't doubt that these types of individuals have always been interspersed throughout the armed forces, the possibility that all of these degenerates could come together under terrible leadership and function for an extended period of time as a combat unit is inconceivable. Read Once an Eagle, Gates of Fire, Fields of Fire, Semper Fi Mac, or anything by Stephen Ambrose instead, for a more realistic picture of men in combat.

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