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First Blood

First Blood

4.5 30
by David Morrell

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First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of FIRST BLOOD to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with — or how far Rambo will take him into a


First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of FIRST BLOOD to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with — or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky.

Millions saw the Rambo movies, but those who haven't read the book that started it all are in for a surprise — a critically acclaimed story of character, action, and compassion.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Morrell writes action scenes like nobody's business."—New York Times Book Review

"An absolute master of the thriller."—Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"The finest thriller writer living today, bar none."—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.82(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky. He had a long heavy beard, and his hair was hanging down over his ears to his neck, and he had his hand out trying to thumb a ride from a car that was stopped at the pump. To see him there, leaning on one hip, a Coke bottle in his hand and a rolled-up sleeping bag near his boots on the tar pavement, you could never have guessed that on Tuesday, a day later, most of the police in Basalt County would be hunting him down. Certainly you could not have guessed that by Thursday he would be running from the Kentucky National Guard and the police of six counties and a good many private citizens who liked to shoot. But then from just seeing him there ragged and dusty by the pump of the gas station, you could never have figured the kind of kid Rambo was, or what was about to make it all begin. Rambo knew there was going to be trouble, though. Big trouble, if somebody didn't watch out. The car he was trying to thumb a ride with nearly ran him over when it left the pump. The station attendant crammed a charge slip and a book of trade stamps into his pocket and grinned at the tire marks on the hot tar close to Rambo's feet. Then the police car pulled out of traffic toward him and he recognized the start of the pattern again and stiffened. "No, by God. Not this time. This time I won't be pushed."

The cruiser was marked CHIEF OF POLICE, MADISON. It stopped next to Rambo, its radio antenna swaying, and the policeman inside leaned across the front seat, opening the passenger door. Hestared at the mud-crusted boots, the rumpled jeans ripped at the cuffs and patched on one thigh, the blue sweat shirt speckled with what looked like dry blood, the buckskin jacket. He lingered over the beard and the long hair. No, that's not what was bothering him. It was something else, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it. "Well then, hop in," he said.

But Rambo did not move.

"I said hop in," the man repeated. "Must be awful hot out there in that jacket."

But Rambo just sipped his Coke, glanced up and down the street at the cars passing, looked down at the policeman in the cruiser, and stayed where he was.

"Something wrong with your hearing?" the policeman said. "Get in here before you make me sore."

Rambo studied him just as he himself had been studied: short and chunky behind the wheel, wrinkles around his eyes and shallow pockmarks in his cheeks that gave them a grain like weathered board.

"Don't stare at me," the policeman said.

But Rambo kept on studying him: the gray uniform, top button of his shirt open, tie loose, the front of his shirt soaked dark with sweat. Rambo looked but could not see what kind his handgun was. The policeman had it holstered to the left, away from the passenger side.

"I'm telling you," the policeman said. "I don't like being stared at." "Who does?"

Rambo glanced around once more, then picked up his sleeping bag. As he got into the cruiser, he set the bag between himself and the policeman.

"Been waiting long?" the policeman asked. "An hour. Since I came."

"You could have waited a lot longer than that. People around here don't generally stop for a hitchhiker. Especially if he looks like you. It's against the law."

"Looking like me?"

"Don't be smart. I mean hitchhiking's against the law. Too many people stop for a kid on the road, and next thing they're robbed or maybe dead. Close your door."

Rambo took a slow sip of Coke before he did what he was told. He looked over at the gas station attendant who was still at the pump grinning as the policeman pulled the cruiser into traffic and headed downtown.

"No need to worry," Rambo told the policeman. "I won't try to rob you." "That's very funny. In case you missed the sign on the door, I'm the Chief of Police. Teasle. Wilfred Teasle. But then I don't guess there's much point in telling you my name."

He drove on through a main intersection where the light was turning orange. Far down both sides of the street were stores squeezed together-a drug store, a pool hall, a gun and tackle shop, dozens more. Over the top of them, far back on the horizon, mountains rose up, tall and green, touched here and there with red and yellow where the leaves had begun to die.

Rambo watched a cloud shadow slip across the mountains. "Where you headed?" he heard Teasle ask.

"Does it matter?"

"No. Come to think of it, I don't guess there's much point in knowing that either. Just the same-where you headed?"

"Maybe Louisville."

"And maybe not."

"That's right."

"Where did you sleep? In the woods?" "That's right."

"It's safe enough now, I suppose. The nights are getting colder, and the snakes like to hole up instead of going out to hunt. Still, one of these times you might find yourself with a bed partner who's just crazy about your body heat."

They passed a carwash, an A&P, a hamburger drive-in with a big Dr. Pepper sign in the window. "Just look at that eyesore drive-in," Teasle said. "They put that thing here on the main street, and ever since, all we've had is kids parked, beeping their horns, throwing crap on the sidewalk."

Rambo sipped his Coke.

"Somebody from town give you a ride in?" Teasle asked. "I walked. I've been walking since after dawn."

"Sure am sorry to hear that. Least this ride will help some, won't it?" Rambo did not answer. He knew what was coming. They drove over a bridge and a stream into the town square, an old stone courthouse at the right end, more shops squeezed together down both sides.

"Yeah, the police station is right up there by the courthouse," Teasle said. But he drove right on through the square and down the street until there were only houses, first neat and prosperous, then gray cracked wooden shacks with children playing in the dirt in front. He went up a rise in the road between two cliffs to a level where there were no houses at all, only fields of stunted corn turning brown in the sun. And just after a sign that read YOU ARE NOW LEAVING MADISON. DRIVE SAFELY, he pulled off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder.

"Take care," he said.

"And keep out of trouble," Rambo answered. "Isn't that how it goes?" "That's good. You've been this route before. Now I don't need to waste time explaining how guys who look like you have this habit of being a disturbance." He lifted the sleeping bag from where Rambo had put it between them, set it on Rambo's lap, and leaned across Rambo to open the passenger door. "Take good care now."

Rambo got slowly out of the car. "I'll be seeing you," he said and flipped the door shut.

"No," Teasle answered through the open passenger window. "I guess you won't." He drove the cruiser up the road, made a U-turn, and headed back toward town, sounding his car horn as he passed.

Rambo watched the cruiser disappear down the road between the two cliffs. He sipped the last of his Coke, tossed the bottle in a ditch, and with his sleeping bag slung by its rope around his shoulder, he started back to town.

Meet the Author

David Morrell is the author of First Blood, the award-winning novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a PhD in American Literature from Penn State and was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. His numerous best-selling novels include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. An Edgar and Anthony finalist, an Inkpot, Macavity and Nero recipient, Morrell has three Bram Stoker awards and ITW's prestigious Thriller Master Award. Bouchercon, the world's largest conference for crime-fiction readers and authors, gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been translated into 30 languages. Please visit him at www.davidmorrell.net.

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First Blood 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
"First Blood" is one of my favorite movies, has been since I was a kid! Sylvester Stallone played a great John Rambo and I don't think any actor could have done it better, but thats the movie version... David Morrell wrote a great book and after reading it for the first time, I can tell you the movie is very, very loosely based off the novel. Morrell's main character (Rambo) and the movie Rambo are really nothing alike. In the book, he is referred to as Rambo or the kid, there is no mention ever of his first name being John. The book takes place in Kentucky, not the Pacific Northwest and in the book Rambo does'nt carry 14' survival knife. In the movie version Rambo only kills one person that you know for sure (accidentally, when he throws the rock at the helicopter and the deputy falls out), in the book, his death toll is in double digits by the end. Alot of the great, famous lines from the movie "they drew first blood, not me", are not in the book. Colonel Trautman nevers talks to Rambo once in the book, whereas in the movies they are friends. The book really explains both characters points of view well, breaking down Sheriff Teasle and Rambo to the point where you really dont know who to root for towards the end of the book. Both men are war heros, both refuse to give up or back down. A really good chase novel from start to finish, keeps you on the edge of your seat! A must read for all "Rambo" fans and anyone who likes a great action novel, I really enjoyed this book~ ** WARNING ** At the beginning of the paperback version of "First Blood", there is a section called (Rambo & Me) written by the author in 2000. The author explains how he came up with the idea for "First Blood" and talks about the book, compared to the movie. About three pages in, Morrell tells you the ENDING OF THE BOOK?????, the ending is different than the movie and should be a surprise. I read the (Rambo & Me) section and was completely disappointed to read the ending before I read the first page and I'm still baffled and why the author chose to do this. Beware!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, let us be clear: Rambo, the, novel, is NOTHING like the movie. Which, in all due respect to Sylvester Stallone (a man I greatly respect as a person and screen writer), Rambo is a novel that not only explores the place and times post Vietnam. it also explores a generational clash that becomes more heated (to state it LIGHTLY) until you know that, as the kiddies say, the $#!+ is on! Where the real intrigue lies is that Morrell gives a glimple of the mindets of Rambo (his anger and refusal to just lay down and take being degraded and stinging old scars from his times being cruelly treated in his training for the Green Berets, and his service for his country in Vietnam. It also (at times sympathetically) gives viewers into the mind of the man stalking Rambo (policeman George Beasle). His motives in pursuing "the kid", which is Beasle's strict designation for Rambo (initially he did not "the kid's" looks when he spotted him at a roadside diner, where Rambo was just ordering some food for his drifteresque trek to wherever he was going). Beasle hounds "the kid" along thr road that Rambo is walking, stopping him at a road, and begins to harrass him to the point that Rambo is forced to retaliate and...well, I will let you go from there. ;) For those looking for an action book, you will NOT be disappointed, but, in my humble opinion, it is a psychologically charged book with many different turns. And for you younger folk (I am a 33 year old fogey) that you are oppressed because of your age and choice of clothing,you should read this and realize how FORTUNATE you truly are. I would hope that you get MUCH more than from First Blood than that, but it's up to you to look for it. Thank you for reading this, Gordon Lake Station, IN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very well done. lots of action, lots of explanation on how the vetnam war went. In the begging where the kid is talking to teasel. amazing that is what he was trained to do not give in information and nothing.
CymLowell More than 1 year ago
David received the Thrillmaster award for 2009 from the ITWA at its Thrillerfest meeting this year. I understand why! First Blood marked the appearance of John Bambo in literature, followed by his glorious movie career. The novel is a masterpiece! The plot is simple. Vietnam Medal of Honor winner wants to regroup by wandering around the country with long hair and beard circa 1968. He runs into a sheriff who is also a highly decorated Korean War hero. Sheriff hassles Rambo assuming him to be a vagrant hippy and the chase begins. There is, of course, strategy and violence in the chase as the two war heroes undertake their chess game. But that is just backdrop. The character of these two men jumps out as the pages turn like hot lead from a machinegun. The riveting question is how these personalities will emerge at the end, not who will live or die, win or lose. I certainly understand why this magnificent story has been used in literature classes since the time of its release. I learned a great deal about characterization, plot, and pace as I sailed through these pages. I hope to put the learning to good use. A thrilling masterpiece!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly one of the greatest novels I have ever read. I thoroughly enjoyed it even more so than the movie. In the movie, Rambo only kills, Art (the policeman in the helicopter), Orville's dogs, and I guess you can say the police men in the car who blow up when they hit another vehicle. In the book however, Rambo is a one man army. He splits open a cops a stomach with a razor, picks off Teasle's posse, and anyone else who gets in his way. Another great thing about the book is it tells the sides of both Rambo and Teasle. It really makes you wonder who the hero is and who is the villain. That style of writing really makes you think: Why didn't Teasle just let Rambo be on his way? or Why is Rambo destroying the whole town, it's Teasle who wouldn't leave him alone. In the movie, without a doubt, Rambo is the hero, and Teasle is just the small town sheriff being a jerk. I highly recommend this book, as it will be picked up off of my bookshelf many a times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The films were the only previous knowledge I had of Rambo when I started this book, and I was suprised by how much better the book is. The book explores much better the characters of Rambo and Teasle. Especially Teasle because in the film he is portrayed as very one dimensional. Lots of action too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic novel, especially for an author's first attempt. The beginning immediately gets you, somehow, you just want to read more and more. Heavily recommended for all RAMBO fans. The movie was so effective, that as I read this, I heard Jerry Goldsmith's score for the film as I read it. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Morrell's novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book rules! It's much better than the movie, which is superficial and tame in comparison. Reading the book is thrilling and scary. Rambo and Sheriff Teasle are complex cats, and make for an interesting pair of adversaries. In fact, the character descriptions are so lifelike, it makes you wonder whether David Morrell has something in common with them. I couldn't put this book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading the book , it really explained some things that were not present in the movie.Unfortunately Some parts were very unclear and it didnt explain much about his encounters in Vietnam as a Green Beret. However,there was a lot of action and it was a good thriller from beginning to end .
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best book in the world period. First Blood has always been my favorite movie, but when I started reading the book I just couldn't put it down. One of my favorite things is how you are reading about a certain character you are 'on his side' so to speak i.e. when you are reading about Teasle's character you could almost hate Rambo for what he has put Teasle throught, but when you are reading about Rambo the situation is revearsed.
Hard-t-please More than 1 year ago
Pulls you in from page one....nothing like the movie series supposedly patterned after this outstanding original novel.
Dantzr More than 1 year ago
An Outstanding testament to a wonderful author!! I first read this book almost immediately following the release of the movie. I wanted more! I got more! This novel, the story of John Rambo, makes the movie seem like a mediocre copy. Although the movie kind of follows the book, in no way could a motion picture come close to exposing the inner feelings, the happenings and actions of this man and all that was going on around him. Anyone who reads this book will never be disappointed when thinking back on it. Myself, I have judged most of the books I have read to this wonderful tome. And a side note... the follow-up movie tie-in books were written after the screenplay for the movies were written, but they are written by David Morrell also. Read these 2 books (Rambo II and Rambo III ) and enjoy the writings of a master storyteller. The books are so much more excellent than the movie. Lastly.... if you enjoy ... or even if you haven't ... read the rest of Mr. Morrell's books. I assure you that they will be placed at the top echelon of your favorite books of all time. Mr. Morrell IS really that good!!!
goldieinaz More than 1 year ago
Very good book. The characters were so real and I am going to buy the next book.
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Always loved the film and was curious to read the book; loved it even if it is quite different than Stallone's version.
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Not as good as i hoped for still good read in this case the movie was better
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