The Naked and the Dead (50th Anniversary Edition)

The Naked and the Dead (50th Anniversary Edition)

by Norman Mailer

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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 enjoyed a long and well-deserved tenure in the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially for the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows a platoon of Marines who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948 with the wisdom of a man twice Mailer's age and the raw courage of the young man he was, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466854888
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 722
Sales rank: 61,396
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Norman Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead at the age of twenty-five, after serving two years in the Philippines as a rifleman during the Second World War. He has written thirty-one books, including Armies of the Night (1968), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; The Executioner's Song (1979), which also won the Pulitzer; and more recently, Harlot's Ghost and the collection The Time of Our Time. In addition, he has composed many essays and poems and has directed and appeared in several motion pictures. He lives in New York.

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.


Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1923

Date of Death:

November 10, 2007

Place of Birth:

Long Branch, New Jersey


B.S., Harvard University, 1943; Sorbonne, Paris, 1947-48

Read an Excerpt

The Naked and the Dead

By Norman Mailer


Copyright © 1976 Norman Mailer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5488-8


Nobody could sleep. When morning came, assault craft would be lowered and a first wave of troops would ride through the surf and charge ashore on the beach at Anopopei. All over the ship, all through the convoy, there was a knowledge that in a few hours some of them were going to be dead.

* * *

A soldier lies flat on his bunk, closes his eyes, and remains wide-awake. All about him, like the soughing of surf, he hears the murmurs of men dozing fitfully. "I won't do it, I won't do it," someone cries out of a dream, and the soldier opens his eyes and gazes slowly about the hold, his vision becoming lost in the intricate tangle of hammocks and naked bodies and dangling equipment. He decides he wants to go to the head, and cursing a little, he wriggles up to a sitting position, his legs hanging over the bunk, the steel pipe of the hammock above cutting across his hunched back. He sighs, reaches for his shoes, which he has tied to a stanchion, and slowly puts them on. His bunk is the fourth in a tier of five, and he climbs down uncertainly in the half-darkness, afraid of stepping on one of the men in the hammocks below him. On the floor he picks his way through a tangle of bags and packs, stumbles once over a rifle, and makes his way to the bulkhead door. He passes through another hold whose aisle is just as cluttered, and finally reaches the head.

Inside the air is steaming. Even now a man is using the sole fresh-water shower, which has been occupied ever since the troops have come on board. The soldier walks past the crap games in the unused salt-water shower stalls, and squats down on the wet split boards of the latrine. He has forgotten his cigarettes and he bums one from a man sitting a few feet away. As he smokes he looks at the black wet floor littered with butts, and listens to the water sloshing through the latrine box. There has been really no excuse for coming, but he continues to sit on the box because it is cooler here, and the odor of the latrine, the brine, the chlorine, the clammy bland smell of wet metal is less oppressive than the heavy sweating fetor of the troop holds. The soldier remains for a long time, and then slowly he stands up, hoists his green fatigue pants, and thinks of the struggle to get back to his bunk. He knows he will lie there waiting for the dawn and he says to himself, I wish it was time already, I don't give a damn, I wish it was time already. And as he returns, he is thinking of an early morning in his childhood when he had lain awake because it was to be his birthday and his mother had promised him a party.

* * *

Early that evening Wilson and Gallagher and Staff Sergeant Croft had started a game of seven card stud with a couple of orderlies from headquarters platoon. They had grabbed the only empty place on the hold deck where it was possible to see the cards once the lights were turned off. Even then they were forced to squint, for the only bulb still lit was a blue one near the ladder, and it was difficult to tell the red suits from the black. They had been playing for hours, and by now they were in a partial stupor. If the hands were unimportant, the betting was automatic, almost unconscious.

Wilson's luck had been fair from the very beginning, but after one series in which he had taken three pots in a row it had become phenomenal. He was feeling very good. There was a stack of Australian pound notes scattered sloppily and extravagantly under his crossed legs, and while he felt it was bad luck to count his money, he knew he must have won nearly a hundred pounds. It gave him a thick lustful sensation in his throat, the kind of excitement he received from any form of abundance. "Ah tell ya," he announced to Croft in his soft southern voice, "this kind of money is gonna be the ruination of me yet. Ah never will be able to figger out these goddam pounds. The Aussies work out everythin' backwards."

Croft gave no answer. He was losing a little, but, more annoying, his hands had been drab all night.

Gallagher grunted scornfully. "What the hell! With your kind of luck you don't have to figure your money. All you need is an arm to pick it up with."

Wilson giggled. "That's right, boy, but it's gonna have to be a mighty powerful arm." He laughed again with an easy, almost childish glee and began to deal. He was a big man about thirty years old with a fine mane of golden-brown hair, and a healthy ruddy face whose large features were formed cleanly. Incongruously, he wore a pair of round silver-rimmed glasses which gave him at first glance a studious or, at least, a methodical appearance. As he dealt his fingers seemed to relish the teasing contact of the cards. He was daydreaming about liquor, feeling rather sad because with all the money he had now, he couldn't even buy a pint. "You know," he laughed easily, "with all the goddam drinkin' Ah've done, Ah still can't remember the taste of it unless Ah got the bottle right with me." He reflected for a moment, holding an undealt card in his hand, and then chuckled. "It's just like lovin'. When a man's got it jus' as nice and steady as he wants it, well, then he never can remember what it's like without it. And when he ain't got it, they ain't nothin' harder than for him to keep in mind what a pussy feels like. They was a gal Ah had once on the end of town, wife of a friend of mine, and she had one of the meanest rolls a man could want. With all the gals Ah've had, Ah'll never forget that little old piece." He shook his head in tribute, wiped the back of his hand against his high sculptured forehead, brought it up over his golden pompadour, and chuckled mirthfully. "Man," he said softly, "it was like dipping it in a barrel of honey." He dealt two cards face down to each man, and then turned over the next round.

For once Wilson's hand was poor, and after staying a round because he was the heavy winner, he dropped out. When the campaign was over, he told himself, he was going to drum up some way of making liquor. There was a mess sergeant over in Charley Company who must have made two thousand of them pounds the way he sold a quart for five pounds. All a man needed was sugar and yeast and some of them cans of peaches or apricots. In anticipation he felt a warm mellow glow in his chest. Why, you could even make it with less. Cousin Ed, he remembered, had used molasses and raisins, and his stuff had been passing decent.

For a moment, though, Wilson was dejected. If he was going to fix himself any, he would have to steal all the makings from the mess tent some night, and he'd have to find a place to hide it for a couple of days. And then he'd need a good little nook where he could leave the mash. It couldn't be too near the bivouac or anybody might be stumbling onto it, and yet it shouldn't be too far if a man wanted to siphon off a little in a hurry.

There was just gonna be a lot of problems to it, unless he waited till the campaign was over and they were in permanent bivouac. But that was gonna take too long. It might even be three or four months. Wilson began to feel restless. There was just too much figgering a man had to do if he wanted to get anything for himself in the Army.

Gallagher had folded early in that hand too, and was looking at Wilson with resentment. It took somebody like that dumb cracker to win all the big pots. Gallagher's conscience was bothering him. He had lost thirty pounds at least, almost a hundred dollars, and, while most of it was money he had won earlier on this trip, that did not excuse him. He thought of his wife, Mary, now seven months pregnant, and tried to remember how she looked. But all he could feel was a sense of guilt. What right did he have to be throwing away money that should have been sent to her? He was feeling a deep and familiar bitterness; everything turned out lousy for him sooner or later. His mouth tightened. No matter what he tried, no matter how hard he worked, he seemed always to be caught. The bitterness became sharper, flooded him for a moment. There was something he wanted, something he could feel and it was always teasing him and disappearing. He looked at one of the orderlies, Levy, who was shuffling the cards, and Gallagher's throat worked. That Jew had been having a lot of goddam luck, and suddenly his bitterness changed into rage, constricted in his throat, and came out in a passage of dull throbbing profanity. "All right, all right," he said, "how about giving the goddam cards a break. Let's stop shuffling the fuggers and start playing." He spoke with the flat ugly "a" and withered "r" of the Boston Irish, and Levy looked up at him, and mimicked, "All right, I'll give the caaads a break, and staaart playing."

"Pretty fuggin funny," Gallagher muttered half to himself. He was a short man with a bunched wiry body that gave the impression of being gnarled and sour. His face, in character with this, was small and ugly, pocked with the scars of a severe acne which had left his skin lumpy, spotted with swatches of purple-red. Perhaps it was the color of his face, or it might have been the shape of his long Irish nose, which slanted resentfully to the side, but he always looked wroth. Yet, he was only twenty-four.

The seven of hearts was showing. He looked cautiously at his two buried cards, discovered both of them were also hearts, and allowed himself a little hope. He hadn't had a flush all night, and he told himself he was due. "Even theycan't fug me this time," he thought.

Wilson bet a pound, and Gallagher raised him. "All right, let's make this a decent pot," he growled. Croft and Levy came along, and when the other man dropped out, Gallagher felt cheated. "What's the matter?" he asked. "You going chickenshit? You're only gonna get your fuggin head blown off tomorrow." His statement was lost in the skittering of the money onto the folded blanket upon which they were playing, but it left him with a cold shuddering anxiety as though he had blasphemed. "Hail Mary, mother of ..." he repeated quickly to himself. He saw himself lying on the beach with a bloody nub where his head should have been.

His next card fell, a spade. Would they ship his body home, he wondered, and would Mary come to his grave? The self-pity was delicious. For an instant he longed for the compassion in his wife's eyes. She understood him, he told himself, but as he tried to think of her, he saw instead a picture of '... Mary, mother ...' which had remained in his memory from some postcard reproductions of religious paintings he had bought in parochial school. What did Mary, his Mary, look like? He strained to remember, to form her face exactly in his mind. But he could not at this moment; it eluded him like the melody of a half-recalled song that kept shifting back into other, more familiar tunes.

He drew a heart on the next card. That gave him four hearts and there would be two more chances to pull the fifth heart. His anxiety eased and then was translated to a vital interest in the game. He looked about him. Levy was folding his hand even before the round of betting started, and Croft was showing a pair of tens. Croft bet two pounds, and Gallagher decided that he had the third ten. If Croft's hand didn't improve, and Gallagher was certain it wouldn't, then Croft would be playing right into his flush.

Wilson giggled a little and fumbled sloppily for his money. As he dropped it onto the blanket he said, "This yere's gonna be a mighty big pot." Gallagher fingered his few remaining bills and told himself this was the last opportunity to come back. "Raise you two," he muttered, and then felt a kind of panic. Wilson was showing three spades. Why hadn't he noticed it before? His luck!

The bet, however, was only called, and Gallagher relaxed. Wilson didn't have the flush yet. It was at least even between them, and Wilson might have no other spades in the hole; he might even be trying for something else. Gallagher hoped they both wouldn't check to him on the next round. He was going to raise until his money gave out.

Croft, Staff Sergeant Croft, was feeling another kind of excitement after the next row of cards was turned up. He had been drifting sullenly until then, but on the draw he picked up a seven, which gave him two pair. At that instant, he had a sudden and powerful conviction that he was going to win the pot. Somehow, he knew he was going to pull a seven or a ten for a full house. Croft didn't question it. A certainty as vivid as this one had to mean something. Usually he played poker with a hard shrewd appreciation of the odds against drawing a particular card, and an effective knowledge of the men against whom he played. But it was the margin of chance which existed in poker that made the game meaningful to him. He entered everything with as much skill and preparation as he could bring to it, but he knew that things finally would hang also on his luck. This he welcomed. He had a deep unspoken belief that whatever made things happen was on his side, and now, after a long night of indifferent cards, he had a potentially powerful hand.

Gallagher had drawn another heart, and Croft figured him for a flush. Wilson's three spades had not been helped by the diamond he had drawn, but Croft guessed that he had his flush already and was playing quietly. It had always struck Croft how slyly Wilson played in contrast to his good-natured, easygoing air.

"Bet two pounds," Croft said.

Wilson threw two into the pot, and then Gallagher jumped him. "Raise you two." That made it certain Gallagher had his flush, Croft decided.

He dropped four pounds neatly on the blanket. "And raise you two." There was a pleasurable edge of tension in his mouth.

Wilson chuckled easily. "Goddam, this is gonna be a big pot," he told them. "Ah ought to drop out, but Ah never could git out of the habit of peekin' at that last card."

And now Croft was convinced that Wilson had a flush too. He could see that Gallagher was uncertain — one of Wilson's spades was an ace. "Raise you two," Gallagher said a little desperately. If he had the full house already, Croft told himself, he'd raise Gallagher all night, but now it would be better to save some money for the last round.

He dropped two more pounds on the pile over the blanket, and Wilson followed him. Levy dealt the last card face-down to each of them. Croft, containing his excitement, looked about the half-dark hold, gazed at the web of bunks that rose all about them, tier on tier. He watched a soldier turn over in his sleep. Then he picked up his last card. It was a five. He shuffled his cards slowly, bewildered, wholly unable to believe that he could have been so wrong. Disgusted, he threw down his hand without even checking to Wilson. He was just beginning to feel angry. Quietly, he watched them bet, saw Gallagher put down his last bill.

"Ah'm makin' an awful mistake, but Ah'll see ya," Wilson said. "What ya got, boy?"

Gallagher was truculent as though he knew he were going to be beaten. "What the fug do ya think I got — it's a flush in hearts, jack up."

Wilson sighed. "Ah hate to do this to ya, boy, but Ah got ya in spades with that bull." He pointed to his ace.

For several seconds Gallagher was silent, but the dark lumps on his face turned a dull purple. Then he seemed to burst all at once. "Of all the mother-fuggin luck, that sonofabitch takes it all." He sat there quivering.

A soldier in a bunk near the hatch raised himself irritably on one elbow, and shouted, "For Chrissake, Jack, how about shutting up and letting us get some sleep."

"Go fug yourself," Gallagher yelled.

"Don't you men know when to quit?"

Croft stood up. He was a lean man of medium height but he held himself so erectly he appeared tall. His narrow triangular face was utterly without expression under the blue bulb, and there seemed nothing wasted in his hard small jaw, gaunt firm cheeks and straight short nose. His thin black hair had indigo glints in it which were emphasized by the light, and his gelid eyes were very blue. "Listen, trooper," he said in a cold even voice, "you can just quit your pissing. We'll play our game any way we goddam please, and if you don't like it, I don't figure there's much you can do, unless you want to mess with four of us."

There was an indistinct muttered reply from the bunk, and Croft continued looking at him. "If you're really looking for something, you can mess with me," Croft added. His speech was quiet and clearly enunciated with a trace of a southern accent. Wilson watched him carefully.


Excerpted from The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. Copyright © 1976 Norman Mailer. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Naked and the Dead 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Janus More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the most lasting and powerful novel to have arisen from WWII, [The Naked and the Dead] is worth reading. Its innovative structure makes for a striking impact that will jar any reader; I'm not sure anyone could read this book and feel unaffected. While the numerous characters all introduced in the beginning make for a slow start, the book is always engaging and readable; and, once one grows accustomed to the structure and the many characters, the book is also impossible to put down (however your wrists might ache from holding it up!) As a war novel, it does have scenes involving heavily graphic material, but Mailer never overdoes it, and what's there is necessary. If you can take a realistic war novel, that does its best to combine various voices into a canvas of material as true to the war as it is to itself, you'd do well to pick this one up. Highly highly recommended.
br77rino on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book by a great ass. It tells the story of an invasion of an island in the South Pacific during WWII, and is full of the mud, sweat and anxiety experienced by the troops. The island is described expertly, and there is even a map. The main character is a subordinate to the general, and their relationship is one of the highlights of this book. Reading it, I couldn't help thinking of the main character as Tony Soprano, the Sopranos being all the rage at the time of my reading. The invasion and battle scenes are laid out in great detail, and the whole thing is truly a work of art. By an ass, true, but what are you gonna do? It's a great book not to be missed by any male of the species.
whitrichardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this novel. It is like no other war novel I've read. But if you're looking for an action-packed, blood-and-guts war novel, this isn't it. It's a psychological novel about war's impact on the human mind. Mailer creates a group of memorable American soldiers fighting the Japanese on the mythical Pacific Island of Anopopei. He does an excellent job of bringing the reader inside these soldiers' heads as they land on the beach of this distant island and face combat, many of them for the first time. You hear one soldier's thoughts as he panics and leaves his fox hole only to be dead the next minute. You live through another soldier's agony of learning his wife had died a world away. Mailer's grasp of human emotion and how human minds (at least mine) work is amazing.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a mesmerizing look at Army life in WWII. Mailer tells the story of an Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon on a fictional Pacific Island. There are fewer battle scenes than I expected. Most of the story is about the men on daily patrols, guard duty, and a week long patrol behind enemy lines. It was the descriptions of what it was like to hike for days and days in the jungle carrying 60 pounds of equipment that got to me. What those men went through!Mailer personalizes the characters by interposing flashbacks highlighting the pre-war lives of several of the man. He also switches the point of view among the various characters. Still, the characters are never fully developed, which, to me, made the story more realistic. The reader gets impressionistic views of each man in the troop, just as they had of each other. These men were all thrown together to serve under horrible conditions, but they had nothing in common to start with and really did not know each other. All in all, a great book. It is long, but it is a fast read. In Mailer¿s introduction to the 50th Anniversary edition he self-deprecatingly explains that the book (his first) was a best seller and was written in the flashy language of all best sellers. But it is not the language that makes the book so good, it is the story.
Autodafe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The best novel about the War in the Pacific ever written.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Naked and the Dead slowly grew on me. At first, I was a little confused by the myriad of characters, failed to get into the plot, and continued to put it down. Once I gave it a long, continuous reading time, and, admittedly, as more of the flashback sections were developed, I was hooked. For me, The Naked and the Dead was more about character than about war. It was the story of ordinary men being put in an extraordinary and physically demanding situations. Some rose to the occasion specatularly and unexpectedly, learning of their inner strength and talents stunted by societal expectations. Others, understandably, dreamt only of returning to the normalacy of home. Mailer also tells the story of stangers from hugely varying backgrounds (a mix only a country like America could provide) coming together to find some equilibrium of forced tolerance. Fuggin' long an' fuggin good.
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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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book while I was in the Army and let me tell you, this book hits the nail on the head.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago