An army base at Pearl Harbor. The jungles of Guadalcanal. A veterans hospital on the home front. Inspired by his own experiences in the US Army, author James Jones’s World War II Trilogy stands as one of the most significant achievements in war literature. This compilation includes:
From Here to Eternity
Pearl Harbor, 1941. A challenging young private is transferred to a unit where the commander is determined to make his life hell. This edition includes scenes and dialogue censored for the novel’s original publication. A true classic, From Here to Eternity was made into an Academy Award–winning film and a television mini-series, as well as adapted for the stage.
The Thin Red Line
The invasion of Guadalcanal ignites a six-month battle for two thousand square miles of jungle and sand. But the soldiers of Charlie Company are not of the heroic mold. The unit’s captain is too intelligent and sensitive for the job, his first sergeant is half mad, and the enlisted men begin the campaign gripped by cowardice. This searing portrait of jungle combat has been adapted twice for feature films.
After a long journey across the Pacific, a ship finally lands on American soil. For the soldiers’ loved ones, it’s a celebration. But on board, hundreds of men are broken and haunted, survivors of the battle to wrest the South Seas from the Japanese Empire. Though on their way to heal in a Tennessee hospital, their road to recovery will take far more than mending physical wounds.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of James Jones including rare photos from the author’s estate.
About the Author
James Jones (1921–1977) was one of the most accomplished American authors of the World War II generation. He served in the U.S. Army from 1939 to 1944, and was present at the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the battle for Guadalcanal, where he was decorated with a purple heart and bronze star. Jones’s experiences informed his epic novels From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line. His other works include Some Came Running, The Pistol, Go to the Widow-Maker, The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories, The Merry Month of May, A Touch of Danger, Whistle, and To the End of the War—a book of previously unpublished fiction.
Read an Excerpt
The World War II Trilogy
From Here to Eternity Whistle The Thin Red Line
By James Jones
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1991 Gloria Jones, James Anthony Phillipe Jones, and Kaylie Anne Jones
All rights reserved.
When he finished packing, he walked out on to the third-floor porch of the barracks brushing the dust from his hands, a very neat and deceptively slim young man in the summer khakis that were still early morning fresh.
He leaned his elbows on the porch ledge and stood looking down through the screens at the familiar scene of the barracks square laid out below with the tiers of porches dark in the faces of the three-story concrete barracks fronting on the square. He was feeling a half-sheepish affection for his vantage point that he was leaving.
Below him under the blows of the February Hawaiian sun the quadrangle gasped defenselessly, like an exhausted fighter. Through the heat haze and the thin mid-morning film of the parched red dust came up a muted orchestra of sounds: the clankings of steel-wheeled carts bouncing over brick, the slappings of oiled leather slingstraps, the shuffling beat of scorched shoesoles, the hoarse expletives of irritated noncoms.
Somewhere along the line, he thought, these things have become your heritage. You are multiplied by each sound that you hear. And you cannot deny them, without denying with them the purpose of your own existence. Yet now, he told himself, you are denying them, by renouncing the place that they have given you.
In the earthen square in the center of the quad a machine gun company went listlessly through the motions of its Loading Drill.
Behind him in the high-ceiling squadroom was the muffled curtain of sound that comes from men just waking and beginning to move around, testing cautiously the flooring of this world they had last night forsaken. He listened to it, hearing also the footsteps coming up behind him, but thinking of how good a thing it had been to sleep late every morning as a member of this Bugle Corps and wake up to the sounds of the line companies already outside at drill.
"You didn't pack my garrison shoes?" he asked the footsteps. "I meant to tell you. They scuff so easy."
"They're on the bed, both pair," the voice behind him said. "With the clean uniforms from your wall locker you didn't want to get mussed up. I pack your diddy box and extra hangers and your field shoes in the extra barricks bag."
"Then I guess that's everything," the young man said. He stood up then, sighing, not a sigh of emotion but the sigh that is the relaxing of a tension. "Lets eat," he said. "I got an hour yet before I have to report to G Company."
"I still think you're makin a bad mistake," the man behind him said.
"Yeah I know; you told me. Every day for two weeks now. You just don't understand it, Red."
"Maybe not," the other said. "I ain't no tempermental genius. But I understand somethin else. I'm a good bugler and I know it. But I cant touch you on a bugle. You're the best bugler in this Regiment, bar none. Probly the best in Schofield Barricks."
The young man thoughtfully agreed. "That's true."
"Well. Then why you want to quit and transfer?"
"I don't want to, Red."
"But you are."
"Oh no I'm not. You forget. I'm being transferred. Theres a difference."
"Now listen," Red said hotly.
"You listen, Red. Lets go over to Choy's and get some breakfast. Before this crowd gets over there and eats up all his stock." He jerked his head back at the awakening squadroom.
"You're actin like a kid," Red said. "You're not bein transferred, any more than I am. If you hadnt of gone and shot your mouth off to Houston none of this would ever happened."
"Maybe Houston did make his young punk First Bugler over you. So what? It's only a formality. You still got your rating. All the brunser gets out of it is to play the Taps for funerals and sound Retreat for the shorttimer parades."
"It ain't as if Houston had had you busted, and give the kid your rating. Then I wouldn't blame you. But you still got your rating."
"No I aint. Not since Houston asked the Old Man to have me transferred."
"If you'd go see the Old Man like I tell you and say one word only, you'd have it back. Chief Bugler Houston or no Chief Bugler Houston."
"That's right. And Houston's punk would still be First Bugler. Besides, the papers've gone through already. Signed; sealed; and delivered."
"Aw hell," Red said disgustedly. "Signed papers you can stick up you know where, for all they mean. You're on the inside, Prew, or at least you could be."
"Do you want to eat with me?" the young man said, "or don't you?"
"I'm broke," Red said.
"Did I ask you to pay? This is on me. I'm the one that's transferrin."
"You better save your money. They can feed us in the kitchen."
"I don't feel like eating that crap, not this morning."
"They had fried eggs this morning," Red corrected. "We can still get them hot. You'll need your money where you're goin."
"All right, for Chrisake," the young man admitted wearily. "Then this is just for the fucking hell of it. Because I want to spend it. Because I'm leavin and I want to spend it. Now do you want to go? or don't you?"
"I'll go," Red said disgustedly.
They walked down the flights of steps and out the walk in front of A Company, where the Bugle Corps was quartered, crossed the street and walked along Headquarters building to the sallyport. The sun heat hit them, bearing down, as they left the porch and left them just as sharply as they stepped inside the tunnel through Hq building that was called the sallyport now, in honor of the old days of the forts. It was painted emphatically with the Regimental colors and housed the biggest of the Regiment's athletic trophies in their lacquered case.
"Its a bad thing," Red said tentatively. "You're gettin yourself a reputation as a bolshevik. You're settin yourself up for all kinds of trouble, Prew." Prew did not answer.
The restaurant was empty. Young Choy and his father, Old Choy, were chattering behind the counter. The white beard and black skull cap disappeared at once back into the kitchen and Young Choy, Young Sam Choy, waited on them.
"Herro, Prew," Young Choy said. "Me hear you move 'closs stleet some time soon I think so maybe, eh?"
"That's right," Prew said. "Today."
"Today!" Young Choy grinned. "You no snowem? Tlansfe' today?"
"That's her," he said grudgingly. "Today."
Young Choy, grinning, shook his head with sorrow. He looked at Red. "Clazy dogface. Do stlaight duty,'stead of Bugle Corpse."
"Listen," Prew said. "How about bringin our goddam food?"
"Aw light," Young Choy grinned. "Bling light now."
He went behind the counter to the swinging kitchen door and Prew watched him. "Goddam gook," he said.
"Young Choy's all right," Red said.
"Sure. So's Old Choy all right."
"He only wants to help."
"Sure. Like everybody else."
Red shrugged, sheepishly, and they sat silent in the dim comparative coolness, listening to the laziness of the electric fan high up on one wall, until Young Choy brought out the eggs and ham and coffee. Through the sallyport screen door a weak breeze carried the sleepily regular belltones of the monotonously jerked bolt handles, Dog Company's Loading Drill, a ghostly prophecy that haunted Prew's enjoyment of that sense of loafing while the morning's work moves on around you.
"You one number one boy," Young Choy said, returning, grinning, as he shook his head in sorrow. "You leenlistment matelial."
Prew laughed. "You said it, Sam. I'm a Thirty—Year—Man."
Red was cutting up an egg. "Whats your wahine goin to say? when she finds out you took a bust to transfer?"
Prew shook his head and began to chew.
"Everything's against you," Red said, reasonably. "Even your wahine is against you."
"I wish she was against me, right up against me, right now," Prew grinned.
Red would not laugh. "Private pussies don't grow on no trees," he said. "Whores are all right; for the first year; for kids. But a good shackjob is hard to find. Too hard to take a chance on losin. You wont be able to make that trip to Haleiwa every night when you're pullin straight duty in a rifle company."
Prew stared down at his round ham bone before he picked it up and sucked the marrow out. "I reckon she'll have to make up her own mind, Red. Like every man has got to do, in the end. You know this thing's been comin for a long, long time. It aint just because Houston made his angelina First Bugler over me."
Red studied him; Chief Bugler Houston's tastes in young men were common knowledge and Red wondered if he could have made a pass at Prew. But it could not be that; Prewitt would have half-killed him, Chief Warrant Officer or no.
"That's good," Red said bitterly, "made up her own mind. Where is her mind? In her head, or down between her legs?"
"Watch your goddam mouth. Since when is my private life your business anyway? For your information, its between her legs and that's the way I like it, see?" You liar, he thought.
"Okay," Red said. "Don't blow your top. Whats it to me if you transfer? Its nothing in my young life." He took a piece of bread and washed his hands of all of it by wiping the yellow from his plate and swilling it down with coffee.
Prew lit a tailormade and turned to watch a group of company clerks who had just come in, sitting over coffee in the far corner when they were supposed to be upstairs in Personnel working. They all looked alike, tall thin boys with the fragile faces that gravitated naturally toward the mental superiority of paper work. He caught the words "Van Gogh" and "Gauguin." One tall boy talked a little while and the others waiting to get in their say, then in a pause for breath another tall boy took over and the first frowned and the others waiting impatiently again. Prew grinned.
It was queer, he thought, how a man was always being forced to decide these things. You decided one thing right, with much effort, and then you thought you'd coast a while. But tomorrow you had to decide another thing. And as long as you decided the way you knew was right you had to go right on deciding. Every Day a Millennium, he thought. And on the other hand was Red, and those kids over there, who because they decided wrong just once were free from any more deciding. Red placed his bet on Comfort out of Security by Conformity. As usual, Comfort won. Red could retire and enjoy his winnings. Red would not quit a soft deal like the Bugle Corps because his pride was hurt. Sometimes he got confused and could not quite remember what the reason was, the necessity that had been at the beginning of this endless chain of new decidings.
Red was trying logic on him. "You got a Pfc and a Fourth Class Specialist. You practice two hours a day and the rest of your time's your own. You got a good life.
"Every Regiment's got a Drum and Bugle Corps. That's S. O. P. Its just like a craft on the Outside. We get the gravy because we got special ability."
"The crafts on the Outside aint been gettin gravy. They been lucky if they had jobs at all."
"That aint the point," Red said disgustedly. "That's the Depression—why you think I'm in the goddam army?"
"I don't know. Why are you?"
"Because." Red paused triumphantly. "Same reason as you: Because I could live better on the Inside than I could on the Outside. I wasn't ready to starve yet."
"That's logical," Prew grinned.
"Goddam right. I'm a logical guy. Its only common sense. Why you think I'm in this Bugle Corps?"
"Because its logical," Prew said. "Only, that aint the reason I'm in the army. And it aint the reason I'm in, was in, this Bugle Corps."
"I know," Red said disgustedly. "Now he's going to start that crap about the thirty year men."
"All right," Prew said. "But what else would I be? Where else would I go? Me! A man has got to have some place."
"Okay," Red said. "But if you're a thirty year man, and you love to bugle so, why are you quitting? That aint like no thirty year man."
"All right," Prew said. "Lets look at you: Since the Depression's gettin over, since they started makin stuff to send to England for this war, since they started this peacetime draft—you're on the Inside behind your common sense, like a man behind the bars. Your old job's waitin for you, and you cant even buy out now since the peacetime draft came in."
"I'm markin time," Red explained to him. "I dint starve while Prosperity was behind that stack of howitzers, and before we get in this goddam war my hitch will be up, and I'll be back home with a good safe job makin periscopes for tanks, while you thirty year men are gettin your ass shot off."
As Prew listened the mobile face before him melted to a battle-blackened skull as though a flamethrower had passed over it, kissed it lightly, and moved on. The skull talked on to him about its health. And he remembered now the reason for this urgency of deciding right. It was like with a virgin, one wrong decision was enough to do it; after one you were not ever the same again. A man who ate too much got fat, and the only way to keep from getting fat was not to eat too much. There was no short cut in elastic trusses for ex-athletes, or in the patented rowing machines, or in synthetic diet; not if you ate too much. When you cut with life you had to use the house deck, not your own.
The reason was, he wanted to be a bugler. Red could play a bugle well because Red was not a bugler. It was really very simple, so simple that he was surprised he had not seen it standing there before. He had to leave the Bugle Corps because he was a bugler. Red did not have to leave it. But he had to leave, because he wanted most of all to stay.
Prew stood up, looking at his watch. "Its nine-fifteen," he said. "I got to be at G Company at nine-thirty for my interview." He grinned as he pulled the last word with his mouth, twisting it the way a badly silvered mirror subtly changes faces.
"Sit down a minute more," Red said. "I wasn't going to mention this, unless I had to."
Prew looked down at him and then sat down, knowing what it was that he would say.
"Make it quick," he said. "I got to go."
"You know who the Company Commander of G Company is, don't you, Prew?"
"Yeah," Prew said. "I know."
Red could not let it ride. "Captain Dana E. Holmes," he said. "'Dynamite' Holmes. The Regimental boxing coach."
"Okay," Prew said.
"I know all about why you transferred into this outfit last year," Red said. "I know all about Dixie Wells. You never told me, Prew, but I know it. Everybody knows it."
"All right," Prew said. "I don't care who knows it. I dint expect it could be hid," he said.
"You had to leave the 27th," Red told him. "When you quit the boxing squad and refused to fight any more, you had to transfer out. Because they wouldn't let you alone, wouldn't let you just quit in peace. They followed you around and put the pressure on. Until you had to transfer out."
"I did what I wanted to do," Prew said.
"Did you?" Red said. "Don't you see?" he said. "They'll always follow you around. You cant go your own way in peace, not in our time. Unless you're willing to play ball.
"Maybe back in the old days, back in the time of the pioneers, a man could do what he wanted to do, in peace. But he had the woods then, he could go off in the woods and live alone. He could live well off the woods. And if they followed him there for this or that, he could just move on. There was always more woods on up ahead. But a man cant do that now. He's got to play ball with them. He has to divide it all by two.
"I never mentioned it to you," Red said. "I saw you fight in the Bowl last year. Me and several thousand other guys. Holmes saw you, too. I've been sweatin him out to put the pressure on you, any time."
"So have I," Prew said. "I just guess he never found out I was here."
"He won't miss it on your Form 20 when you're in his company. He'll want you for his boxing squad."
"There's nothin in the ARs says a man has got to jockstrap when he doesn't want to."
"Come on," Red taunted. "You think the ARs'll bother him? when the Great White Father wants to keep that championship? You think he'll let a fighter who's got the rep you have just hibernate? in his own company? without fightin for the Regment? just because you decided once you wouldn't fight no more? Even a genius like you cant be that simple."
"I don't know," Prew said. "Chief Choate's in his company. Chief Choate use to be the heavyweight champ of Panama."
"Yes," Red said. "But Chief Choate's the Great White Father's fair-haired boy because he's the best first baseman in the Hawaiian Department. Holmes cant pressure him. But even so, Chief Choate's been in G Company four years now, and he's still a corporal."
"Well," Prew said. "If the Chief would transfer out, he could make Staff in any other company. I guess if it gets too rough I can always transfer out myself."
"Yeah?" Red said. "You think so? You know who the top kicker of George Co is?"
"Sure," Prew said. "I know. Warden."
"That's right, man," Red said. "Milton Anthony Warden. Who use to be our Staff in A Company. The meanest son of a bitch in Schofield Barricks. And who hates you worse than poison."
"That's funny," Prew said slowly. "I never felt that Warden hated me. I don't hate him."
Red smiled bitterly. "After all the run-ins you've had with him? Even you cant be that green."
"It wasn't him," Prew said. "It was just that that was what his job was."
Excerpted from The World War II Trilogy by James Jones. Copyright © 1991 Gloria Jones, James Anthony Phillipe Jones, and Kaylie Anne Jones. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsFrom Here to Eternity,
The Thin Red Line,