Never-before-published fiction by one of the finest war authors of the twentieth century
In 1943, a young soldier named James Jones returned from the Pacific, lightly wounded and psychologically tormented by the horrors of Guadalcanal. When he was well enough to leave the hospital, he went AWOL rather than return to service, and began work on a novel of the World War II experience.
Jones’s AWOL period was brief, but he returned to the novel at war’s end, bringing him to the attention of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary editor of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. Jones would then go on to write From Here to Eternity, the National Book Award–winning novel that catapulted him into the ranks of the literary elite.
Now, for the first time, Jones’s earliest writings are presented here, as a collection of stories about man and war, a testament to the great artist he was about to become.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
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 1945, 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.
Read an Excerpt
To The End of The War
By James Jones, George Hendrick
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2011 the estate of James Jones
All rights reserved.
OVER THE HILL
ON THE ROAD, AUTUMN 1943
The hospital receiving office was a small wooden building set in the large quadrangle of brick buildings that held the wards and the various branches of Surgery and Therapy and Pharmacy. Through an opening in this brick bulwark the trucks brought the newly arrived patients from the hospital trains, and long lines of the walking sick and wounded twined in and out around the inner sanctum and passed through the Receiving Office to be assigned and checked and looked over. The hospital, originally built to handle three thousand patients, was already becoming overcrowded and plans were being figured as to how to handle the influx that swept in like waves from the hospital trains that pulled into the hospital siding downtown in Memphis every few days.
This day, however, was not one of those in which a wild scramble was enacted to get the patients settled before dark. There was no influx of patients in the quadrangle, and its largeness looked deserted and lonely except for the occasional uniformed figures going back and forth on some kind of duty.
Corporal Johnny Carter, formerly of Endymion, Indiana, carrying the black gladstone which held all his earthly possessions, limped indifferently across the expanse of dusty sparsely grassed red earth from the Convalescent Barracks to the Receiving Office. He was on his way out, back to duty.
He left his bag on the porch of the white wooden building and went inside to pick up his records and travel orders. He didn't know yet where he was going, and he didn't care much since one place would be about the same as another: The best he could hope for would be a camp near or in a large town. He was not happy at the prospect of going back to duty.
The chief clerk, who handed him the orders and the large brown envelope of records, was a tall slim arrogantly intelligent young man, after the usual pattern of army clerks. He was a technical sergeant and his black wavy hair was worn long in defiance of tradition, showing proudly that he did not spend time in the field as do the less intelligent common ruck of soldiery.
"Corporal," he said. "You will have a two-man detail to report in with you. Here are the train tickets. That two-and-a-half-ton job out in front is the truck to take you to the station. Your detail hasn't shown up yet. When they do, have them load their equipment in the back and get in. All three Service Records are in that envelope. Be very careful of them. In the army, a man's Service Record is more important than anything else. Including the man."
Johnny did not like the chief clerk's long hair or his arrogant intelligence that he wore like chevrons. He grunted an "Okay," and turned to the door. In his four and a half years in the army, he had done some clerical work himself and had come in contact with a great many clerks.
The chief clerk leaned his elbows on the counter behind which he stood and elaborately lighted a cigaret with a silver Dunhill lighter which he took from his pocket.
"Is that that Camp Campbell detail?" A first lieutenant sat behind the counter, his feet—encased in the prescribed leggings—cocked up on a typing table, a pencil behind his ear, reading a newspaper. "Yessir," said the chief clerk. "I want to talk to him," said the lieutenant, "Corporal," said the chief clerk. "The lieutenant wants to speak to you."
Johnny came back and stood at a weary attention before the lieutenant. The lieutenant put down his newspaper irritably, took down his feet, stood up, took the pencil from behind his ear and turned it over and over in his bands. He neglected to give Johnny "at ease," and Johnny continued to stand at attention. The chief clerk stood respectfully near, a little behind the lieutenant. "These two men you're in charge of are bad ones," the lieutenant said. "One of them, Wilkinsson, has been over the hill four times since he came here. The other one—what's his name?" he turned to the chief clerk who handed him a copy of the Special Orders and murmured a respectful "Gettinger."
The lieutenant took the paper and ran his pencil down the page line by line as a pointer. "Gettinger," he said finally. "The other one, Gettinger, has been over twice. You may have trouble with them. If they try to get away from you, put the hammer on 'em." The lieutenant gave Johnny a sharp glance to impress his order. Johnny was not an MP and did not carry sidearms. He had a wild vision of himself throwing rocks at two retreating figures. But being more or less experienced in the army, he refrained from asking for clarification as to with what he would put the hammer on 'em.
"If they get away from you," the lieutenant said, "report them to the nearest Provost Marshall." Outside of downtown Memphis, Johnny had no idea of the whereabouts of any Provost Marshall in the country. However, he did not interrupt the lieutenant to ask. Johnny, who was still standing at attention, snapped out a belligerent salute, said "Yessir," and walked outside. The lieutenant returned the salute with a casual gesture and, his duty attended to, sat back down, replaced the pencil behind his ear, recocked his feet, and took up his interrupted newspaper. He began to speak authoritatively about the Russians to the chief clerk, who successfully accomplished the feat of listening respectfully and comradely at the same time.
Outside Johnny tossed his bag into the back and then sat down on the running board of the empty truck to wait, feeling vaguely resentful and irritated. In 1945 the fall was a long one, and in November the weather was still hot out in the sun. Johnny scraped little crosses in the dust with the toe of his shoe and felt the sweat begin to trickle down his spine and drip from his armpits. His vague irritation rose and became specific: He was wearing one of his good uniforms. He possessed four; two of them had been issued by the hospital, the other two he had bought downtown in Memphis. The issue uniforms were khaki chenille summer uniforms; they fitted him like bags, and there are no post tailors or regimental tailors here as there had been at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii to put them down. He wore them as little as possible. The other two uniforms were officer uniforms with shoulder straps and were of tropical worsted wool. He had been ordered by several MPs to remove the shoulder straps, but up to now he had been able to wriggle out of doing so, although he never considered why it was so necessary to him to keep the unauthorized officer shoulder straps. He got up from the running board and moved out of the sun to sit on the edge of the little porch of the Receiving Office.
Presently, he saw the other two men coming. They struggled down the dusty road, each carrying his two blue barracks bags, heavily stuffed and awkward. Johnny watched them sympathetically. He was glad he had lost all his gear; when he came back to the States he wore hospital pajamas and had nothing left of four years' accumulation of property except a toothbrush, razor, a minute can of Dr Lyon's toothpowder, and a GI shaving brush. After his outfit moved out to beach positions on December 7, 1941, self-appointed salvage artists had gone through the barracks: he lost two civilian suits, a tropical dinner outfit, a radio/Victrola and a hundred records, three expensive pairs of civilian shoes, and an assortment of other things, including his favorite pair of dice. When he was evacuated from Guadalcanal, he lost everything he owned except the fatigue uniform he wore and his toilet articles, including an A-1 portable typewriter. He was glad though now, because he didn't have to lug it all around or take care of it.
The two men plumped down their barracks bags in the dust and stood breathing heavily and wiping the sweat from their faces.
"Wilkinsson and Gettinger?" Johnny asked.
The two men nodded. "Wilkinsson," said the tall dark one. The short red-headed youth muttered "Gettinger."
"This is our truck," Johnny said. "You guys better report in when you get your breath."
Both men grunted sourly and continued to stand where they were, breathing heavily from the quarter-mile trip with the heavy cumbersome barracks bags. Johnny lit a cigaret.
The chief clerk stuck his head out the window. "All right, you two men," he said. "Get in here and report. You can't spend the morning out there." Wilkinsson and Gettinger climbed up on the porch and went inside with tightened lips. After a moment, during which the chief clerk asked them their names, they came back out and sat down on the edge of the porch in the shade.
"Where we going?" the red-headed youth asked.
"Camp Campbell, Kentucky," Johnny said. "26th Division."
"Well, Jesus Christ," commented Gettinger. "That outfit's supposed to be getting ready to ship."
Johnny nodded. "That's what I heard."
"These lousy cockbeaters," said the dark saturnine Wilkinsson. "If they think they're going to send me back overseas, they're crazy."
"You and me." Gettinger shook his red head. "What the hell do they want from a man anyway? Were you in Surgery?"
"Yeah," said Johnny. "That son of a bitch, O'Flagherty," said Gettinger. He was referring to Captain O'Flagherty, in charge of convalescent surgery cases. "If he was overseas, he'd get his guts shot out in ten minutes." Captain O'Flagherty was a huge Irishman with a caustic sarcasm for a voice and a sneering moustache.
"You know what he told me?" asked Gettinger. "O'Flagherty called me in and asked me if I could do Infantry duty. I told him no and he said: 'What's the matter with you, Gettinger? Don't you like the army? You think you can goldbrick your way out of it? Well, you can't. That's why I'm here.'
"The son of a bitch," repeated Gettinger. "He looked at my heel once and poked his finger into it until I hollered. Then he laughed and told me to quit acting, because it wouldn't do me any good: I couldn't get out."
"Sure," said Wilkinsson. He held up his right hand. The second finger was completely gone and the first joint of the third finger was missing. His index finger was completely stiff. "The lousy bastard. He told me I was better off than I was before I got hit. He said my fingers only got in my road anyway." The upper half of Wilkinsson's right ear was missing also.
"You know what I told him?" said Gettinger. "I asked him if he was a doctor in civilian life or if he learned to butcher in the army." Gettinger laughed harshly. "It made him mad; he said sure he was a doctor in civilian life. So I said: 'How did you manage to make a living? You're lucky the war came along.' He got madder'n hell and wrote me down to go back to duty, right then and there." Gettinger was becoming angry. "What right has a son of a bitch like that got to be where he is? What does he know about the goddamned war?"
"Take it easy, Red," said Wilkinsson with a sour grin.
"Look," said Gettinger angrily. He unlaced his right shoe and pulled off his sock. The heel of his naked foot was red and angry-looking. The flesh was twisted and raw with scar tissue. There was a hole in his heel that he could have stuck his little finger into. "I'll be a hell of a lot of good in the Infantry, won't I? Walking my fifteen to twenty-five miles per day? Balls," he said as he put his shoe and sock back on.
Wilkinsson laughed, "We all will," he said. "What's wrong with you?" he asked Johnny.
"I got a piece of mortar shrapnel in my left ankle," he said. "Right in the joint." These two men were strengthening his own opinion. They all had a raw deal in being sent back to the Infantry, let alone the possibility of going overseas again.
Wilkinsson gestured at his ear with his crippled hand. "That's what got me. And I got my right leg full of the same stuff," he said. "Where were you?"
"Guadalcanal," Johnny said.
"I was in Attu," said Wilkinsson.
They began to talk of their outfits: Wilkinson was in the 7th Division: The 7th had gone straight from desert training to the sub-zero beaches of Attu. With improper clothing and thinned blood they had made their initial landings through the icy surf and had crossed the frozen mountains in leather boots.
"There's two wards full of men in this hospital," said Wilkinsson, "who lost either one or both feet from having them frozen. And not another scratch on them." He spat angrily into the red dust.
Gettinger had been with the 32nd Division in New Guinea, the old Red Arrow, Hindenburg Line Division, made famous in the last war. A Jap .25 rifle bullet had torn off the butt of his right heel.
The chief clerk stuck his head out of the window. "All right, you two men," he said. "Get that equipment loaded in the back of the truck." Wilkinsson and Gettinger rose reluctantly. "Come on. Come on," said the chief clerk. "Move. A soldier's no good, without his equipment. You're supposed to be pulling out of here," he added with loud sarcasm.
"What does that bastard know about soldiers?" said Wilkinsson.
"Does he think we're going off and leave it? What difference does it make whether we put it in now or later?"
They sat back down in the shade after throwing the bags into the truck. Johnny was thoughtfully cleaning his fingernails with a file he had taken from a small kit he carried in his pocket.
"Ah, this frigging hole," said Gettinger. "I'm glad to get out of it.
Even if it does mean going back to duty." He looked off across the dusty red quadrangle of raw new brick that glared dryly in the bright sunlight,
"But I'll sure hate to leave Memphis," he added with a grin.
"Not me," said Wilkinsson. "I been in this hospital eight, nine months and I've been out of it five times: once on pass, and four times over the hill. I've spent the last two months in a lookup ward; Memphis don't mean nothing to me."
The three men looked strangely identical sitting on the porch edge: each with the summer uniform, each with the same five ribbons pinned in the same place: over the left pocket. All three wore the Purple Heart ribbon, although Johnny's had an Oak Leaf Cluster in the center of it. Each wore the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon with Bronze Stars, Johnny noticed that Wilkinsson wore an extra ribbon in addition to the five, one that he and Gettinger did not have. At first he could not place it, and then he recognized it for the Distinguished Service Cross. Blue with wide red stripes at the ends and thin white stripes between the red ones and the blue field.
"This is the first time I've been outside a building in two months," commented Wilkinsson. "But it ain't unusual: I been treated like a convict ever since I got here. When I put in for furlough, they wouldn't let me have it because I wasn't 'well enough.' And all the time the ward officer had me pulling fatigue details in the ward: sweeping up and mapping and cleaning the latrine. You're well enough to do that, but not to have a furlough."
He looked at Johnny and grinned malevolently. "So I took my own furlough," he said.
When they had waited forty-five minutes on the driver of the truck, the first lieutenant stuck his head out of the window. "What are you men sitting there for? Don't you know you're moving out? Set up off of there and get into that goddamned truck. The three of them rose. "Corporal," called the lieutenant from the window. "Come over here." Johnny walked over to the window and saluted and stood at attention. "Watch those two men, Corporal," said the lieutenant in a loud voice. "They'll try to take off on you. I don't want to hear of you reporting in to Campbell without them."
Johnny made a salute to the lieutenant, said "Yessir," to the warning, and walked back to the truck. "Okay," he said, "Let's climb in." Wilkinsson and Gettinger stared at him with narrowed eyes. As they climbed into the back of the truck and sat on their barracks bags, it was evident they had completely withdrawn from Johnny and shut him off. Johnny, as the non-com in charge, climbed into the cab. In the sun it was hot, and they sat irritably, sweating and waiting for the driver. It was another hour before he came strolling up.
He was wearing clean fatigues with big grease spots on the knees. He climbed into the truck, lit a cigaret, and stared boredly out across the dusty red quadrangle. "What a rotten hole," he said to nobody in particular.
Excerpted from To The End of The War by James Jones, George Hendrick. Copyright © 2011 the estate of James 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
Introduction: From They Shall Inherit the
Laughter to To the End of the War • 9
Over the Hill • 24
Night Train • 46
Back Home in Endymion • 68
Johnny Meets Sandy • 82
Surely Not the Red Cross • 106
Air Raid • 110
Wild Festivity in Evansville • 124
You Are AWOL • 144
Every Time I Drop an Egg . . . • 150
Stranger in a New Company • 158
Army Politics and Anti-Semitism • 170
He Was a Wop • 196
Notes for the Introduction • 204
What People are Saying About This
“One of the significant writers of his generation.” —The New York Times Book Review “Few men write as effectively about the American army as James Jones.” —Newsweek “The only one of my contemporaries who I felt had more talent than myself was James Jones. And he has also been the only writer of any time for whom I felt any love.” —Norman Mailer
Born in Illinois; died in New York in 1977.
Daughter Kaylie Jones, who does interviews on behalf of the estate and is very involved, resides in New York City.