Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Thin Red Line by James Jones

I live in the small town of Robinson, Illinois. Back in the mid 80s while I lived there the only claim to fame was that it was home of Heath candy bars. While in the Navy I would buy Heath bars just so I could show my shipmates that my hometown was printed on the back of every wrapper. Sometime in the 90s the Heath plant was bought out by Hershey and now the wrappers just say Hershey....but the town still smells like chocolate year round.

I didn't come back into town until my 15th high school reunion and met what would soon be my wife...yeah, a high school sweetheart marriage. I eventually moved back into town and now work at a small radio station in a neighboring county. Every day I kept noticing this sign which was put on the highway just as you enter town stating Robinson is hometown to author James Jones. This sign was put in place in the year 2000 and the town has pretty much now rallied around being hometown to this author. I was not familiar with who James Jones was, I had heard the name but never read any of his books. I did know he wrote "From Here to Eternity," but I never read the book, it is rather thick and well I really hated the movie. (Maybe the Frank Sinatra as actor is what turned me off.) With the town of Robinson being proud of this author, I thought I'd look into some of his other works.

I immediately went out and rented the 1998 release of "The Thin Red Line," and as far as war movies go, I was impressed. I then looked on paperback swap to find James Jones' books, and found the hardcover of "The Thin Red Line." Now, after reading it, I'm going to tackle some other James Jones books. This book at first was hard to get into, mainly because the perspective of the story changes from person to person as the storyline and battles continue, like a mosquito sampling from each soldier through the campaign to take the island of Guadalcanal during World War II.

The story covers "C for Charlie Company" as they arrive at the island and all the skirmishes against the Japanese over fictionalized hills with names such as "The Dancing Elephant," "The Giant Sea Slug," and "The Giant Boiled Shrimp." The changing perspective of story eventually masterfully achieves a great story line in which all aspects from officers to enlisted men weave into a novel that captures the attention. I felt like I was in the war with these men. I was surprised at the rough language used in the book, I know it is a reality in "war-time" and military personnel but for a book published in 1962, it must have been strong for such a "tame" time period.

If you like war stories, you'll love this one. If you would like to try reading a war story and get a feel for what a soldier feels, you can't go wrong with this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment