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Guard of Honor

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  707 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Guard of Honor is a neglected masterpiece that stands comparison with the greatest novels of the Second World War--essayist Noel Perrin deemed it "probably the best war novel of the twentieth century."
----James Gould Cozzens's Guard of Honor won the Pulitzer Prize in 1949. The novel balances a vast cast of intricately enmeshed characters as they react over the course of th
Hardcover, 614 pages
Published May 26th 1998 by Modern Library (first published 1948)
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So here we have the 631-page novel that won the Pulitzer in 1949, yet when I went Davis Kidd bookstore in West Nashville to purchase it, I was amazed to discover that not only did Davis Kidd not carry the novel, it had been out of print for years. Initially, I decided that was all I needed to know: no one publishes the novel because no one buys the novel because no one reads the novel because it’s not any good. Next. And yet, I felt remiss that I had committed myself to reading all the Pulitzers ...more
James Gould Cozzens is an author who has been unjustly neglected both during the latter years of his life and in the three decades since his death. Of his often critically-acclaimed novels this one, published in 1948, stands alone, on its own merits. I believe that I first learned about this novel from reading Noel Perrin the Dartmouth professor and book reviewer who praised the author and this novel in particular as deserving more popular notice as worthy to stand beside Melville's novels in th ...more
Agnes Mack
There were about 10 pages in this 600+ book that I didn't hate. And I was stoned when I read those, so feel free to draw your own conclusions.

To start with, it's about WWII and constantly uses military terms that I am completely unfamiliar with. There's no explanation, no handy key like there is in the beginning of The Caine Mutiny. I started out looking them all up, but when it became clear that I'd be stopping once a page to do so, I gave up. Besides, the book was written in the '50s. People d
What is there to write to write about a 800 page book written over 3 days based at a WWII Stateside Air force Base? First off, the detail in this book is incredible as you'd expect it to be (see above sentence). I really didn't get into the book for the first 500 pages, but looking back see why there's so much detail. The book has about a dozen major characters and the book bounces back and forth to each, it's one that you may want to keep a chart in your book of who everyone is to keep from get ...more
What an amazing author and what a fascinating story. 631 pages describe the events of some 20+ characters over a period of three days at an Army Air Force base called Ocanara, in Florida, USA during September 1943. All of the characters are linked through the base and the detailed prose is just so satisfying to read as the story moves from one person to another, to their backgrounds, their families, their current problems, their interactions, their weaknesses and strengths, and so many events oc ...more
Lucia Lazorova
Author introduces the reader to a huge variety of the characters, some major and some minor, though all sympathetic in their own way. The action occurs on or near the Ocanara Army Air Base during WWII, where many of the men and women are not the military professionals, they are separated from their homes, their families and their ordinary business, in fact they have joined the Army because they were not able to get any good job or to hold it for a long time, they live, eat, have drinks in local ...more
Pulitzer Price Winner read as part of my law school “Law and Literature” class highlighting the period of World War II. This novel is very much a man’s man novel with as frank a depiction of life on a base during war time as I have ever read. Very adult and very dense with more character development than plot.

Set at a Florida air base in the later stages of World War II, a group of black pilots arrives to be trained as part of an experiment in integration. The characters in the novel are complex
I tried, I really tried to like this book, and there were several moments where I really did enjoy myself, and then I would find that my mind was drifting away for the umpteenth time as a litany of characters I really should have had a mental picture of by page 300 droned endlessly about technical army information a civilian would never really be interested in. Honestly, I barely had any idea who anyone was, which made me singularly unable to care about any of them.

I even read a review here to
A much ignored, and I think unjustly so, book. One reason for the lack of recognition is its conservatism. I think it the best of WW II fiction. It is pragmatic, but honest, and just plain good reading.

Pulitzer 1949 - Guard of Honor is a very dense book of over 600 pages that takes place over 3 days (and really two and a half). It's the story of an Army base in Florida over those three days during WWII and the interactions of the characters. Cozzens is apparently thorough and accurate in his depiction of a base at the time and the characters in it. However I had a really hard time with this book. There were a host of characters in the novel but not any one strong central character (or even a c ...more
This book took me a total of 11 weeks to read which is the longest a single book has ever taken me to read. The writing is incredibly detailed (the entire 900 pages spans three days on one base during WWII). I would probably not recommend this book to anyone. Although the book did present a very interesting look at issues of race in a pre-civil rights era (it was written in 1949). The main plot centers around the general in charge of the base and his decisions regarding the first African America ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Julie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Reading September 2009

6/9/2009: This book is set during World War II and is over 600 pages long. Since it is a "big" book that deals with a serious topic, I think it will take me a while to get through it. I noticed that sells the book for $27.85, but I found a used copy of the book for about $8.00 (that includes shipping).

I ordered the book last week and received it today. The book is obviously used, but in really good shape. I plan to start reading it when i finish up Olive Kitteri
Roxanne Russell
Man, I struggled to get through this book. It's hard to say exactly why- plenty was happening. The story and themes were poignant. The setting was unique and even nostalgic for me (Gulf Coast). But the prose was so dense. The author seemed to think every minute detail of scene, inner thoughts and pithy commentary were necessary. Metaphor after metaphor and philosophical ponderings piled on top of sage pearls. Exhausting.
The central focus of racial and gender integration in the Air Force in WWII
Jul 14, 2008 Joe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: war buffs, gluttons for punishment
Wow, this was a tough one to get through. Not that it was bad, but it was so detailed. It took me a long time to finish, but it was worth the effort. The story takes place over three days during World War II on a Florida military base. I couldn't help comparing this to Naked and the Dead. Guard of Honor takes place stateside and shows the tediousness in the preparation for war (paperwork, bureaucracy, stupidity). Naked and the Dead takes place in the Pacific during a battle and demonstrates how ...more
Jim Coughenour
Another forgotten mid-century American classic. Cozzens won the Pulitzer Price in 1949 for this novel set on a Florida Army airbase in 1943, centered on the various minor dramas surrounding the integration of black pilots into the armed services — which I know makes the book sound especially boring. It's not – the writing is straightforward, unsentimental and avoids the usual treacly clichés. Solid & satisfying and virtually out-of-print.

(If you can find it, I recommend the Modern Library ed
Leanne Clegg
The first time I read Guard of Honor, I thought it was a good story, if a bit lead-footed. My second sitting has not gone much better. It is a long book - not always easy reading- with many subplots and minor incident piled on minor incident. Though it is claimed to be one of the most accurate portrayals of WWII I just couldn't be drawn by it - a luxury perhaps allowed to generations beyond the Vietnam War.
Linda Smith
Interesting human study, very descriptive writing, issues not so different from today's, a study of military old boys network and bureaucracy. Every conflict was mundane and resolved quietly. Probably much like the real military. I think the intended issue was racism, but the real issue was the role, rights and oppression of women. Not sure if the author meant that or if it was just the times.
How do individuals maintain their identities when suddently transplanted from civilian careers/lives to military ones?
This is not a war book. It is about military culture, and about those who find themselves immersed in it during wartime. About that reflex that causes the strong to protect the vulnerable.
Jennifer Hughes
Sorry...I'm just not a war novel kind of gal. I really gave this an honest effort but I could not follow the "military speak." It gets all kinds of high praise, so if you like war books, you ought to try it and then tell me what I missed out on.
Life on a military air base in Florida in the early days of WWII is not as in control as one might expect. Seasoned officers deal with all the failures and foibles of other officers as they try to prepare for engagement in Europe.
This was an excruciating read. I have 50 pages left and have all but given up. Will resume when ready but this book could have been 100 pages less.
I didn't realize anyone could make World War II so mundane, but here it is! There is no plot, little character development and incessant paper pushing. A nightmare read.

Pulitzer winner from 1949.
Robert Fleming
I don't know why no one has ever heard of or read Cozzens (or at least not since the 50s). This story is very much of the period in which it was written, but it is powerful and well-crafted.

Called one of the best WWII novels, it largely takes place on a U.S. air base and does not include any action or high drama that would be expected n a was novel.
I got lost in the narrative, but it is a book offering an intriguing study of human nature. It could have been shorter.
ww2 novel set in florida training facility, interesting insights into military, but too long
Recommended book after reading Arthur Mizener's "Twelve Great American Novels."
blech. I didn't care about anyone in this book. I repeat, blech.
long and wordy at times but I'm still glad I read it
Carolyn Stevens Shank
Mostly dry and boring. Hated it!
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