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First Blood (Rambo: First Blood #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  4,414 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews
First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of FIRST BLOOD to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with -- or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1972)
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Community Reviews

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Jun 28, 2015 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: 11811 (Eleven)
I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know that the movie "First Blood" was based on this book. So when my friend 11811 (Eleven) reviewed this book I put in a request for it immediately.

Rambo shows up in a small town in Kentucky. The local sheriff doesn't like "his kind" being in his town so he takes him and dumps him out at the end of town. Rambo comes back. Then sheriff Teasle does it again. A couple of times. Rambo takes offense to being told that he can't be in town. He also takes offense to Sh
A classic. I first read this novel in 1982. It was very exciting at the time.I was fourteen.

It's been (probably) a couple decades since I last read First Blood. It's showing it's age a little more now. Still not a bad read, but it's really nothing more than a glorified chase story. A product of it's time. Make no mistake about it there were many folks in the early seventies who were nervous about the returning veterans. Many truly believed that we were going to have warfare erupt ,on a large s
11811 (Eleven)
Jun 18, 2015 11811 (Eleven) rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I think this is a must read for fans of the movie. There are as many similarities as there are differences but I enjoyed both equally. I loved the movie when I was 10. I need to watch it again to see how it has held up all these years.

Fantastic read. Goes on the favorites shelf.
Nov 21, 2011 TK421 rated it it was amazing
Allow me to introduce John Rambo. He's a little surly since coming home from Vietnam, so please forgive his outbursts. It doesn't help that Sheriff Teasle is constantly trying to throw my friend out of the small, back-wooded town of Madison, Kentucky. You see, the good old sheriff has a problem when someone doesn't take his words to heart. Rambo just happens to be that someone. I tried talking to Rambo, but all he kept saying was "Adrian! Adrian!" I know…I was just as confused. Anyways, Teasle ...more
May 15, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing
First Blood, a first read 40 years too late in reading for many. The author starts the story with introducing a name, Rambo and having the reader build an image of this character in mind, he successfully paints the portrait partly introducing Rambo, the long hair, the rough looking image, his sleeping carry sack on the road drifting wondering and then loads us with confrontation a police officer that seems to have issues with his hair, his wondering, his smarts and his look of a man that can ...more
Arun Divakar
Feb 06, 2013 Arun Divakar rated it liked it
John Rambo is a cultural icon for me like a lot of you out here. You cannot be growing up in the 80's without having Rambo's name mentioned atleast once in your vicinity. Out here in my place, this guy was treated the ultimate warrior when I was a kid. Childhood memories remind me of teenaged guys in the neighborhood with hazy eyes talking to each other about the non-stop action from First Blood . It is then extremely ironic that I came to know that the movie's name was not Rambo perhaps only a ...more
Matt Garcia
Jul 19, 2014 Matt Garcia rated it liked it
Solid novel with some great characterization. Rambo is an anti-hero of sorts and I found myself not as sympathetic towards him as I thought I would be. Teasle was a character that I disliked solely because of his arrogance and stubbornness. Different in some spots from the movie but overall a worth while read. Being a fan of the Rambo movies, I'm glad that I took the time to see where it all began. 3.5 stars
Joseph Finder
Dec 16, 2013 Joseph Finder rated it it was amazing
Forget whatever you think about Sly Stallone and Rambo. This book is a now-classic chase novel, a mano à mano confrontation between a damaged Vietnam vet and a sheriff, and you won't be sure whom to root for.
Mar 17, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
Shelves: action, read-in-2012
This is definitely not my usual genre of book. I never even had any desire to see the movie, Rambo. All, I know about Rambo is this picture I have in my head of Sylvester Stallone wearing a headband and carrying a gun. I'm not even sure if that is from a movie poster or a scene from the movie possibly. I had no desire to either see the movie or read the book, but a friend a work, who I recommend books back and forth with MADE me read this. He insisted it was his favorite book and I agreed to ...more
Brock Brunner
Oct 02, 2015 Brock Brunner rated it it was amazing
Personal Response:
I found this book to be very action-packed and it had me on the edge of my seat to the last page. David Morrell did an outstanding job on this book and he sure knows how to keep a reader hooked, because I sure was. This book had everything a Rambo fan would want; action, suspense, killing, it was just great. This is definitely a book I would love to read again, it was just that good. Morrellś writing style is very satisfying. The way he described what was happening in the book
Martin Hill
Feb 06, 2014 Martin Hill rated it it was amazing
David Morrell's action thriller, First Blood, is considered the grand daddy of the modern action thriller. Better known as the first Rambo story, First Blood is the story of a homeless Vietnam vet who, pushed to the brink by harassment from southern small town cops, erupts into a murderous rampage.

I never cared much for the Rambo movie starring Sylvester Stallone. But having served in the American south at the end of the Vietnam War, I was well acquainted with the harassment service members endu
Nov 07, 2013 Kyle rated it really liked it
!!WARNING!! Do not read the Introduction before the story because the author reveals the ending!

I saw the movie several times growing up, and I always enjoyed the survival tactics that Rambo employed to elude his pursuers. The book included these things, but it was a lot darker with Rambo killing countless police and soldiers. The book provided more insight into the mindsets and struggles of Rambo and Sheriff Teasle, which I enjoyed because it helped the reader to understand what drove the two
Aug 22, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Forget the movie, forget the cartoon show, forget everything you've heard about Rambo. This is where it started and if you haven't read this before you're in for something unexpected.

In physics the question has been asked, "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?" This book answers that question as we meet those who basically amount to our two main characters. On one side we have Rambo, decorated Vietnam war hero who hasn't been able to adjust back to our world after th
Steven Stennett
Dec 29, 2014 Steven Stennett rated it really liked it
This book made me sad!

All the effort and strength of will. To kill other human beings, that it displayed, via one individual, both at home and abroad even though he was a 'Hero,' all for the sake of Presidents, Primeministers and country's.

Arms dealers, who make shits loads of money, from selling the tools of destruction to hapless soles that believe that shinny, shinny, small arms, are the way forward.

Artifacts to adorn themselves like gaudy jewelery.

Don't get me wrong I think I understand
Sep 04, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genuinely enjoyed this read. Picked it up b/c I'm going to Bouchercon this year, where I'll get to watch Lee Child interview David Morrell, whose Victorian murder mysteries I read w/out thinking about Rambo. Planning to read more of his books in future, though.
Kris Ashton
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the character of Colonel Trautman (who ‘created’ Rambo) was not in the first draft of First Blood.*

Few movies have ever so pleasantly surprised me as First Blood. I had avoided it like it had leprosy because I expected a brainless action-fest – more like the sequels, in other words – but then one day I was at a friend’s house and without warning he put it on his VCR. “It’s good,” he assured me, but his tastes and mine were not always compatible.

I was ast
Ha - picked this up as a lark in a half-price bookstore in Seattle, but not only was this a surprisingly good book, the original Rambo (or "the kid" as he's called through most of the story) makes Stallone's character in the film actually look like a total puss! None of the fancy booby traps to hurt-but-not-kill; no, this Rambo is a psychologically shattered killer who turns the tables and intentionally hunts his pursuers. And yes, he is ultimately a sympathetic character - but sympathetic like ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it
I'd been wanting to read the novel that inspired the Man my entire life, and only recently was I able to sit down and do it. "First Blood" certainly did not disappoint, either. The film and novel do differ wildly here, and as much as I enjoyed the movie, the book is definitely the more powerful piece.

By now everyone knows the general storyline, so let me concentrate on some of the aspects of the novel which I enjoyed the most. One is the careful attention Morrell pays to each of his characters T
Cym Lowell
Jan 31, 2010 Cym Lowell rated it really liked it
David Morrell is credited by the International Thriller Writers Association as being one of the founders, if not the founder, of the current genre of thrillers. I had not read his work until my current campaign to read the work of all recognized thriller writers. David received the Thrillmaster award for 2009 from the ITWA at its Thrillerfest meeting this year.

First Blood marked the appearance of John Bambo in literature, followed by his glorious movie career. The novel is a masterpiece! The plo
Oct 25, 2013 Joel rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I kind of hate giving this book two stars but I just felt the writing was without passion, depth, or any particular style. I basically finished it out of obligation. I picked the book up because I was surprised to learn the 1982 movie (which I liked quite a bit, not so much the sequels) was based on it. In that, this edition of the novel had a forward by the author that was much more interesting than the book itself. It basically talks about the impetus of the story, a little about the ...more
Wade Garret
Nov 13, 2015 Wade Garret rated it it was ok
Always enjoyed the movie. Always wanted to read the book. Glad I finally did, but wasn't nearly as good as the movie and it's because the movie made much better choices.

In the book:
1) Rambo ISN'T the Good Guy, at least, he wasn't to me.
2) Rambo kills way too many people, which again, goes to #1
3) Lots of backstory for Teasle, which we didn't need and like the stuff about his marriage, it really didn't matter——unless the book is supposed to be about Teasle, but I feel that's a bait and switch gi
Jeffrey Bumiller
I hesitated to read this for very long because the movie means so much to me. I first saw the movie when I was probably way to young to have seen it (Thanks Dad!) and it's always been a favorite.

The book differs greatly from the film. First of all the book takes place in Kentucky instead of the Northwest. The bodycount is significantly higher in the book, which I feel is an interesting component, and is often the opposite of how these things go. The book also contains less dialogue than the fil
Jonathan Maas
Jun 30, 2016 Jonathan Maas rated it it was amazing
Great book, in short:

Pros: David Morrell might be the king of the two-person novel, in which two characters face off against each other, and it switches vantage points.

Though difficult to root for the hero at times, this book makes sense of the Vietnam war in a sense. What happens when these people you've trained to be killers come back? How do they fit back in to normal society, where violence is not accepted. It shows the good and the bad in all its honesty.

Cons: Not really a con, but it is an
Paul Tracey
Apr 24, 2013 Paul Tracey rated it really liked it
First Blood, an outstanding film and probably the first video rental I watched (at 11 years old). I never gave much thought into reading the book. Watching the movie made a huge impression on me, as it did with many teenage boys at the time, and I confess I have flashbacks to the movie as I read it. As I turned the pages the nostalgia for my teenage years and my association to Rambo returned, I saw Stallone’s chiseled physique awash with mud and blood, a highly trained killing machine alone, a ...more
Kym Andrew Robinson
Mar 08, 2014 Kym Andrew Robinson rated it really liked it
Shelves: action-fiction
The book that inspired the movie series 'Rambo'. Certainly a lot different to the film, the book is darker in tone and provides a feeling of tension and anxiety seldom found for me in fiction.

I read this book around the same time as I started to get heavily into the Mack Bolan series of novels. I found that the one man army, on the run, ex Vet fighting superior forces was interesting even if for a while it was over done.

This is not a complex book, it is however a solid character narrative with e
Mar 24, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
What a great book- from start to finish it never slows down. It makes you think, without making you think that the writer is just making you think :) I haven't gotten this sucked into a story since I read another "chase" book last year: the non-fiction "Lone Survivor." From the story itself, to the manner of telling it, this is a near-perfect weekend read. *Don't read the book's introduction unless you want to spoil it for yourself-especially if you've already seen the movie* It drives me crazy ...more
Christian Galacar
Feb 04, 2016 Christian Galacar rated it liked it
Essentially a drawn-out chase novel. For those who have only seen the movie it inspired (Rambo), I'd recommend giving it a shot. But be warned, it will change your view of the hero you probably grew up rooting for. In this book, he is a bit of a cold-blooded killer, gutting people and shooting them point blank in the face. The book has it's moments, but overall it really just didn't offer anything all that interesting. Flat characters, dull plot.
Kate S
Nov 24, 2015 Kate S rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, brighid
While I did enjoy this more than I expected, it still was not my cup of tea. I have never seen the movie based on this book, but I do remember when it came out on VHS. I had no interest in seeing it and somehow never understood the story behind the extreme violence that was the main selling point (as I recall.) The story sort of makes the violence make more sense.
Sep 07, 2016 Neri. rated it it was ok
The birth of John Rambo was actually pretty boring. Watch the movie or all of the movies instead.
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 10, 2009 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
Not baddly written I was torn between the 3 or 4 and finally went with 3, but it may be some better than that. Sad in its own way...seen the movie but not read the book? Read the book.
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David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.
More about David Morrell...

Other Books in the Series

Rambo: First Blood (4 books)
  • Rambo: First Blood, Part II
  • Rambo III
  • Rambo and Me: The Story Behind the Story, an essay

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“His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky.” 15 likes
“What about God? The idea embarrassed him. It was only in moments of absolute fear that he had ever thought about God and prayed to him, always embarrassed because he did not believe and felt so hypocritical when he prayed out of fear, as if in spite of his disbelief there might be God after all, God who could be fooled by a hypocrite. When he was a child, then he believed. He certainly did believe when he was a child. How did it go, the nightly Act of Contrition? The words came hesitantly, unfamiliarly to him. Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for—For what?” 4 likes
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