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The Short-Timers

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  928 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
This novel was the source text of Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket". It follows the career of the sardonic narrator from the organized sadism of Marine basic training to an assignment as a combat reporter in Vietnam to his experiences as a platoon commander after the Tet offensive, portraying the descent into barbarism that marked America's intervention in Vietnam.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1983 by Bantam (first published February 1979)
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Clarence Boddicker I don't know if reading on the computer is an option for you, but the complete text was posted on Hasford's website in the past. I'm sure you could…moreI don't know if reading on the computer is an option for you, but the complete text was posted on Hasford's website in the past. I'm sure you could find a cached version of the page.(less)
The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienMatterhorn by Karl MarlantesDispatches by Michael HerrA Rumor Of War by Philip CaputoThe Quiet American by Graham Greene
Best Literature About the Vietnam War
16th out of 209 books — 368 voters
The Notebook by Nicholas SparksThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienStardust by Neil Gaiman
The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
463rd out of 840 books — 9,030 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,188)
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Feb 05, 2012 TK421 rated it it was amazing
Gustav Hasford’s THE SHORT-TIMERS is my unicorn. It is the book that has eluded me for almost fifteen years. Finally, I wizened up and went to my library; I guess there are some books that will not become part of my personal collection. Enough about me. The book. My unicorn.

As a kid I knew that the movie Full Metal Jacket was based on this book. (Brief interlude: most of the best lines quoted from the movie were never said by that character in the book.) My father, a veteran of Viet Nam was par
Nov 28, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing
Felt like I lived this book instead of reading it. Experienced it rather than scooted my eyes across some digital letters. Each character was a living breathing being sprung from the whirlpool imagination of author Gus Hasford. As much a character, too, is the bullet-shredded landscape of Vietnam itself. In some scenes the scenery almost comes alive and fights against both VC and American soldiers alike. The brutal events are part of a fictionalized account of a war that was stranger than fictio ...more
Libros Prohibidos
Feb 08, 2016 Libros Prohibidos rated it really liked it
Con una narrativa que recuerda a La carretera de Cormac McCarthy, este libro deja un amargor en la boca similar al que dejan El corazón de las tinieblas de Conrad u Hogueras en la llanura de Ooka, con un regusto extrañamente antibelicista parecido al de Le grand troupeau de Giono. Reseña completa:
Jul 27, 2010 Andrew rated it liked it
While I found the book itself to be a nice, compelling read- and fairly short to boot- the author's super terse, super clipped style began to grate on me after a hearty measure of unbroken jargon, especially when all the best bits of dialogue were used in Kubrick's (incredible) adaptation. It's easy to see why Kubrick's version was 'loosely' based on the novel- the book has none of the scope of classics of the genre like Naked And The Dead, and bits of absurdity made the 'authentic' feel of the ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Neil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
good short story that was the basis for "full metal jacket" it was let down by a mediocre middle and also by spelling mistakes (may have been my copy). all in all a good vietnam war story.
Carolina Morales
I had to read this novel after I watched Stanley Kubrik's movie Full Metal Jacket, with Matthew Modine as Private Joker (the narrator). The novel is quite different from the movie but equally sharp and still a powerful heartbreaker. I strongly recommend it to all as source of historical context and study of human 'barbaric' behaviour, except for extremely sensitive people, folks who have already been on a war or had a painful experience at the Army because the narrative contains several possible ...more
Ryan Toh
Oct 23, 2011 Ryan Toh rated it it was amazing
The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford is an autobiographical novel by Gustav Hasford; described as a "thinly-veiled" account on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

Sometimes words can be powerful, they can evoke emotions that grip the soul. There are multiple ways to do this, from telling a heartbreaking narration to simply showing reality up close and personal. This book does the latter - telling a veteran's account of war actually is.

This isn't a book that glorifies war, but rather sh
May 03, 2010 Chris rated it liked it
When I was about thirteen, at summer basketball camp, I remember running laps around the football field to the rhythm of the older campers shouting out: "I don't know but I been told, Eskimo pussy is mighty cold." I remember wondering if they really let you say pussy in the Army, and where that song came from. Turns out it came from The Short-Timers.

Strange that half the dialogue in this book worked its way into the consciousness of my generation of boys via Full Metal Jacket, yet it's out of pr
Feb 28, 2013 Ernesto rated it it was amazing
WOW. I'd wanted to read this book almost since "Full Metal Jacket", Kubrick's awesome movie based on it came out so long ago, and remained in the Top 5 all-time favorite movies of mine ever since. In the book I revisited many of the situations of the filmed version (along with many others that were not included), but the pathos, intensity and sheer horror of the written text is overwhelming. No wonder the filmmakers toned down the gore and violence. Hasford totally excels on the vivid descriptio ...more
Yomi Eluwande
Mar 09, 2014 Yomi Eluwande rated it really liked it
This book made me feel like I was in it. I was so concentrated from beginning to end.
The way Gustav Hasford describes every movement, activity of Corporal Joker and everything in the book is just too good! And I hear it has a sequel?!
I'm off then
Aug 16, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vietnam/War novel fans
Shelves: favorites
The book upon which Kubrick based his classic Vietnam opus Full Metal Jacket, though the film stops at the book's 2/3 mark. NOT a reflective Tim O'Brien-esque war story. This is the grit, blood, terror, violence, destruction, and madness of war in all it's many facets. As intense as Full Metal jacket is, it still comes off as young adult material compared to the book of its origin. Sadly it's out of print, and even tattered paperbacks fetch $20-30 on Amazon, but I do have a copy if any of my fri ...more
Oct 28, 2014 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
There were moments of this novel that seemed very, very, real. There were moments that seemed to have technical errors in them, perhaps some of you who served in the Marines during this era might enlighten me.

First-- the first third of the novel takes place at the Marine Basic Training Base on Perris Island. I've been told by former Marines, that the current status of "hands off" (referencing drill instructors towards recruits) is a NEW change. In fact, about a dozen years ago, a former Marine
May 16, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
This book made me feel like someone put my insides through a paper shredder and shoved them back into me. The Short Timers might be the most horrifying and painful book I've read about war so far. It is skillfully written, mixing humor, horror, and Hasford's own experiences in Vietnam. It does not show you any mercy or leave you with any hope. I highly recommend this book but you should know what you're getting into! Though Full Metal Jacket is a great movie, it's not as hard hitting as the book ...more
Timothy McNeil
Jul 02, 2014 Timothy McNeil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: also-a-movie, war
I want to be up front and say that I think that Kubrick & company did a better job of boiling down the story and imagery for the screen than Hasford did of presenting it in the book. However, I also first saw Full Metal Jacket in the summer of 1987 with my Vietnam War veteran father, and probably another twenty times since then. I am likely invested in the film in such a way that it colors my appreciation for the source material. Having written that, I found it helpful to keep Matthew Modi ...more
Matt Dietrich
Mar 20, 2008 Matt Dietrich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novel provided much of the material for "Full Metal Jacket," but the movie is in no way an adaptation of it. This is Gustav Hasford's veiled autobiographical tale of Marine Corps boot camp and service in Vietnam, most notably in the battle of Hue City. Not exactly a memoir, it's a terrific story in terms of one grunt's experience but also in giving a vivid picture of life on the ground in Vietnam.
Procyon Lotor
no-frills viet-nam war War in between the not so technological second world one, and current peacekeeping ops satellite controlled, infrared aimed, smart-bombed, image intensified, kevlar shielded and powerpoint resumed. Main source of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket movie script, contains slightly more scenes but the resumed screenplay is as better as possible. More streamlined, even harsher, quick-paced, the script restitutes the real taste of these events. Docufictionally developed, reader feels ...more
Gary Letham
Mar 27, 2015 Gary Letham rated it really liked it
As I am a fan of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, I have been meaning to read this book for a while. I have not been disappointed at all. The book differs quite substantially from the film, which is good as it may have been boring if it had been a verbatim transfer. Kubrick captures a lot of the essence of the book, but not it all. The ending is substantially different and is as only two parts of the book made it to the film, boot camp & the Battle of Hue. The book finishes during the battle for ...more
Alan Petersen
Dec 03, 2014 Alan Petersen rated it it was amazing
Full Metal Jacket is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I've wanted to read the novel on which the movie was based on for a long time, but It's tough to find this it.

It's not on Kindle ebook format and hard copies are sold on Amazon, but the cheapest was $55 for a used paperback copy. The entire San Francisco Public Library had one damaged copy which they couldn't find. Finally I found a copy at a university library and wow, what a novel. I wish the publisher would re-issue this novel, e
Sean Chick
Nov 17, 2015 Sean Chick rated it it was amazing
A surreal miss-mash of impressions, feelings, horror, slang, and dark humor. Every bit the equal of the film, if not actually superior and among the finest books on war ever written.
Apr 25, 2014 Christina rated it liked it
This book offers a psychological insight into the Vietnam War through the point of view of its narrator. The author portrays the psychological changes that the characters in the book undergoes as a result of war and provides a contrast between a "new guy's" perspective, or one who has not experienced the Vietnam War much yet, and a more experienced person. The author also does an excellent job at drawing the reader in and making the reader feel as if he or she is experiencing what the narrator i ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Petergiaquinta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wish I still had this book...
Apr 28, 2015 Sergio rated it liked it
Libro duro e crudo sulla guerra, narra le vicende di un reporter americano (Joker) spedito in Vietnam nella fase più aspra del conflitto e senza mezzi termini mette a nudo le atrocità della guerra, la fratellanza tra i soldati in combattimento, le inadeguatezze dei comandanti e infine l'inutilità della guerra falciatrice di giovani vite. Il romanzo è ricco di dialoghi che più di ogni descrizione esprimono i sentimenti della truppa, le paure e gli atti di eroismo, le tensioni interiori e l'insens ...more
Oct 25, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing
"The Short Timers" an autobiographical book by Gustav Hasford, is only but a tiny window into the reality of war. But a door to the psychology of war. The story is told through the eyes of the main charaters eyes but also the narrarator at certain parts.

This book constantly humanizes the Vietnam War on both sides. It shows what soldiers think of the actions they carry out, and what they think of the overall acts of war. Gustav does this through Jokers peace symbol button, the techniques, languag
Oct 25, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
A "semi-autobiographical" told by Gustav Hasford, The Short-Timers gives readers an image of war that many people do not see. Told from the perspective of a U.S. Marine, the story puts readers deep into the jungles of Vietnam with battle-hardened soldiers.

This book describes war for what it really is, and what soldiers think of it. While reading the book, I couldn't help but think Did they really go through all of this? This is crazy! This book does a great job showing us how war really takes i
May 23, 2013 Ken rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I don't know but I've been told...

I am part of the first American generation that doesn't really have experience with war. What about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the like? I think, unless you are a soldier or family/close friends with a soldier you haven't thought much about those wars. They are not overwhelmingly on the news, unless politicians are trading barbs at one another, they haven't seeped deeply into our national conscious. It is unfortunate, but the most insightful articles I have read on
Jun 17, 2013 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
The idea of war--its causes, functions, and impact--is something I'm incapable of understanding. The impression I have of World War II and Vietnam is that people thought about it, talked about it, love it, hated it, and felt it more than anything going on today. Maybe that's because I don't come from a military family, but I think it's more than that. Our culture is tired of all the death, tired of thinking about our boys and girls killing and dying.

This book is the basis for Full Metal Jacket.
Joey Allison
Apr 06, 2015 Joey Allison rated it really liked it
Found this book waiting for a ferry on Koh Phangan island in Thailand. Had seen the movie and heard the book was impressive. Boy, what a story. Definitely not your American Nationalism propaganda piece. Such a brutal depiction of war. The book will leave you feeling depressed but with a better understanding of the Vietnam war from the perspective of a writer who was there during the shitstorm. I enjoyed it.
Nov 04, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it
Hasford was charged with theft in 1988 because he had taken hundreds of books from various libraries, the most from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. In the second section of the book, he finds a leather bound Jules Verne novel in French and "souvenirs" it.

most rick-tick
there it is
what you do you become
in such situations motives are immaterial
number 10 (bad)
Jul 17, 2015 Hanson rated it really liked it
Powerful book. So intense I read it in short segments. I recommend to anyone who appreciates war literature: from what little I know this is a very realistic look at the experience of US Marines in Vietnam. Also highly recommend Full Metal Jacket, the Kubrick film which is based upon this book.
Theophilus (Theo)
Oct 12, 2015 Theophilus (Theo) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you liked the movie "Full Metal Jacket" and thought it was profane, violent, and graphic, the book is all of that and more. Gustav Hasford takes the reader back in time to follow a Marine company through basic training and on to the chaos of Vietnam. He pulls no punches. His characters are young men from different walks of life who are quickly (for most of them) turned into soulless killers and sent to represent freedom, democracy, and project U.S. might in Southeast Asia. His descriptions ar ...more
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“Guns tell the truth. Guns never say, "I'm only kidding." War is ugly because the truth can be ugly and war is very sincere.” 6 likes
“The purpose of the bayonet training, Sergeant Gerheim explains, is to awaken our killer instincts. The killer instinct will make us fearless and aggressive, like animals. If the meek ever inherit the earth the strong will take it away from them. The weak exist to be devoured by the strong. Every Marine must pack his own gear. Every Marine must be the instrument of his own salvation. It's hard, but there it is.” 0 likes
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