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Mister Roberts

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  224 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews

An instant hit upon its original publication in 1946, it was quickly adapted for stage & screen. Beginning as a collection of short stories, Heggen based his novel on his experiences aboard the USS Virgo in the South Pacific during WWII . Irreverent, hilarious, the book shows readers what a real leader is in the guise of Mr. Roberts!

Paperback, 221 pages
Published February 5th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1946)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 01, 2015 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Shelves: nautical-fiction
Probably all of us have seen the classic Mister Roberts play or movie. The book is better. It captures the mind-numbing tedium much better, and the humor is scorched with irony and paradoxical pain. The hero, Mr. Roberts, spends his time on board trying to leave the safety of his cargo transport's milk-runs, filing one transfer request after another, seeking the action of a war-ship.

The author, Thomas Heggens, was discovered drowned in his bathroom in 1949, an apparent suicide, despite, or perh
Jessica Barkl
Feb 20, 2013 Jessica Barkl rated it it was amazing
Checked out a bunch of books in preparation for the show I’m in currently, and one of them is this book. I finished it late last night when I had insomnia, and I was so sad afterwards that I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about the book, and how it relates to the play I’m in…which is going into tech this week, and I guess I just had one of those “tech week insomnia nights.” Though, I have to say, not a good way to start a long week.

So…the book jacket probably has the best descriptions of the b
Mar 11, 2011 Jerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mister Roberts was one of a slew of books published by rising American authors immediately after the end of World War II. These young men had served in the war and drew from their experiences in the conflict as an initial introduction to their work. For young writer Thomas Heggen it brought instant fame and praise, and later personal tragedy. The book is ok, the story is original (one of the greatest battles in war can be the fight against boredom and monotony), however, the resulting movie is m ...more
Dec 15, 2015 L. rated it it was amazing
The book is perhaps not as great as the movie adaptation but then young, ex-GI Heggen didn't have the talents of Fonda, Lemon and Cagney to bring his characters their additional embellishments. What the book does have is authenticity and I'd recommend it to anyone who's considering spending time in the service. Life aboard ship is not always the harrowing adventure tale that we see in movies and read about in books. This novel gives the reader a sense of the quieter side of military life. And of ...more
After having loved the movie growing up I was curious when I found that Mr. Roberts had begun life as a book. I was even more curious when I found that it was the author's one published novel and that he died before celebrating his 30th birthday and before the stage adaptation starring Henry Fonda made it big.

In some ways the death of the author could be called (view spoiler)

The book is perhaps no
Dec 02, 2010 Ramzi rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Koelle
Apr 03, 2010 Bob Koelle rated it really liked it
Everybody's seen this movie, right? Well, everyone in my family has. Before it was a movie starring Henry Fonda, it was a Broadway hit starring Henry Fonda, and before that it was this novel, published in 1946. And that makes it remarkable.

It's a book about comic moments on a dreary cargo vessel in the Pacific in WWII, not told comically, but manner-of-factly. The author's post-war bitterness and cynicism seep out from time to time in some remarkable passages. Try to imagine anyone writing an od
Apr 05, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loving this funny, touching film is what prompted me to read the book, which is also wry and comical. It doesn't quite have the heart of the movie, but, as a short and mostly breezy read, it doesn't disappoint either. I just had to hold my nose when women were mentioned. The nurses in the bathroom, for example, could have been allowed more dignity, but I accept the voyeurism tale as sadly accurate. It's hard to read something in which most of the male characters feel that women have some duty to ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Gary rated it really liked it
I actually saw the movie first with Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon. I thought the movie was great and the book did not disappoint either. As with anyone who's seen the movie before the book, you picture in your mind the actors from the movie with the characters in the book. A great read and to me it reminded me just a bit of M.A.S.H in its style of comedy.
Feb 02, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing
Loved the book. Loved the movie. Originally published as short stories in the Atlantic Monthly, this book is about a group of men on the Navy cargo ship, the Reluctant. You read about their antics and trials while in Europe and the Pacific World War II is being played out without them. The movie starred Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon.
Paul Samuelson
Dec 17, 2014 Paul Samuelson rated it it was amazing
My dad was a Navy man who loves this book and the movie that followed. Once I read the book, it was an instant favorite. The story is filled with humor and insights into life on a ship in the Pacific far from the action of WWII. It's a book I go back to a lot just to read a few pages, which always lifts me into a great mood.
Gregg Jones
Jun 03, 2015 Gregg Jones rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, humor
I loved the story. How can you make a story and a comedy at that, when the topic is about an oceans voyage from apathy to tedium with occasional side trips to monotony and ennui.
David Bober
Dec 29, 2014 David Bober rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always a joy when the Pratt library serves you up a first edition that hasn't been borrowed in a dozen years.
Kerry Quinlisk
Jul 24, 2015 Kerry Quinlisk rated it liked it
Now this book was worth holding on to for 35 years, and well worth a re-read. I finished it a while ago, but haven't been on GR in a long time.
1st edition cpl.
May 14, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
This is the novel the classic movie (James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemon) was based on. It captures the tedium and oppressive heat and life aboard a little ship in a big ocean.

My dad started his naval career in the earl 50s as a cook on one of these little supply ships in the Pacific, and he had shipmates who'd been there since the War. He said this is pretty darned close to the real thing...including the palm tree!
Zach Jensen
Sep 21, 2011 Zach Jensen rated it it was ok
i just started this book a couple days ago and i haven't goten that far but the crew isn't like the rest of the navy crews by how they act and dress. the captin really doesn't act like a normal captin he doesn't know what kind of power he has over the crew. So the crew can kinda push him around. and mister roberts is the most respected officer.
Apr 03, 2011 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Funny and poignant, Mr. Roberts was a real treat to read. More a collection of short stories than a novel in the classic sense. The all too real story tells of the trials and trivialities surrounding a crew onboard a cargo ship during WWII. The movie is much altered from the book, but both have their own merits.
Jan 14, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hmmm...well, not what I expected, but still a good book. it's obvious the movie (and most likely the play) took bits and pieces from the book, but not everything.
Kenneth Flusche
Aug 07, 2013 Kenneth Flusche rated it it was amazing
This marks the third time I've read this one. First time early 60's an adventure story with a sad ending. Late 70's as a Navy Vet it was a real world story, Finally yesterday 2013 it was just a story of people serviving a difficult job. Definitly worth reading a clasic.
Feb 10, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series of comic vignettes aboard a Navy cargo ship in the Pacific during WWII. The book is different than the play and movie in that it doesn't focus solely on the characters of Mister Roberts and Ensign Pulver.
Sep 12, 2009 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I enjoyed the "light reading," I doubt if I would have read the book had I not seen the movie and, in retrospect, I doubt f I would have seen the movie if I read the book first.
Dan Hays
Oct 26, 2010 Dan Hays rated it it was amazing
Simply a classic - I've read this book numerous times, and it maintains it's high caliber appeal!
Aug 01, 2011 Alicedewonder rated it it was amazing
Bob Wrathall
Nov 04, 2012 Bob Wrathall rated it it was amazing
Read this book as a 12 year old. It was wonderful.
Howard Hill
Jan 09, 2013 Howard Hill rated it it was amazing
It is one of my favorite movies, and an even greater book.
Jul 27, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed the movie - you will love the book.
Feb 17, 2012 Paul marked it as to-read
Pete Fosselius
Pete Fosselius marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2016
Jonathan rated it liked it
Jun 26, 2016
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“What manner of ship is this? What does it do? What is its combat record? Well, those are fair questions, if difficult ones. The Reluctant, as was said, is a naval auxiliary. It operates in the back areas of the Pacific. In its holds it carries food and trucks and dungarees and toothpaste and toilet paper. For the most part it remains on its regular run, from Tedium to Apathy and back; about five days each way. It makes an occasional trip to Monotony, and once it made a run all the way to Ennui, a distance of two thousand nautical miles from Tedium. It performs its dreary and unthanked job, and performs it, if not inspiredly, then at least adequately.” 1 likes
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