Drew's Reviews > The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line by James Jones
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May 07, 12

Read from April 09 to 29, 2012

I had the same reaction to this as I did to From Here to Eternity, which is to say that the beginning was so irritating that it almost made me put it down, but I ended up glad that I didn't.

I haven't read too many other books that were written around this time, but the prose style in this seems lackluster. Yeah, there are some poetic bits, but there are also bits that seem really lazy. In the first handful of pages, for example, Jones uses the words 'unpleasant' and 'supercilious' to describe Doll at least four times each. I normally wouldn't advocate using a thesaurus to help you write, because if you're having trouble thinking of synonyms, you've probably got bigger problems. But Jones definitely could have made use of one.

From Here To Eternity's full of similar things; what I remember most of all was the construction "he ____ed ____ly" over and over again, page after page. But both books' characters grow on you via sheer force of repetition. The Thin Red Line is much shorter, but it's still over 500 pages, and though there are tons of characters, almost all of them get enough page space to make a lasting impression.

And Jones clearly has a good sense of what motivates or demoralizes soldiers, and communicates it well. In particular, I found the interactions between enlisted men and officers pretty fascinating. At one point, several men of varying ranks go off on a special mission, and succeed. Afterward there's a lot of backslapping and promises of medals. Unfortunately, they don't seem to come through, which seems to be a pretty forceful statement about the army's regarding men as tools and nothing more. But then, eventually, they do get their medals unexpectedly. So what does that mean? I'm not sure about that one, exactly. I am, however, sure about this novel's classic status. It's worth a read, and it seems like it's better than the 1998 Terrence Malick film, which is itself supposedly pretty good, although I haven't seen it.
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Reading Progress

04/28/2012 page 202
43.0% "There's a character named Al Gore in this. Is he supposed to be the real Al Gore Sr.?"

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message 1: by Rayroy (new)

Rayroy I highly recommend the film


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