Julie G's Reviews > From Here to Eternity: The Restored Edition

From Here to Eternity by James Jones
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Sep 10, 12

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Originally published by Scribner in 1951, James Jones' novel was heavily edited to, purportedly, get it past the censors of the time. To present a more tasteful image of life in the military. Now, thanks to Jones' family and OpenRoad Media, we can read the book as it was written.

In the wake of the Depression, military service was the only option for many young men in America. Men who were poor, poorly educated, or poor of spirit had few choices in the early 20th century.

On an Army base in Hawaii, in the early weeks of 1941, Robert E Lee 'Prew' Prewitt is a helluva fighter and the "best bugler in the Regment [sic]." Although only twenty-one, he had lived 'on the bum' for years. Seeking to improve his lot in life, Prew chose The Profession.

At his first post with the 27th, Prew became a boxer. After a bout that nearly killed a man, he gave up fighting. Constant harassment and abuse, designed to force him back in the ring, instead sent Prew to 'A' Company, home of the bugle corps.

Now, as the novel begins, Prew has been passed over for promotion to First Bugler in favor of a company 'pet.' There are rumors that Prew rejected his commander's advances; he isn't saying. But, once again, he is transferred.

His new home, 'G' Company, is regular infantry with a commander more focused on boxing than war. Since Prew refuses to fight, conflict is inevitable. And, with the help of his second-in-command, Captain Dana E. 'Dynamite' Holmes is determined to teach Prew the error of his ways.

What follows is a portrait of military life on Hawaii in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, and the shocked and shocking days that came after. A portrait of men just trying to survive the politics, the discrimination, and the brutality of the few who held power over the many. Written by a man who lived it.

*****

I have never read the 1951 version of this novel and it's been many, many years since I saw the 1953 movie. Therefore, when I chose to read the restored edition, I had a vague Army-on-Hawaii-before-Pearl expectation of the book's content. Which is a bit like saying Moby Dick is about a guy and a big fish.

What grabbed me, and stays with me as I write this, is the language. Not the F-bombs and C-word, expunged in the 50s and common today, but the way that language was used sixty years ago. Language molded in the mind of a remarkable writer.

(A brilliant example can be found - here - at the James Jones Literary Society site.)

It would take days, and skills I simply lack, to describe even a portion of this work. There are people and places that you can see, and hear, and smell, and feel. The voices and lives of Schofield Barracks will live with you long after you close your e-reader.

Why not carve out a couple of weeks, pick up the ebook, and lose yourself?


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary electronic galley of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.com professional readers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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