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A Soldier's Play

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1982

A black sergeant cries out in the night, They still hate you, then is shot twice and falls dead.

Set in 1944 at Fort Neal, a segregated army camp in Louisiana, Charles Fuller's forceful drama--which has been regularly seen in both its original stage and its later screen version starring Denzel Washington--tracks the investigation
Paperback, 100 pages
Published September 1st 1982 by Hill & Wang (first published January 1st 1982)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  405 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Dee's Reading Zone
Reread: This play still holds truth to the hate one can give for his own kind.

“Waters: Not havin' ain't no excuse for not gettin”

“ Waters: We're men. Soldiers. And I don't intend for our race to be cheated of its place of honor and respect in this war because of fools like C.J.”

“The worst thing you can do, in this part of the country, is pay too much attention to the death of a negro under mysterious circumstances.”- Colonel Nivens

“- Private First Class Peterson: I didn't kill much. Some things
Excellent use of lights, shadows, music, and flashbacks. It felt as if I was there looking at the play. Thought-provoking. Great story and great characters.
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally well-written piece on race and rank. My only comment is that I wish I could say that the play is dated, but, alas.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunning look at racial issues faces Black soldiers in the military, and amidst themselves. A mystery told in real time and in flash back, this play is a punch in the gut!
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A hard pill to swallow, but an excellent play. Thorough characters, effective staging, and a thought-provoking subject. Timeless.
James Crabtree
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Soldier's Play is set in 1944, in an Army post mostly consisting of African-American soldiers. The death of a black NCO is investigated by an African-American officer under conditions of southern bigotry and institutional racism. But who did murder T/SGT Waters? And who was this spit-and-polish sergeant? What really happened that night in Louisiana? This book will draw you into the story.
Sep 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this for my class and I LOVED how the author used lighting and flashback throughout the play. This play examines different avenues of avoiding stereotypes within the black community at a time when social advancement would be more accessible after WWII. The contrasting attitudes of Sargent Waters, Peterson, and CJ were extremely thought provoking as each thought the other were the problem and themselves the solution. I liked the mystery element of the play, and I was surprised by the endin ...more
1982 hardcover of this just retrieved from bookstore trash.

This play won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize and was made into an exemplary 1984 movie, "A Soldier's Story," that just about kicked ass on every level, especially for Adolph Cesar's unforgettable, haunting Oscar-nominated performance as the hard-ass and troubled sergeant. A cool feature of this first edition hardcover from 1982 is the inclusion of photos from the 1981 original stage production starring Caesar, Denzel Washington and several othe
Chip Starr
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Soldier's Play depicts a mystery surrounding the murder of Sergeant Waters who was shot twice by an unknown man. Captain Davenport has been sent to investigate and this sparks controversy within the small community about why a black lawyer has been sent to an army base to investigate a murder. The play showcased a lot of racial conflicts going on during the time. I feel it was a difficult read but worth it.
Isaac Timm
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, 2008
A play about hate, and all its levels, I had seen parts of a movie based on this play on TV, but really didn't get an idea of what the story was about. Its play that is seems to be nothing more then a simple mystery, but is, in fact layered with subtext and complexity that is missing from most modern plays. The conclusion left me shocked and saddened but with a great deal to give thought too.
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Reading this play, as opposed to seeing it, was powerful in the sense that I wasn't able to keep track of who was black and who was white, which is the essence of the play. Knowing that a simple visual of skin color would change the entire perspective of the action was a heart breaking realization.
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this in it's entirety because I was incorporating a performance of the play into a script I'm writing. The play itself is great which made for some pleasant research. I tend to have less interest in art that deals with race relations, usually finding it too corny, preachy, or obvious, but I had no such reservations this time around. Good stuff deserving of the Pulitzer it won.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A good read and probably not a fair rating, as I read it 35 years after it was first performed. That said, it feels like it was groundbreaking at the time, and there's some nice, nuanced characterization here. To my modern eyes and ears, it felt a little rigid, but still a clearly vital, important text in the history of American drama.
Matt Carton
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A little Saturday afternoon reading. A great, and it seems nearly forgotten play. It is constructed beautifully. And, damn, wouldn't it have been great to see Adolph Caesar, Denzel, and Sam Jackson all in the same production?
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, drama
Excellent. Did also see the movie based on the play... Denzel, Adolph Caesar (received Oscar nomination for this role), and Larry Riley played same roles they played in stage version. Samuel L. Jackson, who played Henson on stage, was replaced in movie.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it
At an army base during World War II, a black soldier is found murdered, an event that could ignite the era’s racial tensions. Winner of the 1982 Pulitzer, A Soldier’s Play – at least on paper – is an uneven examination of the complexity of racial relations in America. Quasi-recommended.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: x2018-19-season
Dated when it was written almost forty years ago - which was almost forty years after the setting for the story - so a doubly dated read. Still enjoyable, but probably best to either read aloud or see a production rather than muddling through the reading and its fairly undifferentiated cast.
Jacques Bromberg
Dec 18, 2006 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
This was a tough play to read, but dealt honestly and bravely with race issues in mid-20th-century American military.
Apr 01, 2009 marked it as to-read
One of my favorite movies. I must get around to reading the play one day, and seeing it on stage would be awesome as well.
Stephen Bess
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I just wish I could've witnessed this on stage. Great play.
Feb 27, 2011 added it
not just a good source of samples for immortal technique
Amber Brown
A really decent play. I was lucky enough to see it performed before I read it, and both media were exceptional.
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A very well crafted play. Fantastic characters, great story, nice mystery. Everything about it is wonderful.
Worth reading but, I didn't love it.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wasn't the most exciting book but it was still good. All the characters kind of got confusing after awhile though.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty good, the ending was bitter-sweet, both good and a bit disappointing.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shaie B
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazingly well-written with a powerful message on racism. Warning: strong language.
Suzanne Ondrus
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
It's a bit confusing with the flashbacks. Based on a real story. I'd like to see it staged. Would pair nicely with Clybourne Park & A Raisin in the Sun. ...more
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