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First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of First Blood to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with—or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky.

Millions saw the Rambo movies, but those who haven't read the book that started it all are in for a surprise—a critically acclaimed story of character, action, and compassion.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1972

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About the author

David Morrell

218 books1,413 followers
David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 761 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,560 reviews5,818 followers
June 29, 2015
I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know that the movie "First Blood" was based on this book. So when my friend 11811 (Eleven) reviewed this book I put in a request for it immediately.

Rambo shows up in a small town in Kentucky. The local sheriff doesn't like "his kind" being in his town so he takes him and dumps him out at the end of town. Rambo comes back. Then sheriff Teasle does it again. A couple of times. Rambo takes offense to being told that he can't be in town. He also takes offense to Sheriff Teasle wanting to shave his beard and cut his hair.

So Rambo goes a bit bat-shit crazy on the town. He ends up in the mountains of the area.


That pisses off the sheriff so he and his men go after Rambo.


That does not end very well. For the sheriff's men.
So then let's call in the state police, national guard and everybody else.
"He's an expert in guerrilla fighting, he knows how to live off the land, so he doesn't have the problem that you do of bringing up food and supplies for your men. He's learned patience, so he can hide somewhere and wait out this fight all year if he has to. He's just one man, so he's hard to spot. He's on his own, doesn't have to follow orders, doesn't have to synchronize himself with other units, so he can move fast, shoot and get out and hide some place else, then do the same all over again."



That doesn't end so well either.

I remember watching this movie when I was in about the seventh grade. My household was super religious so we didn't get to watch movies like this at home. One of my teachers at school actually brought in his copy for us to watch one day. I was glued to my seat. Rambo was the shiznit.
Now, I do get forced to watch it every time it comes on TV by my fanboy husband but usually I ignore it while I read.
The movie is a tad different as Rambo is a poor misunderstood hero. I thought in the book he was just a tad nutso and was tired of anyone pushing him around and he pushed back. Hard.
He is not very like-able in the book. The sheriff isn't either though. So I didn't mind that they just wanted to shoot the hell out of each other.

Profile Image for Carmen.
2,048 reviews1,802 followers
January 20, 2020
"I don't kill for a living."

"Of course not. You tolerate a system that lets others do it for you. And when they come back from the war, you can't stand the smell of death on them."
68%

“Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'.” - Will Smith MIB, not the originator of this quote.

“Did not know who he was fucking with.” - Richard B. Riddick, escaped convict, murderer.

Actually, books and movies who follow the did-not-know-who-he-was-fucking-with trope are some of my absolute favorites. However, I'm not sure this exactly falls into that realm. Let's discuss.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. And it wasn't the easy breezy read I expected, some sort of action-adventure caper that I could read quickly and enjoy like pulp fiction.

You're probably familiar with the basic story, although I have to tell you there are quite a few differences between the book and the movie.

Rambo – not John Rambo, he has no first name in the book – comes into a small Kentucky town and is expelled by the local police chief, one Wilfred Logan Teasle. Teasle doesn't like the way Rambo looks, and he thinks Rambo is bad news.

"Now get it clear," he said. "I don't want a kid who looks like you and doesn't have a job in my town. First thing I know, a bunch of your friends will show up, mooching food, maybe stealing, maybe pushing drugs.” 8%

This is based on nothing more than how Rambo looks and the fact that Rambo is unemployed. Rambo allows the cop to drive him (literally, in a car) out of town – then promptly marches right back into town again to get a burger at the local diner.

Now. I want to point out something important here, something I think Morrell does here that works and that I think he did not have to do. Teasle is not a bad guy.

Yes, that's right: Teasle, Rambo's #1 enemy in this book and the small-town chief of police, is NOT a bad guy. He might be a fucking moron, I'll give you that, but he's not a malicious, sadistic asshole who wants to hurt Rambo. At least, he isn't before Rambo starts murdering people right and left. He's actually a decent cop and someone who tries to be a decent man, emphasis on man, since he has definite ideas about masculinity. This is a very masculine book. I think a female appears on-page only twice, and women are extremely minor side characters who don't factor in to the main plot.

Teasle actually gives Rambo a lot of chances. He gives Rambo a lot of chances to just move on. And Rambo knows it, too. Teasle drives him out of town. Rambo walks right back into town and orders a burger. Teasle lets him take the burger to go and drives him out of town again.

 “As it is, I've half a notion to lock you up for the inconvenience you've caused me. But the way I see it, a kid like you, he's entitled to a mistake. It's like your judgment's not as developed as an older man's and I have to make allowances. But you come back again and I'll fix you so you won't know whether your asshole's bored, bunched, or pecked out by crows. Is that plain enough for you to understand? Is that clear?” 8%

I'm not saying Teasle's an angel. But he's a cop who tries to protect his town and he's not someone who is an abusive asshole.

Our problem here – the main problem of the novel – is that both Teasle and Rambo are too macho and too crazy to stop. Once it starts, it can't stop because neither man can back down. They both literally keep going Literally. Why? Because *grunt* “I am a man!” Or, as Rambo always says, “Goddamn it, I won't be pushed!”

So it's a rock and a hard place. Or an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Neither man will back down. Neither man will give up. Even before Rambo kills the first person, this could have been avoided about 11 different times on BOTH sides. Hell, while I don't think they ever could have been friends, they could have related to each other and shared war stories over coffee. Teasle was in Korea. Rambo was in Vietnam. Teasle bears a lot of the responsibility for this one, he's just so fucking thick. Rambo makes a lot of comments that Teasle, if he had half a brain, could've picked up on and ran with. He could have figured out Rambo was a Vietnam vet. But he doesn't. Rambo gives him opening after opening after opening – commenting on Teasle's gun, commenting on Teasle's Distinguished Service Cross, etc. - and Teasle just stupidly ignores it. He never follows up. He never asks Rambo any questions.

Finally, when the worst part comes, when they are going to lock up Rambo for vagrancy, Teasle gets many more opportunities to buy a clue. Rambo asks not to be put in the hole. Teasle ignores this. Doesn't ask him why. Doesn't equate Rambo's panic with PTSD or any kind of past trauma. When they strip Rambo and cavity search him, they see he's riddled with scars and bullet scars.

Rambo finally tells them he was in the army. Because they want to cut his hair and shave him, and they come after him with razors. Rambo doesn't like razors after being tortured in Vietnam. He thinks telling them he was in the army is very weak of himself. He holds himself up to these very high standards of 'masculinity.'

And they don't fucking believe him. This is why I have to lay a lot of the blame on Teasle. He's such a FUCKING moron. (He's incredibly surprised halfway through the book to learn that Rambo WAS in the Army and was telling the truth. Rambo doesn't wear dog tags like in the film.)

Then Rambo guts the cop coming at him with a straight razor. Teasle and the dying man are just stunned. He's trying to hold in his guts with his hands and Rambo is sprinting up the stairs from the jail buck-naked.

So it begins. But it all could have been avoided SO EASILY. If Teasle had half a brain cell, this could have been halted about 11 times. Also, Rambo could have chosen to move on about 11 times. But he didn't. He's very stubborn. He has some idea about 'proving' that he 'can't be pushed' and of course it ends very badly for everyone.

Even after the killing starts – and Rambo racks up quite a high kill-count in this novel – there were opportunities where he could escape. Run away. Leave. But he doesn't. Because he's got some macho pride and he has to PROVE something or some shit.

And the book So... great job there. Not only that, but at least two dozen other people are murdered, either by Rambo or by each other in their stupidity. A lot of idiots form posses to hunt Rambo in the woods, and shoot each other by mistake. They do a lot of his work for him, to be honest.

It would have been very easy for Morrell to make Teasle a belligerent asshole. But he isn't one. He's a man – admittedly, a flawed, stupid man – but not a sadistic asshole cartoon villain. His wife's left him, his beloved father figure has been estranged from him lately. He loves his job and cares about the men under his command. He's not a monster.

THE WRITING

As for the writing, I liked it. I think Morrell struggles a bit with grammar. I'm not sure if that's intentional or not, but there are a lot of missing commas here if that kind of things bothers you. He might have been trying to go for some sort of tone (giving him the benefit of the doubt here).

It's gritty, it's gross. It reminds me in a way of Joe Abercrombie's writing. Like Abercrombie, Morrell can't seem to miss the opportunity to make something gross or disgusting. He relishes it. He never describes stuff with any kind of neutral or positive adjectives. Coffee is 'sour' or 'bitter.' Adenaline 'squirts' into someones stomach. Diarrhea is discussed more than once. The world is a bitter, hateful, disgusting place. Same as Abercrombie, although Abercrombie's writing skillz are a bit better than Morrell's IMO.

People talk normally. I feel like people talk and act as people in Kentucky in the '70s would talk and act.

Morrell is a big fan of having his main characters (Rambo and Teasle) get into long discussions and arguments with themselves. In that way, perhaps Morrell isn't great at writing characters with distinct voices. They have the same kind of inner voice that they wrestle with. On the other hand, Morrell does seem to want to connect the two men, and perhaps this is intended to highlight their similarities. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt again. After all, by the end Not sure what THAT was all about, and I don't think it added. Two peas in a pod, in a way, although they can't see it.

TL;DR Overall, an enjoyable novel. It wasn't perfect, but it was better and beefier than I expected. Morrell doesn't linger on the idea of America turning its back on Vietnam vets and fucking them over in the realm of psychological aftercare, but it's there and it's not hidden. Which I think is perfect. He accomplishes the perfect blend of making you aware of it but not rubbing your face in it IMO.

MOVIE VS. BOOK

The movie makes Rambo out to be a kinder, gentler person. He tries to surrender. Book-Rambo thinks surrendering is disgusting and the idea of giving up is revolting. Movie-Rambo is an angelito who just wounds Teasle's men instead of killing them. Book-Rambo murders Teasle's men systematically and without any hesitation or mercy. Movie-Rambo holds a knife to Teasle's throat and warns him to stop pursuing him. Book-Rambo would have slit his throat. Movie-Rambo cries. Book-Rambo kills everyone and lets God sort them out. Movie-Rambo is definitely a nicer person, although he lacks Book-Rambo's mouthy comebacks and snarky inner dialogue. Book-Rambo had a sense of humor which Movie-Rambo seems to lack.

Movie-Rambo is a quiet, mumbling depressed veteran who is hassled by evil, asshole cops who firehose him, beat him, and taunt him. In the book the cops, while stupid and a little critical of Rambo's long hair, are just doing their job. They don't beat him, he gets a shower instead of a firehose, Teasle gives Rambo two chances to get out of town. He allows Rambo to buy a hamburger, unlike in the movie. There's no hatred or sadism toward Rambo on Teasle's part until Rambo starts gutting his partner.

I'm not saying Book-Teasle is a wonderful person, but he's certainly not the sadistic, angry asshole in the movie. The book shows both men to be at fault – at least to a certain extent – whereas the movie makes Rambo a hero and Teasle a villain. The book is more nuanced. Teasle is a human being with human feelings in the book. He feels genuine guilt and remorse for 'causing' his men's deaths by setting them on Rambo. He expresses regrets and doubts. There's none of that in the film. Rambo is also more ruthless, aggressive, and quick to murder in the book. And he DOESN'T regret it.

NAMES IN THIS BOOK
Rambo m
Wilfred Logan m nn Will
Merle f
Orval m
Anna f
Lester m
Matthew m
Bea f
Mitch m

RELATED READING:
Fobbit - excellent
Vertical Run - excellent
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,846 reviews16.3k followers
June 17, 2022
David Morrell published his novel First Blood in 1972, as a response to the Vietnam War and was inspired by some of his students returning from the war. The author’s work began in 1968.

While most folks will recognize the Rambo character from the Stallone films, this began as an allegory about war experiences and about martial training, as well as an exploration of the connection between generations of fighting men.

Most noteworthy is that the character of Sherriff Teasle, portrayed in the film by actor Brian Dennehy, is much more important in the book than in the film, every other chapter is from his perspective, and Morrell uses Teasle as a foil, or simply a juxtaposition with Rambo, as Teasle was also a veteran, a decorated Marine who saw action in the Korean War. Some may see this as a father-son metaphor, but I saw it more of older and younger brother.

The character of Col. Sam Trautman may be seen as an embodiment of Uncle Sam, the government who trained both men and sent both off to war and now has conflicting emotions about the result that came home.

Another demonstration of how the book is usually better than the movie, this is an important work in this genre.

description
Profile Image for Neil Walker.
Author 11 books206 followers
December 31, 2018
Most people will come to First Blood having seen the film first, as well as the three sequels. While the book does contain the thriller aspect and some of the action of the film, it is also a kind of dark character study into how a person can be affected by military training and the traumas of war.

In terms of the influence of this novel on me as an author, I would say that the protagonist, J. Rambo, has a number of similarities to my own John Kennedy character. These will become even more apparent as The Drug Gang Series continues.

First Blood is both a fascinating and an exciting read, probably more reminiscent of the film The Deer Hunter, in many ways, than the actual Rambo movies.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,464 reviews927 followers
May 8, 2017

His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky. He had a long heavy beard, and his hair was hanging down over his ears to his neck, and he had his hand out trying to thumb a ride from a car that was stopped at the pump. To see him there, leaning on one hip, a Coke bottle in his hand and a rolled-up sleeping bag near his boots on the tar pavement, you could never have guessed that on Tuesday, a day later, most of the police in Basalt County would be hunting him down.

I'm not a big fan of Silvester Stallone, in fact I believe he's a hack, but "First Blood" is arguably the best he ever did on the silver screen. I only saw the film version once, back in the late eighties when the videoplayers and small colour TV's were sprouting like mushrooms all over the country to fill in the gap left by increasing censure in official cinema houses. Yet I remember the story, 30 years later, and that made me wonder where this enduring appeal comes from. Turns out it is mostly the merit of the original story, penned by David Morell at the tail end of the sixties, a time when the American nation was torn apart by an unjust and inhumane war. Watching the news on TV this debut author had a stroke of inspiration that turned into a cultural icon:

... made me decide to write a novel in which the Vietnam War literally came home to America. There hadn't been a war on American soil since the end of the Civil War in 1865. With America splitting apart because of Vietnam, maybe it was time for a novel that dramatized the philosophical division in our society, that shoved the brutality of the war right under our noses.

The major difference between the book and the movie is this very attitude towards violence. Most viewers, my own twenty-something self included, saw only the underdog Rambo fighting the system and kicking a$$ in a spectacular way. Yes, this is part of the story, but the themes run much deeper in the novel and Morell finds a way to paint in between the black & white, right & wrong, good guys & bad guys easy assumptions. Both Rambo and Sheriff Teasle have more depth and more nuance than the movie I remember.

Rambo is clearly dealing with a split personality and post-traumatic shock (this being one of the first novels to explore the condition in detail). He has his pride and his anger, yet he is not a blind killing machine and would have liked to be able to fit in, if only the 'squares back home could look beyond his hippie appearance and engage him in a respectful manner.

Teasle is the product of an older generation and of a precious war (Korea), one war when the Americans still could pretend to be the knights in white saving the world from anarchy and terror. Teasle feels threatened by the new world order and by the younger generation with their protests, their drugs, long hair and free love. He takes refuge in a conservative, paternalistic worldview that will ultimately set him on a collision course with the drifter Rambo.

"And let him do this to somebody else? Screw. He has to be stopped.
"What? That's not why you're doing this? Admit you wanted all this to happen. You 'asked' for it – so you could show him what you knew, surprise him when he found you were the wrong guy to try and handle. You 'like' this"
"I didn't ask for anything. But damn right I like it. That bastard is going to pay."


I found the level of explicit violence in the novel surpasses the movie version but it is not gratuitous : it serves the declared purpose of making the horrors of war on distant shores real for the sheltered people back home. A lesson that is sadly already forgotten in this third millenium when new warhawks seem only to eager to start new conflicts in Syria, Korea or Iran.

—«»—«»—«»—
Profile Image for Grady Hendrix.
Author 43 books17.3k followers
November 6, 2018
David Morrell leads a writing workshop in delivering stomach-churning on-the-body sensation. So good I stole the bat cave sequence for We Sold Our Souls.
Profile Image for Brandon.
889 reviews233 followers
April 24, 2019
On a warm fall day in the small Kentucky town of Madison, Rambo (unlike the movie, there is no first name given here) arrives carrying a sleeping bag and a few meager possessions. Given his unkempt state (long hair, unshaven), he’s fingered for vagrancy and quickly picked up by Wilfred Teasle, the local sheriff, driven to the edge of town and issued a warning – don’t let Wilfred see him around these parts again. Undeterred, Rambo walks back into town as the whole ordeal plays out a second time.

You would think this would be the end of it but Rambo is refusing to be shoved around any longer. A decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, he has felt rejected by his country since returning home. With both Rambo and Wilfred refusing to back down from one another, it isn’t long until Rambo finds himself in a jail cell. What happens next leads to a lot of death and buckets of blood.

My first dose of the Rambo character came in 2008 when I went to the theatre to check out the fourth film in the movie franchise, aptly named RAMBO. Up to that point, it had been the most violent movie I’d ever seen (I believe it had held the record for on-screen body count at one point with two hundred and thirty six deaths). I joked with a friend of mine that after its release on blu-ray, the disc would probably be covered in blood when you unwrapped it. It wasn’t until I would go back and watch the first film that I realized that the series had gone off the rails following First Blood. Rather than a commentary on the mistreatment of war veterans and the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder, the character would become this symbol of the might and righteousness of the American military.

Even more so than the film (which isn’t a surprise), David Morrell’s First Blood remains focused more on the aforementioned issues facing those returning from war. Morrell really gets inside Rambo’s head as he struggles to think of anything else other than the horrors of war and straight up murdering people. The cop – and Korean War veteran – that essentially lights the fuse for Rambo’s powder keg in the film, William Teasle, isn’t portrayed the same in the novel. He’s more complicated and certainly more honorable than his on-screen depiction. Morrell’s choice to go back and forth between the viewpoints of Rambo and Teasle through alternating chapters goes a long way to present a deeper, richer version of the story.

As expected, like the movies, this is an extremely violent story. Rambo is a former US Special Forces Green Beret, and being trained well in the art of guerilla warfare, he’s able to repeatedly hold off a literal army of men tasked with bringing him down. He does this by being able to effectively disappear into the Kentucky wilderness and pick off his adversaries from afar. There are a few scenes that depict grizzly animal deaths, so keep that in mind before you pick it up.

As you read through David Morrell’s First Blood, you’ll recognize the skeleton of the movie in the original novel, but to be honest, it’s two entirely different stories. I’m not sure which I prefer over the other, so I plan to watch the movie while the book is still fresh in my mind.
Profile Image for Checkman.
503 reviews75 followers
June 26, 2014
A classic. I first read this novel in 1982. It was very exciting at the time.I was fourteen.

It's been (probably) a couple decades since I last read First Blood. It's showing it's age a little more now. Still not a bad read, but it's really nothing more than a glorified chase story. A product of it's time. Make no mistake about it there were many folks in the early seventies who were nervous about the returning veterans. Many truly believed that we were going to have warfare erupt ,on a large scale, within the United States and the vets were going to be at the forefront. I suppose it seemed inevitable. The country was already experiencing social upheaval and violence thanks to the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement.Now the vets were returning home and they weren't being treated very well. Americans knew this and they were worried.It's almost as if they thought that John Rambo and his fictional counterparts were the retribution that they deserved. Of course I'm probably being melodramatic.

First Blood wasn't even the first of the genre when it was published. Already there had been at least two movies Welcome Home, Soldier Boys (1971) and Targets(1968) in which veterans were shown as being dangerous and very deadly.But this book has survived and gone on to become a modern classic.

A few difference between the literary Rambo and the cinematic Rambo. This Rambo isn't necessarily a nice man. There isn't really anything heroic about him. After all you don't look at a rifle and think that it's admirable do you? You might admire the skill that went into it's design and manufacturing and you might appreciate it's accuracy, but ultimately it's just a tool. That's how Rambo comes across to me. He's dangerous and very effective, but not heroic.He's no great loss. The cops are assholes and get what they deserve as well. So there are no tears shed for them either.

When it comes right down to it I found myself wondering what I was supposed to think about the characters and the plot. Am I supposed to feel that the whole situation is just one giant screw up and throw my hands up in disgust? A thinly veiled analogy about the waste of war in general and the stupidity of the Vietnam War specifically?

Well......perhaps.

It's a pretty fair chase story with some skillfully written action sequences. A good strong debut novel by a young writer. Morrell would go on to to write stronger novels, but John Rambo is his creation and this is the book where Rambo first appeared. Even at the age of forty-two it's a good beach read. Helps to be a little older though. I believe many readers under thirty might find it boring and/or unoriginal. It definitely helps to be old enough to at least remember the aftermath of Vietnam.

I'll leave the rest of the deeper meaning "stuff" for you, the reader ,to figure out.
Profile Image for Horace Derwent.
2,191 reviews160 followers
May 29, 2017
Many ladies cried their hearts out for Virginia Wolfe, I could've cried out mine for this, but I didn't

The Jerry Goldsmith and Dan Hill's It's a long road the song, it cried out my heart like hell
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews136 followers
June 18, 2015
I think this is a must read for fans of the movie. There are as many similarities as there are differences but I enjoyed both equally. I loved the movie when I was 10. I need to watch it again to see how it has held up all these years.

Fantastic read. Goes on the favorites shelf.
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews852 followers
May 15, 2013
First Blood, a first read 40 years too late in reading for many. The author starts the story with introducing a name, Rambo and having the reader build an image of this character in mind, he successfully paints the portrait partly introducing Rambo, the long hair, the rough looking image, his sleeping carry sack on the road drifting wondering and then loads us with confrontation a police officer that seems to have issues with his hair, his wondering, his smarts and his look of a man that can take care of himself. Imagine you never saw Stallone and the movie and so far we are slowly introduced to Rambo and who he is.

We start to learn some more of Rambo when he reaches a situation involving water in an uncompromising situation and then the memories with water and a hole involving bamboo come flooding back and we now start to build a better understanding of the darkness, the shadows that haunt him. I love the way he slowly introduces us to a scene of confrontation and slowly reels us to learn the ways that John behaves. You feel for John he is being treated unfairly almost a victim of discrimination in the beginning as a kind racial issue in a way, as if he was someone from another country, a people that the officer hated, maybe a person he once fought against, the officer seems to not like his looks, but he will learn that deep down what he doesn't like is maybe that could be another version of him walking around somebody he may have been or could have been and gone loose in the wilderness taking heads out killing and fighting a war in his own backyard. He could be scared of his own image in this man and wanted to rip and drive him to the ground and that was the biggest upset, Rambo was no vagrant to be meddled with. This was no enemy, a man like himself both fought in wars, he is all American Rambo, he should have been left alone to his own devices but alas our dear author David Morrell chooses to use this bullying officer to bring out his worst but most skilled ability to kill he shows us an unforgettable Rambo, a name, a character who would did take the world by storm and be engraved in every book reader and moviegoers mind across the world.

Rambo a veteran back from a brutal war that took probably the best of himself away in another hemisphere and now the person left behind having to assimilate back to society with vivid memories, terrible nightmares, for only a brief experience can bring back all the pain, all traumatic experiences, bring about fear, a rash behavior, unflinching and with no prisoners. Sheer Craftsmanship in telling this very human tale of the evil that men do and see coming home to roost, told in a way that only David could have told it. Getting you off to a good start is the key of great storytelling, introducing parts and a name of the character stuff of great stories, you only have to read Lolita or Moby Dick or Metamorphosis to see great examples of first sentences, then after aperture he has you fully encompassed and captivated to the very end of this train ride going of the rails destined for a explosive climax.
Excerpts

"Sure you'll fight. Sure. What a laugh. Take a look at yourself. Already you know what this place reminds you of. Two days in that cramped cell and you'll be pissing down your pant-legs. 'You've got to understand I can't stay in there.' He could not stop himself. 'The wet. I can't stand being closed in where it's wet.' The hole, he was thinking, his scalp alive. The bamboo grate over the top. Water seeping through the dirt, the walls crumbling, the inches of slimy muck he had to try sleeping on. Tell him, for God's sake. Screw, you mean beg him."



" 'Green beret?' Lester said. The voice was starting to repeat, broke up, never came back again. It started to rain, light drops speckling the dust and dirt, spotting Teasle's pants and soaking in, pelting cool on his bare back. The black clouds shadowed over. Lighting crackled and lit up the cliff like a spotlight, and as fast as the spotlight came on, it went off and the shadows returned, bringing with them shock waves of exploding thunder. 'Medal of Honor?' Lester said to Teasle. 'Is that what you brought us after? A war hero? A f*****g Green Beret?' "

 

Below is what i asked this author in an interview I hosted, I asked a few questions on this book and the movie adaptation, to read the rest of the interview on writing and his new Victorian London mystery Murder as a Fine Art visit it on my webpage> http://more2read.com/review/interview-with-david-morrell/

Morrell-Stallone-HR

(Courtesy of Carolco Pictures)

Lou Pendergrast:

What inspired you to write First Blood?

 

David Morrell:

I was a graduate student at Penn State in the late 1960s. I taught composition classes there, and many of my students were Vietnam veterans. They told me about their difficulty adjusting to peace time—sweats, nightmares, reaction to loud noises, difficulties relying to people. We now call this post-traumatic stress disorder. Back then it was called battle fatigue. I decided to write First Blood, about a returned veteran who was trying to adjust to the disturbing knowledge that he was skilled at killing. At the time, the United States was ravaged by hundreds of riots, many of which were against the Vietnam War. It was as if a different kind of war was happening at home. Basically, First Blood became an antiwar allegory about a version of the Vietnam war occurring in the U.S.

 

 

Lou Pendergrast:

What did the movie adaptation of your novel First Blood do for you creation of Rambo?

David Morrell:

The character in my novel is extremely angry and bitter. The character in the film adaptation is portrayed as a victim. The plot is mostly the same, but the interpretation is different. On some Blu-Ray DVDs of First Blood, I provided a full-length audio commentary about the differences between the novel and the film.

 

 

Lou Pendergrast:

What was the popularity of your book like after the movie adaptation of your book was out?

 

David Morrell:

The novel was published 41 years ago, and it’s never been out of print. The Rambo films brought attention to the novel, of course, but even before the release of the first film in 1982, First Blood was taught in high schools and colleges across the United States.
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
882 reviews59 followers
November 12, 2022
First Blood by David Morrell is an urban, action, adventure, war thriller from 1972 involving a Vietnam veteran named John Rambo and a local small-town Sheriff Teasle whose wife has left him and is looking for a reason to stay away from his empty home. The novel takes a bold look at military veterans of the time period returning from Vietnam (of whom Teasle is a member). The long hair and the unwashed homeless lifestyle is considered a choice as opposed to a necessity and the lack of compassion for those who served their purpose and were discarded like refuse is astounding. Teasle is symbolic of a mindset that self-righteously holds expectations of our military without providing resources for a successful transition to civilian life. Rambo is a trained killer. He has limited skills, and it really strikes me that a society that trains a man to kill, must take responsibility for training the man NOT to kill, when the war is over. That training did not happen, and when Teasle provokes Rambo, he does not understand that he has provoked a rabid dog. I must confess that I felt more sympathy toward the soldier than for law enforcement, because law enforcement was targeting a profiled (innocent?) man. If the men would have paused in the middle of measuring phalluses, the story would have been far different. This was a socially relevant commentary of the time period and a classic in my eyes due to longevity, paradigm creating, and exceptionalism.
Profile Image for Kenneth McKinley.
Author 2 books192 followers
May 9, 2022
Growing up in the 80s, if you hadn’t watched First Blood multiple times, you weren’t allowed to fly the Stars and Stripes on the 4th of July. John Rambo was as American as mom and apple pie. But before he was portrayed as superhuman robo-soldier by Stallone, David Morrell gave us a gritty, early 70s Vietnam vet that was tired of being fucked with. No cheesy one-liners. No impossible sideshow trick shots with a bow and arrow from five miles away. No dodging a hail of bullets from an army of soldiers that couldn’t shoot straight.

Right off the bat, we’re shown some subtle differences. We open with Rambo hitchhiking in a small Kentucky town, not Washington. Yes, Sheriff Teasle is a judgmental horses ass of a cop, but we learn of his backstory, particularly using his Korean War experiences in his pursuit of Rambo. Rambo’s character also has much more depth… and flaws. This gives the story a nice three-dimensional feel. You may not always agree with their motives, but you can sympathize with them more. You don’t always root for Rambo. You can see where he makes his missteps. His PTSD is more subtle here. Touched upon, but not overtly beating you over the head. For me, it made the story more believable and enjoyable. The only character that seemed out of place was Captain Trautman. He literally had the personality of a wet dish cloth, and I’m not sure why he was even there. But, that’s a minor gripe. First Blood is full of that wonderful 70s grittiness, and relies on the simplicity of not judging a book by its cover.

4.5 Kill Shots out of 5
Profile Image for TK421.
551 reviews256 followers
November 22, 2011
Allow me to introduce John Rambo. He's a little surly since coming home from Vietnam, so please forgive his outbursts. It doesn't help that Sheriff Teasle is constantly trying to throw my friend out of the small, back-wooded town of Madison, Kentucky. You see, the good old sheriff has a problem when someone doesn't take his words to heart. Rambo just happens to be that someone. I tried talking to Rambo, but all he kept saying was "Adrian! Adrian!" I know…I was just as confused. Anyways, Teasle pushed Rambo too far; he wanted Rambo to get a haircut and a shave, thus making my buddy have flashbacks to his days as a POW. Rambo escaped from his tiny cell, killing and maiming a considerable amount of boys that I dare say were merely placed in the setting and situation for a higher body count for the story.

........STOP READING IF YOU HAVE ONLY WATCHED THE MOVIE.......
.................REAL ENDING GIVEN AWAY.......................

So Rambo goes off into the woods, like he's some type of Hansel and fends off National Guardsman and police officers and civilians that are probably so loaded that they don't even really know what end of the rifle is supposed to be pointed away from them. The body count really starts to soar at this point. Oh, I should tell you that my name is Captain Sam Trautman, and I've been hired to hunt Rambo. For the most part, I'm happy watching these yokels get off-ed by one of the best. But there is only so much carnage that I'll allow, so when the sheriff and Rambo exchange some thoughts in the form of lead, hitting each other in the process, I felt I owed it to my employers to kill Rambo myself. Granted, I used a shotgun and shot him in the head, but that's what you're supposed to do when a wild dog is on the loose. I tried to tell the sheriff, but it seems he has an important appointment in Valhalla that he can't be late for.

I guess in one way or another, this story is supposed to be about the denigration of our boys that came home from Vietnam. Perhaps we should have given them a parade or even said "we're proud of you, thank you." I guess Rambo never heard that. Well, pal, sorry for what I had to do; it was never personal. And, one more thing, thanks for all you did for us over there.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Profile Image for Axl Oswaldo.
332 reviews117 followers
September 24, 2021
“His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky.”

[3.5/5]

First of all, I’d like to start by saying I’ve never seen First Blood (1982) in my life, the movie which is supposed to be based on this book. Besides, I didn’t have any idea what I would find inside this story. I mean, I know it’s quite common that people read this novel after they have seen the film adaptation, but my case was a little different.

First Blood was a compelling and fascinating story, and I can tell that I was really into the novel quite a bit – at least, the first and second parts were actually like a page-turner.

Rambo was definitely my favorite character because he portrays that kind of antihero whose backstory is quite sad and dark at the same time. Somehow his behavior and his thoughts are understandable throughout the story; however, it’s possible to think that Rambo is carrying out his plans in a completely wrong way. Well, at least this idea was on my mind while I was reading the novel.

My only problem with this book was the last part, which was a little bit disappointing, boring and “different” to the rest of the book. I’m not sure if this was my own impression, but I felt like the author had lost the rhythm of the story and the interest for the characters, as though the compelling events in the book had just disappeared. On the other hand, the ending part was a good way to finish the Rambo’s story, even though it was a bit predictable, and certainly I was expecting something more. This wasn’t a big problem for me though.

As I said at the beginning of my review, I’ve not seen the film yet, but I was really curious about it that I decided to look for a video which was related to the movie and watch it. That video was Top Scenes from Rambo: First Blood which is on YouTube and, to be quite honest, I was able to identify so many differences between the book and the film in just twenty minutes, which is approximately the video length. Even now, I’m really curious to know why this movie is so famous and if this is one of those unusual cases where the movie is better than the book. We’ll see.
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,933 reviews263 followers
January 23, 2022
Most readers are likely coming to this novel after having seen the Sylvester Stallone “Rambo” movie many years previously. That’s certainly the case for me. While movies are always different from their source material, that is especially true in this case. Yes, we still have the basic former Green Beret fighting solo as an underdog against an army of forces against him. He’s been pushed around and told to get out-of-town even though he’s done nothing wrong other than have long hair and a beard. It’s hard for anybody to be bullied like that. But whereas the movie focused on a single hero character, the novel offers two: Rambo (no first name given in the book) and Wilfred Teasle, the local sheriff. Whether or not either one is a hero is open to debate.

In the author’s forward, he discusses his motivations for writing the book and what he wanted to achieve by creating these two characters and what they represented in American culture. The forward in my copy of the book was written years after the movie and I would strongly urge readers to avoid reading it until after completing the novel itself. Major spoilers are included, even the ending, which is far different from the movie.

The novel is told from both main characters’ points of view, alternating chapters for the most part and offering us plenty of insight into their thoughts, motivations, and personal history. Rambo is clearly suffering from what today we call PTSD. The sheriff is a former decorated soldier from the Korean War and a competent sheriff. When these two clash, it’s unclear who will have the upper hand: the highly trained Green Beret with all of his skills or the sheriff who can bring to bear a vast array of government resources to hunt down his prey. Here again, the movie greatly differs. Here, Rambo is not a near-super-powered being but rather, an entirely human character who gets hurt, bleeds, and suffers tremendously. The violence is far greater than in the movie. Sometimes it's brutal and sometimes it’s almost a simple off-hand comment about another good friend being gunned down but it always drives the narrative as well as the two characters.

After completing the book’s final pages and closing the cover I realized I had just read one of the greatest chase novels I’ve ever encountered. And a fascinating character study at the same time.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,454 reviews120 followers
September 18, 2017
I read this book when I was 14 and thumbing through it now I seem to remember most of it, so it really must've impressed a lot. The Swedish title, (back translated "The Duel") actually improves upon the book (but had to stand back after the success of the movie, of course). Already then, I was so envious of my friend, who had a very nice earlier hardback without the movie tie-in cover. Superficially small, the differences between book and film actually makes this quite a different story and if you liked (or disliked) the film, I can recommend this read. The returning Vietnam soldier John gets off on the wrong foot with a sheriff of a small town and their quarrel goes onto the aforementioned duel, which escalates into deadly horror as none of the men are capable of downing even a small helping of pride - or even slowing down. Brutal pace, a manhunt, a war between two sides of which you're not inclined to take either.
Profile Image for Bob Mayer.
Author 151 books48k followers
April 26, 2020
A different story, theme and ending than the movie. In fact, the two might be considered diametrically opposed once you absorb the messages. It is perhaps ironic that a novel that covers the effect of war on the psyche turns into the buzz word for militarism. As a Special Forces veteran I found the treatment of SF interesting. We are not all who we appear to be.
Profile Image for Thomas Flowers.
Author 34 books122 followers
March 27, 2017
I'm ashamed to say that I had no idea First Blood was a book before it was a movie. Glad to have this error corrected and was equally glad to have gotten the chance to read this amazing book. Now, there were some drastic changes from film to print or print to film more like. And that's okay. I never expect the movie to be just like the film. There have to be differences, so long as the essence remains intact. And for the most part, the essence of First Blood, be it Sylvester Stallone or just the imaginative projection from hearing how David Morrell describes John Rambo, is beautifully captured, more so I would say in the book because we are given the characters internal thoughts. The director and Stallone for his part did a great job conveying through action and struggle Rambo's internal conflicts, but in the book, it becomes, even more, clearer. Did you know that when Rambo arrived in that pinewoods mountain town, he had been kicked out, or "pushed," as he calls it, at least a dozen times? That is where the "pushed" thing comes from during the movie that doesn't make much sense, but in the book it does.

No spoilers here, but the end is veeerrryyy different, and I'm not sure which one I like the most. I feel for Rambo in both scenarios, and I love that end scene monolog he was with his old unit commander in the movie. But in the book...dang...it's just... I've said enough.

As far as veteran issues go, both film and book appealed to me and wrung the gauntlet of emotions. Perhaps more so in the movie than here, despite the benefit of reading Rambo's internal thoughts. In the book, I did enjoy the added polar conflicts between the sheriff, a Korean War veteran, and Rambo, a Vietnam veteran, and how each of them refuses to surrender to the other, more so than in the movie. In the movie, the sheriff is more of a chump and doesn't know what he's walking into, and just seems to be a dick for no reason. In the book, he is more clearly defined. Especially with what happens during the first hunting party. DAMN! is all I can say about that!

Overall, if you're a fan of the movie, you may want to check out the book. I have few doubts you'll be disappointed.
Profile Image for Gary.
105 reviews12 followers
October 4, 2021
Where to begin with this one. Let’s see…

First off I don’t usually read action thriller type stories because they typically personify ex military geniuses or washed up cops battling their own ego’s… wow I just summed up the whole book… lol.

Okay, why did I read it then? Because the original First Blood movie was filmed in my hometown, Hope British Columbia, and it seemed like a novel choice (no pun intended…). The first movie was really good (the sequels were totally meh and definitely Hollywood cash grabs; I won’t get too into it here but I feel the first movie more appealed to the psychological where the second appealed to the raging hormones of gun and action loving man-childs lol).

Back to the novel though, it was surprisingly well written and I was also surprised by how complete it seemed. It would have been totally fine on its own though I’m aware there were some sequels to the book (again, I blame Hollywood…). There was some psychological and survival aspects to the story that made me sympathize with the characters (Even though Rambo was way more brutal than his movie portrayal).

I gave it 3 stars because I thought it was worth a read but not worth going back and reading again, I don’t think there is anything to be deciphered or analyzed from the book and I will not be hunting down the sequels or any other books by this author anytime soon, though I won’t rule any of the books out if they come across my path…
Profile Image for Eddie Generous.
623 reviews74 followers
December 6, 2020
Total powerhouse. Gritty and textured. Engrossing from page one. Excellent and accessible. Really, really something.
Profile Image for Philip.
1,332 reviews65 followers
February 10, 2022
Ha - picked this up as a lark in a half-price bookstore in Seattle, but not only was this a surprisingly good book, the original Rambo (or "the kid" as he's called through most of the story) makes Stallone's character in the film actually look like a total puss! None of the fancy booby traps to hurt-but-not-kill; no, this Rambo is a psychologically shattered killer who turns the tables and intentionally hunts his pursuers. And yes, he is ultimately a sympathetic character - but sympathetic like a pitbull who was trained to kill children: it's not really the dog's fault...but still, someone better still put him down before he does any more damage.

Biggest surprise of all was the slow realization that it's Sheriff Teasle here who is the real hero of the story, although Morrell does an excellent job of alternating chapters between Rambo's and Teasle's points of view so that you come away with a close - if sometimes too close - understanding of both characters. I went into this book knowing nothing about it other than remembering that someone had said it was "good," but have since read that it did in fact receive very strong reviews when it came out (over 40 years ago) and has since been taught in a number of college lit classes. Surprisingly, it was also Morrell's first book - and he was also later talked into writing the novelizations of both the second and third Rambo movies, since contractually no one else was allowed to write about the Rambo character, (and both these books also differ dramatically from their film versions).

So, a strong recommendation for all action/thriller fans - although I wish I'd had a different edition with a different cover, as it was pretty embarrassing reading this in the Embassy cafeteria!
Profile Image for Will Wilson.
252 reviews6 followers
June 15, 2021
Substantially more violent and grounded than the movie. The best part about this though is how both Rambo and Tresle are treated as the protagonist and the other as the antagonist of each individuals personal story. Each character is given almost equal time in the book and it is presented in way where an argument can be made on which one was in the right or wrong. In my opinion both men where villains in this story.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,782 followers
November 11, 2009
Not baddly written I was torn between the 3 or 4 and finally went with 3, but it may be some better than that. Sad in its own way...seen the movie but not read the book? Read the book.
Profile Image for Eirini Proikaki.
327 reviews106 followers
April 14, 2017
3.5*
Πολύ ωραία περιπέτεια με έντονες σκηνές δράσης, με αρκετές διαφορές απο την ταινία όπου ο Ράμπο ήταν ο καλός της υπόθεσης.Εδώ δεν υπάρχει καλός και κακός,αλλά δυο άντρες περήφανοι και ξεροκέφαλοι, ο καθένας με τα ελαττώματα του και μια κόντρα που φτάνει στα άκρα.
Μου άρεσε το βιβλίο ,μου άρεσε που ο συγγραφέας εμβαθύνει και στους δυο βασικούς χαρακτήρες χωρίς να παίρνει το μέρος κανενός αν και προς το τέλος νομίζω οτι το παρατράβηξε όσον αφορά το δέσιμο μεταξυ τους.
Profile Image for Joseph Spuckler.
1,507 reviews18 followers
January 23, 2022
Never realized the movie was based off a book. Yes, it’s Rambo. Yes, the book is better than the movie.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,015 followers
May 10, 2017
I could have sworn I'd at least added this to my books here on GR, if not read & reviewed sometime in the past decade. Apparently not. A friend recently read & reviewed it, but it wasn't in my books! Don't know why. This is an old favorite, the first of Morrell's that I ever read. It's one reason why I've kept reading his books for over 40 years. He's never quite managed another quite as good, but he's come close.

Last Reveille is mighty close. There is some similarity between the two. While Morrell wrote this as pure fiction & LR as historical fiction, both capture the personal issues of the times exceedingly well. While most will read this book now as just an action thriller, the attitudes and motivations were perfectly done. Having long hair was a perceived crime & many Vietnam vets were treated like shit. At the time, it wasn't a war & didn't have the 'respectability' (not really the word I'm looking for) of WWII or even the Korean War, which was so similar that a hit TV show spoofed on it for a dozen years.

So two men, who could have been father & son, made a mountain out of a mole hill & then blew it up. Wow! It's a perfectly orchestrated train wreck of a story. As a kid, I rooted for Rambo all the way. The last time I read this (I KNOW it wasn't that many years ago!) I could really understand Teasle's attitude. I can't say I rooted for him, but I felt a lot more empathy.

I read this before I saw the movie. This was better, although the movie was great, but the different endings make all the difference in the world. It's as big a change as the last chapter of A Clockwork Orange. The movie needed to change it since 2 more followed that completely changed the character & story line of the original. Morrell sold out & cashed in. More power to him. I would have, too. That had to be a dream come true. (Goodby starving artist, hello Hollywood money!) The novelizations of Rambo II & III were fun, but you'll notice that I didn't shelve this book as part of a series. That's not an oversight. It's a statement.
Profile Image for Joseph Finder.
Author 75 books2,223 followers
December 16, 2013
Forget whatever you think about Sly Stallone and Rambo. This book is a now-classic chase novel, a mano à mano confrontation between a damaged Vietnam vet and a sheriff, and you won't be sure whom to root for.
Profile Image for Freddie Sykes .
686 reviews24 followers
June 14, 2022
Sci-Fi vs Ram-Fi

Whenever I read a book, I instinctively pick a side. Usually it's easy; sometimes -- The Friends of Pancho Villa, for example -- it's impossible. Even if I hadn't seen snatches of this movie, it woulda been easy to pick any side but Rambo's.

I have never seen the whole movie, just the bits you'd see as trailers or on TV or on the internet. So what I knew of this book was that Rambo was just another one of those Special Ops/Green Beret/Navy Seal bullshitters you never fail to end up sitting next to in a bar. Except the movie-Rambo was that little creep Sylvester Stallone with a hippie headband.

The book-Rambo is a chip-shouldered, bullseye-backed, self-pitying, hot-headed hobo; he's also a long-haired, crap-pants'd hippie. He makes a target of himself and then wonders why people take a shot at it. The "Sheriff" (he's a police chief, but no matter) is a patient and charitable saint. Rambo deserved a wood shampoo within the first 15 minutes, but the Sheriff "showed restraint". You know those bums you see at Interstate ramps, the ones holding a piece of cardboard with "Vietnam Vet" or "POW" written on it? That's Rambo. He's just one of those bums.

It may be that this theme -- the Malingerer's Malady, PMS or PTSD or Fibromyalgia or Agent Orange that every Faker loves even more than the Electric Wheelchair and Methadone -- is older than the movie, but this stuff just reinforced all those Vietnam Vet cry-babies and gave them even more excuses for every time they fucked up. A guy who spent the war gassing-up jeeps moaning "the horror, the horror" -- AFTER he saw "Apocalypse Now".

I was truly surprised to find that the movie didn't come out till '82. It seems like this Rambo jackass, like that Star Wars jackass, has been with us forever.

I long ago learned that there are two kinds of books or movies that can turn an outwardly sane and grounded man into an insufferable idiot. (1) Sci-Fi (2) Green Beret/Navy Seal/Special Ops BS. I'll just call it "Ram-Fi". (Oh, LSD or Sports can do this to a guy too, but that's not a book or a movie.)

Every Sci-Fi fan I've known -- after sufficient exposure -- thinks he's learned so much that he's half-way or all-the-way to being a Scientist himself. Consume enough Sci-Fi and eventually you'll be working on a time-machine or perpetual-motion-machine or cold-fusion battery out in the garage. I'm serious, I've seen it myself many times. But worse than that, you'll be talking horseshit to every person you meet. That may include me, and I don't tolerate listening to very much boring (and dead wrong) horseshit.

Consume enough Rambo-Fi and sooner or later you think you're one yourself. But worse than the Sci-Fi guys, who sometimes go insane, but are usually just paralyzingly misinformed bores, the Rambos will take a swing at you -- or more likely a Judo Chop. The Sci-Fi guys don't really HAVE a phaser and if they did, they'd set it to "stun". The Sci-Fi guys get their "power" from the same source that medieval priests got theirs.

Some "genres" are just plain bad for you, like, say, heroin is. I suppose if you watch enough Woody Allen movies you could start thinking you're a Playwright, or an Artist, or a Writer, or an Off-Broadway Actor, but those candyasses don't hang around in bars, so I never have to put up with their particular delusions. I suspect Woody Allen movies may turn you into homo or maybe a Jew, but I've never really seen it happen. In general, I've never seen "comedy" movies or books EVER turn anyone into a real or even just wannabe comedian. That's what she said. No Soup for You. Nanu-nanu. No, generally it has precisely the opposite effect. I've never met a big Monty Python fan who wasn't ... not only not funny at all, but actually a kind of retard (not a lot different from a big Star Wars fan).

I've never seen private eye books turn anyone into a bar-room private eye. I've never seen westerns turn anyone into a saloon cowboy. I sure as hell HAVE seen Self-help books turn women into Oprah Winfrey's, but that's women, all bets are off. And there isn't a woman in the world who hasn't become an amateur doctor (or worse, a nurse) from watching soap operas. As for Food-Fi -- the Frugal Gourmet and such -- well, this is already Gay Month, so they're getting enough free advertising already.

But we're not talking about women here, we're talking about men and MEN are afflicted with a congenital weakness for Sci-Fi and Ram-Fi. This crap actually changes men's behavior. In my long life I've seen it happen too, too many times to let anyone deny it. Sci-Fi and Ram-Fi is poison to what MIGHT be an otherwise regular guy.

If you can read this book and side with Rambo, you're half-way to being a psycho just like he is. But, really, I can put it far more succinctly by just saying: Ram-Fi -- like Sci-Fi -- is just a Gay as it sounds.
Profile Image for Frank.
1,874 reviews20 followers
September 9, 2022
This of course is the novel that First Blood, the movie starring Sylvester Stallone, was based on. The book was published in 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War. It tells the story of a Vietnam vet named Rambo who had served as a Green Beret and was hitchhiking through Kentucky. His hair is long, he has a long beard, and is unkempt and unwashed. As he arrives in Madison, Kentucky, the local sheriff, Teasle, sees him and promptly gives him a ride to the other side of town and tells him to keep moving. Rambo doesn't appreciate being told what to do so he returns to town and is again escorted back to the town line. He returns again and Teasle arrests him for vagrancy and resisting arrest. He is strip searched, showered, and Teasle wants his hair and beard cut. But as the deputies try to shave him, Rambo rebels and escapes naked into the streets, steals a motorcycle and heads into the surrounding mountains. Thus starts the conflict between Teasle and Rambo which doesn't bode well for either of them.

After reading this, I decided to rewatch the movie version which I hadn't seen since it came out in the 1980s.

Although I had always considered it a really good action yarn, the book was much better in my opinion. There were quite a few differences between the two. First the movie takes place in Washington State rather than Kentucky. I felt that although Rambo was violent in the movie, in the book he was a much deadlier person who killed with little compunction. The book also gave a much better insight into the minds of both Rambo and Teasle alternating chapters describing their thought processes. Neither was very likable but overall the book was a really terrific thriller. And the ending to the story was different from the movie. I have read several other Morrell novels and I'm glad I finally got around to this one which has been on my shelves for several years.
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