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The Red Badge of Courage

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  92,223 ratings  ·  3,589 reviews
This classic novel of the American Civil War evokes the horrors of battle and the psychology of fear as it recounts the experience of a young, untried Union Army volunteer. Henry Fleming longs to prove himself by winning the "red badge beyond all doubt. But when he finally does come under fire, he learns the grim truth about war's "glory" and the real meaning of bravery.
Hardcover, The World's Best Reading, 176 pages
Published December 31st 1982 by The Reader's Digest Association (first published 1895)
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Jeffrey W Brigham It's violent, bloody. I don't believe the author wrote this with the intention of having the 8th graders of the world studying it. The dialogue is bru…moreIt's violent, bloody. I don't believe the author wrote this with the intention of having the 8th graders of the world studying it. The dialogue is brutally hard to understand and must really be read closely. Plenty of other stuff for 8th graders to read, so I'd find something else. High school would be more appropriate I think.(less)
Brian Coletta An indictment on the ethos which contribute to humans killing other humans simply because they are ordered to do so. A very emotional and realistic po…moreAn indictment on the ethos which contribute to humans killing other humans simply because they are ordered to do so. A very emotional and realistic portrayal of the experience one has before, during, and after combat. Before, the youthful soldier dreams of glory, escaping the mundane existence he knows to become a hero for god and country. The sheer lunacy of Civil War combat is reflected in the chaotic nature of the soldier's experience, and the red badge of courage he earns is not at all the one might expect. I highly recommend it, as Crane pulls back the veil and exposes armed conflict for what it really is through the eyes of a naive young man(less)

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Average rating 3.26  · 
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 ·  92,223 ratings  ·  3,589 reviews


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Emily
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I feel almost guilty about how much I disliked this book. I know it's an important piece of literature, that it changed the way people viewed war, it's an American classic, etc. etc. But I could NOT stand it. I thought it was boring and I didn't really care what happened to the main character. I was totally distracted by how the author called him "the youth" instead of his name and I had to have my brother-in-law explain to me what the point of it was since I just couldn't tell. Maybe my tastes ...more
Henry Avila
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Battle of Chancellorsville in northern Virginia 1863 is one of the bloodiest 24,000 casualties of the war between the states, the focus of this novel. Henry Fleming a naive restless farm boy not yet a man from New York State, goes off to fight during the American Civil War. Against the tearful pleading of his widowed mother not to, Henry out of patriotism or boredom wants to join the Union Army. Many months pass of training and marching before Fleming gets into action. Some of his friends, b ...more
Thomas
2.5 stars

Intellectual Thomas thinks this story changed people's perception of war and made them think about the individual psychological processes involved in combat. He thinks that this book had a nice flow of thought that concluded with the narrator learning to be less whiny.

Thomas Thomas - the college-student Thomas that has almost no free time to read for fun, and therefore only wants to read satisfying books - feels that The Red Badge of Courage was super frustrating in that its author, Ste
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Duane
Most novels about war are broad, sweeping stories that try to capture the big picture of what happened. But what's it like for the individual? What were they thinking, feeling, and experiencing? That's what Stephen Crane brings to life in this book. He shows the fine line between courage and cowardice that exists in everyone. An American classic that has never been out of print.

Revised December 2017.
matt
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book made my heart race and made me hear gunfire.

I think Crane manages to create the perfect visceral novel. Sure there is symbolism if you want it, but at its core this book is about experience.

Like a delicate flower, this book is easily ruined by too much prodding attention. Just read it, take it in, let yourself get dragged into the story and imagery. Don't think, don't read it closely to prepare for a paper or discussion, just experience it.

I would never teach this book in a class. I wo
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer, who carries a flag.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1998 میل
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Nathan Albro
Jul 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found it disappointing that The Red Badge of Courage, an American classic, was dull, had poor pacing, and lackluster characterization. There might be historical value in this novel, written by Stephen Crane who was born nearly five years after America’s civil war ended, but there is little to enjoy. The novel does focus on the psyche of the protagonist – more so then on the war itself, but I found myself not caring. I didn’t care for the characters nor did I care about the battles or the war. ...more
Moses Kilolo
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Henry Flemming set off to join the war, he perhaps did not have a clear picture of what lay before him, what his decision meant. Like every other young man (across the divide of time and circumstance) he envisions his return as a hero - an achieved man. but does he pause to consider the damn hardship of the battlefield? Perhaps not! At some point he actually runs, but his conscience torments him. A series of happenings (accidental- i think) push him back to track, and there he tries to prov ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, adventure, classics
Read this book right before I went into the Army; helped me focus and understand that courage can take different forms at different times. If you know a young man/woman entering the military may I suggest this book for them - they will thank you.
Beth
Here is a recreation of my brain while reading this book: "Alright, it's about time I read this and so far, okay. I like the prose, I like the prose, I like the...um...STOP TALKING! Stop talking to each other! Shutup! I can barely understand you! UGH. Thank you. Nice prose...nice...okay, nevermind. Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Gross. I hate fight scenes. Boring AND gross. Gross AND boring. Stop fighting. Stop talking. Get on with it...this is boring..."

Overall, I'd have to say that the dialog
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Roy Lotz
Tolstoi made the writing of Stephen Crane on the Civil War seem like the brilliant imagining of a sick boy who had never seen war but had only read the battles and chronicles and seen the Brandy photographs that I had read and seen at my grandparents’ house.

—Ernest Hemingway

I think Hemingway’s quote sums up the book pretty well. The Red Badge of Courage was written when Crane had never seen battle; it is the product of a young man’s imagination (he was only in his early twenties), trying to vivi
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Sticherus
Mar 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So, hey. There's this guy. His name's Henry, but that's not really important. He really wanted to join the army, cuz, well, that's what all the cool kids were doing. So he did. And hey, who doesn't wanna blow shit up? I know I'd wanna blow shit up. Everybody loves blowing shit up.
Anyway, so yeah. That happened. They all sat around for a while, and then there was this one fight, and then there was this other fight, and some stuff happened. Nothing to get excited about. And oh yeah, after that the
...more
Tara Ferrin
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
I actually finally finished the book last night. I say finally not because I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but it definitely was a tougher read than I'm used. The language is older more descriptive, and at times hard to figure out, but in the end I think it made me appreciate it more. I'm not going to pretend that I understood even half of what the author was trying to say, but It did affect me, and spoke to me personally at times. In my opinion he's a brilliant writer.
It's a story of a very
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Betsy
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for Banned Books Week. Why it would be banned for violence (It is a war novel.) or because Stephen Crane was born after the war, and supposedly couldn't have known about war (???) so was showing 'disrespect' to veterans, just shows how ludicrous the banning of books can be.

The first half of the book is rather disappointing as we learn about Henry Fleming's philosophical 'insights' on war and his fellow soldiers. His arrogance is laughable, especially his assertion that he ran aw
...more
Adrienne
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, classic
DNF. BUT I loved it. The whole story is in the train of thought of a young soldier going off to fight in the civil war. Starting with dreams of glory and patriotism. Yet fearful and self doubting. That this was written in 'stream of consciousness' was itself masterful: by a writer who had never been to war was hugely staggering and was probably (I did a little research here) the first book written of this kind.
Incredible.
Marquise
Can't believe the author of this short novel never saw battle in his life, like it's explained in the introduction, because his understanding of the psychology of a combatant is so remarkable that I'd have sworn he was a Civil War veteran drawing from his own experiences. Goes to show what good research and an eye for observing human nature in conflict can do, methinks.

Not being American, I had to look up on the web what battle the book was describing after I finished reading, and having learnt
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Alex
Since I'm heading into a WWI segment, I thought I might take the opportunity to backtrack and cover this other nominee for "Best War Novel Ever." Only takes a few minutes anyway, right?

The first half is pretty amazing. Crane deals with the concept of cowardice unflinchingly and with a ton of psychological insight. The way he describes exactly what's going on in his protagonist's head, minute by minute...this is pretty great stuff. (Amazingly, btw, Stephen Crane never saw a minute of combat.)

I th
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Dean
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful anti-war short story!!
A true classic!!!

Courageous writing, powerful and realistic with much insight brought to paper by a master storyteller..

The battle at Chancellorsville, an episode of the American Civil War!!!

Stephen Crane breathes in his main character--the youth--emotions, fears and desperation battling and struggling against a lifeless ideology containing in a dry husk rotten and deceiving thoughts..
This he does masterly in a mesmerizing and unforgettable way!!

I cannot forget t
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Wolfman
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Crane died at the turn of the century in his late 20's, making him a rock star. I bet all of the college kids in the 1910's and 20's had posters of him on their walls. Or maybe portraits.

There isn't that much time in The Red Badge of Courage for you to get too attached to any characters, not even our hero The Youth, Henry Fleming. But you can totally empathize with his Desire to do Something Grand, his fear, his sense of accomplishment, and generally fickle human nature. Plus, Stephen C
...more
Faith
Sep 14, 2017 marked it as dnf-on-hold  ·  review of another edition
DNF. Read through chapter 2. I just...I'm legit so bored, y'all. I cannot do this. Worst classic I've ever read/tried to read and that's saying something.

(My amazing teacher is letting me swap and read a different classic in place of this one. Thanks, Mom. <3)
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Stenwjohnson
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is surprisingly little 19th century American fiction that describes the Civil War combat experience. Contemporaneous memoirs, poems, and histories abound, but Ambrose Bierce’s short stories and Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” are likely the most prominent examples of literary war narratives from that century. Both are remarkable for their combination of stylized lyricism and brutal, near-cynical unsentimentality. Bierce was a seasoned war veteran but Crane was only 24 when his n ...more
Laura
Mar 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I always seem to write reviews for books I love. That really is a tragedy, because books I hated should be acknowledged here too.

This review is a warning to all. Especially the younger set that may still encounter this book in school. If you have a choice, do not read this book, sometimes they offer an array of books to chose from. I am still baffled at how this book was ever deemed a good choice for use in schools. It is the most boring and painful book I have ever read, to this day, and I read
...more
Jim
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that I always intended to read but only got around to it after I picked up a copy of the book at a library sale. As a kid, I had read the story-as a Classics Illustrated comic book. Anyone remember those? So I knew the basic story, of Henry the soldier showing cowardice under fire and running..and, due to an injury, he receives his "red badge of courage," his wound, so that he is accepted back into the ranks by his comrades.
I had read that this book captures the emotions of c
...more
Jim
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another triumph of audio books, I finally managed to get through this one. I had to read it for school 40+ years ago & barely managed to skim enough to pass the test. As short as it is, I found it quite boring, even in audio format. Yet I find the book fascinating on several levels. That Crane could write this so well without ever having been a soldier is incredible. The chaos of battle & boredom of waiting comes through so clearly - just too clearly for far too long & too repetitively. I found ...more
Darwin8u
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
“It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws.”
― Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

Probably 3.25 stars. Bonus points for the fact that Crane elevated war novels to a more modern level, but doesn't quite measure up quite to Conrad, Tolstoy or Remarque. Maybe, maaaaaybe, 4 stars as a novel and 3 stars as a war novel.
carl  theaker
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fancy-fiction, war
Required Senior High reading, rather poignant with Vietnam going on at the time. Additionally we watched the Audie Murphy version of the movie.
Jacqui
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
I have no idea how this average review can be 3/5. The Red Badge of Courage is one of many books that address fear in the face of death. Henry, a brand new and young soldier in the Civil War, doesn't know how he will react to battle. When his regiment charges the enemy, Henry defects. He is ashamed, but through a variety of circumstances and enormous personal growth (we love this in our novels) becomes a hero among the soldiers of his regiment.

This book made popular the term 'red badge of courag
...more
Kellyn Roth
Finished this book wishing the main character would just die. Just really hated him. Like, it's been a while since I've hated a character as much as I hated this one. I was just sitting there hoping he'd blow up or something so the world would be rid of him.

Was also very boring. Could barely stand it, but had to finish it for school. :-/
Micaiah
Explain to me why this is a classic? I mean, I guess I can see it, but... Geesh, terrible. Just terrible. XD The main character is self-righteous and bratty, which basically ruined anything else. SO GLAD IT'S OVER! *laughs*
Larry Bassett
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, war
It is stunning to me that this book was first published in 1895. It is about the personal experience of a young Union soldier fighting in the Civil War. Maybe it is about the coming of age of a soldier. It is about cowardice and courage. The audible presentation was excellent.
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Stephen Crane was an American novelist, poet and journalist, best known for the novel The Red Badge of Courage. That work introduced the reading world to Crane's striking prose, a mix of impressionism, naturalism and symbolism. He died at age 28 in Badenweiler, Baden, Germany.

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“It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws.” 63 likes
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