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The Red Badge of Courage

(Library of America)

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  80,107 Ratings  ·  3,104 Reviews
During an unnamed battle, 18-year-old private Henry Fleming survives what he considers to be a lost cause by escaping into a nearby wood, deserting his battalion. He finds a group of injured men in which one of the group, the "Tattered Soldier", asks Henry, who's often referred to as "The Youth", where he's wounded.

Henry, embarrassed that he's whole, wanders thru the fore
...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published 2006 by Clayton, Del. : Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classics, (first published 1895)
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Katherine Thomas WE read most of it in 8th grade and didn't really understand it. I'm glad we did though; once I was old enough to understand how to fear self-betrayal…moreWE read most of it in 8th grade and didn't really understand it. I'm glad we did though; once I was old enough to understand how to fear self-betrayal and my own cowardice I was also smart enough to remember this book and reread some of the pieces.(less)

Community Reviews

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Emily
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 , one of the bloodiest 24,000 casualties of the war between the states, is 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 frie ...more
matt
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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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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.
Nathan Albro
Jul 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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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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
Beth F.
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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Teresa Proença
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-eua, 2e, l-500bb
Não gosto nada de livros sobre guerra; mas como de Stephen Crane adoro O Monstro e releio muitas vezes No Deserto, achei por bem ler um seu romance do qual se diz ser um "livro que se tornou um estudo clássico da psicologia do medo.". E lá me alistei como leitora da primeira obra escrita sobre a Guerra da Secessão.
Como dizem que não se deve desistir dos livros, aguentei, corajosamente, até cerca de 73 batalhas, mas na 74 soçobrei e, gravemente ferida de tédio, desertei.
Fico sem saber se o heró
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Tara Ferrin
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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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Sticherus
Mar 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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Wolfman
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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)
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.
Stenwjohnson
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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. :-/
Jacqui
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Laura
Mar 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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 repetitive ...more
C.B. Cook
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a relatively short book, and although there is some hard-to-read dialect, it's certainly enjoyable. The tale of war is a hard, bloody one to read about, but definitely something that we should all think about. This book won't leave my mind any time soon (since I'll still be answering questions about it for American Lit. ;) ).

High Violence
Language: (view spoiler)
Steven Peterson
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
The difference between cowardice and courage. What is it? Where is the dividing line? Can one be both a coward and courageous? Stephen Crane addresses these issues in "The Red Badge of Courage." The exploration of these issues is competently done, set in the context of the Civil War. The protagonist learns from his cowardice and becomes an effective soldier, removed from the romanticism of battle. . . .
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

Certainly Stephen Crane was not a minimalist. He seemed to have treated straight expressions, simple words, directness and the pared down style as undesirable. I could imagine, for example, Hemingway describing a prisoner with a non-fatal foot wound as one who was angry and who had told his captors to go to hell and to fuck off. Stephen Crane preferred to have it like this:

"One of the prisoners was nursing a superficial wound in the foot. He cuddled it, babywise, but he looked up from it often t
...more
Alex
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Catching up with the classics #22
Andrew
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it
The Red Badge of Courage was a very meaningful book for me. This book is about a boy named Henry who thinks that when his squad gets into battle, he will not have the courage to stay and fight. He hasn’t actually been in a fight yet, his squad has been resting and he thinks that they are going to go into a fight soon. When he thinks that his platoon is going to all die, he runs from the fight. He sees a lot of injured men that he admires and can’t stand to be with them. He sees his old friend Ji ...more
Christine
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this as a very young kid (I was no more than 8 years old). I thought it was amazing then, and I re-read it when I was in my 20's and appreciated it even more. However I doubt I'll be up for another re-read anytime soon, because I can't handle harrowing stories of war the way I once could, even ones as beautifully written as this one.

But there will always be a place for it on my bookshelf. Um ... or in one of my many boxes of books that hasn't yet been unpacked after 3 years in our
...more
Joey
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-read 10-10-15. 2.5 stars originally. I read this about 30 years ago in high school and I didn't care much for it. I'm glad I did a re-read. It has now become one of my all time favorites. The realism of the battles had me checking for bullet holes after every chapter. A truly great classic.
Ellie
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautiful.
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Stephen Crane was an American novelist, poet and journalist, best known for the novel 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.” 56 likes
“He vaguely desired to walk around and around the body and stare; the impulse of the living to try to read in dead eyes the answer to the Question.” 17 likes
More quotes…