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The Red Badge of Courage and Other Stories

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,241 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In 1895 Stephen Crane achieved early fame with his powerful, enigmatic portrayal of a raw recruit's experience of war, The Red Badge of Courage. Although Crane had never experienced battle, he wrote with rare insight and immediacy of his young protagonist's fluctuating emotions, in a style that had a profound influence on American fiction. This selection includes the 1896 ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 288 pages
Published July 27th 2006 by Penguin Classics
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Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-american
The Red Badge of Courage is one of those essential books in the American literary canon. I had read it while in high school just on my own. When I got to The Citadel my first year of college I had to read it again, which I didn't mind. At West Point I had to read it for the third time, but by then I had become such a rebel that I had become jaded with anything to do with the Civil War--at least temporarily.

By the time decades later I read real histories of that period I no longer felt that way.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
The introduction to this collection compared Stephen Crane to Conrad and did a whole lot of talking about literary impressionism. This both gave me unfair expectations (I'm a Conrad lover) and, likely, put me off (I've never quite understood the concept of literary impressionism, though I know it is something that Conrad is similarly-often equated with). Given that I didn't love any of this book's selections nearly as much as the Conrad I've read, I'm going to assume it's due to a heavy dose of ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Henry is a fresh, green soldier during the Civil War. This short work of fiction details his first few engagements as part of the Union army, following him through moments of sheer terror and panic, confidence, distress, hopefulness and, ultimately, pride. I selected this title as part of a long-term goal to read four traditional "classics" each year. Overall, it was okay, though I have to admit I likely enjoyed the accompanying unrelated short stores in this edition more than the titular work ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stephen Crane's life was abysmally cut short by the age of 28. What stories he did get out into the world were all rather short and focused on child-like (if not in fact child) characters. His most popular story, the one that put him on the map, is also his most celebrated work. The Red Badge of Courage is at the forefront of this small collection of stories and the most familiar with casual readers. Although the story itself proclaims in the title that it's set in the Civil War, the tale is so ...more
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Finished Red Badge (****)& short story "Veteran." Just like to say that this Pengin Classics is a nice little edition. Great for secondary/college school purposes. Included, after the introduction is a bibliography inteded for further research. (Adult sources)

I usually read the introduction before diving into the book, but decided to jump right in to Red Badge. It is followed by "The Veteran," a quick story about the narrator, Henry, as an old man on the day of his death.

Since this is such
Gretchen Mueller
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is about a young boy who thinks that going off to war is what he wants to do when he is old enough. However, he soon finds out that it is not as fun and entertaining as he thought it would be. He sees close friends suffer the pain of death and war. After one of the battles the young man realizes that he hasn't gotten a single scratch yet and everyone around him has some kind of wound to show the things he had done for his country. He too wanted a big bloody red badge of courage. Soon ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
3 stars is a bit too generous, let's give it a 2.5~ this is another book for APLAC~ the first few chapters were honestly rough; this book is related to our realism unit and there are so many excessive arbitrary details that are unnecessary, and it's bad enough that it's about the civil war like cmon english teachers, whatcha doing to us??

i learned that its easier to get through a boring & confusing book like this by annotating each page; not only does it make you seem like an avid reader but
Richard Epstein
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
There is a class of books which owe much of their fame to their brevity and therefore usefulness in the classroom. I call them The Assignables. The most famous are (or used to be) Silas Marner, Ethan Frome, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Red Badge of Courage. I can imagine someone reading TRBOC voluntarily, not having been assigned it, simply for pleasure. Imagine making that statement about Ethan Frome.

There are other books teachers might have elevated to this status. The Unvanquished.
Jun 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to be well-read in the classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those facing an important decision
"But he said, in substance, to himself that if the earth and the moon were about to clash, many persons would doubtless plan to get upon the roofs to witness the collision."
R.K. Byers
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Crane has a tendency to make points that are better than his stories but his stories ain't bad either.
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting about the madness of war, mainly a psychological story, written 1895, how a young boy enlists in the American Civil War, with his head full of heroic fantasies, and his subsequent changing feelings, how to cope with the atrosities, but also the interaction between fellow soldiers.

Very interesting is Stephen Cranes frequent use of colour, giving life to the landscape as well as symbolically, evoking feelings and an almost cinematic view of the events in and out of the battle.
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can now report to my 9th grade English teacher that I have, in fact, read the book.
Arliegh Kovacs
Dec 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classic
Crane's The Red Badge of Courage has been on those "must-read" lists for high school students for years. (It wasn't on the one in my Accelerated Reading classes so I passed it up entirely.) My '26 Books' list this year had a spot for A Book You Should Have Read in High School but Didn't and this was the one (sadly) that I chose.
Apparently the book is a coming-of-age novel where the main character goes from being a naive, idealistic, egocentric youth to an experienced, confident,
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: perhaps US Civil War enthusiasts
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 NAQT list
* * 1/2

Yeah, I wasn't all that impressed with this book. I never really connected with the protagonist, probably because Stephen Crane insists on referring to him as "the youth", even when other characters in the story call him "Henry Fleming". The phonetically rendered accents were also very distracting, and it took me a while to figure out which side he was actually fighting on because they don't say it outright, at least not in the parts that I read. I did enjoy some passages and found others
Dan Varley
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Unfairly relegated to 10th grade English class reading lists where it never reemerges again, this is a classic that deserves wider recognition. This is a book less about war and more about the battle that takes place in the psyche as we struggle to individuate and define the Self. In the case of the Red Badge of Courage, the cauldron of the Civil War quickens the battle for identity inside of Henry's head. For instance, in the beginning the narrator states, "He was forced to admit that he knew ...more
Trevor Kew
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kew-f, kewwar
Grabbed this out of a cupboard in my English classroom in pursuit of that most pompous of tasks: "reading the classics." I usually end up doing this once or twice a year in an effort to better myself as a teacher/human being, and more often than not regret doing so, though I am occasionally pleasantly surprised. This was not one of those pleasant times, though. The title story ("Red Badge") is dull, plodding, repetitive, and surprisingly vague for a war story. The best thing about it is probably ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly enough I really liked this book. I say surprisingly because I had to read it at some point in high school and don't remember liking it too much. I read it again as part of a class I was taking titled "Literary Impressionism." I think this would be a great book to read if you are at all interested in what led up to the so-called Modernist era from an American point of reference. I found the story to be genuinely interesting as well--getting caught up in a war that has no clear ...more
Jan 17, 2008 rated it liked it
This is one of those books that I know a lot about and have read excerpts from, but to my embarrassment have never actually read cover-to-cover. I am not a huge Crane fan, but I like him well enough. I like him a bit more after reading this one, but it's not necessarily my cup of tea; 19th century Realism never has been. I enjoyed taking part in "the youth's" thought processes as he tries to make sense of something that is so obviously senseless. It is a fast read, but it is not necessarily an ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I realize that Crane had a reason for all the choices he made, but for me personally, the detached style where the characters barely have names just does not work. Rather than seeing Henry Fleming as a universal everyman because he is referred to as "the youth," I just see him as a faceless, soulless character that I don't care much about. Consequently, I lose patience with him quickly in his moments of arrogance. For me he would have seemed more universal, more "that could just as well be me," ...more
Larry K
Dec 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
I know this is a classic, but I just hated this book. I think it was because of Crane's style. He was predominantly a journalist and this book reads like he's reporting not as if he is writing a novel. I also read his other novel Maggie and had the same problem. I actually couldn't even finish this book, and I always finish books I start unless they are impossible like this one. Part of it may also be the antiquated language/style. Crane was very young when he wrote this and it's an incredible ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-fiction
Considered as one of the naturalist writers, Crane describes and narrates the story of an American northerner soldier who escapes the frontier to be later tormented by his own internal war. Henry the protagonist, is constantly tantalized by the courage depicted in his fellow comrades. The choice of words is really haunting which enables us to experience the authentic feeling in a real battle. The author could have used the "stream of consciousness" technique to make us more vigorous and endeavor ...more
Yair Ben-Zvi
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Not a perfect book by any stretch, but close enough. Akin to Melville (my teacher's words), Crane is an ironist and a cynic. Nature is ambivalent and men are reduced to descriptive labels. Universality of war, and the sense experience of one youth lost in it all are depicted in a stunning fashion.

I liked it when I read it and am appreciating it more as time goes on. Also, check out "The Open Boat" in this collection. Similar message with a different and shorter delivery.

Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really powerful book. Red Badge restored my faith that a book written before 1900 could be enjoyable and absorbing -- not just "good for you" -- after a long losing streak. The short stories that follow it reminded me a lot of Kurt Vonnegut at his most 'things just happen.' "The Open Boat" and "The Blue Hotel" were both page-turners, and didn't take too long for the axe to fall after just the right amount of setup.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This book makes you contemplate a soldier's decision to join up during war-time and the gammet of emotions he must go through when faced with the consequences of this decision. Having a brother in the military as well as family members who fought in Vietnam and WWII, the consequences of this choice and the reality of war really hit home with me. Some of the passages in this book were heartbreakenly beautiful.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
War stories are not my favorites, but I realize how interesting is to narrate the story of a man fighting a war. The demonic and godly nature of men fight within each soldier while the battle rage outside. What I found quite interesting was the realistic portrait of people feeling and behaviors during such major historical events. They are not Greek heroes, they are human, full of fears, weaknesses and courage.
Meghan Davison
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked this a lot, although I feel like I need to read it again to really grasp the mechanics of it. There was a great tension between action and reflection, and it's clear that Crane sees that two as intertwined: meaningful action cannot occur without deep reflection and yet reflection is empty without some intense impetus.

Also, the intro with Crane's biography is just about as good as the book itself.
Laura Deger
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Red Badge of Courage was extremely difficult to get through. I didn't care for any of the characters, and the descriptions of the events unfolding were extremely long and hard to follow. I had to keep taking breaks to make sure I wasn't zoning out or forgetting what I read on the previous page. I enjoyed the short stories included after the novel much more, especially, The Open Boat. I felt that The Open Boat was a much stronger piece of writing.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Excellent writing; surprised I never had to read this in high school or college. The first half of Red Badge of Courage was painfully slow and I hated the third person point of view, but then things picked up and I enjoyed it a lot. The short stories were all really good.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very well written. His use of epithets for naming characters is powerful, and I liked the subtle color-imagery throughout. A very good "war novel" but also a powerful "coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence" story as well.
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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.