Read From Here to Eternity ['s Levens Taptoe] by JamesJones J.F. Kliphuis Online

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Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company's boxing team, he gets "the treatment" that may break him or kill him.First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he's risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer's wife.BoDiamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company's boxing team, he gets "the treatment" that may break him or kill him.First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he's risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer's wife.Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood... and, possibly, their death.In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier's life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable despair... in the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no other the honor and savagery of men....

Title : From Here to Eternity ['s Levens Taptoe]
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9024515580
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 688 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

From Here to Eternity ['s Levens Taptoe] Reviews

  • Algernon
    2019-03-13 18:05

    [9/10]I feel exhausted, emotionally drained, as if I had run a marathon, all dressed up in full military kit. Reading James Jones is often hard work, but there is also the satisfaction of reaching the finish line and knowing you achieved something great. Because, even as I think that a good editor could have cut the text in half and still achieve the same effect, I know that James Jones has captured the spirit of army life in the 1940's flawlessly, that the ocean of trivial details from the lives of trivial people builds up into a monumental canvas of a whole society : Hawaii on the brink of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.I didn't know what to expect beforehand, as I steered away from the movie version until I could read the book. I found no heroes and no glorious battles here. I found instead many failed human beings stumbling about in the dark, a lot of suffering and mountains worth of the tedious routine that is repeated day in day out for the enlisted man. "This heres the Pineapple Army,"exclaims at one point Chief Choate, a full Choctaw Indian that has found refuge from discrimination and poverty in the military life. Echoing him is the opening scene of the main character, Robert E Lee Prewitt, a former star bugler who resigned his grades and comes to join a new outfit at the Schofield Barracks as a simple infantryman. Did a pineapple enjoy its life? or did it maybe get sick of being trimmed like seven thousand other pineapples? fed the same fertilizer as seven thousand other pineapples? standing till death did them part in the same rank and file like seven thousand other pineapples? You never knew. But you never saw a pineapple turn itself into a grapefruit, did you? Prewitt is a fully developed character, multi-faceted and deeply troubled by the events that surounds his one year in the 'jockstrap' G Company. But if I were to pick up one defining feature of his personality, it would be his devotion to the army, despite the many injustices he is subject to. In his own words, he is a 'thirty-year-man', a professional, career soldier and not a drafted, temporary visitor. The word 'jockstrap' that I used earlier is just one of the numerous jargon terms and acronyms that military outfits seem to love so much. In the 1941 context, the word refers to a peace-time policy of gathering in one company all the athletes and fighters in a regiment, give them privileges and ranks, and train them for internal competitions where their regiment and their officers gain prestige by the athletic achievements. Prewitt lands in this G Company because he used to be not only a damn good bugler, but also a champion lightweight boxer. An unfortunate accident that left his sparring partner blinded convinced Prewit that he should give up boxing, something that his new commanding officer refuses to accept, putting in motion a whole chain of events aimed at breaking the will of the new recruit. In the same military parlance this is called "The Treatment", something I experienced a mild form of in my own short term military service. The subject of The Treatment is singled out for the most exhausting drill routines, for the least appealing 'fatigue' duties, for repeated punishment for any real or imaginary insubordination. What the officers don't realize is that Prewitt is a former child miner from the Kentucky mountains, a man who would rather die than bend to the will of an outsider: In one way, he thought, the whole thing of ring fighting was hurting somebody else, deliberately, and particularly when it was not necessary. Two men who have nothing against each other get in a ring and try to hurt each other, to provide vicarious fear for people with less guts than themselves. And to cover it up they called it sport and gambled on it. He had never looked at it that way before, and if there was any single thing he could not endure it was to be a dupe. I am tempted to write a detailed review of the steps taken by Prewitt from the morning he gazes at a field of pineapples outside the barracks to his nightime run across a golf field in the aftermath of the Japanese attack, but there are so many important aspects of his personality that it would take me weeks to organize and explain his motivations and his outlook on life. Just as important as Prewitt, and just as well drawn, are the people that surround him, with their own powerful dramas, their own disappointments and defeats in love, in their professional career, in their sanity even. The modell first sergeant Milton Warden, the cook Maylon Stark, fellow infantryman Angelo Maggio, love interest Lorene, army wife Karen Holmes, star atlete Chief Choate and many, many other memorable people that together justify the epic scope of the novel. Also worthy of analysis are the numerous philosophical, social and political debates that slow down the pacing of the novel, yet provoke the reader to give more attention to the context and implications of the story. Maybe I will do all of these aspects justice on an eventual re-read (I'm still recovering from pneumonia at the moment).For now I can only show you a few highlights that I thought significant: The boy Prewitt loved the songs because they gave him something, an understanding, a first hint that pain might not be pointless if you could only turn it into something. Music is the most powerful redemptive force in the life of Prewitt, who was exposed at an early age to the blues culture of his native South and who found expression for his inner soul in the sound of his bugle, a passion denied to him by the narrowmindedness and corruption of his superiors. My favorite passage from the book (and from the movie that I had finally been able to watch with a clear conscience) is of Prewitt singing his regiment to sleep : "Day is done ...Gone the sun ...From-the-lakeFrom-the-hillFrom-the-skyRest in peaceSol jer braveGod is nigh ..."The notes rose high in the air and hung above the quadrangle. They vibrated there, caressingly, filled with an infinite sadness, an endless patience, a pointless pride, the requiem and epitaph of the common soldier, who smelled like a common soldier, as a woman once told him. They hovered like halos over the heads of the sleeping men in the darkened barracks, turning all grossness to the beauty that is the beauty of simpathy and understanding. Here we are, they said, you made us, now see us, don't close your eyes and shudder at it; this beauty, and this sorrow, of things as they are. This is the true song, the song of the ruck, not of battle heroes. This spirituality in Prewitt is countered and subverted by his impulsive, sensualist temperament. He is a heavy drinker, like everybody else in the regiment from the lowest infantryman to the top general. He is an addicted gambler, losing his pay at poker in a couple of hours after he gets it in his hands ( But before the big win he was just waiting for to quit on came they caught him, they caught him good. ). He is womanizer, a regular of the bawdy houses, again like almost everybody around him. He is foul mouthed and violent, rigidly proud and suspicious and difficult to befriend. He is even showing signs of racism and homophobia, again symptoms of the society he is living in. Yet Prewitt does open up to a few select people, like the fellows he is jamming with in the evenings on guitars, singing interminable blues sessions that will produce maybe the one enduring masterpiece of Prewitt's life : "The Re-enlistment Blues" Because he was a soldier, and because he could see it all then, in the easily shattered crystal clarity of the thin glass goblet of the silence that is guard duty in the field at night the last hour before you are relieved.Maybe the Re-enlistment Blues also came out of that. Outside the barracks, Prewitt is a man searching - for companionship, for oblivion in a bottle of hard liquor, for love in the most inappropriate places, for an answer to existential questions: And it seemed to him then that every human was always looking for himself, in bars, in railway trains, in offices, in mirrors, in love, especially in love, for the self of him that is there, someplace, in every other human. Love was not to give oneself, but find oneself, describe oneself. So we get to know Prewitt also through the eyes of Lorene, a professional hooker that is still capable of falling in love with a vulnerable man who hides many insecurities behind the tough guy exterior. Maureen, another of his love interest reads him like a book: All you got is a feeling you're locked up in a box thats two sizes too small for you and theres no air in it and you're suffocatin, and all the time outside the box you hear the whole world walking around laughin and having a big, big time. Thats all you got. In the same existentialist vein, here is a glimpse of the see-saw experience Prewitt is going through, from exhilaration to despondency: Life frightened him, sometimes. But there was nothing to do, anyway. Because this special quality was a thing he could not control in himself, that he could not stop. But then when he was going good he knew it was better to face it, that it was always better to face things no matter what it cost anybody. He knew that. He believed it. Only in the bad spells did life frighten him with its unbelieveble cruelty, its inconceivable injustice, its incredible pointlessness. I have told you about my favorite part : Prewitt singing Taps in the evening. I should also talk a little about some parts that were problematic. One of these is the portrayal of homosexuals - it may be a good thing that their culture is mentioned and given exposure at a time when most of the establishment pretended they don't exist, but for one thing Prewitt and his friends are boasting about beating these guys up, and for another, there is an implication that gays are damaged goods and have deep psychological issues: Why do you always pick up somebody who aint queer? Because if you're with another queer, you don't feel evil enough, thats why. Women don't get a much better outlook than gays, an issue that bothered me a lot also when reading "Some Came Running" . Jones if often making me think that, through his characters, he hates women intellectually, even as he desires them physically. And they called them the weaker sex! That was prone to crack up and cry at every crisis! Like hell. The women ran this world; and nobody knew it better than a man in love. Sometimes he thought they did it deliberately, all this conspiracy stuff, just to satisfy some ancient racial love of intrigue inherited from the generations of conspiring to play the role of being dominated. and,His trouble was when he had admitted to her and to himself that he loved her. That was always the greatest single blunder in this game. That put him in her power as Dana had never been in her power. She could make him do anything now, even become an officer, now that she was sure he did love her. He was no longer a free agent, and as a result the old wild terrible strength that had been the power and pride of Milt Warden was gone. Also disturbing, but I believe in a necessary way, is the exposure of the cruel practices deployed by the jailers of recalcitrant soldiers in the Stockade. Both Maggio and Prewitt end up in the slammer, where they are subject to much more atrocious brutalities than "The Treatment" . It is said that Jones book provoked a review of these practices and abuses in the US Army. If true, the novel has served its purpose admirably. ... the quickest, efficientest, least expensive way to educate a man is to make it painful for him when he is wrong, the same as with any animal.boasts the odious Major Thomson as he unleashes his minions on the unfortunate inmates, under the leadership of one sergeant Fatso Judson. Despite these abuses, it is inside this Stockade that Maggio and Prewitt find a sort of redemption with the help of a renegade sailor, a guru of Oriental sensibilities: If God is Instability rather than Fixity, if God is Growth and Evolution, then there is no need for the concept of forgiveness. The mere concept of forgiveness implies the doing of something wrong. Original sin. But if evolution is growth by trial and error, how can errors be wrong? since they contribute to growth? Before I close my review, I would like to mention that I saw the movie of Fred Zinnemann from 1953 soon after reading the novel. I believe the casting was inspired, in particular Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster. I also think Zinneman did a decent job with the huge material he had in the book, but he also did a lot of changes to tone down the harshness of the foul language, the drinking and the whoring. This isn't as important as the whitewashing of the army officers, who are shown in the late parts of the movie to punish the abusive behaviour of Captain 'Dynamite' Holmes. In the novel he is promoted and given more power to apply his doctrine of discipline through fear.As an epitaph, I include at the end the song of Robert E Lee Prewitt and of his friends in the G Company at Schofield Barracks: Re-Enlistment BluesGot Paid out on MondayNot a dog soljer no morethey himme all that moneySo much my pockets is soreMore dough than I can use.Re-enlistment blues.Took my ghelt to town on TuesdayGot a room and a big double bedFind a job tomorrowTonight you may be deadAint no time to lose.Re-enlistment blues.Hit the bars on WednesdayMy friends put me up on a throneFound a hapa-Chinee babySwore she never would leave me alonedid I give her a bruise?Re-enlistment blues!Woke up sick on ThursdayFeelin like my head took a dareLooked down at my trousersAll my pockets was barethat gal had blown my fuse.Re-enlistment blues.Went back around on FridayAsked for a free glass of beerMy friends had disappearedBarman say, "Take off, you queer!"What I done then aint news.Re-enlistment blues.The jail was cold all Sa'dayStandin' up on a bench lookin downThrough them bars I watched the peopleAll happy and out on the townLooked like time for me to choose,them Re-enlistment blues.Slept in the park that SundaySeen all the folks goin to churchYour belly feels so emptyDog soljers dont own pews.Re-enlistment blues.So I re-upped on MondayA little sad and sick at my heartAll y fine plans was with my moneyIn the poke of a scheming tartGuy always seems to lose.Re-enlistment blues.So you short-timers, let me tell youDont get yourself throwed in the canYou might as well be deadOr a Thirty-Year-ManRecruitin crews give me the blues,Old Re-enlistment Blues.

  • Jeff
    2019-03-07 21:05

    For years this has just been that "super-long WWII novel about Hawaii during Pearl Harbor" that I knew was supposed to be good but never could bring myself to read. So when I finally read it, I was pretty surprised that it wasn't anything that I was expecting.This is held up as a WWII novel. But its NOT a war novel. It's a novel about peacetime soldiers. The book takes place over the full year of 1941, and Pearl Harbor happens near the end, and is not what the book is about.This is a book about what it was like to be in the army in the peacetime years leading up to WWII. Its amazing that it was published in the early 1950s...relationships with whores and commanding officers' wives, serious exploration of homosexuality and oppression of gays, the military prison system, alcoholism, the (realistically) casual use of the word "fuck" and "cocksucker" (tip of the iceburg) at a time when Norman Mailer didn't have the balls but to use "fug" (who the fuck ever said "fug").This is a character novel, and the characters are amazing: crisp, consistent, flawed, real. Historical fiction is too much about events and facts and specific key individuals. This is historical fiction that is much different than other "WWII novels"....it goes deep into characters with no historical significance, with plot with no historical significance, that you walk away from feeling like you understand that time more than any other book you've read from that period.It was interesting, yet not surprising, when I read in the afterward that the book From Here to Eternity beat out for the National Book Award in 1951 is another great character study of that decade: The Catcher in the Rye. Frankly, I think this one is better (though you can read The Catcher in the Rye five times in the time it takes to read From Here to Eternity). Though its not for everyone: this is a character novel about military enlisted men. So it's unapologetically manly. Because its about unapologetic men (who do really stupid shit). NOTE: If you decide to read this, be sure to read the "Restored Edition", which does add back some of the original manuscript that was edited out when it was originally published (at Jones' adamant objection).NOTE 2: My new years resolution is to read fewer books, but longer/better ones, but also to write a review for every 5-star rating that I give. This is the first.

  • Corto
    2019-03-14 18:16

    Hell of a book. Feminist characters. Cuckolded husbands (actually, everyone gets cuckolded). Homosexuals debating (at length) the nature of their sexual orientation. Proto-Hippie gurus. Non-conformist rebels. And, an Army story in there somewhere too. Must've been very heady stuff for 1951! I can't believe it was even published back then. Great book. Great summer read. Could've used less "grinning". Oh yeah- (not to make too much of an understatement) if you've seen the film you've really only scratched the surface of the story. Highly recommended if you liked the movie.

  • Nat K
    2019-03-06 21:22

    An epic read and an epic story. This book took me literally months to finish, but I’m so glad that I did. It was well worth the effort.I’d always had a hankering to read this book, purely for the fact that Frank Sinatra was obsessed with getting a role in the movie of the same title, to revive his (then) flagging career. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, and how believable I found the characters to be. James Jones certainly had a knack for getting right into the character’s heads, and making them very human and people you could empathise with (even if you didn’t necessarily like them). The fact that there was a sizeable portion of the book which included the female perspective, was also a facet I wasn’t expecting, and it added to the “realness” of the story. A very long book, but definitely worth ticking off your book “bucket list”.”Just where is, he thought, the line that separates insanity?””Conviction and intensity are not the coin of truth, they alone can never buy it.””Maybe we only love the things we cannot have.”

  • Rozzer
    2019-02-23 21:17

    It's really very interesting. Not this book, which is in my view a complete waste of time, but the whole concept of the middlebrow novel, a genre that has disappeared. Being new here at Goodreads, I've spent quite some time wandering around and jiggering all the bells and whistles. And I've seen hundreds and hundreds of book titles and authors, both those chosen by members and those otherwise included and promoted on the website. And while of course I can find old mid-20th Century middlebrow novels if I specifically enter their names in the search function, they're nowhere mentioned or named or bruited about by current members or as favorites or leading choices. Most of these middlebrow novels aren't worth anyone's time, at least if you're not really insisting on killing that time dead, dead, dead. There are those which have some continuing value, like some John O'Hara and some Mackinlay Kantor. But most of them (there are so MANY!) have gone out with the tide and will never come back, waiting until some future anthropologist starts rooting around in the 20th Century for a thesis topic. Don't get me wrong: there are plenty of novels from the 1920-1960 period that are now and always have been great and remarkable and valuable. But most of those, in my view at least, are genre-types. What are the unifying characteristics that make it possible for me to issue such sweeping generalizations about middlebrow novels? Well, for starters they were written, published and purchased for and by members of a very specific stratum of then American society. Primarily middle and upper middle class women with some education who stayed at home. I was growing up then, as a child and an adolescent, and can remember only too well the quiet, peaceful, spotless living rooms of these women into which would arrive every so often the latest choice of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Not in theory unlike the kind of self-censorship practiced by Dickens in an earlier age, these novels were restricted. There were numbers of taboos that had to be respected in their language, their subject matter, their plots and their settings. Not to mention their people and their people's roles. The vast majority of social restrictions that now or at any other time hold or held sway do so in an entirely unconscious manner. With regard to middlebrow novels in the mid-20th Century it was taken for granted at the time that the family living space, a purely mental construct in which the novel reader and her family lived and loved and had their being, was, like the physical house itself, a boundaried space. There was our space "here", where she and her family and friends existed and had as pleasant as possible a social life, and then, beyond the mental garden wall, so to speak, there was the outside "there", dangerous terrain in which anything could and probably did happen. Just as was true for the inside of the actual physical house, the local mental space, the "here", of course required cleanliness and protection from all the negative things in the outside "there". You wouldn't track outside mud into the house, you'd scrape it off your shoes on the mat at the door. And the same could be said of that mental space in which the family existed. There were attitudes (negativism, cynicism, defeatism, communism, sexuality) that were simply dirt to be excluded. Not in the slightest in a nasty, repressed, pursed-mouth fashion. By no means. One did that in order to preserve for the family mental living space the kind of quiet, ordered, cleanly calm and peace of the living room in the actual house itself. It was natural. It was automatic. It was what self-respecting people did. And the writers of that era, or most of them at least, who desired some kind of commercial success, wrote novels that excluded not only objectionable language (does ANYONE remember "objectionable language"?), but objectionable ideas, thoughts, feelings, personae, etc., etc., etc. Looking back on it now, it's almost cute. Almost endearing. I'm sure it wasn't for the poor novelists of the time. But there really has been a huge, huge development since that era, to the point that it's very, very doubtful that young adults of today have any conception of what it was like to grow up and live in such an "unchallenged" (and "unchallenged" is the key word here), self-limited way. Everyone then, unconsciously, helped everyone else keep "dirty" things on the other side of the mental door. The lady of the house did it for her friends and relations. Her friends and relations did it for her. Everyone cooperated, most certainly including teachers and librarians. And the novelists did it too. Just go back and try to read "Marjorie Morningstar" without either bursting into uncontrollable laughter or throwing up. Or, for that matter, "From Here to Eternity." You may like the story line. You may like the characters. But after you get under way in your reading you will, at some point, develop a sense of strangeness, of being in a sealed-off little bubble of unreality. All by yourself. All by yourself. And that was the price of admission. For those folks who wanted to keep their mental homes spick and span, clean and neat, healthy and wholesome and without the taint of infection, the cost was substantial. The cost was loneliness and a sense of unreality. Middlebrow novels. They're gone now. Their market has been shattered into a thousand genres and sub-genres that permit authors to focus on very particular protocols applying to very specific types of fiction. Authors can specialize and readers can specialize, in a kind of symbiosis advantageous to both. Nor will people of today put up with the kind of mental straitjacket that was absolutely normal in 1955. Most readers today, at least part of the time, want to come to grips with what's really out there. Escapism is all well and good but most people today want some reassurance that at least some aspects of their preferred fictions deal with fundamental realities. It's true in science fiction. It's true in fantasy. It's true in mysteries and thrillers, and it's even true in romance. Escapism plus, sort of like breakfast cereal with added vitamins and minerals. Were he to come back to earth tomorrow, James Jones would have a very hard time orienting himself to who and what we are in 2012. He might try again to write books, but if he wanted to be published in our time, he'd have to include a much more substantial slice of reality which, like garlic, is today's public taste. Myself, I think it's a good thing.

  • Gary
    2019-02-23 22:29

    Love the movie with Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Cliff, Burt Lancester, Deborah Kerr. I have had the book on the shelf for probably close to 30 years,and never read it till now. I need to rewatch the movie again now...this book is great.....I enjoyed it,and it went into a lot more details about the characters lives, then any movie ever could,and it was heavy on the military life, and what it's like to be a soldier in those days. I would recommend this to anyone...and it's a first in a trilogy, which I didn't know.... The Thin Red Line (also a film, which I've not seen),and Whistle Stop are the other two. I may read those some day.....and if I decide to , I won't wait another 30 years.Enjoy the book first before you see the film...and if you've seen the film in years past...enjoy the book first.....the character development is top notch,and you really get a feel for the characters, much more in depth.

  • Daniel Villines
    2019-03-01 23:05

    Society can be considered a fabric that surrounds us. It’s a warm blanket that has been pieced together to suit our way of life and our collective needs. Society, keeps us safe, wards off isolation, and also defines the possibilities of our success. But society is not tailor-made. It is lumpy where it’s been stretched and binding in the places that have never been touched. Regardless of who we are, however, we must live with the fit that society affords us or suffer the consequences of living without its collective warmth.From Here to Eternity use the world of the Army as it existed pre-draft, pre-WWII, to recreate a small, deeply personalize model of society. The Army, with all of its politics, vices, egotistical influences, and rules interacts with the two main characters in ways that echo our modern-day interactions with society. And it’s this miniaturization effect that intensifies this theme and brings the irregular fit of their blanket into a modern-day context.The two main characters serve to illustrate the two extremes of human-societal interactions. On one side of the extreme, Sgt. Warden exemplifies the rewards that society bestows upon those that adhere to its rules while also depicting the parts of our humanity that we must give up (or have taken away) while achieving society’s expectations.Pvt. Prewitt exemplifies the other extreme. Prewitt is driven by his personal need to be true to himself regardless of expectations. Rather than try to pull the lumpy parts of the blanket over him to create a better fit, he simply throws the blanket off, accepts the consequences, and lives true to his convictions. Prewitt exemplifies the punishment that society doles out to its non-conformists.Warden and Prewitt; both men know instinctively who they are. Not only do they suffer their individual fates but they also suffer their desires to be more like each other. Prewitt desires the collective warmth but cannot deny his true self. Warden desires to live as his true self but cannot give up the rewards that society has bestowed upon him. By the end of the book, you are left to evaluate the suffering that both men endure and you are left to wonder if we, as individuals, will ever be at peace amongst our collective selves.And so it goes for all of us, from here to the end of time.

  • Owen
    2019-03-14 00:10

    Of course,” you hear them say, “the book was much better than the movie.” And while we’ve heard this observation time and again, no one really elaborates as to why. Then, too, I suspect that in instances when the movie was the original, inspired creation, and the book was the one riding the coattails—as in the novelized versions of Dark Knight and Terminator—the opposite is true. The movie is much better than the book. Someone else might have to corroborate this idea, because I, for one, have never and will never read the novelization of any movie. My main premise is as follows: The emotive fire of the creative artist loses its heat when transferred to another medium. In this instance, I watched the movie before I read the novel, and although I enjoyed the movie, I didn’t think it was “great.” I sure as hell didn’t see why it won eight (8) Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Now that I’ve read the novel (which was a runaway best-seller) and now that I’m more familiar with the casting decisions of the director, Fred Zimmerman, it all becomes very clear that the film was indeed riding the coattails of a hugely successful book; people flocked to the theater to see how all this salaciousness and debauchery might appear on the big screen. If you knew that Donna Reed from It’s a Wonderful Life, was going to play a sultry prostitute, wouldn’t you be at least a little curious?"Watching her walking he could see the flat triangle of hair underneath the thinness of the dress, but with her it was not like it had been with Maureen who had been unaware of it completely. This girl was aware of it , aware of him, but she was utterly above it. She was aware of it and she ignored it. Must be twenty-three or –four, he thought, noticing that she walked very straight and that her hair was done in a circular roll low on her neck and that she had very wide eyes that looked at him serenely openly. She stopped by them and smiled at him and he noticed her mouth was very wide across the thin childishness of her face, he noticed the long lips were very full especially at the corners. She has a beautiful face, he thought. Mrs Kipfer introduced them formally, and then asked if she wouldn’t look after him because he was new here? If she wouldn’t show him around? 'Surely,' she said, and he noticed how pleasingly low pitched, how poised her voice was. It was the voice that belonged with the rest of her. 'Let sit down, shall we?' she smiled."If you knew Burt Lancaster, as Sergeant Warden, would be having an affair with his commanding officer’s wife, a character played by the very epitome of genteel propriety, Deborah Kerr, wouldn’t you be hoping to see a little skin on the big screen? And let’s not forget Mr. Frank Sinatra, whose Italian Brooklyn character is one of the funniest in modern fiction, the equivalent of King Lear’s jester:“I even climbed up on the doorknob to look through the transom to see if he had died and the son of a bitch had hung a towel over it. I call that plain goddam bad manners.” “What you mean is,” Prew grinned, “you think he’s a suspicious bastard.”“Yeah,” Angelo said. “As if anybody would look through his goddam old transom.”He frowned at them so indignantly so long that Lorene giggled and finally had to laugh out loud.“Well,” he said, getting up. “I’m a kind of guy can tell when he’s overstayed his welcome. I can tell when I ain’t wanted. I leave you people to your lovin.”“Aw, stick around,” Prew grinned, “Please don’t rush off.”“Yas,” Angelo said, “I like you too, you bastard. I will just leave you some of this whiskey and then I won’t feel so guilty.”Indeed, now that I’ve read this 850-page monolith, I want to see the film again, just to note how much innuendo made it past the censors, or perhaps just to visit with these characters for 118 more minutes. Did I mention prostitutes—male solicitors included— gambling, gay night life, boxing, homicidal beatings, vengeance murders, and gun-in-the mouth suicides? “[He] was lying back across his bunk in that peculiarly lifeless position dead people get into, with the top of his head gone and the rifle on the floor and the one pastywhite bare foot dangling down ridiculously. There was a large blot of blood and phlegmy matter on the ceiling around the hole where the bullet had gone on through. It was still [his] face, but it looked as if all the bones had been taken out from behind it, like one of those cured headhunter’s head you could see in the curio shop windows downtown on Hotel Street.” Compared to the book, the movie seems like a Disney after-school special. It’s my understanding that the book itself, as published in 1952, was also watered-down from James Jones’s original manuscript, which contained an explicit sex scene with two men as well as some more choice language. But to say that the book is better than the movie because it’s less diluted or because we get to spend more time with our beloved characters is still missing the point. At the heart of the matter, the book is truer, both emotionally and philosophically. In the wholesome, domesticated ideology of the 1950s when shows like Leave it to Beaver sought to impose a moral compass on postwar America, From Here to Eternity reminded a generation of men of what they had, in fact, experienced: suicides, genocide, prostitution, gambling, boxing, explicit language, beatings, court martial, extra-marital affairs.As an enlisted soldier of the US Army, I myself was summoned, along with the Chaplain, to the scene of a suicide. An MP had shot himself in the head. It wasn’t pretty. This soldier had left his wife and kids for a German national only to have the Fraulein empty his bank account and leave. We were stationed in Holland, not Germany, where both marijuana and prostitution were legal; many soldiers were sent home, including the Sergeant Major (for allegedly assaulting a girl). Drinking and gambling were popular pastimes in the barracks. I recall one particular officer who lost his security clearance because of bad debts. One PFC was busted down to a plain private because he had been drinking on guard duty. Yes, the military was dramatic, even in peace time, and I suppose that’s why we loved it almost as much as we hated it—because nowhere else, except on the edge of death, could we feel so alive.Which reminds me of the title of the work itself, a phrase that is lost (like the emotional and philosophical truth of the story) upon anyone who sees the movie without having read the novel. It’s taken from a poem entitled “Gentlemen-Rankers” by Rudyard Kipling. Jones cites the last four lines: “Gentlemen-rankers out on a spree/ Damned from here to Eternity,/ God ha’ mercy on such as we,/ Ba! Yah! Bah!” A gentleman-ranker is an enlisted solider who is qualified, through education, breeding, or military training, to be an officer, and yet chooses to remain an enlisted rank. Why would someone do such a stupid thing? Well, I for one did it because I made more money (through singing bonuses and student-loan repayments) than I would have as an officer. Also unlike an officer, I could choose my MOS (Military Occupation Specialty), and my station in Europe. Looking back on it, I’m not sure I made the right choice. Like Kipling so eloquently wrote in his poem, I did feel like a “little black sheep” who had gone astray. On the other hand, I suppose social limbo and biting my tongue were a modest price to pay for having the opportunity to tour Europe on Uncle Sam’s dime, all the while paying off a small mortgage’s worth of student loans. As for other gentlemen-rankers—like First Sergeant Milton Warden of the story—their reasons can be found, all the same, in their values and identity. Warden’s commanding officer, Captain Holmes, is too busy fornicating to be of much use in running G-Company. Consequently, the administrative burden falls on Warden, who, as usual, does a superb job—evening while seducing the Captain’s wife.In the novel, Captain Holmes actually befriends a young general and is promoted to the rank of major. In the movie, he’s reprimanded. But the point is that an enlisted man, an NCO (non-commissioned officer) specifically, does the real, day-to-day work of the army, and the officers get the credit.Warden shares the same view of many NCOs that I came across in the army. When a private accidentally called them sir, they responded, “Don’t call me sir, I work for a living!” Or if an officer asked them what materials they needed for a particular mission, their response might have been, “All I need is for you to stay out of the way, sir.” Unlike Captain Holmes, First Sergeant Warden has a deeper connection with the army, a sense of it beyond himself. He’s fair and impartial to his subordinates. Unlike Holmes, he “never overstep[s] his own private, self-constructed line of equity.” In the deepest sense, Warden simply has more respect for his enlisted colleagues than the commissioned officers who have commanded him. He’s a capable, educated, sophisticated, and empathetic man—virtually the very opposite of the hard and harsh exterior that he portrays; It’s as if he’s hiding his capabilities not out of humility, but out of shame. Karen Holmes loves him, but she “can’t” (a.k.a. won’t) marry him unless he submits his paperwork to become an officer.Jones, too, as the author, seems to have his own private line of equity, striving to portray each character as honestly as possible. Even though the reader wants Private Prewitt to win a gloves-off boxing match with Corporal Bloom, he doesn’t win. The fight is pretty much a draw. Also, despite the foibles of his main characters, Jones gives them redeeming qualities that, on the balance, make them likable. This is the first literary novel I have read where a highly intelligent and respectable main character has a seventh-grade education and was raped as a child by a bum in a “rolling box car.” The characters from The Man with the Golden Arm have disadvantageous backgrounds as well, but they never emotionally or intellectually rise above this background like Prewitt does. They don’t have his internal code, work ethic, or sophistication. Consequently, he earns our respect and love, while they remain intellectually, physically, and morally lazy.In terms of craft, Jones creates a Thrillerary, my favorite types of novel. He superbly “sets up” each major scene by creating a sublime anticipation, as when 1) Prewitt is about to meet Alma, 2) Warden is about to seduce Karen Holmes, 3) another stockade prisoner is about to have his arm broken by a sixteen pound sledge hammer. Like the consummate author of a thriller, Jones plants the question of the scene first: Will Angelo escape or be arrested or killed?; Will Prewitt murder the guard or die trying?; Will Alma marry him?; Will Warden be caught having the affair or enjoy the vacation?; Will he become an officer and marry her or remain a gentlman-ranker and be damned from here to eternity? And like the consummate author of a literary novel, Jones portrays conflicts born of the very psychology of his characters. Prewitt will have an easy stay in G-Company if he simply agrees, against his principles, to box for Captain Holmes. Warden can be an officer if he agrees, against his will, to submit the paperwork.Add to this mix an authentic, expertly rendered dialogue, and you have a book, a National Book Award winner, that for all intents and purposes, is much better than any movie.

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-02-26 22:13

    From 1940 to 1973 all able bodied men in United States army were required to serve in the American military for 2 years. During this 33 period there were 16 years of war and 17 years of peace. The experience of military service spawned many excellent novels reflecting on life in the military and on the military vocation. From Here to Eternity is one of my favourite in the bunch.Although, From Here to Eternity might be classified as a war novel because the events of the last several chapters take place in Hawaii during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, it is primarily about men who chose to make the military their career vocation. Being an American not a European, James Jones focusses not on the officers but on the "30 year men" who serve in the enlisted ranks. The two protagonists are from the non-commissioned ranks. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt a simple soul form the hills of Kentucky and First Sgt. Milt Warden is an altogether more worldly individual.Prewitt is harassed by his superior officer who wants him to box in the internal army competitions. Prewitt however adamantly refuses because having blinded a competitor in an earlier competition no longer wants to box. The officer increases the pressure on Prewitt until he kills one of his tormentors and then flees. When the Japanese attack, Prewitt feels compelled to return to fight with his comrades but is killed by a sentry as he approaches the base.First Sgt. Warden seduces to the wife of the officer persecuting Prewitt. The wife confides to Prewitt that she cannot have children because of a case of gonorrhea that she received from her husband. She and Warden agree on a plan. She will divorce her husband and he will apply to write the officer's exam so that the two will have a comfortable living. Warden successfully passes the exam but decides that he is not emotionally prepared to cross the line separating officers from enlisted men. He decides to break off the relationship.Thus our two main protagonists are both profoundly attached to the "30 year" life of the enlisted man. Prewitt dies attempting to return after having deserted. Warden resolutely refuses to switch horses mid-stream choosing to remain in the enlisted ranks to the end.From Here to Eternity is a very powerful novel that in the 1960s rang very true to me. The picture of the military life as described to me by my father who was in the war time air force and by two uncles who were career or "30 year" enlisted men like Prewitt and Warden corresponds very closely to the army life described in this book. I recommend anyone interested in this phase of American history to read this wonderful novel.

  • John Alt
    2019-02-28 21:13

    When James Jones died the Army lost one of its own. Here was a soldier, a man with an abiding regard for things military. Many novelists treat war and the Army but only with a passing interest. They write one book and get it out of their systems. For Jones, From Here to Eternity was the start of a lifelong study of what it means to be a soldier. To the day he died he thought like a soldier. Other writers delve into high society or family life or la vie boheme. Jones was at his best when he explored the mind of an enlisted man. He was not career Army but he made the Army his career. It had its name on everything he wrote.The Pineapple Army was what he knew best. The modern, relatively democratized Army was alien to him. He would appreciate the tremendous improvements in the life of the enlisted man. We must look across decades to imagine what his life was like. He himself was an EM. Then, enlisted men were poorly paid, harshly disciplined, often humiliated, and rarely listened to. But the time was the Great Depression and opportunity outside was nil. The Army gave a man three square meals a day and a roof over his head. Jones, like so many others, was a refugee from the bread line.Enlisting in 1939, he left a stormy home life. He could not stand his mother; his father committed suicide. He was at Hickam Field in Honolulu on December 7, 1941. From Here to Eternity contains a memorable account of that day: it is a lazy Sunday morning breakfast until the mess dishes begin to rattle. The men wonder why gunnery practice is so close and so early. The calm sweeps into frenzy. The barracks are raked by diving Zeros. Men running across the quadrant are stitched in their tracks as machine gun bullets walk over them, kicking up dust. Jones survived the Sunday Morning Massacre only to get his in the South Pacific.He was a belly-in-the-mud jungle fighter on Guadalcanal. The Thin Red Line is based on that combat. He vividly describes the white-hot bloody battles for hills with numbers. History has forgotten the numbers. Jones never forgot the courage and the cowardice of men under fire. The novel is almost a textbook of battle. It has remarkably close and accurate descriptions of men at war. Couple this with a precise memory, a keen eye for detail, an acute ear for soldier-speak, and a first-rate style emerges. Most of all, he depicts battle with the intense vision of a man striving to be objective. All is in perspective; no one is blamed. The weaknesses and strengths of men are facts to be accepted.Jones’ men become soldiers only as they face up to death. Seeing dead men all around, they must realize that a bullet will catch up with them, if not on this campaign, then on the next island. If not on the next, then the one after, for the war will last longer than their luck will. Physical agony is all around in The Thin Red Line. A man ripped open, clutching his purple intestines spilling into the dirt beneath him, screams for help, while slowly, too slowly, he dies. Another man, going days without rest, under continual fire, about to break, receives a dear john. His wife tells him that she wants to marry a man she has been bedding.These men, doomed men, are the stuff of Jones’ stories. They are often the outcasts of society but they find dignity on the battlefield. Jones had faith that the average joe will come through, spirit intact. In From Here to Eternity Robert E. Lee Prewitt, or Prew, has left the coal mines of Harlan County, Kentucky. Like so many others during the Depression—and like Jones—he joins the Regular Army. While others wait for the job market to open, he finds his place in the Army. He can find nothing prouder than to be a Thirty Year Man. The Army gives him his dignity. He proves himself a good boxer and a superb bugilist. After a punch blinded his opponent, he turns from boxing to the sense of beauty he can find in the mournful notes of Taps. He finds a calling and is thankful to the Army that his life has purpose. Like his childhood guitar-playing, the bugle makes him feel that “pain might not be pointless” if it can be turned into music. Pain is indeed his lot. Jones shows that the same Army, the Pineapple Army, which gives Prew his music, is pitted against him.The Army becomes symbolic of the machinery of Jones’ 1930s society, which grinds individuals into cogs. Prew must assert his individual worth against social pressure. He refuses to box because he blinded a buddy, Dixie Wells, and he will not bugle because he will not play politics. So he transfers to an infantry outfit. There, he gets “the treatment.” The company commander is also regimental boxing coach. The noncoms, all boxers, relentlessly torment him to join the boxing team. Prew won’t break. He will not play the game. The novel also has another Thirty Year Man, a decent type who successfully plays the game. First Sergeant Milt Warden and Prewitt understand one another, even warily respect one another, but they can never agree. Warden calls Prewitt a hardhead. To Prewitt the matter is simple. “He had to leave the Bugle Corps because he was a bugler.” Red, a buddy, “did not have to leave it. But he had to leave because most of all he wanted to stay.” This is Prewitt’s kind of integrity. If you do something well, he believes, then you must give it your utmost. There can be no compromise. If politics force compromise, then get out of the Bugle Corps.Jones himself chose an unconventional life. After recovery time in military hospitals he was mustered out in 1944. But he took the Army home with him and, like Prewitt, remained a Thirty Year Man for the rest of his life. He chose a hard road in civilian life. While in the hospital he decided to become a writer. His first novel was rejected by Scribners in 1945. The next six years were impoverished and difficult until From Here to Eternity. It became an immediate success in 1951. Established as a writer, and royalties flowing in, he wrote other novels, including Some Came Running and The Merry Month of May.Prewitt played the bugle. Jones wrote his books. Jones sang of valor and tragedy, comradeship and hatred, barbarity and kindness. He pulled no punches. His characters are without halos. Some of them perform unspeakable cruelties in the name of civilization. Nonetheless, Jones shows these men as occasionally noble, heroic, self-sacrificing. They are real-life men, or composites of them—soldiers he fought with, ate with, drank with.He is gone. His words remain. They are a gift from him to us. He had a poem by Yeats read at his graveside. The poem, “Sailing to Byzantium,” has some telling lines in it: “That is no country for old men. The young/ in one another’s arms, birds in the trees,/ . . . fish, flesh, and fowl, commend all summer long,/ whatever is begotten, born, and dies . . . And therefore I have sailed the seas and come/ To the holy city of Byzantium.” He has crossed the seas. He wrote much about what men needed for the voyage. They need bravery and dignity. And so he is in Byzantium and we still have our summers and birds in the trees. Now his stories belong to soldiers living and soldiers yet to be born. Hence, he will live on. So long as there is an Army there will always be a James Jones.

  • Adam
    2019-03-14 17:08

    After hearing nothing but good things about this book I couldn't wait to read it. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I think it was a New York Times Review that said this book was "The best book to come out of WWII". Obviously they didn't read "Battle Cry" by Leon Uris or "Once An Eagle" by Anton Myrer and a whole host of other books that I found to be much better reads. I'm all about setting the scene and giving the reader a real since of what the character is feeling. But when page after page is devoted solely to, for example, how the sound of a bugle makes a guy feel, it's just too much. What little dialogue there was I enjoyed. It was just so little in between so much, for lack of a better word, crap. I know a lot of people really enjoy and indeed praise such writing as "Candid and Dramatic" and "Powerfully Emotional". Such writers are hailed as genius and given awards: James Jones and especially Norman Mailer. But in my humble opinion their work is nothing but CRAP.

  • Mike
    2019-03-17 17:19

    How can a book about war, with no war in it, be so damned compelling? This is a total masterpiece.

  • Steven Meyers
    2019-03-15 23:24

    Many veterans who have read Mr. Jones's novel assert it was an accurate portrayal of the times in the Army. I'll take their word for it. The closest I ever came to serving in the military was joining the Cub Scouts and playing with my G.I. Joe action figure (a.k.a. doll) when I was a kid. The novel revolves two major characters, Robert E. Lee Prewitt and Milton Anthony Warden. There are other notable individuals such as Angelo Maggio, Dana Holmes, and the cook Maylon Stark. The two major women characters Karen Holmes and Alma "Lorene" Schmidt are well developed but take a back seat to Prewitt's and Warden's stories. 'From Here to Eternity' exudes masculinity in all its glory, violence, sexuality, and imbecility. It is a story about men obsessed with manliness and status. Petty politics reins supreme. The government-sanction frat club continually fight boredom and sexual frustration during peace time. I had to keep reminding myself that most of them were young immature men.The novel was published in 1951. It was understandable that the publishers originally edited out some of the more unseemly material because of the American market's more puritanical sensibilities. Fortunately, 'From Here to Eternity' has been restored to the author's original intent. The racy material would not even meet up to the standard of erotica in today's society. Maybe it got the blood rushing and heart pounding while reading it in the 1950s but today it's meh. What I did find shocking, considering when it was published, is the laissez-faire attitude towards homosexuality. It sometimes is depicted as predatory and other times as consensual. Also, be warned, racist jargon is peppered throughout the work. African-Americans, Jews, and Italians are especially targeted. Also, alcohol was apparently one of the major food groups.It is a brutal book but not gloomy. 'From Here to Eternity' is loaded with irony and thoughtful discussions about a variety of human conditions. It occurs during a time when women had limited options and Jim Crow was still very much alive. Information was easily manipulated for patriotic reasons and military culture was insular. Mr. Jones's impressive novel is to be savored. It is not some swaggering John Wayne-like comic book but a grown-up's work. For nearly three decades, I avoided reading 'From Here to Eternity' because of the movie poster famously showing Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr sucking face on the beach. I've never seen the film and assumed the book was some kind of military Harlequin Romance drivel. Boy, was I ever wrong.

  • Julie G
    2019-02-21 23:28

    Originally published by Scribner in 1951, James Jones' novel was heavily edited to, purportedly, get it past the censors of the time. To present a more tasteful image of life in the military. Now, thanks to Jones' family and OpenRoad Media, we can read the book as it was written.In the wake of the Depression, military service was the only option for many young men in America. Men who were poor, poorly educated, or poor of spirit had few choices in the early 20th century.On an Army base in Hawaii, in the early weeks of 1941, Robert E Lee 'Prew' Prewitt is a helluva fighter and the "best bugler in the Regment [sic]." Although only twenty-one, he had lived 'on the bum' for years. Seeking to improve his lot in life, Prew chose The Profession.At his first post with the 27th, Prew became a boxer. After a bout that nearly killed a man, he gave up fighting. Constant harassment and abuse, designed to force him back in the ring, instead sent Prew to 'A' Company, home of the bugle corps.Now, as the novel begins, Prew has been passed over for promotion to First Bugler in favor of a company 'pet.' There are rumors that Prew rejected his commander's advances; he isn't saying. But, once again, he is transferred.His new home, 'G' Company, is regular infantry with a commander more focused on boxing than war. Since Prew refuses to fight, conflict is inevitable. And, with the help of his second-in-command, Captain Dana E. 'Dynamite' Holmes is determined to teach Prew the error of his ways.What follows is a portrait of military life on Hawaii in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, and the shocked and shocking days that came after. A portrait of men just trying to survive the politics, the discrimination, and the brutality of the few who held power over the many. Written by a man who lived it.*****I have never read the 1951 version of this novel and it's been many, many years since I saw the 1953 movie. Therefore, when I chose to read the restored edition, I had a vague Army-on-Hawaii-before-Pearl expectation of the book's content. Which is a bit like saying Moby Dick is about a guy and a big fish.What grabbed me, and stays with me as I write this, is the language. Not the F-bombs and C-word, expunged in the 50s and common today, but the way that language was used sixty years ago. Language molded in the mind of a remarkable writer.(A brilliant example can be found - here - at the James Jones Literary Society site.)It would take days, and skills I simply lack, to describe even a portion of this work. There are people and places that you can see, and hear, and smell, and feel. The voices and lives of Schofield Barracks will live with you long after you close your e-reader.Why not carve out a couple of weeks, pick up the ebook, and lose yourself?Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary electronic galley of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.comprofessional readers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  • Lee Anne
    2019-02-26 20:25

    There are apparently three options for the Army men serving in Hawaii in the days just before Pearl Harbor: get an island girl (or some other Asian or Pacific Islander) in a shack; visit one of the many, many local whorehouses (if you have $15, apparently you can even go "around the world"); or get liquored up courtesy of a wealthy, gay sugardaddy. That was a scene you didn't see closeted Montgomery Clift and Frank m-f-ing Sinatra play in the movie version. And it was one of the many surprises in this epic book. The reality of otherwise straight men possibly using homosexual men for cash (maybe or maybe not in exchange for sexual favors) is treated shockingly rationally for a sixty year old book. There is a fair amount of homophobic teasing (the word "queer" is thrown around a lot), but none of the men in the unit who partake are shunned, or beaten--it's looked on as a natural consequence of their circumstances. And the two gay civilians are portrayed not as cariactures, but as real, feeling people. This really floored me, in light of "don't ask, don't tell" and how far we've come in gay rights just in the past ten years, to see someone in WWII be so frank about what was sooooo taboo then.I don't want to do a dis-service to this book, though, by focusing on what is really just one small part. If you're a fan of the movie, you'll find it was pretty faithful to the book in plot, but the book is so much more. Gritty, profane, dirty, blunt, sentimental, funny, violent, sad.This is a boy book (or a man book, I should say. Don Draper would totally have read this.), but full of internal thought and emotion. It's very philosophical in tone, too, and it makes me see why a philosophical filmmaker such as Terrence Malick chose to make another of Jones' books into a movie. I'm excited to recommend this to customers, as I often am when I find an older title that people may have heard of but never read.

  • Aaron
    2019-03-15 20:11

    This book is grim and dark, but also beautiful and wonderful. Each character is believable and understandable, and that makes some brutal events in the book have that much more impact. I mean that both in the sense that as a reader I sympathized with characters as events happened to them, but also in situations where I understood why a character acted out negatively or in a self-destructive way.Jones' style can be a bit tricky to follow, especially when he launches into a long stream-of-consciousness paragraph, but it's so well done, and it got me into the characters' perspective so effectively that it was worth the effort for me. Having finished this yesterday, I know I'll carry the memory of these characters around for a long time - they feel so much like they were actual people.I can understand how From Here to Eternity may not have universal appeal, but for me, this was a magnificent read. I have an appreciation for and perspective of peacetime Army life that I didn't before. And for organizational politics. And for Hawaii. And for life in difficult circumstances. And for dudes who are too fatalistic for their own damn good. And maybe masculinity. And maybe people in general.

  • Laura
    2019-03-11 18:03

    Now I know why this story looks so familiar to me: a movie was made based on this booK: From Here to Eternity (1953) with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr.From IMDb:In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

  • Glenna Pritchett
    2019-02-28 21:14

    I am giving up at 152 pages. Close to 20 pages of a poker game held in the latrine, complete with slang that I don't understand and the clash of male egos, plus nearly a whole chapter lamenting the lack of funds to visit a brothel -- I just can't keep on. Jones' writing is wordy and bloated, even more so than Stephen King's. On to something more to my taste! Note to self: stop trying to read classics, modern or otherwise, or books on any kind of "must read" list.

  • Aloke
    2019-02-21 20:28

    Read about "From Here to Eternity" this morning in Joan Didion's essay "In the Islands" from The White Album. A good discussion and excerpt of the essay: https://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=55284

  • Rachel
    2019-03-03 18:19

    Please re-title as "Reading for Eternity".This book is WAY too long. My version was 852 pages. And I disliked most of them. I could have read it in far less than the 5 months it actually took me, if I hadn't kept putting it down and picking up more interesting books.James Jones can be a very good writer, but not as good as he thought (or others thought) he was. I hated the stream of consciousness portions with sentences that went on for inches and paragraphs that were almost the length of entire pages. I hated the blatent overuse of adverbs, "she had very wide eyes that looked at him serenely openly." I never really liked any of the characters. Prewitt is full of misguided and (IMHO) unsubstantiated pride that causes him to always make the worst possible decisions. Warden is perhaps the most sympathetic character, except when he is with the woman he supposedly loves. Jones seems to think that love cannot exist without contempt (romantic love, love for a buddy, love for the army, love for oneself...) And that is perhaps why I really resisted reading this book. Jones' writes a very different philosophy of life than the one that I subscribe to. I think I would rather re-watch the movie (Burt Lancaster was a HOTTIE) than ever pick up this book again.

  • Beth
    2019-02-17 19:21

    Even if you have seen the movie you don't know the full story. In fact the version I read (on Kindle) is a restored version with all the cut words and passages that 1950's censors would not allow for publication. Character development was incredible and to me that was the book's strongest feature. Jones allows the reader to see the heart and the soul of the main characters. The story is based on Jones' personal experience in Hawaii in the US Army and ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This book is the first in a WWII trilogy. I highly recommend it!

  • AndyS
    2019-03-04 22:16

    The beginning was a bit slow.I almost abandoned the book, but hung in there.WOW. Great book in the end!!!Closest book like this I can think of is "A Prayer for Owen Meany"BTS: Stockade scenes were actual events from personal experience from the author.

  • Asghar Abbas
    2019-03-20 01:18

    That Kiss. And this one.Lemme take a breath; OK breathe...............Whoa, what a kiss of fiction this was Some books are worth the hype, some kisses worth waiting for What a behemoth, what a forever. Read it, army brats or otherwise.This is for all.

  • 4triplezed
    2019-03-14 22:30

    I nowadays rarely read novels but did this one after seeing the film The Thin Red Line and reading various reviews of James Jones novels. I could not put this down. Wonderful story and great writing that had me loving every word and moment.

  • Richard
    2019-02-24 19:13

    This is an epic-sized book of almost nine hundred pages which takes place in the late-1941 months preceding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite the book's size, I don't remember ever being tired of the thing. It is totally engrossing, due mainly to the indelible characters who populate it. The main character is Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, an ex-bugler who has just been assigned to Company G of an infantry regiment stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. He did extracurricular service as a boxer in his old assignment. Continuing in this activity in his new unit would have placed him in favored status with the competition-conscious peacetime army officers, and would have rewarded him with lighter duty assignments as a perk for upholding his company's macho image. He is fully expected to participate in boxing at Schofield, but he refuses to join the company boxing team because he had blinded an opponent in the ring and he was haunted by the damage he inflicted on another soldier. Prewitt therefore starts fairly early as a pariah at his new posting. He is given "the treatment" by the company's sergeants after he makes it clear he will not change his mind. He is literally run into the ground physically in order to reform his stubbornness. The only person in authority who treats him humanely is the company First Sergeant, Milt Warden, who must maintain a facade of official non concern in Prewitt's hazing but respects his solid soldier skills. Prewitt's only friend is a trouble-prone private named Maggio. Many story elements unfold until the book's climactic scenes occur against the backdrop of the Pearl Harbor attack. Jones creates a cruel, cynical world in which the army's spit and polish overlays a soldier life spent in e.m. clubs, cat houses, even military stockades. The Hawaii the men inhabit when they get off-post is hardly a tourist paradise. A foul smelling institutional torpor runs their lives, personified by G Company's C.O., Captain Holmes, who resents the short time he must spend each day away from the polo field in order to visit the company to make sure First Sergeant Warden is keeping his ass covered. People on all military levels try to survive against the backdrop of the unfolding of cataclysmic events. The ability of Jones to maintain the tension to the end of the book is evidence of his greatness as an author. He won the National Book Award for this book in 1952, and the book formed the basis for the story behind the classic 1953 film of the same title.James Jones served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, where he witnessed the Japanese attack on the Army post and other American installations on December 7th, 1941. He fought on Guadalcanal, where he received a wound which led to his return to the United States for recuperation. He had enough wartime experiences to provide the basis for several books. "From Here to Eternity" is the first title of Jones' "War Trilogy." "The Thin Red Line", released about ten years later, tells the experience of an army infantry unit trying to survive the death trap of Guadalcanal. "Whistle", released after Jones' death in 1977, relates the story of G.I.'s sent back home on a hospital ship, trying to recuperate at a stateside hospital while having trouble coping with their wartime memories.You can look for the characters in "From Here to Eternity" in the second and third books in the trilogy, but you won't find them, at least not literally. I was surprised Sgt. Warden and the rest of his platoon weren't in "The Thin Red Line" when I read it. Actually, they are there, in spirit. I found out in Wikipedia that Jones carried the central characters of the first book over to the next two, under different names. Thus, for example, there is a marked similarity intentionally built into the characters of Warden and Prewitt of "From Here to Eternity", Welsh and Witt in "The Thin Red Line" and Winch and Prell in "Whistle." Maintaining the same traits, but changing the outward identity allowed Jones the freedom to experience the whole trilogy as the essential characters reacted to unfolding tragedy, even though some names may not have survived the whole time frame.Censorship was still active when this book was first published, and publishers sometimes self-censored books to head off problems in getting them distributed. Jones had a dispute with his publisher about the deletion of some (but not all) four-letter words and some depictions of gay sex. Purists who like to read a book exactly the way the author intended can now access the Kindle edition of "From Here to Eternity" thanks to Jones' daughter, Kaylie Jones, who arranged to have the book reissued in unexpurgated digital form in 2011.

  • Alden Weer
    2019-02-19 00:14

    WARNING: Este review incluye cebadura que puede herir su objetividad.Después de leer Moby dick, sentí que tenía que crear una categoría más arriba de la que ocupaban mis libros favoritos. Podía elegirla como mi novela favorita o no, pero lo que me parecía indiscutible es que en volumen me había ofrecido mucho más que cualquier otra anterior. Tenía símbolos tan fuertes que podían usarse de mil maneras, y tan fascinantes que me impulsaban a hacerlo, no una sino varias veces. Me daba la sensación de que la atracción de Melville por la biblia lo había llevado a escribir la suya propia: un libro que no deja de generar sabiduría, que sigue creando significados para nuevas generaciones o diferentes lectores. Es en esa categoría donde ahora quiero enchufar From here to eternity.En las primeras páginas identifiqué a Prewitt como un soldado raso con un perfil muy romántico: un pobretipo, neciamente fiel a su propio código (abandonó el boxeo porque una vez hirió permanentemente a un amigo por accidente), que no termina de pegarla ni profesionalmente ni amorosamente y termina pasando noches de sábado dando vueltas por la base con 20 centavos en el bolsillo... que termina perdiendo en una mano de poker.Hasta ahí creía que Jones simplemente sabía combinar memorias con ciertos mecanismos placenteros de la ficción que habría heredado de algún lado u otro. Pero después empiezan a pasar cosas... eventos que agitan todos los conceptos que estaban establecidos. Y otros nuevos aparecen. Personajes que son una novela en sí, muchísimos capítulos memorables, temas que se multiplican. En algún punto empecé a ver a Jones como un maestro que me estaba dando cátedra de ficción. Cada decisión que tomaba me parecía correcta, y si no, pensaba que el problema era mío.Hay un tema que me parece recurrente, y es el del individuo vs. organización. La mayor contradiccion de Prewitt consiste en amar el ejército y a la vez querer ser uno, manifestar su carácter, mostrar su descontento; en un ámbito donde no se permite nada menos que la obediencia absoluta. Mi sección favorita es la que transcurre en la "empalizada" (una prisión militar): ahí es donde Prewitt encuentra un frente de rebeldía en el ejército, y donde se llevan a cabo los enfrentamientos más espectaculares del libro. Y donde también termina conociendo un personaje todavía más romántico que él: Jack Malloy.La dualidad protagónica es algo que me pareció un gran acierto y algo sobre lo que hay que aprender. Simplemente, el lector nunca siente que le están imponiendo un modelo. Son más bien dos, que forman una dicotomía que sea quizá la gran tensión del libro. Cuando Prewitt expresa su filosofía en una frase seca "if a man don't go his own way, he's nothing"; Warden, el más pragmático, sobreviviente, y una alternativa terrenal al héroe romántico, le responde "Maybe back in the days of the pioneers a man could go his own way, but today you got to play ball". Y al lector le queda debatirse entre ambos.Después viene Pearl Harbor, probablmente la mayor razón por la que muchos hayan leído este libro, que en realidad termina siendo un capítulo insólito y disparatado. Y después del final, siguen volviendo todos esos momentos imborrables: una noche solitaria en que después de perder al poker Prewitt termina buscando algún regocijo ojeando revistas viejas en un hall, el impresionante capítulo del suicidio de Bloom, la descripción de la época dorada de los wooblies (que yo desconocía completamente), el episodio estilo "flujo de conciencia" durante la estadía de Prewitt en el hoyo negro, la euforia y diversión de los soldados disparando durante el bombardeo, las últimas y memorables pinceladas de la historia de Prewitt, esa última imagen de los leis desapareciendo por la borda...Sí, diría que me gustó el libro.

  • William Jensen
    2019-03-01 17:03

    FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is the big book. Though probably not read as much today, it remains a huge achievement in American letters. This was the debut novel of James Jones, and it made him a literary sensation overnight. Published in 1951, it won the National Book Award (beating out Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE) the following year and was later turned into the Oscar winning film. This is a tough, honest story about men in the peacetime army in the days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it captures all the messy details that a lot of writers tend to skip over. With a scope similar to Tolstoy, but a language uniquely American, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is one of the most unforgettable epics of the 20th century.

  • Geoffrey Benn
    2019-02-27 20:05

    “From Here to Eternity,” by James Jones, is an unusual novel in that its subject is life in the military, not during war, but in peacetime. Specifically, the novel follows the lives of two enlisted men, Warden and Prewitt, who are stationed in Hawaii during the year leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. At its core, it is a novel about how people respond to being trapped by their circumstances. Prewitt, who I think is the novel’s most compelling character, feels that he cannot take any action that will compromise his sense of honor – even when it would be advantageous or even expected for him to do so. His inflexibility leads him to lose a choice position as bugler over a personal insult, refuse to join the company boxing team (leading to a coordinated campaign of abuse from the company NCOs), and eventually to a brutal military prison as the result of being framed by those same NCOs. All of this takes place on an incredibly rich backdrop of Army life painted by Jones, who was actually stationed in Hawaii during the period portrayed in the book. There’s gambling, drinking, whore houses, political disputes, drinking, brawls, field exercises, extra-marital affairs, kitchen duty, and drinking (there’s a whole lot of drinking). The novel is nothing like Jones’s “The Thin Red Line,” which is a searing portrayal of combat in WWII. It is more akin to Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” in that it documents a person’s downfall while richly portraying a historical time and place. I found “From Here to Eternity” to be gripping, well-written, and well worth my time.

  • Harold
    2019-03-08 22:24

    Actually 4 ½ stars. At first I felt it was slow moving and nearly gave up, but then I realized I was waiting for the action – Pearl Harbor. I was impatient. The book is really about the peacetime army in the time before the attack. As readers we were precognizant of something the characters were not. The book opened up for me andI began to see Jones as a gifted writer – a wordsmith who painted a picture. It was writing to savor and situations to ponder – not a “quick read.” The characters came alive and I was hooked. The rest of the ride was highly enjoyable. The ending poignant.

  • Amy
    2019-03-03 22:29

    Maybe its because Im a woman, maybe its because Im not into war stories, or stories of soldiers, but this book was boring. I found the main character incredibly self-absorbed and uninteresting. I think the only part I did enjoy was the very end (spoiler alert) when the Pearl Harbor was first attacked and the soldiers excitement. The rest just didnt do it for me.