FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A controversial reception is a safe prediction for this already heralded first novel -- that and a wide market along the lines of The Naked and The Dead. The two books offer many analogies: -fearless realism in depicting men in the armed forces, their thoughts, their conversation, their emotions, their brute natures; occasional tenderness in reflecting the softer sides of their natures- appreciation of beauty-yearnings; the reflection of the comradeship of the army, along with its jealousies, internal politics, unity in hating authority. This book differs sharply from the Mailer book in the construction, the interweaving of plots, the brief glimpses of the glamor of the Hawaiian background, make for easier, less jarring reading. There's some powerful writing here -and some that is overdone, lush; it would benefit by some drastic cutting. The raw crudity and obsession with sex will offend many; its excuse the same as that made for The Naked and the Dead -- this is how men are, without civilizing externals. The period offers less excuse, however. Here are men worn down by boredom and tensions of army discipline in the hands of bullies, in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. One feels, however, that the author's intent is to convey to the reader the central character, Prew's, love for the army; instead what emerges is his turbulent resistance, his recurrent rebellion. Even in death, when the impact of war makes him face the punishment involved in being AWOL, and he dies at the hands of a trigger-happy MP, his overwhelming impulse to seek the Army again is not wholly convincing. Some of the minor characters are vigorously drawn; there are unforgettable episodes, glimpses of behind the scenes in the barracks, the horrors of medieval methods of punishment, the savage reprisals, and a succession of close-ups of brothels and even one memorable scene in a de luxe establishment for homosexuals. All in all, an unpalatable, distasteful picture of army life....Publisher backing ($10,000 initial advertising); the impact of the book on the first readers; the certain storm of controversy, all make certain a terrific send-off for an impressive first novel.
Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1951
ISBN: 0385333641
Page count: 862pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1951




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