Three classic novels by James Jones, about the lives and struggles of American soldiers facing World War II
In the epic From Here to Eternity, also a classic television series, Robert E. Lee Prewitt is Uncle Sam’s finest bugler at the Pearl Harbor army base. A career soldier with no patience for army politics, Prewitt becomes incensed when a commander’s favorite wins the title of First Bugler. His indignation results in a transfer to an infantry unit whose commander is less interested in preparing for war than he is in boxing. But when Prewitt refuses to join the company team, the commander and his sergeant decide to make the bugler’s life hell.
In The Thin Red Line, also an Oscar-nominated movie directed by Terrence Malick, the soldiers of C-for-Charlie Company are poised to charge Guadalcanal, igniting a six-month battle for two thousand square miles of jungle and sand. But these men are not cast from the heroic mold. The unit’s captain is too intelligent and sensitive for the job, his first sergeant is half mad, and the enlisted men begin the campaign gripped by cowardice. Jones’s moving portrayal of the Pacific combat experience stands among the great literature of World War II.
In Whistle, at the end of a long journey across the Pacific, a ship catches sight of California. On board are hundreds of injured soldiers, survivors of the American infantry’s battle to wrest the South Seas from the Japanese Empire. As the men on deck cheer their imminent return to their families, wives, and favorite girls, four stay below, unable to join in the celebration. These men are broken by war and haunted by what they learned there of the savagery of mankind. As they convalesce in a hospital in Memphis, the pain of that knowledge will torment them far worse than any wound.