Man Confronts His Fears In War

Jul 19, 2004
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:More realistic portrayal of war than most portrayals of war.

Cons:Boring drivel, not worth being put in the curricula.

The Bottom Line: This novel makes one ask important questions, but is an over-rated part of the "canon" of American Literature. It should, rather, be a footnote.


Unlike all the unfortunate reviewers who read this book in their eighth grade English classes, I had the tragic fortune to read it in my college English class. While I could appreciate the uninspiring protagonist's confrontation of his own fear of cowardliness in the face of danger-- it made him human and took war out of the cliche realm of "glory"-- this book is not really worth the time it takes to put it in The Canon. No pun intended.

I do think this novel tells an important story. There are, I'm sure, plenty of novels out there that portray the main character as being utterly brave and fearless in the face of a barrage of flames; this book does not. It makes one ask: "If I were a soldier in a battle, when push came to shove would I flee or fight?" An important question. And believe me, few books could make the average woman who is already sick of reading about a zillion male protagonists and their issues as a question she will never have a reason to answer.

However, this book was painful in that the style of the text was not pleasantly artistic; the character himself, though perhaps what one could call a "round character" had few qualities to make the reader care about him; and in the general scheme of all the books ever written this book is just not worth placing in the syllabus of an English course. It should be a footnote in the cannon of American Literature rather than a popular frontliner.

If you want a good war novel, I'd suggest reading something by Tim O'Brien.


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