The Wars of James Jones
THROUGHOUT his career as a novelist, James Jones, who died last spring at the age of fifty-five, was a self-willed anachronism out of step with his literary generation. (Jones, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. were all born in the early 1920′s.) After 1945, when other ex-soldiers lusting for literary glory began spinning the ephemeral exploits of war into the relative permanence of fiction, Jones doggedly set out, in From Here to Eternity, to write not about combat but about the pre-war, peacetime Regular Army, which he had joined right after leaving high school in 1939. Not until 1962 did Jones get around to publishing The Thin Red Line, drawn from his combat experiences in a rifle company that fought on Guadalcanal and New Georgia.
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