The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailer

I had high hopes for this book. Best book about World War II and other hyperbole made me think it was going to be great. It was only OK. I believe it was Mailer's first book, and that showed in the lack of polish to the thoughts. But at the same time, you can tell that he can really write. My biggest problem with the book was the continual (in some parts it felt like every 10 pages) descriptions of a character's motivations for some action ending in some form of the thought, "even if he wouldn't admit those reasons to himself." If the book had been about how people lie to themselves, then maybe this would have been effective. But instead it felt like a crutch he used to explain more of the characters' back stories and how they related to this part of the war, even though the stories didn't really relate.

I liked less, though it is more a criticism of his view of human nature than of his writing, his (in my opinion) simplistic view of the people he was writing about. There were only two or three motivations for any action in the book, sex, loyalty, and fear. Indeed, the last two were identical many times. He may have been saying that when in a long drawn out war, a person is stripped to just his most basic instincts. It is an interesting thought, but I disagree with the premise.

All in all I am glad I read it, and will be definitely interested in reading more of Mailer's books. This was an ambitious book and idea, but even though it was over 700 pages long, I think it needed to be much longer to fully do justice to the concept of the book.

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