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To the White Sea (Delta World War II Library) Paperback – September 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Delta World War II Library
  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reissue edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385313098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385313094
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

His bomber hit by anti-aircraft fire, an American gunner must parachute into Tokyo days before the great firebomb raid on that city. Fortunately, this recorded version of Dickey's macho story of survival against the odds is abridged, making the hero more believable and the tale more mesmerizing. The book, unfortunately, contains too many instances of poetic flights of fancy and philosophical baggage for a blood-and-guts action story wherein the hero commits a large number of murders, both necessary and gratuitous. The main focus here is how to escape and how to become invisible in a nation where you are the outsider. Dickey's solution is highly imaginative and entertaining. This production, well narrated by Dick Hill, will appeal to those who love war and adventure stories. Recommended for large popular collections.
- James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Dickey doesn't write many novels--three in 23 years--but he makes every one count. And when he's in peak form, as he is here, he makes every word count as well: In this unforgettable story of an American soldier escaping across WW II Japan--a story closer in spirit to Deliverance (1970) than to Anilam (1987)--the prose of this 70-year-old poet slices down to the bone of things like an immaculate knife. On a bombing mission over Tokyo, the B-29 carrying Dickey's hero/narrator--the gunner Muldrow--is shot down, forcing him to parachute into enemy territory. But Muldrow isn't like other men: Raised as a hunter in Alaska, he knows how to get things done. He alone survived the plane crash because he alone had the foresight to tape a parachute to the plane wall--and the same knack for survival gets him out of Tokyo by allowing him to take what he needs as Allied planes firebomb the city. He needs clothes: Amid the heat and smoke, he finds the right-sized man and blows him away. Muldrow decides to head for Japan's northern island of Hokkaido; there, in the snow and the cold, he will survive. He walks; he hops a train; he kills. He meets his match in a blind swordsman, and he almost dies when he encounters an American Zen monk who betrays him--just as this incident, alone in the novel, betrays Dickey's artifice through its too obvious contrast between the monk's grasping for reality and Muldrow's practiced hold on it. As Muldrow treks north, the mercilessness of that hold becomes ever more apparent and is mirrored in the stark beauty of the ever harsher landscape; by the lyrically brutal conclusion, Muldrow, like the animals he admires, has become one with the land: ``I was in it, and part of it. I matched it all.'' A ruthless adventure of body and soul by a writer of mature- -even awesome--powers. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sir Charles Panther VINE VOICE on February 27, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel operates on myriad levels, and there is enough here to make you think for years. Multiple readings will only raise more questions, and/or cause you to rethink the conclusions you've previously thought solid. Merely for the fact that this is a book that makes one think and ponder and consider, it is a great book.
The basic story is that of a WWII bomber crewman shot down over Tokyo immediately prior to the great firebomb raids of Spring 1945. He is utterly alone on a hostile foreign island, likely listed as missing, presumed dead, with the book's opening pages promising a superior adventure as our protagonist struggles to stay alive and eventually repatriate. But, as the story matures and we gradually learn more about Muldrow, we see that repatriation has been only a fleeting inspiration. Mudrow has been freed, and he pushes north toward a place that is much more imagined than real.
As he struggles north Muldrow changes from serviceman to fugitive, from survivor to predator, from endangered hero to questionable protagonist to a perplexing and difficult-to-like principal character. To my reading, Muldrow is an unpredictable, dangerous psychotic, with only the regimen and discipline of societal interaction and military service having kept him in check during brief periods of his life. When in his element, out in the wilderness relying only upon himself, he is a nation unto himself, free to make any choice which suits his needs and his whims. We see it in the flashbacks to Alaska, and we see it in his maniacal odyssey to Hokkaido and the White Sea, and to a mental and physical place which of course does not exist.
In the end where does Muldrow go? This is as debatable as the nature of his character, the origins of his actions and thoughts, and his motivations.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had the rare honor of a long telephone conversation with James Dickey 12 months before his untimely death. We talked about "To the White Sea" and the novel I was working on "Greif". James was busy writing the screen play for the novel, which I hope his daughter will finish. When I first read it I was sucked in, shocked, stomped and emotionaly drained. Here we have a novel written in the first person which is essentially some of Dickey's best poetry. At the same time Dickey places the reader squarely into the mind of a serial killer (Muldrow) who has the entire Japanese Home Army tracking him down. They are faced with "Muldrow's" ultimate camouflage! Himself! A wild human being hunting other human beings with absolutely no conscience or feeling for his victims. The reader will, at first, cheer on Muldrow! But as Dickey begins to work on your mind, you feel a chill up your back as he takes you on a wild ride that seems to have no end. I discribed my experiences in Alaska exploring the Brooks Range to Dickey, who merely chuckled. I had the impression this consummate Southern Gentleman had an unreal grasp of those desolate wind swept and COLD plains. COLD IS THE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES 'TO THE WHITE SEA'.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
An unforgettable, hypnotic meditation on survival and finding peace among chaos. Dickey paints a complicated, ambiguous lead character whose brutal and selfish actions are contrasted by his beautiful laments about nature, manhood and glaciers. Apparrently, there are several screen treatments of this novel in the works, including a dialouge-free adaption by the Coen brothers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brett A. Saffell on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'd added this book to my Wishlist years ago, based on a list of great war novels I saw in a magazine. Based on the book's appearance on that list, I was greatly surprised by the content of this book; it was less a war novel than it was a story of a man in a crisis.

As has already been said, it is a novel of an aviator shot down during a WWII bombing raid over Tokyo, and his story of survival. The novel has a single narrative and a single voice (the protagonist's), and no chapters. One story-line, one voice, and one long chapter has the potential for tedium, yet I found the novel to be gripping and excellent.

Dickey's character doesn't really tell you what is happening to him, but relies on an indirectness to tell the tale. You don't so much get the action, rather you get the effect. You don't read the words of this novel; you just sort of take in the pages.

As the story unfolds, the character's traits, flaws, and past transgressions seep out. It is a novel way to get to know a character. While this book moved slowly at time, and wasn't the war novel I thought it was, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. I read Deliverance long ago, and am glad I finally read this novel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "eminentbrain" on January 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this due to the fact that I heard that the Coen Brothers were making it into a movie -- although I've read that this is no longer the case. In any event, this was my first Dickey novel and I have to say that all in all, I was very satisfied with the effort. The prose is interesting, lush and vivid in some parts and caustic in others. Some of the other reviewers seemed to be appalled at the plot and the surgical sterility that Dickey used to describe the deaths inflicted by the main character, but I found those exact things to be quite within the realm of believability, especially when the whole idea of the book is to survive like an animal behind enemy lines.
I liked the book enough to want to go back and read more of Dickey's other works...
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