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Mister Roberts: A Novel (Classics of Naval Literature) Paperback – September 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the books takes place in WWII, this is not your typical war novel. The USS Reluctant plies the back-water of the war. The author describes the ship and its mission rather succinctly:
"For the most part it remains on its regular run, from Tedium to Apathy and back; about five days each way. It makes an occasional trip to Monotony, and once it made a run all the way to Ennui, a distance of two thousand nautical miles from Tedium. It performs its dreary and unthanked job, and performs it, if not inspiredly, then at least adequately."
The title character is an officer who wants to get in the war, to become a part of history. He chaffs at what he sees as an unimportant job. But he takes his job seriously, and he cares for the crew. It is up to him to run interference between the crew and the somewhat tyrannical ship's captain.
The novel is both hilariously funny and quite sad, stretching from one end of the spectrum to the other. But there is a degree of describing what true leadership means. Not charging the hill or going in to a bombing run on an enemy carrier, but how to be a true leader when motivation is nill. This should be required reading for all new military officers and staff-noncommissioned officers, but it should not be limited to them. Anyone can benefit from that aspect of the novel.
More people are probably familiar with the 1955 Hollywood movie, and while that movie was excellent, it cannot hold a candle to the book. Not to be trite, but if you want to laugh, if you want to cry, and if you want a deep introspective on the human condition, please give Mr. Roberts a read.
In some ways the death of the author could be called <spoiler>foreshadowing as his protagonist also dies on the cusp of achieving something big.</spoiler>
The book is perhaps not as great as the movie adaptation but then young, ex-GI Heggen didn't have the talents of Fonda, Lemon and Cagney to bring his characters their additional embellishments. What the book does have is authenticity and I'd recommend it to anyone who's considering spending time in the service. Life aboard ship is not always the harrowing adventure tale that we see in movies and read about in books. This novel gives the reader a sense of the quieter side of military life. And of men in war. By all means, if you liked the play or the movie, then check out the book, but don't expect too much more depth than what made into celluloid.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of those uncommon instances when the movie was better than the book. It's clear Heggen spent time in the service as his portraits of enlisted, officer, and ship life appear... Read morePublished 9 months ago by D. Morgan
This is a poorly written book. Even the person who wrote the introduction admits it is not a "great book. Read morePublished on July 27, 2014 by TheRealDeal
Great comedy, great insights into the Navy, and never appreciated for the few
serious, brief, and wise looks at humanity.
I know this is heresy. I will probably be tarred and feathered in effigy for this.
I have been wanting to read this book for most of my adult life. Read more
This is one of the saltiest books of all time. It is poignant, hilarious, and much more realistic than most people probably realize. Read morePublished on April 22, 2012 by Will
Truly a great novel. Well worth reading whether one is in the service or not. Both funny and moving. Read morePublished on February 19, 2012 by a reader...
One of the (If not the best war plays). Touching and humourous. Truly a maaaad play.Published on March 24, 2001 by Chris Ambrose