Thursday, June 30

Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

Title: The Red Badge of Courage

Author: Stephen Crane

Pages: 128

Summary: First published in 1895, America’s greatest novel of the Civil War was written before the twenty-one-year-old Stephen Crane had “smelled even the powered of a sham battle.” But this powerful psychological study of a young soldiers struggle with the horrors, both within and without, that war unleashes strikes the reader with its undeniable realism and its masterful description of the moment-by-moment riot of emotions felt by men under fire. Esteemed scholars such as ALFRED Kazin Have considered The Red Badge of Courage to be the first American novel of “literary distinction to present war without heroics . . . in a spirit of total irony and scepticism,” and Ernest Hemingway called it an American classic. Crane’s genius is as much apparent in his sharp, colourful prose as in his ironic portrayal of an episode of war so intense, so immediate, so real that the terror of battle becomes our own.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Comparable to books like "The Wars" and "Alls Quite on the Western Front" I enjoyed the book. It takes the war, and brings it home, as it examines the effects, on a person's psyche, showing how the brutal effects the persona and changes them. I can see why it's considered to be an American classic. I didn't enjoy the character, but I was interested in his story. And at times, I found the other characters to be fairly flat.

The writing didn't help the book, it was a flaw for me, it wasn't terrible, and the author is able to tell a story but I just found there wasn't enough of a hook to keep me engaged in the book. The story moved along well, but I found my interest slipped at times, even for such a short book - it felt something was missing, I'm just not sure what. Despite this, I still enjoyed the book, and found it to be a good book on the civil war.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, it focuses on the harsh realities of war, how it effects the protagonist. The story is similar to the Wars, I may not have found it as epic as "The Wars" but it does have similar themes and I think readers who enjoyed that book, would enjoy this one. Also, anyone who enjoys historical fiction, war time fiction and fictions that focus on the inner psyche of the character would enjoy it.

What to read next: The Wars by Timothy Findley, All is Quite on the Western Front, The Things They Carried - all show very real portrayals of war and its effects on the soldiers.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, Historical Reading Challenge, Spring Reading Thing, War Through the Generations-Civil War


  1. I am not sure I would read this one. War books have to be outstanding for me to give them any play, and it sounds like this one was just sort of ordinary. I like that you mentioned that it dealt with the repercussions of war on the solider fighting it, but don't think that I will be reading this one. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on it with us.

  2. Zibilee - I've read far better ones, at the time it was written, I think it was an impressive read - but nowadays, there are others that far exceed it.

  3. I reread this recently and I hated it. Well, more got nothing from it. It was torture reading it and felt like I was going through sludge. I wonder if I was just in the wrong reading mood. Your post makes me want to reread it again some day (not soon!).

  4. This review will be featured on War Through the Generations on Sept. 16.

  5. Anna and Serena - Thanks, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.