What an interesting tale! The descriptions of war are so realistic that one feels as if one were striding beside the youth, Henry, as he is baptized in battle. In his first experience he finds himself joining those who run from the conflict just to survive. He feels deep shame at his cowardice in this action and thinks deeply about it. The walking dead that he meets and sees in his mind haunt him. Perhaps it is his encounters with death and the wounded that help him face his action and return to his regiment. Or, perhaps it is the blow upon his head that a crazed and wounded man inflicts that brings him to his senses or gives him a bloody badge that he can say was caused by a bullet. Whatever it is Henry discovers the bond of wartime friendship, the thrill of the battle, and the wonder of defending his regiment. The horror of war is illustrated clearly and distinctly by Crane. It's a very good read.
There's a reason this book is a classic: it vividly brings to life an incredibly important event in American history. For this first time in history (it was published in 1895), an author portrayed war in a decidedly unromantic way. War is hell.
The Red Badge of Courage
This is a timeless and classic novel of warthe U.S. Civil Waras seen thought the eyes of a young lad who experiences the horror of battle for the first time. Fear, cowardice, braverythey're all here. One might compare it to Remarque's All Quiet On the Western Front.
Paired with The Red Badge of Courage is this very short tale of a survivor; a man who, once a coward, proved to be the only brave man in the end.
Novel about the Civil War based on newspaper accounts & research. From the back cover: Powerful psychological study of a young soldier's struggle wtih the horrors, within and without, that war unleashes will strike the listener with its undeniable realism...
Following its initial appearance in serial form, Stephen Cranes The Red Badge of Courage was published as a complete work in 1895 and quickly became the benchmark for modern anti-war literature.
Although the exact battle is never identified, Crane based this story of a soldiers experiences during the American Civil War on the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville. Many veterans, both Union and Confederate, praised the books accurate representation of war, and critics consider its stylistic strength the mark of a literary classic.
AMAZON.COM BOOK DESCRIPTION
The book itself, well, I guess I'm just not the deeply 'classical' kind - a boy goes to war, runs away from the fighting, feels bad, 'mans up' & fights, and feels good. the end. It goes on and on in 3rd person about 'the youth' - why did he even give him a name if he was going to call him 'the youth' 90% of the time? I'm glad I read/listened to it due to its prestige/historical value, but I'm pretty sure neither I nor any of my 3 kids will read it again...
I read this book in high school and at that time I enjoyed it. Not exactly sure if being a Reader's Digest version has anything to do with it or if I happen to have a slight lapse of memory, but this book does not seem as graphically detailed as the one I remember reading inb HS. I enjoy re-reading some books and this is one that I will certainly read again. A fun read.
What can I say - It's a classic, on par with "All's Quiet on the Western Front."
The reality of war and battle and an individual's self assessment within that environment.
I believe this is required reading for all military personnel in leadership roles and rightfully so.
Written of the Civil War, this is a powerful psychological study of a young soldier's struggle with the horrors, both within and without, that war unleashes, striking the reader with its undeniable realism and with its masterful description of the moment-by-moment riot of emotions felt by men under fire.
Stephen Crane takes great pains in creating a sensory experience that is unparallelled in war books for young adults. This classic is more than a coming of age tale. It is a parable of life and a fine example of literary excellence. I remember reading and loving it in school and each new reading exposes me to a memorable historical experience that I will never be able to witness any other way.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature: "Novel of the American Civil War by Stephen Crane, published in 1895 and considered to be his masterwork for its perceptive depiction of warfare and of the psychological turmoil of the soldier. Crane had had no experience of war when he wrote the novel, which he based partly on a popular anthology, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. The Red Badge of Courage has been called the first modern war novel because, uniquely for its time, it tells of the experience of war from the point of view of an ordinary soldier. Henry Fleming is eager to demonstrate his patriotism in a glorious battle, but when the slaughter starts, he is overwhelmed with fear and flees the battlefield. Ironically, he receives his "red badge of courage" when he is slightly wounded by being struck on the head by a deserter. He witnesses a friend's gruesome death and becomes enraged at the injustice of war. The courage of common soldiers and the agonies of death cure him of his romantic notions. He returns to his regiment and continues to fight on with true courage and without illusions."
I enjoyed reading this book in highschool. Basically the premise is that courage is percieved. Very applicable to this day and time sending soldiers to two fronts. Some soldiers being conflicted and wanting to come home. Being scared to die for something you don't believe in and going AWOL during the Civil War. Short Book. You can finish in a day.
A review from Amazon.com:
"The Red Badge of Courage," written in 1895 by Stephen Crane (1871-1900), is considered by many literary critics to be one of the greatest of all American novels. This is a book about the Civil War, and one Union soldier's struggle with his inner demons as he prepares for, and fights his first battle.
Although the story Crane tells is deceptively simple, it reveals, better than any other novel I've read, the full horror of war, and the complexity and unpredictability of human behavior in the crucible of battle. Henry Fleming (always referred to by Crane as "the youth") is a young northerner who, despite his mother's objections, enlists in the Union army with great patriotic fervor. As he awaits his first battle, the youth ponders how he will react: will he stand and fight, or will he flee? The answer comes soon enough. His regiment is attacked by the Confederates; at first the youth stays to fight, but, during a second attack, he watches other soldiers run away from battle in a state of panic. He himself is overcome by fear, and he too flees.
The youth finally reaches a state of exhaustion and stops running. Immediately, his conscience begins to gnaw at him. He hears rumors that his regiment has actually stood and won the day against its foe. His thoughts and emotions begin to run the gamut from rationalization, to self-loathing, to fear of being discovered a coward. He continually looks for ways to justify his flight. The youth hears the continuing sound of battle in the distance, and is drawn to it, almost as a moth to a flame; he decides to return to his regiment, but loses his way. As he tries to find his way back to his regiment, he is confronted by people who serve to prick his conscience even further. He witnesses the horrible death of Jim Conklin, one of his friends from his regiment. While walking with a group of wounded soldiers, he is asked by one tattered and probably insane soldier what the nature of his wounds are. Shamed by this inquisition, he runs away, afraid he'll be uncovered as the poltroon he is beginning to believe himself to be. He begins to wish for a "red badge of courage" - a wound - which would signify his bravery in battle. He gets his wish in a roundabout way when he attempts to ask another soldier for directions. He gets into a scuffle and is cut on the head with the soldier's rifle. This becomes his "red badge" when he finally makes it back to his unit; he lies to his comrades-in-arms, saying he received the wound as a result of being shot in the heat of battle.
Ultimately, the youth is afforded another opportunity to prove his courage in battle. How he reacts under fire during this new test of his character and courage is the great climactic event of "The Red Badge of Courage." Henry's behavior reveals the lessons he has learned about himself , and shows how he is able to come to terms with his inner demons and the world around him as a result of those lessons.
Crane's writing is excellent on most levels. His descriptions of the insane violence of battle is graphically intense, and of reasonable historical accuracy. The one noticeable weakness in Crane's style is his dialogue. Although it is raw and gritty, it is also somewhat unrealistic; all his characters sound like they have southern accents, even though they are supposed to be from New York and other northern states. Still, the dialogue is effective in conveying the essential truth of who did most of the fighting on both sides during the Civil War: tough, profane, and often poor and uneducated men, many who did not know of, or care about, the causes for which they fought and sometimes died.
In my view, what sets "The Red Badge of Courage" apart as one of the finest Civil War novels of all time is Crane's brilliant analysis of Henry Fleming's state of mind as he runs away from battle and then attempts to redeem himself. Through Crane's lively pen and sometimes purple prose, I was able to peer into the youth's very soul and understand some of his fears, hopes, intermittent self loathing, and frequent rationalizations, and how those emotions and attitudes drove his behavior during battle. Henry Fleming is certainly not an admirable protagonist! (This may, in fact, have been the first Civil War novel which depicts the central character in less than an idealistic, "knightly" fashion.) He is immature, vain, shallow, and mendacious throughout the book, but is also imbued with an inner strength and the self-discipline which allow him ultimately to triumph over his many character flaws.
"The Red Badge of Courage" is indeed a timeless masterpiece of American fiction. It is easy to understand why it ranks alongside such great American novels as Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," and "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee. "The Red Badge of Courage" is a book to be read and savored!