Book Review: First Blood (Rambo)

by David Morrell.

This is the original Rambo novel, which a writer buddy loaned me quite a few months back, and which I am just now reaching on my to-read list.

I never would have picked this up on my own.  Never.

I’m very glad I read it.  It’s not just the story of Rambo, a Green Beret just back from Vietnam, but the story of Sherriff Teasle, a good ol’ boy who’s willing to cause some trouble in order to keep trouble out of his town.  One of the things the ladies said at the Spring PPW Workshop was that for real conflict, both characters, from their own points of view, have to be right.  I don’t think I’ve seen a better book to embody this.

At first, I was rooting for Rambo.  He gets chased out of town for no reason other than vagrancy, and the Sherriff comes across as a dick.  Then you switch chapters, and you sympathize with the Sherriff, who shouldn’t have to put up with this shit sneaking back into town over and over, spoiling for a fight.  Then the two men start one-upping each other, and the body count became uncountable.  Neither one of them would back down, even when they stopped to see things from each other’s point of view.

In the introduction, David Morrell notes that he wanted to put the Vietnam war in America.  He succeeded.

(Spoiler)

I loved the ending, too, in which the two characters main characters die, but with something like compassion for each other in their hearts.  Who else understands?  Nobody who hasn’t been through it.  And us, a little, through our window.

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