James Jones

James Ramon Jones (November 6, 1921 – May 9, 1977) was an American novelist known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath. He won the 1952 National Book Award for his first published novel, From Here to Eternity, which was adapted for the screen immediately and made into a television series a generation later.

Jones was born and raised in Robinson, Illinois. At 17 he enlisted in the Army in 1939 and served in the 25th Infantry Division, 27th Infantry Regiment before and during World War II, first in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, then in combat on Guadalcanal at the Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse, where he was wounded in his ankle. His decorations include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He returned to the US and was discharged in July 1944. He also worked as a journalist covering the Vietnam War.

Medic has obtained the military records of James Jones from the National Archives. Noteworthy in File 1, page 16/17 is the May 1944 typed letter on Red Cross stationary from G.W. Jones to Captain Eugene Mailloux; the June 1944 single-spaced typed letter from Lowney Handy to Captain Mailloux on page 18/19; the June 1944 Home Service Director’s single-spaced typed social history profile on page 21-24.

File 1, File 2, File 3, File 4, File 5.

In the Army Jones decided he would be a writer, or as he put it, “I realized I had been a writer all my life without knowing it or without having written. His wartime experiences inspired some of his most famous works, the so-called war trilogy. He witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to his first published novel, From Here to Eternity (1951). The Thin Red Line (1962) reflected his combat experiences on Guadalcanal and Whistle (posthumous, 1978) was based on his hospital stay in Memphis, Tennessee, recovering from surgery on an ankle he had re-injured on the island.

The 1998 release of the films A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, based on the book by his daughter Kaylie, and The Thin Red Line, sparked a revival of interest in James Jones’ life and works. In 2011, Ms. Jones was instrumental in publishing an uncensored edition of James Jones’ From Here to Eternity.

Jones assisted in the 1950 formation of the Handy Writers’ Colony in Marshall, Illinois. Originally conceived as a Utopian commune where budding artists could focus exclusively on their writing projects. Jones assisted in the 1950 formation of the Handy Writers’ Colony in Marshall, Illinois. Originally conceived as a Utopian commune where budding artists could focus exclusively on their writing projects. Several years later the colony dissolved after Handy attacked Gloria Mosolino, whom Jones had married. The couple relocated to France.

Jones’ first novel They Shall Inherit the Laughter, was a thinly disguised autobiographical novel of his experiences in Robinson immediately after World War II. After several rejections—with various complaints and claims about the work being too shrill and lacking perspective—he abandoned it and began writing From Here to Eternity. Published by 1951; it won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Modern Library Board later named Eternity one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.

His second published novel, Some Came Running, in contrast to Eternity, was savaged by critics, who were especially harsh about the frequently misspelled words and punctuation errors, unrecognized as a device employed by Jones to evoke the provinciality of the novel’s characters and setting. A 1958  film version of the movie, directed by Vincent Minnelli, with screen play by John Patrick and Arthur Sheekman, and staring Frank Sinatra, Dean martin and Shirley MacLaine, received national and international acclaim. According to Variety, “Jones’ novel has been stripped to essentials…and those are presented in hard clean dialog and incisive situations.”

His novella The Pistol, also drawn from his military experience, received positive reviews. Viet Journal, based on Jone’s one month in Vietnam, was poorly received.

Jones died before completing his last novel, Whistle. He left behind copious notes for Willie Morris to complete the final section. Published in 1978, Whistle completed Jones’s war trilogy From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line, of which he wrote: “It will say just about everything I have ever had to say, or will ever have to say, on the human condition of war and what it means to us, as against what we claim it means to us.”

Jones and the writer William Styron–also a WWII vet, although he did not see combat–were close friends. Styron wrote the Introduction to Reaching Eternity, The Letters of James Jones, published by Random House in 1989. It is a richly detailed overview of Jones’ life. Styron comments that Jones, while acknowledging Hemingway’s craft, deplored Hemingway for elevating war, romanticizing it, committing “the artist’s chief sin by betraying the truth.” According to one reviewer, the actual letters were unrewarding.

Jones died in Southampton, New York, of congestive heart failure and is buried in Poxabogue-Evergreen Cemetery, Bridgehampton, New York. His papers are held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His widow, Gloria, died on June 9, 2006.


Source   Wikipedia

How Good Was James Jones? New York Review of Books

Bill Styron: The Ups and Downs, New York Review of Books

Reaching Eternity: The Letters of James Jones, New York Times book review

New York Times obit  James Jones

New York Times obit Gloria (Mosilino) Jones

Kirkus Review of Viet Journal

Kirkus Review of The Pistol

Kirkus Review of Some Came Running

A Soldier’s Daughter movie trailer

The Thin Red Line movie trailer

The Thin Red Line movie review  The Guardian

From Here to Eternity at 70  The Guardian