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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part of the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially for the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.

©1951 Norman Mailer (P)2016 Brilliance Audio. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Naked and the Dead

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Heroic Heartbreak Hopelessness

Mailer’s first novel is epic moving fabulous and yet depressing. Read by his son how does an excellent job, the author weaves a tale that brilliantly emphasises the futility and horror of war but more than that exposes the human cost painfully and honestly.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J. Larson
  • 11-08-2016

John Buffalo Mailer narrates his father's book

Any additional comments?

I first started reading Norman Mailer’s books as a high school senior in 1970 with a paperback copy of ARMIES OF THE NIGHT, and have spent the years since reading all of his books—often reading them two or three times each--and considering Mailer as America’s best writer. Now we have the audible version of THE NAKED AND THE DEAD read by his son, John Buffalo Mailer.

John does an outstanding, professional, insightful, and loving job with the performance. I’ve listened to hundreds of audio books, and John Buffalo Mailer’s performance ranks among the best. I’m sure Norman would be extremely proud of him. I hope that John narrates other books by Norman Mailer that are not available as audio books, such as DEER PARK, THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, WHY ARE WE IN VIETNAM, and my favorite, AN AMERICAN DREAM.It’s a shame these books, and all of Norman Mailer’s books, aren’t available as audio books.

Thankfully THE NAKED AND THE DEAD is now available, narrated superbly by John Buffalo Mailer.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Mosier
  • 09-04-2020

Good and bad

Depends on what you want in a book. If you want a drama, then this is your book. 2% of the book was about battle movements and the rest was relational

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  • Mark
  • 02-10-2019

What a performance!

A stunning and horrifying story of the realities of war and human nature.
Brilliantly narrated!

1 person found this helpful

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  • David C.
  • 01-06-2021

A most fitting Memorial Day read

When I first began reading "The Naked and the Dead", the first important soldier's novel following World War II, I did not know that I would complete it on Memorial Day. At 721 pages (and over 27 hours in the Audible version exquisitely performed by Norman Mailer's son, John) , it is a masterfully told tale of a platoon of soldiers fighting on a Japanese occupied island in the South Pacific.

Based loosely on his own war experience in the Philippines, Norman Mailer tells a hard, brutal and gritty story of the men thrown randomly together by war. Some were Pearl Harbor inspired volunteers, some were draftees, some were in the army only because, compared to economic options at home, it was a pretty damn good income.

Our main characters are members of an Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon on the fictional island of Anopopei. Mailer moves back in forth in time as he reveals the lives of the platoon members as they find themselves tasked to launch a cross island scouting mission to ascertain the strength of the Japanese forces in advance of a full scale invasion. How they interact and talk to each other reveals the overt racism that existed in the ranks as the one Mexican and two Jewish members endure the barbs and epithets so common of the time.

The platoon is comprised of mostly seasoned vets who had survived a previous campaign and a few replacements assigned from headquarters to take part in their first scouting mission. With little accurate information with respect to the interior of the island and being led by an inexperienced, newly assigned lieutenant who had been tasked to take on the mission after falling on the wrong side of the Commanding General, the I&R platoon plunges into the dense jungle at the foot of an imposing range of mountains which bisected the island.

The tension and horrors of war play out throughout the novel with unexpected and tragic losses of the characters. Interestingly, as Mailer delves into the motivations of his characters, you catch the nuances of many in the both the officer's and enlisted ranks who embrace fascistic leanings who have a difficult time reconciling the alliance with the Communist Soviet Union and share more in common politically with the authoritarians they were fighting. It seemed that Mailer saw the foreshadowing of the rise of the totalitarian right wing intent on controlling the land of the free as soon as they could get their paws on it. That they cavalierly reviewed the numbers of the dead, both theirs and the enemy's, with little more than statistical consideration hints at how dismissive they are to value in human life as a component of their acquisition of power.

Mailer is one of America's best writers of the second half of the 20th Century. This debut novel was the portent of the written artistry to come.

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  • janine lieberman
  • 18-03-2021

The Naked and the Dead

This novel was a delight and intrigue from beginning to end.

Well-chosen words create the pleasure of listening and cadence like poetry; detailed and rich images lead you into the sense of place; and psychological insight into men in general and men in war is terrifying and heartbreaking. This character development was pleasing even as some of it imitated stereotypes, with the performance keeping to the tone and dialect of the ethnic diversity. I being a woman of 74, with little military knowledge or history, was captivated by the dialogue and layered description.

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  • Marcia Ridley-Shumate
  • 23-01-2021

The hell of war

Gave new meaning to war in all of its postures. Very detailed with excellent visualization. Well written.

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  • Jim
  • 15-06-2019

Worthy

this really is one of the better WW2 books around. this really is one of the better WW2 books around

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-07-2018

Wonder reader

I Really enjoyed the different voices that were made for each character!! Wonderful work here!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-2018

Could be an Oscar winning war film

It is anticlimactic, but that was the intention. Great character development and deep understanding of the pysche for the battle fatigued soldier. If done correctly, this could be adapted to film that would be a multi Oscar winner.

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  • alex
  • 11-04-2017

Best audio book is hard so far.

The performance was totally immersive and entertaining. John must have made his father very proud wish this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • L Skipper
  • 18-01-2017

absorbing

Rambling at times but also very compelling. More about human morality and nature than of war. I found it thought provoking and difficult to put down.

4 people found this helpful

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  • J. Gree
  • 31-08-2020

Classic

Beautifully read, Very interesting voice and adapted to all the characters seamlessly. A no b*** s*** war story.

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  • nzthim
  • 19-08-2021

A bit of a slog but worth the read

This is regarded as one of the first great novels written about the Second World War. It draws on Mailer’s own experiences in the Pacific campaign to describe the battle to capture a Japanese island from the point of view of a platoon on the ground as they land ashore and undertake duties and patrols. There is a huge cast of characters and Mailer handles each at length. There are long passages of this novel spent developing the backstories and mentalities of each of these different soldiers and the way they interact with each other, the jungle, the war and their own ambitions, fears and resentments. It does mean that the actual plot often moves along at a labouring pace and you empathise with the default position of those in the book in waiting for something to happen. Some characters, such as Croft, are very well rounded while others play more minor roles and yet Mailer still dedicates long sections to their detailed backstories. I found this a little tiring as I didn’t necessarily care enough about these particular characters to feel the need to learn about their childhood. There are more than a few moments of brilliance however. The initial chapter covering the build up to landing on the island and the frantic moments on coming ashore is breathtaking. Mailer also successfully captures the depth of the soldiers’ struggle against the jungle and the landscape as much as against the Japanese army. Overall it’s a book worth reading. The journalistic style can make it hard going at times, but Mailer does manage to create an empathy with the soldiers, and the often mundane and menial ways they pass the time in war between the fighting.

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  • Hugo
  • 19-05-2017

not sure why this book is so highly regarded

it has its moments but the narrators delivery of different characters made them all sound the same, so easily got lost in who was being spoken about. Also the characters were all pretty horrible and had not features that made me care about them at all.

1 person found this helpful

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