Read This!: First Blood

First Blood
By David Morrell

Anybody who grew up in or around the eighties probably knows this movie.  John Rambo, haunted Vietnam vet, is picked on by small town cops until he strikes back.  He’s the ultimate underdog, in a way.  He’s turtured and misunderstood.  His bodycount is quite low, and most of the deaths he causes are second hand, like creating a car accident.

Yeah, this is a different Rambo.

Morrell states in his intro he wanted to bring the Vietnam War home to America.  I don’t know how close he got, but he really did create an exhaustive exercise in jangling nerves and brutality.  This Rambo doesn’t get to sit in a cave and growl “They drew first blood,” over a walkie talkie in this story.  He’s too busy gutting cops like fish and taking out men with bullets through the face.  He’s still haunted, but he’s really let the darkness get the better of him.

Small town sheriff Teasle is a far more complex character than in the film.  He constantly straddles the line between trying to do what’s right and refusing to back down.  He may not be likable, but he evokes sympathy.

And the action…  This is one of the most visceral and thrilling books I’ve ever read.  There’s a reason it spawned a series of action films.  Too bad the films barely scratched the surface of these characters.

Recommendation: Very Strong.