From the poet laureate of hard-boiled America, a 25th-anniversary edition of a WWII masterpiece-published to coincide with the film version's restoration and DVD release
Describing Sam Fuller as a cult legend and a celluloid genius would be like describing Muhammad Ali as a boxer or Jimi Hendrix as a guitar player. He was a singular American visionary, a giant of independent filmmaking, and a king of bruised-knuckle cinematic poetry. The Big Red One is his masterpiece. Twenty years in the making, both the novel and the film are based on Fuller's own experiences with the Army's First Infantry Division ("the Big Red One") in World War II. The story centres on the friendship of five soldiers and follows them from the arid landscapes of Vichy French Africa to Europe to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and onward into Germany. Excruciating scenes of suffering and brutality are juxtaposed against heartbreaking scenes of compassion and selflessness. In Fuller's vision the lines between heroism and villainy are blurred,"the only glory in war is surviving",but The Big Red One also provides an epic adventure steeped in the true history of World War II.