Why did I love this book?
James Jones's brilliant debut novel must have had a great effect on me because I admit, in many ways, my book covers the same ground – how does a man maintain honor and dignity when constrained to live his life by the choices of other, and much more powerful men? I suppose the difference between our two themes is that the question in my book is about those same choices but wrapped in the question of race. Jones’s characters, while in the military, were dealing with personal issues. My Corporal Buck is dealing with an issue about which all of America is on fire.
From Here to Eternity is 70 years old. I read it in 1969, an eternity ago and it has lasted with me from there to here. When I was in the Marine Corps I knew everything that was happening to me. But I didn’t know what it meant. It has taken me most of a lifetime to come to understand. If my novel helps one man come to understand his own demons of struggling to match his morals against the demands of his world, then I will have given a worthwhile gift. But if he merely enjoys watching someone else play it out, that will be enough.