Author James Jones – He Wrote About WWII and More

By | May 9, 2012

James Ramon Jones was born in Robinson, Illinois on November 6, 1921. He was the second son of Ramon and Ada Jones. His older brother his older brother was George W. He also had a younger sister, Mary Ann.

On November 10, 1939, three days after his eighteenth birthday he enlisted in the United States Army. One of his first assignments was with the air corps (it later became the US Air Force) and was shipped to Hickman field in Hawaii. In 1940 he transferred to 27th Infantry, which was at Schofield Barracks, also located in Hawaii. He was at Schofield when Japan attacked in December 7, 1941.

He left Hawaii on December 6, 1942 to be stationed on Guadalcanal. He was there during the Japanese attack and from those experiences he wrote The Thin Red Line. To many it is the best book about WWII.

Even before the war he had dreams of being a writer. After the war he was able to work with Maxwell Perkins, Thomas Wolfe’s editor. Jones admired the work of Wolfe. He first novel was From Here to Eternity, based on his experiences in Hawaii prior to the attack of December 7, 1941. It was published in 1951 and made into a movie in 1953. The movie won Best Picture Oscar.

Jones went on to complete what he called his WWII trilogy with The Thin Red Line in 1961 and Whistle in 1978. The central characters are actually the same in all three books, though their names were somewhat altered. From Here to Eternity features Warden and Prewitt, who become Welsh and Witt in The Thin Red Line and Mart Winch and Bobby Prell in Whistle. Similarly, Corporal Fife in The Thin Red Line reappears as Marion Landers in Whistle, as does the cook, Storm, who becomes Johnny “Mother” Strange.

While working to finish Whistle, Jones died of congestive heart failure on May 9, 1977. Knowing that he had little time remaining, but wanting to finish the novel at times he worked 14 hours a day on it. When he died he had completed all but the final three chapters. Those chapters were completed by Willie Morris based on notes and taped conversation that Jones had already written.


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