First Blood

ISBN: 0449202267
ISBN 13: 9780449202265
By: David Morrell

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About this book

First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of First Blood to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with--or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky.This time when Johnny comes marching home be afraid. Be very afraid.

Reader's Thoughts

Cym Lowell

David Morrell is credited by the International Thriller Writers Association as being one of the founders, if not the founder, of the current genre of thrillers. I had not read his work until my current campaign to read the work of all recognized thriller writers. David received the Thrillmaster award for 2009 from the ITWA at its Thrillerfest meeting this year.First Blood marked the appearance of John Bambo in literature, followed by his glorious movie career. The novel is a masterpiece! The plot is simple. Vietnam Medal of Honor winner wants to regroup by wandering around the country with long hair and beard circa 1968. He runs into a sheriff who is also a highly decorated Korean War hero. Sheriff hassles Rambo assuming him to be a vagrant hippy and the chase begins. There is, of course, strategy and violence in the chase as the two war heroes undertake their chess game. But that is just backdrop. The character of these two men jumps out as the pages turn like hot lead from a machinegun. The riveting question is how these personalities will emerge at the end, not who will live or die, win or lose.I certainly understand why this magnificent story has been used in literature classes since the time of its release. I learned a great deal about characterization, plot, and pace as I sailed through these pages. I hope to put the learning to good use.A thrilling masterpiece!

Michael Erickson

This book is great. It is one of the very few works of fiction that I have read more than once. I have friends I recommend this book to, that haven't read it to this day, and they still enjoy it. I always say, "Rambo wasn't so nice in the novel." It doesn't matter if he is nice in the novel. In the novel you can have two opposing forces that offer a great compelling pulse pounding narrative. David Morrell is one of my favorite authors and this book is what started my interest in his writing. A good read and if you love thrillers this is like the mother of all of them.


This is definitely not my usual genre of book. I never even had any desire to see the movie, Rambo. All, I know about Rambo is this picture I have in my head of Sylvester Stallone wearing a headband and carrying a gun. I'm not even sure if that is from a movie poster or a scene from the movie possibly. I had no desire to either see the movie or read the book, but a friend a work, who I recommend books back and forth with MADE me read this. He insisted it was his favorite book and I agreed to read it.The book is told both from the perspective of John Rambo, recently home from the Vietnam War and a small-town Sheriff. Due to this, you understand that each of the men honestly believe in their actions. There is no bad guy here, almost a sadness that 2 men, very much alike, can be at such odds.I would never have picked up this book, if it weren't for my friend, but I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it very much.

Richard Watt

Despite all evidence to the contrary, this is not a Rambo novel. At least, it's not a novel about the Rambo we have come to know and - perhaps - love. This is a novel about a quite different Rambo in many ways. Rambo today is an archetype, but not the one Morrell intended him to be, I think.And this really isn't just a novel about Rambo. It's a novel about Rambo and Teasle. One could not exist without the other, and - of course - this is really a novel about what those two characters stand for; ans examination of the realities of modern warfare as expressed in two different decades of the later 20th century, and about the generational differences and attitudes which surrounded the Vietnam experience for those who were there, and - as importantly - those who had fought their own war a generation before.The plot is as taut as it needs to be to drive a story this lean along, and the characters minor and major compellingly drawn, but it is the sense of time and place, a tipping point in modern American history, which really grips a modern reader. The small-town attitudes of the fifties and sixties were still there, and the realities of the new post-Vietnam world were only just being discovered. It's all here in a clear-eyed indictment of all the attitudes which might have easily produced a real-world Rambo and Teasle.If the body count seems excessive and somewhat Hollywood, it is only by comparison with modern 'kill all innocent bystanders' blockbusters. The movie adaptation of this kills off virtually none of the characters, but Morrell spreads the violence around very deliberately. This, he tells us, is what it feels like to be innocent bystanders in a modern war, and there's nothing you can do about it.In the end, First Blood is not the novel you think it is; it's way better than that.


Most of us have probably seen the 1982 film First Blood and/or some of its sequels. Even if you haven't, you would very likely know Rambo as the 80s Hollywood stereotype of the American hero, all jingo and no Django. This "Rambo," solidified by the films "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and "Rambo III" is the one that most people are acquainted with and readily disparage. These are the people that should read David Morrell's First Blood, and then watch the 1982 film.Rambo, a Green Beret and Vietnam vet, finds himself at odds with small-town sheriff Wilfred Teasle over, well, nothing. Teasle just doesn't like the way Rambo looks: a stranger, long hair, beard, and drab attire don't belong in his quiet small town. So Teasle tries his best to make Rambo leave, even going so far as to drive him out of town twice. But Rambo keeps walking back into town until Teasle puts him in jail. With the right mix of all the wrong elements, a simple case of personal bias and natural stubbornness erupts into a violent confrontation between a society that doesn't know how or care enough to assimilate its war-damaged soldiers and a man compelled by such circumstances to show society just what it means to start a war.What I'm going to say now, though, will probably be construed as outright heresy: the film is better than the book.Of all the entries in the Rambo film series, Morrell mentioned that the 2008 sequel – the most graphically violent and moody of all the films – comes closest to the tone he strove for in this novel. In other words, Morrell is saying that the 1982 film is quite different from his book; I fully agree. He spends a lot of pages drawing out the characters of Teasle and Rambo, juxtaposing the internal retrospection of both men and highlighting their similarities in an effort to underline the irony of the two them bound by their intense death wishes for each other (and perhaps themselves as well). Morrell unfortunately also manages to wastes the character of Colonel Trautman by painting him as a two-dimensional figure whose main purpose there is to kill Rambo.The film, on the other hand, distills all this into something else: Rambo is a gifted soldier who can survive the greatest odds in the unforgiving war conditions, but in peacetime he is a helpless victim of discrimination and marginalization by his fellow Americans. Despite cutting out most of retrospection, the film also succeeds in drawing much a closer relationship between Trautman and Rambo. Indeed Trautman becomes something of a surrogate father for Rambo, immensely proud of Rambo's capabilities and equally sad that civilian society cannot accept someone who literally fought for his country.While deeper characterization is generally expected of any good book, here Morrell sacrifices fluid excitement in a bid for richer characters. For a thriller, First Blood is fairly long (at 320 pages) and frequently meanders. Ultimately, I came away from the book without feeling anything for any of the characters, including Rambo and Teasle; in the end, a lot of people died for nothing, and nobody in the book seems to realize that. The film, on the other hand, manages to make the story gripping; make highly memorable characters of Rambo, Teasle and Trautman; and end in a way that may seem weak at first but on hindsight gives the story a resolution and purpose.Only recommended for those who want to compare the book and the film.

Brett Starr

They drew first blood, not me...."First Blood" is one of my favorite movies, has been since I was a kid! Sylvester Stallone played a great John Rambo and I don't think any actor could have done it better, but thats the movie version... "First Blood" by David Morrell is a great book and after reading it for the first time, I can tell you the movie is very, very loosely based off the novel. Morrell's main character (Rambo) and the movie Rambo are really nothing alike. In the book, he is referred to as Rambo or the kid, there is no mention ever of his first name being John. The book takes place in Kentucky, not the Pacific Northwest and in the book Rambo does'nt carry 14' survival knife. In the movie version Rambo only kills one person that you know for sure (accidentally, when he throws the rock at the helicopter and the deputy falls out), in the book, his death toll is in double digits by the end. Alot of the great, famous lines from the movie "they drew first blood, not me", are not in the book. Colonel Trautman nevers talks to Rambo once in the book, whereas in the movies they are friends. The book really explains both characters points of view well, breaking down Sheriff Teasle and Rambo to the point where you really dont know who to root for towards the end of the book. Both men are war heros, both refuse to give up or back down. A really good chase novel from start to finish, keeps you on the edge of your seat! A must read for all "Rambo" fans and anyone who likes a great action novel, I really enjoyed this book~ ** WARNING ** At the beginning of the paperback version of "First Blood", there is a section called (Rambo & Me) written by the author in 2000. The author explains how he came up with the idea for "First Blood" and talks about the book, compared to the movie. About three pages in, Morrell tells you the ENDING OF THE BOOK?????, the ending is different than the movie and should be a surprise. I read the (Rambo & Me) section and was completely disappointed to read the ending before I read the first page and I'm still baffled and why the author chose to do this. Beware!

Natalie Bright

David Morrell spoke at a writer's con where he autographed copies for my teenage boys. They were thrilled, but said no when I asked to borrow a copy to read. I had to settle for the eBook version and honestly, was shocked at the power of this story and how it grabbed me from page one. Wow, what a page turner, nonstop action and yes, it's bloody violent. Although the movie varies from the book, I've promised my sons that I'd find the BlueRay. Pizza night and Rambo for the zillionth time is on! Mr. Morrell mentioned that the newest DVD version features an interview with him talking about his inspiration and writing process. This really is a great read. Mr. Morrell is an amazing writer, speaker, and teacher.


Allow me to introduce John Rambo. He's a little surly since coming home from Vietnam, so please forgive his outbursts. It doesn't help that Sheriff Teasle is constantly trying to throw my friend out of the small, back-wooded town of Madison, Kentucky. You see, the good old sheriff has a problem when someone doesn't take his words to heart. Rambo just happens to be that someone. I tried talking to Rambo, but all he kept saying was "Adrian! Adrian!" I know…I was just as confused. Anyways, Teasle pushed Rambo too far; he wanted Rambo to get a haircut and a shave, thus making my buddy have flashbacks to his days as a POW. Rambo escaped from his tiny cell, killing and maiming a considerable amount of boys that I dare say were merely placed in the setting and situation for a higher body count for the story. ........STOP READING IF YOU HAVE ONLY WATCHED THE MOVIE........................REAL ENDING GIVEN AWAY....................... So Rambo goes off into the woods, like he's some type of Hansel and fends off National Guardsman and police officers and civilians that are probably so loaded that they don't even really know what end of the rifle is supposed to be pointed away from them. The body count really starts to soar at this point. Oh, I should tell you that my name is Captain Sam Trautman, and I've been hired to hunt Rambo. For the most part, I'm happy watching these yokels get off-ed by one of the best. But there is only so much carnage that I'll allow, so when the sheriff and Rambo exchange some thoughts in the form of lead, hitting each other in the process, I felt I owed it to my employers to kill Rambo myself. Granted, I used a shotgun and shot him in the head, but that's what you're supposed to do when a wild dog is on the loose. I tried to tell the sheriff, but it seems he has an important appointment in Valhalla that he can't be late for. I guess in one way or another, this story is supposed to be about the denigration of our boys that came home from Vietnam. Perhaps we should have given them a parade or even said "we're proud of you, thank you." I guess Rambo never heard that. Well, pal, sorry for what I had to do; it was never personal. And, one more thing, thanks for all you did for us over there. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


In my opinion, First Blood was a great book. Though, not for the faint of heart. David Morrell doesn't go easy on the blood and description, which I think is one of the book's great aspects. He writes it in a way that his very unique, and gives you a great perspective. One of the things I love about this book is that Morrell paints Rambo in a light that let's you choose to like him, or hate him (Personally, I like him and think he's awesome, despite his "tiny" flaws). I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys lots of action, great thriller moments, and some awesome characters.


When morose and haunted Vietnam veteran John Rambo walks into Madison, Kentucky, all he wants is something to eat before he moves on. That’s is until Sheriff Will Teasle takes one look and an instant dislike to him. Teasle is the one looking for trouble, not Rambo, and is himself a veteran of the Korean war. Teasle is also further embittered because his marriage is ending. He writes Rambo off as “just another drifter”, underestimating him from the start as he sets about kicking him out of town. He pushes Rambo too far, but Rambo can push back even harder, turning the ensuing jailbreak and manhunt into his own personal war. First published in 1972, the movie adaptation came a decade later and was deservedly one of the hits of the year that hasn’t dated since its release – the mark of a truly great movie. It remains one of Sylvester Stallone’s best roles. Although both versions follow much the same sequence of events, there are distinct differences between novel and movie, notably the endings and Rambo in the book is a difficult man to sympathise with. Indeed, Rambo and Teasle seem to be as stubborn as each other. The cave sequence is well described, particularly Rambo’s wade through the section with the bats.One of the best manhunt stories ever written about a clash of wills between two cynical men who won’t back down whatever the cost. As fast action, pursuit thrillers go, they don’t come much better than this.

Arun Divakar

John Rambo is a cultural icon for me like a lot of you out here. You cannot be growing up in the 80's without having Rambo's name mentioned atleast once in your vicinity. Out here in my place, this guy was treated the ultimate warrior when I was a kid. Childhood memories remind me of teenaged guys in the neighborhood with hazy eyes talking to each other about the non-stop action from First Blood . It is then extremely ironic that I came to know that the movie's name was not Rambo perhaps only after coming to IMDB. The book however was an extremely exhilarating read and to me was more of a thrill than the movie itself !The story is now so well known that there needn't be a detailed sketch of it out here. The stage setting of the story was a lot interesting. A disillusioned soldier being harassed by a small town cop was a scenario that sounded so outrageous. You almost feel like shouting at the cop : No, don't piss him off you idiot ! But William Teasle does piss John Rambo off and it all goes straight to hell. Beyond the stage setting part, it is a chase story and an elaborate manhunt. As a reader, I rarely feel such intense excitement in this book. I was reading Margaret Atwood and picked this up as a diversion. What happened in the end was me devoring this tale late into the night and finishing it in two sittings. Needless to say it is very very engrossing and entertainment of the first rate. When the story gets over, you know that you have eaten junk food ! That is you find it to be extremely tasty but ultimately pointless. The novel is in a good way similar to that for you do not gain anything here but those exciting moments and nothing beyond that. It should also be said that the tale is intensely bloody. Once the violence begins, bodies start dropping like rain all over the place. This suits the general mood of the tale but once you finish the tale, you cannot but be astounded by the scale of massacres in the tale.It is a dynamite for a one time read and recommended just for that adrenaline factor.


David Morrell is one of the most underrated thriller writers out there, and I can't imagine why. None of his books are bombarded with overwhelming positive reviews on or goodreads. Nevertheless, I've found all eleven books I've read to date by him to be immensely satisfying. Sometimes when I like an author a lot, I'm disappointed in the earliest of efforts. Not here. "First Blood" is Morrell's debut novel, and what a debut! This novel has an energy that just won't let up.As you may know or at least guess, yes, this is the book that gave birth to Rambo. It is also the basis of the first film with the same title. The rule that usually exists (with a few exceptions) of the book always being better than the film is definitely a factor here. In fact, the book here is a whole lot better than the film! In the movie, Rambo is played almost inarticulately by Stallone, but in the book he is an intelligent and well-spoken character. In the movie, Police chief Teasle is given the clear label of bigoted antagonist while Rambo is the deadly but lovable underdog. And here is one of the true gifts of the book. In the book, Teasle is given a back story and plenty of time for thoughts. While you'll, at times, hate the chief as much as the movie, at other times you will feel sorry for him and hope he escapes this situation in one piece, and even improves his life when it's over. Then there's Rambo, who kills two men accidentally in the movie, but reeks holy terror and an indeterminate body count in the book. Like the film, you'll pull for him. If anything, he's more resourceful in the book than the film. However, there are times when you'll see him as almost a monster. Like hoping for the chief to live after starting the mess that he does without understanding Rambo, you'll hope Rambo gets caught before he does too much damage. The outcome is also quite a bit different in the book, so if you've only seen the movie, you've missed out.Morrell's book takes a familiar action movie icon and gives him a birth, background and supporting characters a degree of life that have never been seen on celluloid. Oddly enough, the book doesn't give him a full name. It's only the movies that supply the name John. This is an especially thoughtful book when you consider it was written while the Vietnam War was still being fought, and Rambo was a Vietnam prisoner of war. That Teasle was a Korean War vet is a major part of the story, the differences of tactics and of generations. There is also a statement about the senselessness of war, as Madison, Kentucky becomes a literal battleground that starts as a dispute over ideals.This is an exceptionally good thriller, considered by many to be the grandfather of the modern thriller novel.


I'd been wanting to read the novel that inspired the Man my entire life, and only recently was I able to sit down and do it. "First Blood" certainly did not disappoint, either. The film and novel do differ wildly here, and as much as I enjoyed the movie, the book is definitely the more powerful piece.By now everyone knows the general storyline, so let me concentrate on some of the aspects of the novel which I enjoyed the most. One is the careful attention Morrell pays to each of his characters Teasle and Rambo. Unlike the film, here Teasle is humanized to a greater degree, made more likeable and character explored more fully. Morrell is careful to give us no easy hero, as both men suffer from inexhaustible will and stubbornness. Both think they are right, and will stop at nothing to prove the other undone. Teasle's own military service in Korea is explained more in-deptch here, as well as Rambo's days as a POW in Vietnam, and how he came to escape.The other remarkable aspect of this book which was totally and unfortunately omitted from the movie is the spiritual and almost psychic connection that forms between Rambo and Teasle. By the end of the book, they can almost read each other's thoughts, and boast their ability to do so. Teasle even has a dream in which he is seeing the world through Rambo's eyes, and predicts where he is hiding because of the dream. By the end of the tale, both men come to respect and even admire one another, something sorely lacking in the movie.This novel also has that old-fashioned patina that so many books of the 70s and 80s do, a feeling sorely lacking in these post-postmodern too-cool-for-school books coming out nowadays. "First Blood" is a solid read and an entertaining and thought-provoking character study.

Mike (the Paladin)

Not baddly written I was torn between the 3 or 4 and finally went with 3, but it may be some better than that. Sad in its own way...seen the movie but not read the book? Read the book.


Muy difícil de leerlo sin que la película asalte nuestra mente e ilustre cada escena... pero no se dejen engañar, esta es una historia más cruda, menos romántica, y finalmente, mucho menos heroica.A mi entender este libro no desnuda la marginación ni el rechazo sufridos por los veteranos de Vietnam en la sociedad norteamericana, sino más bien relata los daños psicológicos que esta guerra produjo en quienes la vivieron en carne propia. Rambo es la prueba viviente de ello. Y el capitán (no Coronel) Trautman.El libro nos muestra un Will Teasle mucho más humano, cuya percepción de Rambo va cambiando a medida que la historia avanza, y un John Rambo con una esquizofrenia que va avanzando a medida que la historia transcurre (en Madison, Kenttucky, no en Hope, Washington), mostrando sus dos facetas: la de ciudadano norteamericano en busca de un poco de paz, y la de una perfecta máquina hecha para matar sin seguro que la controle.Un libro para leerlo de un tirón y en una tarde, pero sin engañarse... hay muchísimo más detrás de lo que a priori el libro podría dejar suponer.Recuerden, they drew first blood!

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