by Martin Smith
Each Obituary did at least mention The Naked and the Dead, Mailer’s first and most important novel. It is one of the great antiwar classics in literature and a book that speaks to all activists committed to ending the brutality of wars for empire.
Yet The Naked and the Dead is barely known today outside of academic circles–because it challenges the standard assumptions about the Second World War as “the good war,” and unmasks the hidden motives of U.S. involvement.
The Naked and the Dead is the story of a suicide mission by a reconnaissance patrol that is ordered to assess a Japanese rear position on the island of Anopopei. If the soldiers survive and return, General Cummings plans to send out a company for a surprise attack, a daring tactical move that would likely lead to his promotion.