First Blood (novel)

First Blood (novel)

"First Blood" is a 1972 novel by David Morrell, on which the Rambo movie franchise was based.


The book features the character Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran, who becomes the focus of a manhunt that results in the deaths of many police officers and National Guardsmen. The book condemns the war in Vietnam and asserts that it had many adverse effects on soldiers who served there. It focuses very much on the acts of violence that Rambo commits and calls attention to the instinctive nature of these acts. This is especially evident in the portrayal of how Rambo and Police Chief Teasle come to respect - even like - each other, but are driven to continue fighting. Both men are incapable of compromise because they have been shaped by the wars they fought in. Teasle is portrayed as being as much of a victim of the Korean war (and his subsequent police career) as Rambo is of Vietnam.

In a climactic ending in the town where his conflict with Teasle began, Rambo is finally hunted down by Special Forces Captain Trautman and Teasle. Teasle, using his local knowledge, manages to surprise Rambo and shoots him in the chest, but is himself wounded in the stomach by a return shot. He then tries to pursue Rambo as he makes a final attempt to escape back out of the town. Both men are essentially dying by this point, but are driven by pride and a desire to justify their actions. Rambo, having found a spot he feels comfortable in, prepares to commit suicide by detonating a stick of dynamite against his body; however, he then sees Teasle following his trail and decides that it would be more honourable to continue fighting and be killed by Teasle's return fire.

Rambo fires at Teasle and, to his surprise and disappointment, hits him. For a moment he reflects on how he had missed his chance of a decent death, because he is now too weak to light the dynamite, but then suddenly feels the explosion he had expected - but in the head, not the stomach where the dynamite was placed. Rambo dies satisfied that he has come to a fitting end.

Trautman returns to the dying Teasle and tells him that he has killed Rambo with his shotgun. Teasle relaxes, experiences a moment of affection for Rambo then dies.


Morrell has acknowledged in several interviews that his book was influenced by the writing of British novelist Geoffrey Household, including: "When I started "First Blood" back in 1968, I was deeply influenced by Geoffrey Household's "Rogue Male" [cite web |url=|title= Interview|publisher=The Book Reporter| accessdate=2007-10-10|date=March 23, 2007|author=Joe Hartlaub]

Film changes

The movie "First Blood" severely alters the theme of the book by making Rambo more sympathetic and demonizing the police and national guard. By never having Rambo directly kill any of the police officers and their deaths being brought about by their own maniacal desire to capture Rambo, there is a complete role reversal. This reversal propels Rambo into the seat of hero instead of that of the cold-blooded killer that he was in the novel. In the film, he is given the first name "John". The ending is also changed; in the novel, Trautman kills Rambo, while in the film, Rambo surrenders to Trautman.


Further Reading

*"" by Susan Faludi (1999). Chapter 7 (pp. 359–406) offers a fuller treatment of the genesis and metamorphosis of "First Blood" from book to theater, including the screenplay's radical and reactionary swings in development and the alternate movie ending.

External links

* [ Rambo: The First Blood Forum]

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