Book Review – The Red Badge of Courage

Hello everyone! Happy Saturday! I hope that you’re having a great start to your weekend. Over here in my little corner of the world, we’ve been having a heatwave. So we have been soaking in the sunshine, and sweltering in temperatures up to 26 degrees celsius! To some that may not be very hot, but for England it certainly is!

Anyways, this week’s post is going to be a book review. I read ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ back in February for school, and was very pleasantly surprised by it.

the red badge of courage

First of all, some stats:

Author: Stephen Crane

Published in: 1895

Genre: Historical Fiction

PoV: Third Person – Limited Omniscient (if you have to google that, don’t feel bad because I did too. :D)

Number of Pages: 216 (according to my Puffin Classics version)

Now onto the review!

Have you ever wondered ‘am I brave’? Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were stared by death straight in the face? Would you run? Or would you face it straight on? The struggle between bravery and fear, between standing strong or running like a coward is one that beats in all our hearts. It is one of the questions of our very existence. And it is this inner struggle that permeates the pages of ‘The Red Badge of Courage’

This is a beautifully written book about a young soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. Delusioned into joining the army by a promise of glory and excitement, all he does now is endlessly march, following the seemingly-pointless directions from the generals that no one sees. The private longs for home and the tussle between bravery and cowardice is strong in his heart. He fearfully wonders what will happen when he finally sees battle. As the book progresses, we follow him into his first battle, and get to witness first-hand the struggle that rages in his heart and around him in the fray. The struggle is dominant, both in the battle and in his heart, and it is one that must be answered. At the end, the fight between bravery and fear will have a winner. But who?

When I stepped into ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, so I just kept an open mind and read. And I’m actually really glad I read it. It wasn’t the easiest book to read, both because of the subject content (it’s mostly about battle, and battle isn’t exactly nice and pretty) and the writing itself (the poetic quality of it sometimes made it hard to follow, as well as the fact that its written in kind of old language.). But the gorgeous beauty of both the writing and the story made it so I was willing to overlook the times it was hard to read and digest. Really, the writing is superb. It is rich, poetic, and evocative, clearly portraying both the battle scenes, and the soldier’s inner thoughts. It was so beautiful that it, in one sense, made the battles seem less real, but in another sense made it so starkly terrible. I think the juxtaposition of the beautiful writing vs. the gory content made this book very powerful. I certainly came away from it feeling very rich because of the stunning writing I was privileged to read. However I also felt quite emotional because of this picture of the terribleness of war. That saying, it is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

After much thought and consideration, I’ve decided that it’s definitely an 8* book, and probably just about squeaks into a 9* book. So there you have it, I’m going to give it 9* stars out of the generosity of my heart, and recommending it for ages 13+.

*Note for parents: depending on the maturity of your child, you may want to go under or over that age. I’ve said 13+ because of the sometimes-complex/dense writing and the sobering battle content, but I would recommend at least looking at it yourself before you give it to your child so you can judge accurately based on your own personal circumstances.

Author: Hannah

Jesus follower. writer. bibliophile. dreamer.

6 thoughts on “Book Review – The Red Badge of Courage”

  1. While I’ve heard of this book, Hannah, I never read it. You made me appreciate it! I love how your first paragraph sets up the struggle between bravery and fear, which is permeated in the pages of the book. Also loved how you said that, even though it wasn’t the easiest book to read, you read with an open mind and could see the beauty and richness in the story and the writing. What a great quality to have! And now, thanks to you and the dictionary, I know what juxtaposition and PoV: Third Person – Limited Omniscient is! Can’t wait for the next blog entry. 🙂


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