The Sand Pebbles

Front Cover
RosettaBooks, Jul 1, 2010 - Fiction - 300 pages
4 Reviews

As a spirit of nationalism inspired by Chiang Kai-shek’s leadership begins to sweep through China, the river gunship San Pablo is ordered to patrol the region and to protect U.S. citizens. The crew of the ship is soon drawn into an international conflict when the Chinese Nationalists begin trying to expel the “foreign devils” from their shores. The conflict not only serves to illustrate the divide between east and west but also causes a rift between the members of the crew.

The protagonist of McKenna’s novel, Jack Holman, is a machinist aboard the San Pablo who has joined the navy in order to avoid jail time. Because he is so fiercely independent, Jake remains a relative loner while onboard the San Pablo and is uncomfortable with navy protocol and discipline. It is just this rebellious spirit that animates much of this novel.

McKenna’s independent mind chafes against military hierarchy and also, ensures that he does not share his shipmates’ disdain for the Chinese because he is not a “joiner”. Instead, McKenna is fascinated with the culture and the people that surround him and develops emotional bonds that prove quite thorny when the circumstances become more tumultuous and more dire.

The perspective of Sand Pebbles is therefore both panoramic as well as personal. Like Lawrence of Arabia, the tension explored here is between the self as individual against the broader atria of social and historical forces against which we are all measured. The Sand Pebbles was made into a 1966 film of the same name starring Steve McQueen.

 

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User Review  - jrtanworth - LibraryThing

I found a copy of the 1962 hardback of this book in a used bookstore. What luck. From the opening "Hello, ship" to the disturbing, if anticipated conclusion, the book is beautifully written. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - usnmm2 - LibraryThing

This is another book you should treat yourself to if you liked the movie. There is just so much more, you can really see and feel for Jake Holman as he finally finds a place and peaple to belong too. Read full review

Contents

First Page
3
Chapter 2
22
Chapter 3
48
Chapter 4
64
Chapter 5
78
Chapter 6
88
Chapter 7
107
Chapter 8
119
Chapter 26
356
Chapter 27
372
Chapter 28
388
Chapter 29
404
Chapter 30
416
Chapter 31
428
Chapter 32
436
Chapter 33
444

Chapter 9
134
Chapter 10
143
Chapter 11
158
Chapter 12
171
Chapter 13
184
Chapter 14
194
Chapter 15
214
Chapter 16
227
Chapter 17
240
Chapter 18
251
Chapter 19
262
Chapter 20
270
Chapter 21
281
Chapter 22
293
Chapter 23
314
Chapter 24
324
Chapter 25
334
Chapter 34
455
Chapter 35
467
Chapter 36
479
Chapter 37
488
Chapter 38
494
Chapter 39
507
Chapter 40
520
Chapter 41
529
Chapter 42
537
Chapter 43
550
Chapter 44
557
Chapter 45
564
Chapter 46
569
Chapter 47
578
Last Page
597
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Richard McKenna was born in Idaho in 1913. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1931 to help support his mother and younger brothers and spent over twenty years in the Navy, serving for a while in China on a gunboat that patrolled the Yangtze River. He drew on his personal experiences for this book, The Sand Pebbles.

After retiring from service, McKenna attended the University of North Carolina on the G.I. Bill and, after settling in Chapel Hill, he began publishing science fiction stories but it wasn't until after publication of The Sand Pebbles in 1962 that McKenna's work really began to take root. The novel won the Harper's Award in 1963 and spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. it was also serialized in The Saturday Evening Post and was later adapted into a film of the same name.

McKenna died suddenly of a heart attack in 1964 at the age of only fifty-one. He was working on his second novel at the time. He was posthumously awarded the Nebula award for his outstanding work in the genre of science fiction.

Bibliographic information