Kerry W. Thornley
The Idle Warriors
Atlanta: IllumiNet Press 1991
Written between 1959 and 1961, The Idle Warriors is the story of a troop of Marines in the Far East getting laid, pulling pranks, eating and talking about life. It’s a story similar to any number of films and books from that time both in style and content. But there are two significant qualities in this book that set it apart from, say a Bowery Boys film (which is what it reminds me of the most).
First, it is written by Kerry Thornley. I’ve been reading Kerry’s work since 1979 and have always found him insightful and interesting. I also consider him a friend and it’s always good to see a friend make it.
Second, one of the characters in the novel, Johnny Shelburn, is based on a friend Kerry had in the Marines named Lee Harvey Oswald. In his introduction Kerry said he was trying to explain why Lee defected to the USSR. In hindsight he said he failed, and I agree. But the book is still a sort of eerie novelty, like the appearance of Fidel Castro as an extra in a Busby Berkeley film. Kerry’s introduction by itself makes the book well worth reading.