The acclaimed author’s controversial 1967 debut was a novel of men at war—with themselves.
Lieutenant Dan Tierney is a Marine aboard the vast but labyrinthine and claustrophobic USS Vanguard, an aircraft carrier on patrol in the Pacific in 1956. Forced by the illness of his commanding officer to assume control of the Marines on board, Tierney must make decisions that will alter the lives of his troops and the shape of own future.
When a minor infraction committed by a promising young Private named Ted Freeman leads to a major investigation, a secret culture of initiation rituals and homosexuality is exposed. Torn between protecting Freeman and safeguarding the Marines’ reputation, Lt. Tierney must come to terms with the tragic reality of a system he had once idealized.
The Lieutenant explores the culture and politics of the United States military at the start of the Vietnam War, and reveals the insecurities of the men whose lives were defined by it.
“The Lieutenant is a masterpiece of military fiction and character driven storytelling. Each page is a work of total control and wound up energy, a predator ready to pounce. The beauty and stupidity of military service are on full display, as well the yearnings and failings of young men practicing leadership and preparing warriors for the battle. Dubus’s nuanced interiority and patient pacing changed the art of American military storytelling. The Lieutenant has been a secret for far too long. Read it.”
—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
“Dubus is a master, our American Chekhov, and this re-issue of his only novel, The Lieutenant, is a gift.”
—Elliot Ackerman, author of Red Dress in Black & White
“Andre Dubus was a genius. His tense, wholly absorbing first (and only) novel has the dramatic pacing of a thriller, but with tremendous psychological and moral insight. At first a local study of power and of characters desperate to place their faith in corrupted and corrupting human institutions, the notes struck by the novel’s end resonate out, leaving us questioning the structure of our own relationship to power, and what, precisely, it is we put our faith in.”
—Phil Klay, author of Missionaries
“A fine, tense, wholly absorbing novel.”
—Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road
The Lieutenant is part of Godine’s Nonpareil series: celebrating the joy of discover with books bound to be classics. See here for a complete list of Nonpareils.