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The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
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3.71 of 5 Votes: 5
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dell publishing co.
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The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1...
The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

About book: A book trying to be a movie28 April 2012tI believe I picked this book up when a friend's brother was getting rid of his collection. Actually, I can't really remember when and how I picked it up because it would not have been a book that I would have purchased, especially since when I go into a secondhand bookshop I tend to stick to certain sections, such as the classics, drama, religion, philosophy, and science-fiction. I tend to stay away from the sections that house horror and drama (though I might casually glance over them if the shop isn't that big or I am looking for something specific).tThis book has been made into a couple of films, neither of which I have seen or am intending on seeing, and that is most likely because the book never did anything for me. To me, this is just a novelised version of Die Hard, and as an action thriller comes nowhere near being as good as Die Hard. However, even when it comes to action stories, I generally do not like reading them: rather I would prefer to watch them. I remember borrowing some books from friends when I was in highschool that were about mercenaries, and I must admit that I could never get into them. It is even a shame that I cannot even remember the name of the book, or the series that it was a part of, because that means that I cannot write a review on it.tHowever, this book is about a gang of thieves that hijack a subway train and go on a wild wide through the New York Subway. In a way it seems that this book was written so that it may become a movie (which it did), however as a book it never really grabbed me. Like many of these hijack thrillers, they try to turn the bad guy (the leader of the gang) into some sort of tragic hero, especially when the author gets into his mind to help you, the reader, understand him. However, I really do not like or appreciate the sympathy that they try to elicit. This guy is a thief, and he is using violence and fear to achieve his objectives. While he is destroying his own life, he is also destroying the lives of those he is holding hostage. People do not walk out of a hostage situation without any scars. These mental scars last a life time.tIn fact, people do not walk away from violence or bullying without being scarred for life. It is hard to find love or forgiveness in somebody who has tortured you, and it is even harder when the torturer shows no forgiveness or remorse for their actions. I suspect this is why many people who have been burnt by the church find it so hard to return, and even when they do, they suffer intense flashbacks to the horror that they experienced before causing them to flee in panic. I know because I have been there (even though there were other causes of the flashbacks).tAlso, consider a person working in a bank that is caught up in a bankrobbery. People do not walk away from these events and get back on with their lives, or at least not easily. Being threatened with violence and death has a negative impact upon people. While many of us may sympathise with somebody riling against injustice and discrimination, violence does not change it - rather it perpetuates it. A terrorist who blows up a car in a crowded marketplace only brings the authorities onto them to seek justice. People do not wake up and say 'oh, I have done something wrong, I better stop it'. It does not work like that, especially if violence were to be the solution, then many more people would resort to it than is otherwise the case. This is the main reason the United States never negotiates with terrorists, and while that philosophy may not stop such kidnappings and hijackings, it does work to discourage it. It is only those who think 'maybe this time it will be different' who do it. In a way, at the height of its power, it never is.

I've seen the original film of this book many times, probably originally at the time it came out in 1974, and own it, as well as the remake which was done a couple of years ago. Finally, I was persuaded to read the actual book, since the two films have some significant differences in the storylines. Basically a team of four men hijack one car of the New York subway system, holding 25 or so people hostage and demanding one million dollars (the amount got much larger in the remake, due to inflation). The original movie followed the book pretty faithfully, except that the hijackers' names were used in the remake and not in the original. In the original they went by pseudonyms by color, such as "Mr. Blue", "Mr. Green", etc. (reportedly this was Quentin Tarantino's inspiration for his characters' names in 'Reservoir Dog'.)A NYC Transit policeman (played with the perfect mix of humor and drama in the original movie by Walter Matthau), communicates with the head hijacker (played by the great Robert Shaw) via two-way radio. The police are given a short 1 hour to get that amount of money together (and to get the NYC mayor to agree to pay it first), and racing across town and through the subway system to deliver it before the bad guys start executing hostages. Just as enthralling and tension-filled in this book as it was in the film (and incidentally, the remake which stars John Travolta as the main bad guy and Denzel Washington as the transit authority contact, is a good film as long as it's not compared too much to the original). I won't give away the ending but if you like suspense novels you will undoubtedly enjoy it. Also, check out the movies, at least the original 1974 version.
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Reviews
Gary Sedivy
Two movies have been based on this book. I have seen neither. This is a really good novel. The story is anecdotal, told from the view point of the several characters involved. We see the day from through the eyes and thoughts of three of the four hijackers, a couple of the passengers, and several police and Transit Authority personnel. Although the story jumps around, as it progresses through the attack, it is not difficult to follow the arc of the story. I wondered how the story would conclude, and was pleasantly surprised!
Mark
A good friend has been nagging me to re-watch the original movie adaptation of THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE (I saw it long long ago--no recollection), including for its fantastic score, and so I felt I should read the novel first. John Godey's not a familiar name to me (and I discovered it's actually a pen name) but, HOLY COW, this is one crackerjack piece of writing--I knocked it off in little more than one afternoon while on Spring Break because it's almost impossible to put down. Four desperate men decide to commandeer a NYC subway train (the train that originated in the Pelham station at 1:23--hence the title) and hold it for ransom. It's almost the archetypal heist story, but what a great twist: who the hell would hijack a subway car?! (This was, not surprisingly, the initial reaction of the police.) There's plenty of action and drama, but the special sauce in this novel is that the story is told piecemeal from a wide variety of points of view, from the hijackers themselves to some of the hostages to the mayor to the head of the transit authority as well as various cops who are pulled into the showdown--and the backstories of many of these characters are explored as well, which adds an unexpected richness to the tale. (Some reviewers seem to feel that the backstories "slow things down"; I didn't at all, and I thought it was a brilliant variation. While the book is not as streamlined as a classic hardboiled thriller, it never seems to drag, and the backstories add texture, emotion, humor, and some fascinating quotidian insights into NYC life in the 1970's.) Godey built a fantastic and ingenious story, and the writing is (not exaggerating here) close to Donald Westlake level: lean, powerful, witty, and relentless. My only slight nit is that the ending didn't seem perfect to me . . . but then again, that may be because it wasn't in my heart how I wanted things to turn out (avoiding spoilers here). GREAT heist caper, with a fantastic '70's vibe: this novel deserves to be on any list of great crime fiction. Is Godey's other work worth tracking down?
Mientras Lees
Ha sido una lectura difícil, y no me lo esperaba así para nada. Una historia que trata del robo de un tren, algo frenético, se ha convertido en un suceso lento y pasivo, desordenado y confuso y muy aburrido. El autor podría haberle sacado mucho más jugo, dejarse de novelas corales y centrarse en lo que realmente era importante. En ese sentido, las películas supieron seguir mejor el guión. Es verdad que tiene algunos diálogos brillantes, criticas bastante duras (aunque hay muchas críticas hacia el comunismo con las que no estoy nada de acuerdo) y los personajes, los poco que recuerdo de los miles que mencinó el autor, pues me gustaron. Ryder, el secuestrador jefe, era muy interesante y que el autor se atreviera a ponerle algunos atributos gays me encantó. Aunque no pudo desarrollarse demasiado, por culpa de toooooodas las escenas innecesarias. Vamos, que no lo recomiendo, prefiero que veáis la película del 70.
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