First Blood

Title: First Blood
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 284
Buy the Book: AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks-A-MillionScribSmashwordsKoboiTunesAudible


First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as Rambo sprang from the pages of First Blood to take his place in the world’s cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town police chief unaware of whom he's dealing with—or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky. Millions saw the Rambo movies, but those who haven't read the book that started it all are in for a surprise—a critically acclaimed story of character, action, and compassion.


First Blood was my first novel. Published in 1972, it has never been out of print. "His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew." But that soon changed. Rambo went on to become one of the five most identifiable thriller characters of the twentieth century, with Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, James Bond, and Harry Potter. In what's been called "the father of modern action novels," a small version of the Vietnam War breaks out in backwoods America. The ending is surprisingly different from that of the movie. The novel also has more action than the film and explores Rambo's police-chief antagonist (a hero from the Korean War) to the point that many book reviewers thought the police chief was the main character. I wrote an introduction explaining how the book came to be written. You’ll also find a lot of information on this website’s RAMBO page and in my full-length audio commentary that's on the U.S. Blu Ray DVD of the movie..

In 2015, Gauntlet Press released a signed, numbered, collector's hardback with numerous extras including the never-used original first chapter, an essay by bestselling novelist Steve Berry,  and an informative background article, "Rambo at Penn State." For information, please go to


“A fine novel . . . When Johnny comes marching home this time, watch out.”
The New York Times Book Review


“One of the finest chase novels you will ever read.”
—Minneapolis Tribune 

“One hell of a hard, fast novel.”
John D. MacDonald