-John Rambo is a troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. He comes back to the US and hitchhiking to Madison, Kentucky, looking for members of his military team. He immediately attracts attention because of his attire: blue hoodie stained with blood, long hair, beard, dirty jeans and dusty boots, carrying a sleeping bag and army jacket with US flag on it. When he enters Madison, he immediately attracts the attention of the local sheriff, an arrogant former Korean War vet named Will Teasle. He picks Rambo up and drives him to outside the city limits. After Rambo repeatedly enters the town, he is arrested and driven to the local police station, where is charged with resisting arrest and vagrancy. There, the officers take him to the basement to give him a shower and shave him. They have him strip all his clothing and as he does this, they notice a vast network of scars all over his body, from his chest to his legs and back and everywhere. They start to wonder where he's been. Through the early part of the story, he's referred to as "The Kid", leading you to suspect that Rambo is not very old, maybe late teens or even in his twenties. While in the cold, wet cells, he starts having flashbacks to his time as a POW in Vietnam. What the sheriff and deputies do not know is that while in Vietnam, he was a POW and was tortured, which causes him to have flashbacks. He snaps from it. When he escapes, being completely naked from the fire hose shower they give him, he steals a motorcycle from a passing civilian and hops on it, heading for the hills outside. He then becomes the focus of a large scale manhunt. It's then up to his commanding officer, Col. Trautman, who has been called in, to stop this machine of war.
How it differs from the movie
This book is really good. It's definitely different than the movie, now that I finished reading it. If you've seen the movie First Blood, then you'll know the scenes I mean. It's a little more detailed
In the book, in the part where Rambo is arrested and taken down to the basement for a shower, they ask him to remove everything and they give him a humiliating full body cavity search, examining his private parts, both front and back. While he's stripping, they see scars all over his body, on his legs, on his back, on his chest, etc. When one of the deputies asks about how he got those scars, he mumbles "In the war." And when they try to cut his hair, he squirms around and the officers threaten him. All of this is done while he's still completely naked from the shower. The deputies and sheriff do not understand that Rambo was a POW and tortured in the camp. The way they are currently treating him causes him to experience severe flashbacks. When he escapes, he kills one deputy by slashing his stomach with the straight edge razor they were going to use to shave him. And when he escapes outside, he steals a motorcycle from a passing guy and rides it through town, still completely naked and shocking everyone and rides it into the nearby hills. Rambo comes across a father and son out hunting and they are shocked to find him naked. He pleads with them to help him. He asks simply for clothes and the son, who is highly skeptical of this man, brings him jeans that are too tight and boots that are too big. Towards the end, Teasle is killed by shotgun fire from Col. Trautman, while Rambo, who is cornered in an old shed, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest and a massive fever, is arrested for what he did to the town and the 18 people who were killed
In the movie, when Rambo is taken down to the basement for a shower, they only show him taking off his shirt, not everything else. It's only when he's getting his humiliating fire hose shower that you see he is completely naked because you can see his bare lower back and below that. When Rambo escapes, he is fully clothed in boots, jeans and a gray tank top and is also fully clothed when he steals the motorcycle. And the cop he kills is in the forest, looking for him instead of being killed in the police station. He steals a motorcycle and heads for the hills, finding an old piece of tarp to use as a makeshift shirt. Towards the end, Teasle is loaded into an ambulance from his fall through the police station skylight. When Rambo prepares to kill him, Col. Trautman stops him in his tracks. Rambo then snaps and tells a story of watching a friend get killed by a bomb and the horrible treatment of him and the other soldiers when they return home