The gist: A company of soldiers gets kidnapped while on patrol during the Korean War. They are then brainwashed and one of them is turned into an assassin. Political intrigue ensues.
The Manchurian Candidate is probably the thickest 350 page book I've ever read. I almost gave up after Chapter 6. The writing style definitely left something to be desired. I just couldn't find a plot until about Chapter 20 (out of 26). One page you would be reading about current events, then the next it would be backstory on the characters or whatever. Very little of it seemed to relate to each other. It was like the author was just doing mental exercises with the reader and didn't really care about the story. And if it could be said with 5 words, he would say it with 25. I actually counted a single sentence that ran on for 8 lines of text. Reading it was like walking through molasses. I had to go back many times to reread sections of paragraphs just to figure out what he was talking about. The last 6 chapters actually managed to hold my attention, though. That's when things finally started moving.
The theme of the book is an interesting one, and it's definitely something to ponder. I hope the new movie does the topic justice. I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone who doesn't have a lot of time on their hands, though.