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Before there were the movie and the television series, there was the novel that gave birth to such American immortals as Hawkeye and Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the 4077th MASH--a place like no place else in Korea or on earth. Before there were the movie and the television series, there was the novel that gave birth to such American immortals as Hawkeye and Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the 4077th MASH--a place like no place else in Korea or on earth.


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Before there were the movie and the television series, there was the novel that gave birth to such American immortals as Hawkeye and Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the 4077th MASH--a place like no place else in Korea or on earth. Before there were the movie and the television series, there was the novel that gave birth to such American immortals as Hawkeye and Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the 4077th MASH--a place like no place else in Korea or on earth.

30 review for MASH aneb jak to bylo doopravdy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Supratim

    What a book! I am giving it a rating of 4.5! A friend had told me about this book when I was in college. He had called it a “cult”, I do understand why. When we think of the military we usually think of discipline, rigid hierarchy, and strict adherence to protocols. But welcome to the mad world of 4077th MASH – one of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) of the US Armed Forces serving in the Korean War. This book has been written by Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr, under the pseudonym Richard Ho What a book! I am giving it a rating of 4.5! A friend had told me about this book when I was in college. He had called it a “cult”, I do understand why. When we think of the military we usually think of discipline, rigid hierarchy, and strict adherence to protocols. But welcome to the mad world of 4077th MASH – one of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) of the US Armed Forces serving in the Korean War. This book has been written by Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr, under the pseudonym Richard Hooker, in collaboration with W. C. Heinz. Richard had himself served in the Korean War at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital as a surgeon and based the novel on his personal experiences. The story revolves around three surgeons in this unit – Hawkeye, Duke and Trapper John aka the Swampmen. To call them maverick is an understatement. They break rules, disdain the officious military types, drink like a fish, dispense their own brand of justice and play elaborate pranks which might include fake human sacrifice. Then why do the authorities tolerate such men? Simply because they are highly competent surgeons and such people are in short supply during the war. Once you get to know the Swampmen you will become their fans – they are generous people who take their jobs very seriously and help people whenever they can. The adventures or at times the misadventures read like a drug induced dream. Some events are hilarious while some are poignant. There are plenty of unforgettable characters other than the Swampmen. The doctors and the nurses had to put in inhuman efforts to save lives. Treating battle injuries is not an easy task. You need nerves of steel to deal with the “Deluge” of patients fighting for their lives. The physical and emotional toll it took left them dispirited and exhausted. The bottle was a succor but the concern and support of their comrades was priceless. The pranks and escapades helped them cope. In the words of the author, "a few flipped their lids, but most of them just raised hell, in a variety of ways and degrees." I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are other books in the series. If I get the chance I would surely check them out. The movie and TV series adaptation of this novel I believe were very popular. The IMDB ratings are quite good. Highly recommended! But, do keep in mind that this book is not for everybody. If you do not like absurd adventures or are offended by ribald humour then this book is not for you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    Treasure of the Rubbermaids 7: The Forever War The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths. I picture Dr. Richard Hornberger sometimes turning on the television and catching the movie or TV version of MASH and shaking his head in wonderm Treasure of the Rubbermaids 7: The Forever War The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths. I picture Dr. Richard Hornberger sometimes turning on the television and catching the movie or TV version of MASH and shaking his head in wonderment at how the short novel he wrote based on his experiences as a surgeon in Korea became an icon of American pop culture. The real Korean War lasted three years, but the TV show ran for eleven seasons over twenty years later. I gotta think that had to be mildly disconcerting to the good doctor. While the Robert Altman movie and the Alan Alda TV version ultimately were considered anti-establishment and anti-war statements, that's really not what’s going on in the book. Hornberger (writing as Richard Hooker) wrote a brief forward where he noted the hard and emotionally draining work in bad conditions led some to blow off steam by acting batshit insane. At the 4077th MASH in 1951, Colonel Henry Blake requests two new surgeons and gets Hawkeye Pierce and Duke Forrest. Hawkeye and Duke have decided that if they work their asses off when they’re needed that they’ll be able to do what they want in their off hours, and they’ll be too valuable for anyone for anyone to punish. They’re right. Soon they’re joined by another surgeon, Trapper John, and the three alternate trying to save the lives of wounded soldiers with heavy drinking and outrageous stunts including trying to raise money by selling autographed pictures of Jesus and giving their camp dentist a bizarre form of shock therapy to snap him out of a suicidal depression. There are really no overt political or anti-war statements in the book, and there’s nothing like the liberal attitude that would later be incorporated into the show. The antics of the doctors aren’t meant to be seen as ideological. They just have very demanding jobs, and their only means of relieving stress and boredom comes from heavy drinking and fucking with people that irritate them. Aside from the bitching common to all soldiers they don’t spend time raging against the military or the war. They work, they drink, they bullshit, come up with bizarre schemes to amuse themselves and that’s about it. Aside from one brief phase where the guys fall into funks after a particularly hellish couple of weeks following a major battle none of it seems to get to them too much. There’s also a moving chapter where their former Korean houseboy is drafted and brought back to them as a patient, but while the guys get very serious about saving him that more somber attitude doesn’t last long. One of the more interesting points of the book is the descriptions of the surgery that the doctors perform. The quick and concise accounts of the fast paced and often brutal operations should seem out of place in a book that is primarily going for laughs, but it helps to establish the idea that after spending hours up to their elbows in blood-n-guts without a break that Hawkeye and his friends would need a laugh by any means necessary. This probably seemed a lot more shocking and outrageous back in 1968 when it was published then it does today, but it’s still amusing. While an offbeat and funny book, I can’t imagine that anyone who read it back then could imagine what it’d become on film and TV. There are a couple of bad sequels to this, and a whole string of bad MASH books ghost written by someone else after the show became popular. None of them have the goofy charm of this one. Reading this is kind of like going into the local VFW and sitting down next to an old guy with a couple of drinks in him and listening to his funny stories about his days in the service.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Richard Hooker is a guy after my own heart. He was a surgeon and not a very talented writer, but he came up with the idea for a story that is so good and rife with comic possibilities that it became both a classic film and an equally classic long-running TV show, and I hope to God the man capitalized greatly from it. As preface, you must know that I'm a great fan of M*A*S*H in both its film and TV show incarnations, and own both the 20th-Century Fox Four-Star Edition DVD of the film and the entir Richard Hooker is a guy after my own heart. He was a surgeon and not a very talented writer, but he came up with the idea for a story that is so good and rife with comic possibilities that it became both a classic film and an equally classic long-running TV show, and I hope to God the man capitalized greatly from it. As preface, you must know that I'm a great fan of M*A*S*H in both its film and TV show incarnations, and own both the 20th-Century Fox Four-Star Edition DVD of the film and the entire "Martinis and Medicine" DVD box of the 11-season TV series. For those unfamiliar with the general premise, MASH takes place within the shabby tent village of the 4077th mobile army surgical hospital unit stationed near the front during the Korean War, where officer surgeons perform "meatball surgery" on the constantly incoming battle wounded, and spend their spare time in the pursuit of various boozed-up craziness in order to keep themselves from going crazy. These extracurricular rebellious tendencies put them at odds with the by-the-book army brass, but with each immersion in "hot water" they save their skins by dint of their indispensable skills or by atoning via some self-sacrificing heroic act. Readers in general, of course, often complain about the inferiority of movie and TV adaptations of their cherished novels, but in this case the reverse is definitely true: this book is the inferior realization, which is not to say that it isn't overall a fun, fast and interesting read, at least in the sense that it shows how good ideas can become better realized later in the hands of superior screenwriters. Hooker is of the Ira Levin-Scholastic reading-level school of lit, that is to say a purveyor of entertaining and simply stated stuff perfectly adaptable into better films. For a MASH fan, the fun of reading this book is partly in discerning where the elements of the book and movie/TV versions converge and diverge. The movie sticks closely to the book in most cases, but modifies several of the situations and improves upon them. The Hawkeye Pierce-Trapper John-Duke Forrest triumvirate of the novel is retained in the film, but by the time of the TV show was whittled sans Duke, which was no loss at all. The Hawkeye ("Yankee" from Maine) vs. Duke (Southern boy) joshing banter grows tiresome in the book and would have quickly palled on the show. The character of Maj. Frank Burns, the religiously pious privileged arrogant self-righteous hypocrite of the movie and TV series is actually a combination of two characters from the novel, Major Hobson and Capt. Burns in the book. Major "Hot Lips" Houlihan is much the same from the book to the screen, though she is considerably older in the book than Sally Kellerman, the actress who played her in the film. She is barely used as a foil in the book though, and the episode in which she declares the 4077th MASH "an insane asylum" is opened up into a much richer comic episode in the film. The alliance of Burns and Houlihan is barely mined at all for satirical points in the book, a situation corrected in the later screen versions. The womanizing ways of the wacky surgeons seem more talked about than actually done in the book, mainly because all of the officers in the book are married, which was changed in the other versions to allow them more freedom. The MASH commander, Col. Blake is a rather dull two-dimensional exasperated foil in the book, not much improved upon in the film but improved greatly with the casting of McLean Stevenson in the TV show. An episode late in the novel in which Hawkeye and Duke don women's clothes to avoid inspection duty eventually was morphed into the character of cross-dressing Corporal Klinger in the TV show. The Last Supper scene--the attempted suicide of the well-hung dentist "Painless"--as depicted the book is poorly realized and peters out (no pun intended) but is improved greatly and made into a classic scene in the film. There is little outright "anti-war" proselytizing in the book--to Hooker's credit, since it is self-evident--whereas it became heavy handed and de rigueur in the TV series. It's a little surprising to someone used to that aspect of the show to see Pierce and colleagues so casually wield guns in the book. Though published in the Vietnam era, the book does not seem as overt a Vietnam War critique as the film does. The book's humor is closer to traditional service comedy than the hippie zeitgeist Marx Brothers channeling of the later screen adaptations. And the book causes me to pause and think about whether the "rebellion" of Hawkeye and his mates represents true populist protest or is merely a manifestation of their own elite privilege. Because Hawkeye and friends know they are privileged, elite, and indispensable surgeons, they are allowed to get away with their disruptive behaviors. Is that true rebellion or just another form of good-old-boy white-male privilege? It renders the satirical intents of the story somewhat questionable. The racist and sexist elements of the story also would make rich fodder for discussion, were I up to it. Suffice it to say, the words bandied about by some of the characters ("chinks", "gooks", "broads", "whores", "fairies") were common parlance for the period depicted. The book does not escape heavyhandedness, throwing in mawkish elements to ennoble the surgeons in the reader's eye: saving imperiled babies for instance. For its deficiencies, the book has some good episodes and occasional laugh-out-loud moments. My favorite parts of the book involve the deception-fraught football game (also a famous scene in the film), a Japanese sojourn in which the surgeons quip with incredulous brass and play golf, and a chapter in which they train two by-the-book surgical greenhorns on the realities of meatball surgery. Much of the humor and situations in the book start promisingly but sputter as Hooker strains to make them crazier, and in doing do so they merely seem forced and random. The best laughs are the unexpected ones, as when the surgeons are told they need to dress better, to which they reply: "I'm partial to English flannel" and "imported Irish tweed," or when names are played upon, as when the surgeons encounter a Colonel Cornwall with: "Cornwallis? I thought we fixed your wagon at Yorktown," or, in the commission of an identity switch, they introduce themselves as Captains Limburger and Camembert (because, as we all know, cheese is always funny). The book actually ends well, and its downplayed poignancy is more realistic than the Wagnerian grandiosity of the finale of the TV show. A testament to the resiliency of Hooker's initial story concept in this novel is that the 18 months in which it takes place (the actual Korean War was relatively short-lived) was stretched out for 11 seasons on television without "jumping the shark" often or growing stale or bereft of new story ideas. I enjoyed the book, but often wondered how it might be regarded as a piece of literature had it been realized by someone like, say, Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut. Whatever the case, I was glad to have finally read it, though it might have been better if I hadn't been sober.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    When I was in grade school, my oldest sister worked the late shift at Pizza Hut to save money for college. Late at night, she would come home, turn the television on, and sit in the living room to count her tip money and unwind. I would sneak out of bed and join her, helping stack quarters and dimes and we would watch M*A*S*H together. We had to be quiet so mom and dad wouldn't know I was awake because I was not allowed to watch that show....it was on the "Too dirty for Julie to watch'' list. I When I was in grade school, my oldest sister worked the late shift at Pizza Hut to save money for college. Late at night, she would come home, turn the television on, and sit in the living room to count her tip money and unwind. I would sneak out of bed and join her, helping stack quarters and dimes and we would watch M*A*S*H together. We had to be quiet so mom and dad wouldn't know I was awake because I was not allowed to watch that show....it was on the "Too dirty for Julie to watch'' list. I was too little to get the sexual innuendo or most of the off-color jokes. I just thought Alan Alda and the rest of the cast were hilarious, and the situations were interesting. I never saw the original movie until I was an adult. It was in the credits of the movie that I found out the series was based on a book. I never thought about it.....never bothered to check if there was a source for the story idea behind the tv series. The minute I found out there was a book, it went on that list in my head. The "Wow, I'd really love to read that book!'' list.....the list I never actually get to, but always remind myself of when I see certain actors, authors, movies, tv series. Im sure most avid readers have a similar list. I started out the New Year with a plan to actually start reading books off that list! I'm going to take the time to read books that I want to read.....not just new releases and books that everyone else is reading. I learned something new when I opened the old, yellowed paperback copy of M*A*S*H: A Novel about Three Army Doctors. MASH isn't just one book. It's a series of 14 books! Only the first one is set in Korea. The others are set in major American cities and several locations around the world. I'm almost embarrassed that I had no idea there were more books. Richard Hornberger and W.C. Heinz wrote the first book together under the name Richard Hooker. Hornberger was a former military surgeon and Heinz was a war correspondent in WWII. So they were writing what they knew, stating that characters in the book were loose amalgams of people they served with in the military. They spent 11 years writing the first novel. Hornberger wrote the second book, MASH Goes to Maine, to tell the story of what happened when the trio of doctors returned state-side following the end of the Korean conflict. The rest of the series was written after the television show gained popularity in the 70s. The later books were written by W.E. Butterworth, even though the pen-name Richard Hooker is also listed. I have read that the tone and realism of the later books is different from the first two novels. I can't verify that, as I haven't read them myself.....yet. The final book, MASH Mania, allegedly dumps the story lines created after book #2 and returns to the original characters, revisiting the three doctors in middle life. So, in my defense, I can see why I never heard about the other books. The movie and television series was based on book #1. Another television series, Trapper John M.D. was a spin off from the movie/first book, featuring Trapper John McIntyre later in life as a surgeon in San Francisco 28 years after his service in the 4077th MASH Unit. The show ran from 1979-1986. I never watched it. I was too busy watching Magnum PI and the A-Team to watch medical shows, I guess. :) MASH ran from 1972-1983 and is still one of my favorite shows. Now....after all that wool gathering....I can finally talk about the book....ha ha. MASH: The Tale of Three Army Doctors is about three talented, and irreverent, Army Surgeons serving in the Korean War. At times they spend days on duty, catching sleep here and there when they are too tired to stand anymore, working to save the lives of wounded soldiers. And when there are no wounded, they spend time playing poker in the dentist's tent, drinking martinis and breaking the rules. They get away with a lot because the M*A*S*H unit can't do without them, and they are dedicated, professional surgeons when it really counts. When a person has a job that is incredibly stressful and deals with death and illness on a daily basis, there has to be an outlet. Their outlet was to be outrageously over-the-top in their downtime. It makes for a wonderful book! I'm so glad I finally took the time to read it! The humor is dry and dark. The characters are dedicated to saving lives and doing their best to remain sane in a difficult situation. I will read more of this series and see if I like the later books. If not, I can always skip to the final book in the series that returns to the original characters.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimber

    I could see why this needed to become a TV show: it's too short. I put this down longing for more, much more. I grew up with the show and always vowed I would read the book. So glad I did not miss this. Literary snobbery aside, I think it's marvelously written....and what characters! Such smooth writing, sharp dialogue, timeless humor. How do you get through a war? And not just survive it but still be ok in the long run? This is one of those stories that will stay with me forever. I could see why this needed to become a TV show: it's too short. I put this down longing for more, much more. I grew up with the show and always vowed I would read the book. So glad I did not miss this. Literary snobbery aside, I think it's marvelously written....and what characters! Such smooth writing, sharp dialogue, timeless humor. How do you get through a war? And not just survive it but still be ok in the long run? This is one of those stories that will stay with me forever.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jandrok

    My mother and I used to have a fun, weekly ritual back when I was growing up in East Texas. Every Monday or Tuesday night, depending on the broadcast schedule, we would tune into CBS to watch the new episode of M*A*S*H. Now M*A*S*H is one of the all-time classic television series, and to be able to say that I caught most of the episodes on their first run is something of a privilege. I was in my tweens and teens when these episodes aired, and I know that I didn’t always catch the full context of My mother and I used to have a fun, weekly ritual back when I was growing up in East Texas. Every Monday or Tuesday night, depending on the broadcast schedule, we would tune into CBS to watch the new episode of M*A*S*H. Now M*A*S*H is one of the all-time classic television series, and to be able to say that I caught most of the episodes on their first run is something of a privilege. I was in my tweens and teens when these episodes aired, and I know that I didn’t always catch the full context of what was going on, but the show was nonetheless quite an education for me. I was happy that my mom wanted to share these times with me, though I think back now and realize that it was a bit of a protective interest on her part. Vietnam was still fresh in all of our minds, and I think she wanted a bit of parental guidance to be available for me if I had any questions, which of course I did. It wasn’t until later in my teens that I realized that the television series had been predated not only by a theatrical movie, but by a novel that the movie was based on. Watching the movie after being familiar with the TV show was jarring and disorienting. The names were the same, but the characterizations for the most part were very different. It was strange seeing other actors portraying my favorite characters from the show, although a couple of them did reprise their roles for television, most notably actor Gary Burghoff as Radar O’ Reilly. Then to read the BOOK that the movie was based on…..well, let’s just say that my head was blown. There IS a lesson here, kids: perspective is good. So I recently found an old copy of the MASH* paperback during one of my bookstore runs, and I had to pick it up for the sake of sheer nostalgia. My mother passed away back in late 2015, and I felt like I needed to avail myself of this little reminder of the good times that we used to share. This is a Pocket Book 15th paperback edition, published in 1972, the same year that the television version debuted. There is a blurb on the front for the movie, and an advertisement for the TV show on one of the splash pages. It’s a thin, quick read at 180 pages, and it sets the stage for the movie pretty well. Authored by Richard Hooker (which was the pen name for former military surgeon Dr. H. Richard Hornberger and writer W. C. Heinz), the book is a series of loose vignettes based on Hornberger’s real-life experiences at the 8055th MASH unit during the Korean War. The pressures and strains of the alternately busy and boring life in a MASH unit made for some astounding tales. Doctors and other personnel often found some rather “unique” methods of dealing with these stresses, including heavy drinking and oddball antics. Framed as a comedy, the stories themselves always have a serious undercurrent, as the typical MASH unit could sometimes see up to 1000 casualties a day. The tale begins with the meeting of Dr. Duke Forrest and Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, and later introduces a slew of the characters that you are familiar with such as Henry Blake and “Trapper” John McIntyre (the reason behind “Trapper’s” iconic nickname is given in full detail in the book), and of course Father Mulcahy and Radar. Frank Burns and “Hot-Lips” Houlihan also make an appearance, but they are not around for long and as such aren’t central characters in the book. There are a number of peripheral characters who pop up, some you will recognize, some you will not. Each chapter reads like its own little short story or episode, chronicling the strangeness of life in a “meatball surgery” outfit. I won’t go too much into detail, but you get quite a few tales, such as: The origins of The Swamp. The sad saga of one Frank Burns. The tale of how Trapper John, M.D. became a stand-in for Jesus for just a few days. The epileptic whore. The strange story of Dr. Yamamoto’s Finest Kind Pediatric Hospital and Whorehouse. And of course, the big football game between the 4077th MASH and General Hammond’s group of semi-pro bruisers. Now, caveat emptor…..it should be very obvious by now that this is NOT your TV show MASH. MASH the novel is absolutely a product of its era, being first published in 1968. It should also be noted that Richard Hornberger was politically conservative, so you won’t see any of the anti-war sentiment or pacifism that eventually came to define the television series. There ain’t no B. J. Hunnicutts or Sherman Potters to be found in these parts, and you have to look no further than the scene where Duke and Hawkeye empty their service revolvers into a set of jeep tires to realize that MAYBE this is a Hawkeye quite unlike the one portrayed by Alan Alda. Still, all of the characters come across as refreshingly human, and the stories manage to kick up a laugh even as the carnage of war unfolds across the pages. There is also a reminder that 1960s culture was more comfy and cozy with racial tropes than we are in this politically correct era. Terms like “chink” and “gook” abound, and then you also have the “nigra” character “Spearchucker” Jones, a stereotypical black athlete who shows the men of the 4077th the proper way to play the game of football. That said, there are a couple of moments of racial clarity in the book, and those scenes are handled honestly and with care. Would that we could be so open when talking about race relations in this “enlightened” day and age. Hornberger and Heinz write with very little in the way of flair. The sentence structures are simple and to the point, the dialogue often hindered by an overuse of “he said/she said.” If I had to guess I’d say that it was mostly written at about an 8th grade grammar level. That doesn’t dampen the enjoyment of the book, just don’t look for this to be an enlightening reading experience on the level of a great classic. Hornberger reportedly based a lot of his episodes in the book on more or less real events, and I can believe that. If ever there were a breeding ground for aberrant behavior in a wartime setting, a MASH unit would be the place. Overall, the original MASH novel is a short, fun read that at least gives you some background on the real events that shaped the rise of a television legend. There were numerous sequels written, none of which had the quality of this book. Most were ghosted by a writer named William Butterworth and “credited” to Richard Hooker, and they all took place in locales that were not in a theatre of war. Hornberger did revisit his original characters in two of the sequels, but neither one was anywhere near as successful as was this effort. My advice is to steer clear of those unless you just have some sort of a completionist fetish. Enough rambling on my nostalgia kick. MASH brought forth some fun memories and I can now put the book back in its protective poly bag and put it back on the shelf. I MIGHT have to go and see if I can catch a few reruns, though………. * The usage of M*A*S*H vs. MASH vs. M.A.S.H is somewhat ambiguous. I personally use “M*A*S*H to denote the television series, and MASH or M.A.S.H for the book or movie. Any one of the usages is technically correct, and they are all used at various points in the book/movie/series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    How time flies by.... Richard Hooker may not be the best writer ever but I very much enjoyed his book, because M*A*S*H is my favorite TV series. There are differences between the two - Hawkeye is married, Frank Burns has an episodic role, Hot Lips as well, and good old Klinger does not appear in the book, neither does col. Flagg. Still, the others are all here: Radar, col. Blake, Trapper John, father Mulcahy and some new ones. I always loved their dedication and most of all, their sense of humor i How time flies by.... Richard Hooker may not be the best writer ever but I very much enjoyed his book, because M*A*S*H is my favorite TV series. There are differences between the two - Hawkeye is married, Frank Burns has an episodic role, Hot Lips as well, and good old Klinger does not appear in the book, neither does col. Flagg. Still, the others are all here: Radar, col. Blake, Trapper John, father Mulcahy and some new ones. I always loved their dedication and most of all, their sense of humor in those harsh conditions. Even if it is a hilarious story, you cannot forget even for a moment that behind all the jokes, there is a real war out there and real people who endured those horrors. Same as with Hassel's books. But above all, this story is a tribute to those extraordinary surgeons and their team.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    It's been a long time since I first read this. It was a lot sketchier than I recalled. It was more of a bunch of quick stories without a lot of description in most places. A few surgeries were quite descriptive, though. You can tell the author was a surgeon, so the techniques were important to him. As for the rest... they were fun anecdotes & probably had a grain of truth. This takes place in a war zone of the 1950s so there's a lot of drinking & smoking in a male dominated world. I really liked It's been a long time since I first read this. It was a lot sketchier than I recalled. It was more of a bunch of quick stories without a lot of description in most places. A few surgeries were quite descriptive, though. You can tell the author was a surgeon, so the techniques were important to him. As for the rest... they were fun anecdotes & probably had a grain of truth. This takes place in a war zone of the 1950s so there's a lot of drinking & smoking in a male dominated world. I really liked the book, but I remember the 1970 movie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MASH_(f... pretty well. It was great & follows the book pretty well, so a lot of it flashed back. I recommend watching the movie even over reading the book. Yeah, I'm surprised, too. The TV series was good, but quite different. It had a real anti-war message & was more about Vietnam, the 'peace-keeping' non-war after this one. Hawkeye & Trapper weren't saints in the movie or the book. Duke & Spearchucker weren't even in the series. While Duke & Spearchucker are friends from the first (even earlier which is a great anecdote) Duke is a southern boy & refers to blacks as niggers a few times. It's not correct today, but was used accurately for back then. 'Colored' & 'nigra' are also used. If you have a problem with that, don't read the book, but you'll be missing a great story. Well narrated & highly recommended. This truly is a classic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Richard Hooker's novel about staying sane in insane conditions by using insanity as an escape is brilliantly done. For anyone familiar with either the film or television series based on the book, it will provide a different perspective on the characters that you love and think you know so well. It is a very quick read that seems as fresh on the 100th go through as it did on the first. I recommend it highly. Richard Hooker's novel about staying sane in insane conditions by using insanity as an escape is brilliantly done. For anyone familiar with either the film or television series based on the book, it will provide a different perspective on the characters that you love and think you know so well. It is a very quick read that seems as fresh on the 100th go through as it did on the first. I recommend it highly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This was one of those totally random choices that in actual fact I was surprised at and really enjoyed. The book is from the Cassell series of military titles, a mixture of fiction and fact. This book was the basis on which the film and subsequent TV series were based on. It is a fascinating look in to the world of a MASH unit during the Korean war. The highs, the lows and the sheer tedium and how these dedicated and gifted people dealt with it - from crashing golf tournaments to drugging clergy This was one of those totally random choices that in actual fact I was surprised at and really enjoyed. The book is from the Cassell series of military titles, a mixture of fiction and fact. This book was the basis on which the film and subsequent TV series were based on. It is a fascinating look in to the world of a MASH unit during the Korean war. The highs, the lows and the sheer tedium and how these dedicated and gifted people dealt with it - from crashing golf tournaments to drugging clergymen - what at times appeared to be madness and a total disregard for authority was in fact their way of staying sane while having the patch up the sometimes never ending stream of wounded and dying that were paraded before them. This book is the first of a 12 book series of the exploits of the 4077th MASH unit as well as being the basis for the TV show (which incredibly went on longer than the actual war it was based on) For those who think they know the shows I strongly suggest they read this book as it presents not only a greater panorama of characters but also a far more realistic one to.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    I am a huge fan of the show Mash and so when I was looking for something interesting to listen to I spotted this! The narration is good and I thoroughly enjoyed the story lines and revisiting my favorite Mash characters, Trapper John, Hawkeye Pierce, Radar O'Reilly and all of the others that I had grown to love. Some of the antics that they came up with made me laugh out loud and I had never seen them on the TV show, some for reasons that would have made the show R rated. If you are looking for an I am a huge fan of the show Mash and so when I was looking for something interesting to listen to I spotted this! The narration is good and I thoroughly enjoyed the story lines and revisiting my favorite Mash characters, Trapper John, Hawkeye Pierce, Radar O'Reilly and all of the others that I had grown to love. Some of the antics that they came up with made me laugh out loud and I had never seen them on the TV show, some for reasons that would have made the show R rated. If you are looking for an entertaining listen and also a fan of MASH you will enjoy this listen.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    M A S H is a fine book. It's mildly funny, mildly political, mildly anti-war, and Richard Hooker (aka Dr. H. Richard Hornberger) does just enough to keep us mildly entertained. But he's not the most compelling writer in the world. M A S H is worth a look on a gloomy weekend, or for purposes of nostalgia, but it would be completely forgettable if not for the superior works of art that followed in its wake. M A S H follows Trapper John, Hawkeye and Duke -- the protagonists from Robert Altman's super M A S H is a fine book. It's mildly funny, mildly political, mildly anti-war, and Richard Hooker (aka Dr. H. Richard Hornberger) does just enough to keep us mildly entertained. But he's not the most compelling writer in the world. M A S H is worth a look on a gloomy weekend, or for purposes of nostalgia, but it would be completely forgettable if not for the superior works of art that followed in its wake. M A S H follows Trapper John, Hawkeye and Duke -- the protagonists from Robert Altman's superior film version. And I'm sure you know what happens. Some drafted doctor's do meatball surgery three miles from the front in the Korean War. They drink a lot, make a lot of mischief, fool around with a lot of nurses and play some football. It is nowhere near as good as the movie, and despite Hornberger's disdain for Alan Alda's performance as Hawkeye, a character he reportedly based on himself, it's not as good as the television show either. Hard to believe, I know, but there are cases when the book can't live up to the visual manifestations it spawns, and M A S H is decidedly one of those cases. There really isn't much more to say. If I was reviewing the television series or Altman's movie, I could go on for hours. But the M A S H book just isn't worth expanding upon. If you're a fan of any visual version of M A S H you'll like this book, if you're not a fan there's really no reason to reach the first page. (Man, you'd think I hate this book.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    "Normal people go crazy in this place." MASH: The (very) good book that inspired the great movie that inspired the best television series in the history of mankind! The original source of everyone's favorite screwball army doctors. The brilliance driving MASH, in all its forms, is the mixture of the sweet and the sour. The tension, heartbreak and despair together with unbridled tomfoolery, hijinks and pranks, as the doctors and staff of the 4077th try to stay sane amid the senseless death and des "Normal people go crazy in this place." MASH: The (very) good book that inspired the great movie that inspired the best television series in the history of mankind! The original source of everyone's favorite screwball army doctors. The brilliance driving MASH, in all its forms, is the mixture of the sweet and the sour. The tension, heartbreak and despair together with unbridled tomfoolery, hijinks and pranks, as the doctors and staff of the 4077th try to stay sane amid the senseless death and destruction of war. Highly recommended for MASH fans!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    As a great fan of M*A*S*H, I wanted to read the novel upon which the movie and television series were based. I picked it up and read it the weekend before the final episode, finishing it the afternoon of "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen." I was in for a bit of a surprise; the movie is much more like Robert Altman's movie but not really like either. It is more a story of hijinks in war; while it lacks the feeling or sensitivity of the TV version, it is good for a few laughs. As a great fan of M*A*S*H, I wanted to read the novel upon which the movie and television series were based. I picked it up and read it the weekend before the final episode, finishing it the afternoon of "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen." I was in for a bit of a surprise; the movie is much more like Robert Altman's movie but not really like either. It is more a story of hijinks in war; while it lacks the feeling or sensitivity of the TV version, it is good for a few laughs.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I wish I’d had the chance to watch more of M*A*S*H, as I love its sense of humour. The film was hilarious and so is this book. I’m taking off one star because quite a few jokes are at women’s expense, also the descriptions of American football are incomprehensible if you’re British and hate sport. Nonetheless, it repeatedly made me laugh on the train and the cast of oddball characters are magnificent. Hooker has such a talent for dialogue and for dipping slightly into pathos before veering back I wish I’d had the chance to watch more of M*A*S*H, as I love its sense of humour. The film was hilarious and so is this book. I’m taking off one star because quite a few jokes are at women’s expense, also the descriptions of American football are incomprehensible if you’re British and hate sport. Nonetheless, it repeatedly made me laugh on the train and the cast of oddball characters are magnificent. Hooker has such a talent for dialogue and for dipping slightly into pathos before veering back to surreal absurdity. That seems a very effective way of depicting war’s impact just off the front lines. A good example: ”What are you doing here, gentlemen?” he asked. “Buildin’ us a mermaid trap,” Duke informed him. “Y’all want to help?” The Colonel was trying to blend into the environment. “I see,” he said. “Where do you expect to catch mermaids?” “The river’s alive with them,” answered Trapper. “I see,” said the Colonel again. “Assuming that you are able to catch one of these creatures, what do you propose to do with it?” Hawkeye gave the Colonel a look of impatience and scorn. “We’re gonna screw the ass off her,” he stated. The Colonel was trying desperately to hang in there. “Do you have reason to believe that mermaids may be effectively utilised for that purpose?” “Oh, Finest Kind,” Hawkeye assured him. “Numero Uno,” said Trapper John. “Yeah,” said the Duke. Colonel DeLong departed to his tent to think. Colonel Blake, before departing for Tokyo, had deliberately and perhaps maliciously not briefed him on the Swampmen. After all the hijinks and banter, I found the ending unexpectedly moving. The lesson here (and from several TV shows I could name) is that I’m willing to let a certain amount of misogyny slide if the whole thing is really funny. Especially if the context is a war. I wonder if there's a legal means of streaming M*A*S*H the series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The best and most startling book I've read in years. I had missed the TV show before, because of young age, but maybe it turned out good for me. Cause the read was nothing short of breathtaking. For me is quite straight descent from Heller's "Catch 22", but I do not see it as a drawback, it definitely deserves a great share of praise on it's own. You'll find here awfully great characters, very brisk style and great sense of humour. Aside from this, it is really heart-and-mind gripping picture of The best and most startling book I've read in years. I had missed the TV show before, because of young age, but maybe it turned out good for me. Cause the read was nothing short of breathtaking. For me is quite straight descent from Heller's "Catch 22", but I do not see it as a drawback, it definitely deserves a great share of praise on it's own. You'll find here awfully great characters, very brisk style and great sense of humour. Aside from this, it is really heart-and-mind gripping picture of men, who did their job, and raised hell with such a unparelelled charm and impudence that hardly anyone will finish this book unruffled.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James

    A strong book that conveys an anti-war message without being preachy, using characters that are quite flawed but doing the best they can in a grueling situation. Some of the interactions are dated and come across as sexist today, but that's where our culture was then. I believe this novel belongs on the same shelf with Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five, and others in the same class. A strong book that conveys an anti-war message without being preachy, using characters that are quite flawed but doing the best they can in a grueling situation. Some of the interactions are dated and come across as sexist today, but that's where our culture was then. I believe this novel belongs on the same shelf with Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five, and others in the same class.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The inspiration for the film and series has a lot of what you knew and expected and a little of what you didn't - ramping up the whore-mongering and featuring extended family members for Hawkeye who were - probably wisely - excised from the later tv adaptations. The inspiration for the film and series has a lot of what you knew and expected and a little of what you didn't - ramping up the whore-mongering and featuring extended family members for Hawkeye who were - probably wisely - excised from the later tv adaptations.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I used to take my dinner and go sit in front of the TV to watch MASH reruns, and my folks let me. That’s high praise for a TV show. I recall the first time I saw the MASH movie. I was a freshman in college at the University of Illinois, and campus groups at that time made money by showing movies. This was a popular one, one I saw multiple times with a crowd of rowdy students, not afraid to comment loudly during the movie. This was a fun one. High praise for both. Yet I also remember seeing the l I used to take my dinner and go sit in front of the TV to watch MASH reruns, and my folks let me. That’s high praise for a TV show. I recall the first time I saw the MASH movie. I was a freshman in college at the University of Illinois, and campus groups at that time made money by showing movies. This was a popular one, one I saw multiple times with a crowd of rowdy students, not afraid to comment loudly during the movie. This was a fun one. High praise for both. Yet I also remember seeing the line of MASH books by Richard Hooker, always lined up on the top shelf of the fiction section of my local mall Waldenbooks. I tended toward scifi and Agatha Christie books then, and didn’t try Hooker’s books at the time...not until I saw that my library had the audio of Hooker’s original MASH book, some 40-ish years later. And what I found is that Hooker writes very cinematically. About half way through, I had to verify that the book had been written prior to the movie. Surprisingly it was, and I say surprisingly because many of the scenes of the movie were well described in the book, and some of the dialog from the movie must have been taken close to verbatim from the book, like the “pros from Dover” bit and the “Damn Army” by the jeep driver. Yes, there were differences. The football scenes were over-the-top slapstick in the movie, but just well described, and a bit less crazy, in the book. I can safely say that if you liked the movie, and you want that experience in an easy-to-read book, this will meet your needs. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times while reading the book, and those were short bits that I don’t think were in the movie – surprising and funny. Would I recommend the movie or the book? Really each covers the same ground, but I think the music in the movie (like “Suicide is Painless”), and the style (for instance, everything Army green but blood and the occasional bright clothes by the swamp doctors, or the “Last Supper” scene) really make the movie much the better of the two. But watch it with a group of college students.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    I know I've read this before, in high school I think, but I recalled very little while listening to the audio version. All that was familiar were the bits of the book used in the movie, or later, in the series. The book is a dark comedy, not ha-ha funny, but gives a good look at the realities of living in the middle of a war, and what surgeons had to deal with. There's some flow to the story but it's mostly episodic. The writing is okay but the dialogue tags were atrocious; 9o% were 'he said' an I know I've read this before, in high school I think, but I recalled very little while listening to the audio version. All that was familiar were the bits of the book used in the movie, or later, in the series. The book is a dark comedy, not ha-ha funny, but gives a good look at the realities of living in the middle of a war, and what surgeons had to deal with. There's some flow to the story but it's mostly episodic. The writing is okay but the dialogue tags were atrocious; 9o% were 'he said' and they were seriously overused. The narration is adequate, nothing special. Not surprisingly, there were changes in characters from the book to the movie: in the book, Frank Burns and Hot Lips Houlihan are minor characters; Hawkeye is married, with children, and has multiple siblings; and Colonel Blake is regular Army, to name a few. While the book didn't wow me, I'm glad I re-read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Corto

    This is a re-read for me. The first time being roughly 20+ years ago. To paraphrase the author, this is an embellished version of his experiences as a "Meatball" Surgeon during the Korean War, and was published at the height of the Vietnam War. If you are only familiar with the TV show or the movie, this is an entirely different animal. The movie came closer to faithfully representing the book than the show, but it wasn't entirely on the mark. The movie was more misogynistic than the novel- some o This is a re-read for me. The first time being roughly 20+ years ago. To paraphrase the author, this is an embellished version of his experiences as a "Meatball" Surgeon during the Korean War, and was published at the height of the Vietnam War. If you are only familiar with the TV show or the movie, this is an entirely different animal. The movie came closer to faithfully representing the book than the show, but it wasn't entirely on the mark. The movie was more misogynistic than the novel- some of the pranks in the film would be considered extremely cruel by today's standards, and the regular treatment of women almost equally as calloused. The novel is also a little less racist than the film, considering the era. (There is a major black character, who is significantly more fleshed out in the novel than the movie.) The film was tacitly anti-war, and the show was overtly so. In fact, an old Cold Warrior friend of mine laid out a very interesting case as to how the show could possibly have been part of a Soviet PSYOP. (I know that sounds nuts- but he made a strong argument.) The novel is not anti-war or anti-military in the slightest. (As a side-note, Wikipedia states that the author got screwed on the deal to the movie rights and never signed an edition of MASH after that.) Much of the novel is mostly heavy on hi-jinks and goes for laughs. The ethos of disdain for military protocol, tradition and authority demonstrated by the principal characters stems from the fact that they were young, and thrust into a maelstrom for which no peacetime or civilian training could prepare them. Naturally they blew off steam in incredibly outrageous ways. These anecdotes are tempered by scenes of intense combat surgery that bring the reader back around to the fact that it's not just a book about pranks and sexual escapades, but they are in the middle of a war. (Hooker also includes facets of the effects of the war on the civilian Korean population.) In a mostly humorous (and relatively folksy, chummy, and collegiate) way, the books explores the effects of the unique stresses of combat surgery and its effect on the doctors. I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I did the first time- but it still ranks as a great piece of military humor. It's definitely not Catch-22, but I doubt that was the author's intention. This was a fun and often poignant read. Recommended if you were a fan of the movie or the show.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J.M.

    Got this for Christmas and have been wanting to read it for a while now. I'll admit I didn't enjoy the movie, "MASH," but I grew up watching the television show and still love it very much. The book reads very much like the movie and I don't think I would've liked it if I didn't know the characters as well as I do from TV. I definitely think the TV show improved upon the book's theme a LOT ~ the show was funnier (probably thanks in no small part to the brilliance of Alan Alda). While the book is Got this for Christmas and have been wanting to read it for a while now. I'll admit I didn't enjoy the movie, "MASH," but I grew up watching the television show and still love it very much. The book reads very much like the movie and I don't think I would've liked it if I didn't know the characters as well as I do from TV. I definitely think the TV show improved upon the book's theme a LOT ~ the show was funnier (probably thanks in no small part to the brilliance of Alan Alda). While the book is a fast read, and enjoyable in its own right, I didn't think it the masterpiece the blurbs on the back proclaimed it to be. "Catch-22" is funnier, IMHO, and a much more scathing commentary on the insanity of war. Still, this is the book that launched the movie that created the television series that ran for so long, it became an icon of its own, and if for no reason other than that, it deserves to be read. You don't get as much a feel for the war as you do watching the TV show, but the characters are a trip and the book is a fast read, I'll give it that. I just started it yesterday and finished it in less than a day. If you like war novels, particularly those which make a point about the uselessness of fighting without hitting you over the head being preachy, read this one. Then rent a couple of seasons of the TV show, sit back, and enjoy them all over again (or, if you're younger than me, enjoy them for the first time and marvel at a time when TV was actually good!).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    I really don't have a shelf for this book, but I don't suppose that matters. As an avid fan of the TV series, and having seen the film when I was far too young to understand half of it (must have been about 8 yrs old), it was interesting to see where it all started. I recognised lines from the original film as well as the series, and finally understood the whole "Suicide is Painless" thing. I remember seeing that part of the movie and not understanding what was happening (Robert Altman's films wi I really don't have a shelf for this book, but I don't suppose that matters. As an avid fan of the TV series, and having seen the film when I was far too young to understand half of it (must have been about 8 yrs old), it was interesting to see where it all started. I recognised lines from the original film as well as the series, and finally understood the whole "Suicide is Painless" thing. I remember seeing that part of the movie and not understanding what was happening (Robert Altman's films will do that to you, even as a grownup). I was surprised to see that Klinger is not in the book at all, and that Frank Burns' part is much smaller than in the series. I found myself skim-reading the descriptions of medical procedures, though here again I recognised lines used in the TV show. One thing that struck me was the assumption that when the doctors return home, they would just be able to pick up the threads of their lives like nothing had happened. Well, perhaps they could, but I doubt it. Granted, they were not directly involved in the fighting, but surely seeing the horrendous effects thereof and dealing with violent death on a daily basis would not lead to being able to lay it all aside just-like-that.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allan

    I vaguely remember seeing MASH on tv when I was a kid, but remember very little about it, so was able to enjoy this book without constantly comparing it to its adaptation. Following primarily the 18 month tour of duty in Korea of Hawkeye and Trapper John, the novel was both a light hearted look at the escapades both men got up to to pass the time at their post, particularly when casualties weren't forthcoming, but also was explicit in its acknowledgement of the professional job that both men car I vaguely remember seeing MASH on tv when I was a kid, but remember very little about it, so was able to enjoy this book without constantly comparing it to its adaptation. Following primarily the 18 month tour of duty in Korea of Hawkeye and Trapper John, the novel was both a light hearted look at the escapades both men got up to to pass the time at their post, particularly when casualties weren't forthcoming, but also was explicit in its acknowledgement of the professional job that both men carried out when the circumstances demanded it. I did think at the start that the 'wacky' characteristics of both men may grate on me, but as the novel progressed, I found myself smiling and on occasion laughing out loud as their exploits were detailed. Apparently the tv series, while keeping character names the same, is very different from the novel, but speaking for the latter, if you want a short, harmless, enjoyable read, give it a shot!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    A rather short story about a few men in Korea that played at being insane to stop from going insane. Told in a series of vignettes centered on antics, the reader only captures brief sights of the horror or war and of forced participation, and is also very much stuck in the time it was written when it speaks of women or the native Koreans. The book is better than the movie, but no where near as good as the show.... but it sets up the perfect premise for it, so I've got to give credit where its du A rather short story about a few men in Korea that played at being insane to stop from going insane. Told in a series of vignettes centered on antics, the reader only captures brief sights of the horror or war and of forced participation, and is also very much stuck in the time it was written when it speaks of women or the native Koreans. The book is better than the movie, but no where near as good as the show.... but it sets up the perfect premise for it, so I've got to give credit where its due to Richard Hooker. Now lets go catch some mermaids.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lynn

    Not the TV show, not the movie but the book. Like most things I read, it's dark and funny. If you liked the movie, you'll like the book. Expect Elliott Gould's twisted Hawkeye rather than Alan Alda's Hamlet-esque tortured thinker. Plus Spearchucker Jones, Frank, Hot Lips, an explanation for Radar's nickname and a football game that even I'd go to. While this book is set in Korea, it's really more about the Vietnam War and does delve into some darker aspects of the Wars of the 20th century. Not the TV show, not the movie but the book. Like most things I read, it's dark and funny. If you liked the movie, you'll like the book. Expect Elliott Gould's twisted Hawkeye rather than Alan Alda's Hamlet-esque tortured thinker. Plus Spearchucker Jones, Frank, Hot Lips, an explanation for Radar's nickname and a football game that even I'd go to. While this book is set in Korea, it's really more about the Vietnam War and does delve into some darker aspects of the Wars of the 20th century.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I enjoyed this book. I remember watching the original movie not long ago, so it was nice to finally read the book. I liked the movie as well, but I loved the series. In some ways, I can't believe this book launched a successful movie and an even more successful TV series into existence. There was just so much in this book, that could have been developed a little further. But I still liked this. I liked the humor and I liked the spirit of American ingenuity. I enjoyed this book. I remember watching the original movie not long ago, so it was nice to finally read the book. I liked the movie as well, but I loved the series. In some ways, I can't believe this book launched a successful movie and an even more successful TV series into existence. There was just so much in this book, that could have been developed a little further. But I still liked this. I liked the humor and I liked the spirit of American ingenuity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Got about halfway and felt like I'd read enough. Very similar to the movie and less the tv show. Quite dark overall but interesting to see source material. Got about halfway and felt like I'd read enough. Very similar to the movie and less the tv show. Quite dark overall but interesting to see source material.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim Healy

    This book is a lot of fun. It's the little things First: this is much more akin to the movie than the show, especially the late season episodes. That being said, many of your favorites are here: Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John McIntyre, Henry Blake, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and Father Mulcahy. However, there's also Augustus Bedford Forrest, the Duke, Ugly John and Spearchucker Jones (blink and you missed them in season one of the series), and a sergeant who used to be the cen This book is a lot of fun. It's the little things First: this is much more akin to the movie than the show, especially the late season episodes. That being said, many of your favorites are here: Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John McIntyre, Henry Blake, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O'Reilly, and Father Mulcahy. However, there's also Augustus Bedford Forrest, the Duke, Ugly John and Spearchucker Jones (blink and you missed them in season one of the series), and a sergeant who used to be the center for the Nebraska football team. The surprise to me was the differences between book and "on film" reality. Father Mulcahy is nearly always referred to as "Dago Red". Hawkeye is married with two kids (boys), and his exchanges with his Dad mostly have to do with his brothers, who are in and out of jail. The events are different, but just as funny, if somewhat more 'off-color'. They could have filmed some of them, but they'd have bothered a lot more people. There's a funny running joke in one chapter about a prostitute in Seoul, for instance. It wouldn't fly except in a hard "R" rated movie. Anyway, fans - you'll probably like this. Others, you still may like it if you like offbeat comedy. I liked it a lot.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe Kraus

    Throughout reading this, I found myself thinking of William Steig’s Shrek. If you haven’t read that, you can knock it out in about 10 minutes, reading slowly. The first time I came to it, I’d already seen the first movie, and I couldn’t believe how such a film could grow out of something so small. As I reflected on it, though, I came to admire that little book for inspiring others to such flights of creativity. I couldn’t have read Shrek as creatively as the filmmakers did, but I enjoyed the exp Throughout reading this, I found myself thinking of William Steig’s Shrek. If you haven’t read that, you can knock it out in about 10 minutes, reading slowly. The first time I came to it, I’d already seen the first movie, and I couldn’t believe how such a film could grow out of something so small. As I reflected on it, though, I came to admire that little book for inspiring others to such flights of creativity. I couldn’t have read Shrek as creatively as the filmmakers did, but I enjoyed the experiencing of looking back and seeing all I couldn’t see on my own. I come to MASH the book after the film and after what, for many years, I regarded as the finest television series ever developed. (I confess it felt a bit dated the last time I saw it – still brilliant but somehow tamer than I remembered.) As such, I see things in it I know I’d have missed if I read the book first. For starters, the first character we meet is Radar O’Reilly. I know the way Gary Burghoff subtly developed that character. I think still of the powerful innocence of his having his teddy bear with him in Korea, of his perpetual competence with the work and his perpetual uncertainty about the larger questions swirling around him. Here, he’s just a curiosity, a somewhat slow young man with a gift of near telepathy that makes him the best communications officer around. Without knowing what he became, I wouldn’t have reflected on him as much as I did. I see the shell that Burghoff and others filled in, and that makes me like this more than I would have. There are other intriguing moments, too. Hawkeye remains at the center of everything, and you can see how Donald Sutherland and then, even more brilliantly, Alan Alda filled him out. But he is less central than the show eventually made him. Here, it’s Trapper John who is clearly the best surgeon, and there’s another sidekick named Duke who’s a Southern version of Hawkeye. And you can see as well some of the weakest elements of the show. Frank Burns is a pure weasel from the start, and his two-dimensionality is softened only by his sudden dismissal by the better surgeons. Hot Lips Hoolihan never gets to develop into the dedicated professional that Loretta Swit made her into. Instead she remains an easy target throughout. It’s easy to see where the novel comes from: Hooker must surely have read Catch-22 and then decided he had doctor war stories that would fit a similar, picaresque-in-one-setting formula. And there is a powerful original note here: the idea that doctors, pledged to save lives, have a ‘catch-22’ of their own in having to be part of the effort to take them from the enemy. Much of this is dated, from references to 1940s sports heroes to the comfortable use of “Spearchucker” as a nickname for a minor African-American character. And, courtesy of the film and movie, the book’s central insight is both more familiar and better done. Still, this one has some virtues of its own, as it explores a sardonic take on the question of how to stay sane in a fundamentally insane situation. Cross its basic competence with its historical insight, and this is one worth checking out if you remember MASH in any of its other forms.

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