Mash: A Novel About Three Army Doctors

Mash: A Novel About Three Army DoctorsIt s been a long time since I first read this It was a lot sketchier than I recalled It was 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 moviehttps en.wikipedia.org wiki MASH fpretty 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 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. This novel upon which the film and TV series M A S Hwere based on still retains the humor factor well, but it also has an edge in that it s a bit serious than the show was Following the lives of a team of military doctors during the Korean War, much of the plot and character traits remain the same but this book has a bit action and drama thrown into the mix Written during the time of the Vietnam War yet set a decade earlier, it s an interesting look at the past through the eyes of the present or at least, the present during the late 1960 s.The characters are still as likable as ever, though rather incompetent, leading to a lot of strange situations throughout This version of the story is sadder than the show and explores a few darker themes than I expected, which was different but in a good way, giving a surprising element to the content It stands out among other wartime fiction as one of the true classics, also containing many moments of love and friendship throughout. Before The Movie, This Is The Novel That Gave Life To Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Hot Lips Houlihan, Frank Burns, Radar O Reilly, And The Rest Of The Gang That Made The Th MASH Like No Other Place In Korea Or On Earth The Doctors Who Worked In The Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals MASH During The Korean War Were Well Trained But, Like Most Soldiers Sent To Fight A War, Too Young For The Job 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 For Fans Of The Movie And The Series Alike, Here Is The Original Version Of That Perfectly Corrupt Football Game, Those Martini Laced Mornings And Sexual Escapades, And That Unforgettable Foray Into Assisted If Incompleted Suicide All As Funny And Poignant Now As They Were Before They Became A Part Of America S Culture And Heart 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 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 any, 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 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. 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 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 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. An interesting book that kicked off a movie and a twelve year television series about essentially three doctors drafted into the Korean War The author writes the chapters like episodes of varying length I enjoyed the book, but two things were a bit annoying First, the repeated Hawkeye said Trapper said after each line of dialog in the opening chapter and occasionally in other places throughout the book The other, few will notice, the use of corpsmen in an army hospital Corpsmen are navy medics and would not be serving in an army hospital But, Hooker does claim each person in the book is a composite of many people so that this may be his way of paying tribute to the navy To say that the doctors are some place they do not want to be is a gross understatement They are insubordinate, drunk, and a thorn in the army s side However, they excel at their job and have a humanitarian streak that runs to their core No one signs up to be a doctor to work twelve hours shifts, day in and day out, patching together young soldier s intestines and removing shrapnel from their chest Heroic efforts are made by the doctors and many do not survive There is a sense of futility in patching a man up so that he can go back out and get shot up again The government who put the doctors in Korea to fix soldiers and save them from death is the same government that put the soldiers in the field to fight How do young, previously civilian, doctors handle this They act out Gambling, drinking, disrespect for the chain of command, and hardcore shenanigans help them keep their sanity when blood and death are their reality A good listen with some good reminders of what war can do to a person There are some racial and ethnic slurs in the book that may bother some today but that was part of the culture and times. 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. 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. 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 somber attitude doesn t last long.One of the 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 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. 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 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 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 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.

Richard Hooker is the pseudonym of Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr who was born February 1, 1924 and died November 4, 1997 He was an American writer and surgeon His most famous work was his novel MASH 1968 The novel was based on his own personal experiences during the Korean War at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital It was written in collaboration with W C Heinz The novel took 11 yea

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  • Paperback
  • 219 pages
  • Mash: A Novel About Three Army Doctors
  • Richard Hooker
  • English
  • 14 March 2018
  • 9780688149550

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