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MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors | [Richard Hooker]

MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors

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 4077th 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."
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Publisher's Summary

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 4077th 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 uncompleted suicide - all as funny and poignant now as they were before they became a part of America's culture and heart.

©1996 Richard Hornberger and W. C. Heinz (P)2013 Tantor

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  •  
    Trish Virginia 02-28-14
    Trish Virginia 02-28-14 Member Since 2005

    I have always loved to read, and now I really enjoy listening to my books as well!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Wanted to Love it--and I DID!!"

    I was a huge fan of the M*A*S*H TV show--it still ranks as probably one of my top three favorite shows of all time. The book that started it all was as good as I hoped it would be!

    I tried very hard not to expect the TV show, because I knew I would be disappointed. But this book did not disappoint--it was very entertaining. It had the kooky and quirky characters, doing whatever it took to stay sane, and alive, in the middle of a war. The sense of humor was dry and sharp. It did seem to be a series of vignettes instead of a complete novel, but that did not keep me from enjoying the book overall.

    The narrator of the audiobook was wonderful--his voice and style of narration was perfect for this book. I have no complaints--loved it and highly recommend to others--

    31 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna United States 02-18-14
    Donna United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Narrator ruined the book"

    I was so looking forward to this book. Of course I watched MASH for many years and loved all the characters. As hoped the storyline was right in line with what I'd expect from MASH, struggles with keeping it together during dealing daily with life and death situations, humor, sarcasm, teasing, etc. It was all there.

    However, the narration was horrible and ruined the book totally. This too low voice was not in line with the light, easygoing, fun banters the characters should be having. The narrator barely changed speed or inflection in speaking regardless of who was talking, making it very uncomfortable to listen to. All the characters sounded exactly alike, including hot lips (imagine her speaking with a low man's voice). I struggled to keep track of who was talking even with him saying 'he said'. Mr. Heller was clearly reading the book rather than telling a story. Plus, he needs to learn how to pronounce medical terminology if he's going to read a book that is heavy in this area.

    Out of over 1000 books listened to on audible, this is only the second book that the narrator totally ruined the listen for me. (The other was the Stephanie Plum series.)

    Get a new narrator and I'll finish the book.

    44 of 51 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Booms Walsh Madison, WI, United States 07-28-14
    Holly Booms Walsh Madison, WI, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2011

    audiobook addict

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    "The TV show improved on the source"

    I got this audiobook at discount from an Audible Daily Deal. I am a fan of both the film and particularly of the television show, so it was interesting to examine the source. Despite being the birth of some really great characters, the book is very rudimentary and awkwardly masculine with its drunken antics and discriminatory view of women (who are all whores or hysterical). The later incarnations of the material really worked to humanize the characters. While I was listening to the book, I kept imagining what a jewel this book would have been were it have been written by more capable hands like those of Vonnegut, Irving (like Garp), or Heller (like Catch-22). Despite the drunken absurdity of most of the book, there are some wonderful moments. I particularly enjoyed the bizarre Trapper John character. The scenes that showed us the surgical reality of the war zone were interesting and informative.

    The narrator read this in a flat, ponderous tone. It lacked the banter and lightness that should have been there between the Swamp Men.

    This book is left to male readers. Better still, re-watch the TV show.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-03-14
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-03-14 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

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    "We're the Pros from Dover"

    M*A*S*H - the television show - was a military brass colored thread that ran through my life from 4th grade to my first year in the Army. By the final show, I'd gone from a pudgy, short 4th grader forced to wear rubber bands on her braces to an E-3/PFC in the Army. I could run faster and do more sit-ups then most men; take apart and reassemble an M16 in less than a minute; and, of course, shoot well enough to win prizes even at rigged carnival galleries.

    On February 28, 1983, the date the final M*A*S*H episode aired, the Presidio I was stationed lost power. Channelling my inner Radar O"Reilly, I scrounged up a 6" black and white TV, collected money for a couple of dozen D batteries, and the entire Company watched it in the standing-room only Common Room.

    The 1970 movie "MASH" was based on this book - Richard Hooker's novel "MASH: A Novel about Three Army Doctors" (1968). I'm certain I wouldn't have seen the movie until high school, and then it would have been bowdlerized for network television broadcast. Censored or not, I loved the movie - especially Sally Kellerman as "Hot Lips Houlihan." She was so over the top, she'd rounded the bend and was back to some mysterious manic subtlety.

    I remember reading this MASH book the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I thought the book would complement the movie.

    Unfortunately, didn't understand half of it. The political and military satire - no problem. But the medical stuff - Hooker is the nom de plume of H. Richard Hornberger, MD (deceased), a genuine US Army surgeon who served in the Korean War. I completely lacked the education to understand the anatomy, medical terms, and surgical procedures he was talking about. The Internet was called Arpamet, and a decade away from even the most basic civilian use. The set of Encyclopedia Britanicas Mom and Dad had bought on a monthly installment plan over 4 years didn't have the detail to explain bowel resections, pulmonary embolisms, and the subtleties of neurosurgery. And the public library - well, let's just say - it's really hard to use a card catalog and the Dewey Decimal System when you don't know what you're looking for.

    More than 30 years later, I really enjoyed the book "MASH." The writing and dialog was a bit choppy but I just wish I'd been able to say and do some of the things Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre did when I served. Of course, no one is going to get away with that in an all volunteer Army. Pierce and McIntyre, on the other hand, were drafted from lucrative private practices. And the plot - let's just say it was a huge plot for a relatively short book. The television series put that to good use.

    This is classic war fiction, with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    21 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 08-07-14
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 08-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Better than the movie or the TV show."

    I liked the TV show as a kid, but it was pretty G rated overall. The film was more raw, and there is a lot in the novel which couldn't have made it in to a Hollywood film in the early 1970's. I would call this a guy's book. I don't know if most if most of the women I know would appreciate the humor around an epileptic prostitute. There are a number of passage where I chuckled and felt decidedly un-PC. Still some delightful characters, and a fun story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-01-14

    I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

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    "Where the Story Truly Begins"

    Like so many, I grew up on the TV series and have seen the movie. This is my first encounter with the novel that started it all. I was by no means disappointed. It plays out pretty much as I expected, being that they used parts of it across the movie and a handful of episodes, and I readily enjoyed the scenes that remained unfilmed. The characters were both new and familiar at the same time, and by the end of it I felt I gained a greater appreciation for the story behind the story I thought I knew.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DK 12-03-14
    DK 12-03-14 Member Since 2012

    HATE spoilers! Enjoy HOT, sexy books. No vampires, paranormal, teens 4 me. Running out this type Audible-so on2 lighter romance/mystery :-(

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    "Classic Book-Strong Base For Years of TV Series"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No, I wish I had read the book before watching the series on TV. The book was serious with a bit of humor whereas the show was mostly comedy with a few minutes of seriousness in each episode.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Richard Hooker again?

    No, M*A*S*H is all I know him for and nothing else would interest me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    richard 11-23-14
    richard 11-23-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Performance prevents me from giving 5 stars"
    Would you listen to MASH again? Why?

    Yes. The story is interesting, funny, dramatic, and leaves you with hope of a better future in the middle of war's hell.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Radar O'Reilly. Every army needs men like Radar to operate efficiently. Unassuming, intelligent, hard working, a man who knows not only what is needed, but more imporantly, when its needed to keep the army running.


    Any additional comments?

    It is a universal truth that the book is always better than the visual format and this is no exception. If you loved MASH, and who didin't, you'll love the book even more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Shields 10-26-14 Member Since 2003

    Book blogger at Bookwi.se

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    "Basis of the movie and tv show"

    Every night my senior year of college MASH was on at 10 PM and was watched by whoever happened to be around. Long before that I had seen most of the episodes, but it is a testament to its quality that college kids were devoted fans to a show that started the year before most of us were born.

    Last week the novel was the Audible deal of the day so I picked it up. And mostly I enjoyed it.

    There were three major problems with the book. First, it is really a collection of short stories that are losely connected more than a coherent novel that has a real plot and story arc. The benefit to that for the TV show and movie is that the book generated a number of episodes. The second problem is related to the fact that pretty much nothing in the book has not been turned into a TV show or was in the movie. The third problem is that while the wacky antics of doctors provide some humor amist the horrors of war, there is not a real understanding of why these three characters are different from those around them that are fighting the war.

    Like the show, the strength of the book is that there is enough humor to keep you laughing and enough seriousness to help you understand the horrors that are real. The readers get the farce of the regular army and we can see how ridiculous it is to pretend that war is normal. But why is it only these three that can see through the farce.

    Hooker is not a great writer, but the characters are fairly well drawn and the fact that the majority of his charaters appear in the movie and TV show relatively unchanged shows that his characterization is the strenght of the novel.

    Half way through the book I considered abandoning it because I was a bit bored. But the book is short and I finished it as much because of my love of the show as because of my enjoyment of the book.

    If you loved the TV show and/or movie, it might be interesting to pick up to understand othe origins, but I think it is a case where the movie/TV show actually is better than the original book source material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-12-14
    Patrick Scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-12-14

    PSW

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    "Better than the movie or TV series!"

    If you, like me, think the TV series was among the best ever, you will absolutely love the book. A great reading. Humorous with incredible characters and a bit of Korean War history. In my opinion, MASH is the medical drama against which all others should be measured. Truly a timeless masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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