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MASH Audiobook

MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors

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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 2010

    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--

    41 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 09-12-14
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 09-12-14
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    "Like opening a time capsule"

    What a treat! I'm of an age where MASH the movie and MASH the TV program are a part of my heritage. But, I missed a lot of fun having never read the book. The reader can see the beginnings of most of the characters and plot lines that are so familiar. The reading is great: very expressive and conveys the spirit of the story. Highly recommended!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gypsyjolie Madison, WI, United States 07-28-14
    Gypsyjolie Madison, WI, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2016

    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna United States 02-18-14
    Donna United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2015
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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.

    49 of 60 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-03-14
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-03-14 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

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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!]

    44 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Shields 10-26-14 Member Since 2014

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 01-15-17
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 01-15-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Where it All Began"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd (Toad) Vogel 01-14-17 Member Since 2016

    I love almost anything post-apocalyptic, zombie, scifi, ect. Always looking for some new earhole entertainment!

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    "Absolutely loved it!"

    I only recently found out about this book. I am a huge fan of the show! Most of the familiar characters are in the book and the narrator does an excellent job portraying each of them! For anyone unfamiliar with the show, this takes place in a mobile army surgical hospital in Korea during the Korean war. Although the was was nothing to laugh about, this book will certainly make you laugh. Especially if you're familiar with the show!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George 09-04-14
    George 09-04-14
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    "Yea!!!!"

    I really enjoyed this book. It's so like military service -- one maintains a sense of humor or goes nuts. While the stories are familiar from the movie and all the sitcom episodes, hearing them again as a book was very enjoyable, I couldn't put it down. The people come together to get the job done and compensate for the horror in multiple ways; suddenly it's all over and everyone goes home.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy 07-01-14
    Troy 07-01-14

    Say something about yourself!

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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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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