[openbook booknumber=”0688149553″]


I loved watching M*A*S*H reruns growing up, so when I found this book at a brown bag book sale I just had to pick it up. M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker is the book that the TV series was based off of. When my husband read the book he thought it was hilarious and highly recommended it. I dove in with high expectations that unfortunately ended up being too high.

The characters come across as far more serious in the novel. Their attempts at banter and fun and games came across as what they really were, mere attempts at sanity in the insanely harsh conditions they faced serving in Korea. As a whole, the novel seemed to have a much different tenor then the light hearted TV series does.

The other thing that was different (or perhaps my memories of the TV show were rose tinted) is there seemed to be a great deal more and much harsher misogyny. I remember the fighting with “Hot Lips” Houlihan, I did not recall anything concerning whore houses, brothels or the taking advantage thereof by married enlisted men and officers.

When Radar O’Reilly, just out of high school, left Ottumwa, Iowa, and enlisted in the United States Army it was with the express purpose of making a career of the Signal Corps.

For the time it was written in the novel was fairly progressive concerning race. Though, I was amused to note that the author, in his rush to make his characters seem cool with the African American in their group by having him complain about people that went out of their way to seem cool with him, succeeded in doing quite the opposite and the meeting came across as very forced. I also was very uncomfortable with the Duke constantly referring to him as “the nigra” at the beginning of that chapter.

The TV show is probably one of the only medical series I can stomach because I have no tolerance for blood, gore or long drawn out surgeries with pictures of what is actually going on. I appreciate the fact that Hawk Eye and Trapper John were surgeons and that everything they did seemed to be done to a sheet and that was all I wanted to know. It was very hard for me to read the scenes in the novel that went in depth with what was going on behind those sheets. To the novel’s credit my husband, who is a big fan of series like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, had no such problems and, when I brought it up with him, he hadn’t even remembered that such scenes were in the book at all.

My final complaint is, the book was just really hard to get into. I had to force myself to read each chapter throughout and only just finished it after five days. Which is ridiculous for me and a mere 200 some page novel. It did give me a chance to catch up on my other reviews though. All in all, because of all my complaints (in a nutshell, my squeamishness on various subjects) I have to give this novel a low two stars. If you can get past all of those things and still enjoy a novel about the beloved characters of M*A*S*H then by all means read it. If not, give this one a pass and go and rent the DVDs of the TV show off of Netflix instead.

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