Augustus Bedford "Duke" Forrest and Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce spend eighteen life-changing months serving in the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in South Korea in the early 1950s--during the Korean war.
(Because I bought the ebook version I don't have any fancy book jacket to photograph--just one reason I love paperbacks)
Published by William Morrow
an imprint of HarperCollins
Publishing in 1968
The book opens, in the middle of November 1951, with Radar O'Reilly's comment that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake 'is trying for two new cutters'. Enter Duke and Hawkeye. The "boys" quickly endear themselves to their new Colonel by doing the best and most work.
Hawkeye and Duke devalue (undervalue) rules in favour of compassion, skill, and humour. (I laughed out loud.)
Most chapters are utilized to introduce new characters--until we meet a camp full. The character that shows the most growth throughout the length of the story is "Trapper" John McIntyre. In chapter three we meet the 6 foot 130-pound chest surgeon from Winchester, Boston who hides in his parka.
Duke says of Trapper: '"That...is the strangest son-of-a... I ever did see. If he wasn't the best chest-cutter in the Far East Command, I'd kick his ass out of this here tent."'
The chapter concludes with Hawkeye introducing Trapper to everyone in the mess hall by saying...
'"Gentlemen, this here is Trapper John, the pride of Winchester, Dartmouth College, and Tent Number Six, and if any of you uneducated b... don't like it you'll have to answer to Duke Forrest and Hawkeye Pierce."'
Thanks to the support he receives from Hawkeye and Duke, Trapper emerges from his parka to become the 4077's chief surgeon.
I was attracted to this book because I was a devoted fan of the TV show (One of my first crushes was on Hawkeye.) The book lent itself very nicely to being developed for TV. In fact, some of the chapters reminded me of episodes. The book format allowed room for backstory that TV couldn't afford. However, I found some of the language and attitudes expressed in the book dated, but that didn't stop me from loving this book. As well the book is lacking the anti-war sentiment that the TV show champions. William Hornberger told a New York Times journalist that his father 'hadn't intended to write an anti-war book. "My father was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies that Alan Alda portrayed Hawkeye Pierce as having."' (Why the Real-Life Hawkeye Pierce Hated MASH by Erin Blakemore)
MASH is a raw look at army life.
Author Richard Hooker writes in the Foreward...
'Most of the docotors who worked in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War were very young... [T]hey acheived the best results up to that time in the history of military surgery...
The various stresses...produced behavior in many of them that...seemed inconsistent with their earlier, civilian behavior patterns. A few flipped their lides, but most of them just raised hell.'
*My husband--in the name of being more environmentally conscious--persuaded me to buy MASH as an ebook. It was an interesting experiment, but I far prefer paperbacks. For one, I missed the pretty book cover.
About the author...
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In a month when many in the writing community have pumped out 50,000 words...
word count: 15,119 words
goal: 40,000+ words
The more words I add to this manuscript the clearer the story