M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker (1968)

16 January 2012

Read M*A*S*H (1968) in a day. Bubble gum, a kind of Catch-22 lite, though written out of the author’s own experience as a MASH surgeon in Korea, so based on real horrors. Reviews said it was significantly different from the TV series but I was struck by how similar it is.

The Altman movie and then the long-running TV series profited form the rising tide of anti-Vietnam sentiment in the US. Ironically, its author, Richard Hooker (pseudonym of Richard Hornberger), was a conservative and disliked the liberalism Alan Alda brought to the TV series. Despite success with the book and a run of cheap sequels, Hornberger carried on practicing medicine in Maine, USA, till his death. The book’s detailed descriptions of anatomy, wounds and operations stick out like shrapnel in the otherwise sitcommy, wisecracking style.

M*A*S*H on Amazon

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