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Dog Soldiers [Paperback]

Robert Stone
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3 1987 Contemporary American Fiction
A Gripping Portrait of the 1970s Counterculture in this National Book Award-Winning Novel -- Available for the First Time Ever on Audio!

In Saigon during the waning days of the Vietnam War, a small-time journalist named John Converse thinks he'll find action--and profit--by getting involved in a big-time drug deal. But back in the States, things go horribly wrong for him. Dog Soldiers perfectly captures the underground mood of America in the 1970s, when amateur drug dealers and hippies encountered profiteering cops and professional killers--and the price of survival was dangerously high.

Presented unabridged on 8 CDs, read by Tom Stechschulte.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Like Michael Herr's Dispatches, Robert Stone's National Book Award-winning novel Dog Soldiers trades on a hallucinatory vision of Vietnam as a place in which all honor and morality are ceded to the mere business of survival -- and, better, survival with personal profit. "This is the place where everybody finds out who they are," says the novel's protagonist, the journalist Converse, to which his friend and partner in crime Ray Hicks replies, "What a bummer for the gooks." Converse convinces Hicks to smuggle a shipment of heroin back to the United States, renegade CIA agents pop up, and all hell breaks loose in this beautifully written, dark study of the soul in anguish.

About the Author

ROBERT STONE is the acclaimed author of seven novels and two story collections, including Dog Soldiers, winner of the National Book Award, and Bear and His Daughter, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His memoir, Prime Green, was published in 2006. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good good good March 27 2002
I read this book for a college course on the cold war. I couldn't believe my professor. He actually apologized for putting it on the curriculum! He said that it was perhaps too gross, or graphic.... or something. How insulting!...How are we s'poseta learn about the cold war if the teachers teach with sterilized kid gloves. This book is, to Vietnam, a more accessible version of what Gravity's Rainbow is to WWII. It's harsh but not without redemption. Dog soldiers is goods good good...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dog Soldiers April 11 2001
I felt that this book was an in-depth look on the crime and corruption in America in the 1970's during the Vietnam War. This book was about a drug deal gone very wrong because the main character, John Converse, was very inexperienced and wanted to deal drugs for the thrill of it. He gets a friend, Ray Hicks, who is in love with Converse's wife, to transport the three kilos of heroine from Vietnam to the US where Converse's wife, Marge, is supposed to take care of it. Unfortunately, the woman Converse was having an affair with and who he got the heroine from, Charmian, tipped off a CIA agent, Antheil. That led to Ray Hicks and Marge running away to New Mexico where Ray Hicks' insanity starts appearing as he gets very possessive over the heroine. All the characters and continuous switching of points of views from Converse to Ray and Marge made this book a little hard to understand at times. The explicit sex scene seemed a little unnecessary as did some of the "getting high" scenes in the book but overall, I think the author, Robert Stone, did a good job of representing the underground workings of the U.S. during the Vietnam war in the 1970's. He did an extremely good job with the dialogue when the characters were high. I could really get involved in what was going on because I felt as if everything was really happening. Dieter, a friend of Ray Hicks, said a quote in the book that I really liked. I think it really sums up what these people in the book were feeling. "There's such a thing as personal necessity. Maybe it's beyond moral areas." These people were doing anything and everything to get money from the heroine and it shows how evil people could really be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Struggling with the Despair April 10 2001
"Let smiles cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where everybody finds out who they are." -Converse
Dog Soldiers is a story laced with despair, paranoia, and several other not so fuzzy moods, and this quote from the main character elegantly demonstrates this mood. The tone of the book was a point of interest and displeasure for me, since this was one of my first experiences with total negativity, it was a fun struggle for me to understand the point or the necessity of such an angry mood. At the same time it made me very uncomfortable, sometimes to the point where I would have to stop reading for the day.
There is a constant stream of action in this story, which makes it rather difficult to process what's going on as it happens. The story rarely drags and it is written so that it feels very real and alive. Slang terms are used often too, which are also hard to understand. But after the first few chapters it seems that most readers are able to get around this and start enjoying the fast paced style in which the book is written. This style also adds to the mood of panic and paranoia that encompass the entire book as Marge, Hicks, and Converse try to flee with their dope.
Marge, Hicks, and Converse are the book's three main characters, and as the plot follows first Converse's activities and then moves back and forth between Hicks and Converse, these two main characters develop into very complicated people. Marge's character isn't delved into as much, but it didn't seem to be that she was usually thinking about much besides the next time she could get high. Some of the things Converse and Hicks did or said still baffle me, just like the characters that are a part of my real life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dog Soldiers...Who Let the Cynics Out? April 8 2001
DOG SOLDIERS is a good, but typically overrated (NATIONAL BOOK AWARD!) novel by Robert Stone. Stone is the literary Left's (I am being hyping here) enfant terrible. His agenda of bitterness, pessimism and God-got-lossed-at-the-Mall nihilism is characteristically trumpeted in this almost-Conradian, almost adventure of punks playing outlaws for fun and profit. This seems Stone's assessment not only of the morality of America's involvement in Vietnam, but into what the American national experience has devolved ( Don't cf: "Children of the Light"). DOG SOLDIERS unrelentingly manifests Stone's morally vacuuous, often totally unlikeable characters. ( He loves symbolic charades with character names. Cf: Christopher Lucas...Christ LIGHT... get it?..."The Gates of Damascus") His protagonist, John Converse (JC) is a pathetic weakling. He wants to be a "hippie marine". This theatre-of-absurdity is not explored merely implied with the inanity: "Nam was the place where elephants were slain" (by un-hip crypto-fascist marines, and assorted American military brethren. Call out The Elephant Liberation League!). " Therefore, PEOPLE needed to get high!" With this Dostoyevskian motivation under his belt, Converse and his "real" marine buddy Ray Hicks decide to smuggle a key or two of Golden Triangle Special back to the USA.
The plan is a screw-up from the jump because, as Stone makes clear, his bogus hippies are. A bent DEA agent...along with an ex-prison, booty buddy narco ready. Ready to "LIBERATE" the heroin from them for their own nefarious purposes as soon as the Converse-Hicks (& Converse' dippy drug abusing, feckless Flower Power wife) Connection delivers the goods in San Francisco.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and Real
I had never heard of Robert Stone when I picked up an old paperback printing of this novel at a flea market. Reading it blew me away. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Bleak portrait of emptiness
Framed in a story of drug smuggling gone wrong is a bleak portrait of America in the 1970s and of the people living then, specifically the subcultures. Read more
Published on April 14 2001 by "blissengine"
5.0 out of 5 stars High School Kids in Iowa?
Look, this is an American classic, simply one of the best novels I've ever read. It's way over the heads and hearts of all but a few high school students, yet someone in Iowa City... Read more
Published on March 16 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars yes, a masterpiece,etc -- but READ ON:
Stone's DOG SOLDIERS is a fine book, but if you happen to see this without exploring the rest of the reviews on Amazon -- access them. Read more
Published on March 2 2001 by Allan MacInnis
5.0 out of 5 stars A late twentieth century masterpiece
It's a shame that this book's star average has been kept down by all those lame reviews from Iowa - where presumably it was set as some sort of high school project - because Dog... Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars A nightmare that never ends
Robert Stone's National Book Award winning novel, "Dog Soldiers", may have a special resonance for the generation of Americans who lived through the sixties and... Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Vietnam, USA
Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers is one of the most important novels to come out of the Vietnam experience. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2000 by colm rourke
5.0 out of 5 stars Heeeeeeelllp!
Keep this book away from people in Iowa City, Iowa
Published on Jan. 12 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre book!
Drugs and corruption are the themes of this novel by Robert Stone. In a disjointed way, Stone shares his feelings during the time of the Vietnam War. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2000 by David Mitchell
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