Mash Goes to Maine Hardcover – Jun 1989
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is also an extremely broad farce. The human sacrifice of Shakin' Sammy and the Jesus Christ personal appearance tour (actually a beer-swilling, half-naked, bearded Trapper John lashed to a crucifix) are a couple of examples of the exaggerated comic stylings.
This interspersing of drama and comedy makes this an interesting if somewhat unsual read and also makes it a perfect subject for dramatization. When it is in comedy zone, it is way out there. When it is in drama zone, it is quite serious. According to Hooker's forward, the surgeons in a MASH were exposed to many extremes. With his writing style, Hooker has exposed us to extremes as well.
It is one of my favorite books and I highly recommend it to fans of either the movie or the TV series. The film captures more of the book's bawdy, ribald spirit. The TV show captures more of the sentiment.
I also recommend "MASH: An Army Surgeon In Korea" by Otto F. Apel if you want the real story of what life in a MASH was. If you are a fan of the film/book/series and think you have an understanding of how rough it was back then, read this. It was a lot worse. An excellent read.
Add both of these books to your collection and then thank your lucky stars this isn't 1951 and you are draft eligible.
The movie and the TV show loom so large in popular culture that it is almost impossible to write a review without some mention of the video version's of Hooker's work. What we find of the familiar names is that the doctors in the book are neither the anarchists of the movie nor the peaceniks of the series, but simply a few Type A personalities who don't have a lot of respect for authority and are stuck in a tough job without much to occupy their spare time. This is really a study in the difficulty of life performing meatball surgery mere miles from the front line, and the methods men use to cope with the stress of dealing with life and death situations on an hourly basis.
I think the most compelling part of this book is the daily wait for the six o'clock helicopter. I won't disclose the plot details, but this little portion of the story breaks the life of the MASH down into its most basic elements.
I have to say I enjoyed this book immensely. As is almost always the case with the book form of a story, the characters are so much fuller than they can be on screen. Hooker has a dry, witty sense of humor that is on display throughout the story, but he never fully allows the reader to forget the stress and the pall of death and destruction that hangs over the camp. Hooker establishes a fine line between humor and horror, and writes about three doctors who couldn't survive the latter without the former.