This is the 1968 novel that was turned into the film which was turned into the television show that was turned into the best television show After MASH where we finally got to see what Klinger’s Toledo, OH was all about.
But seriously, and upfront, this book, like the movie has some uncomfortable and lamentable homophobia and racism, and while I WANT it to merely represent prejudices of the time and it does, it’s also distracting too.
That said, this novel is really good. especially given that it’s basically his only novel. Looking it up, of course, he wrote a bunch of sequels that are probably ill-considered, and like the shows After MASH and Trapper John MD kept sending good money after bad. The book itself is pretty much exactly where the movie went, minus a few additional scenes the movie comes up with — the addition of the theme song, “Suicide is Painless” and the exposing of Hot Lips in the shower. The novel is also more focused on Trapper John, Hawkeye, and Forrest (who is not in the tv show) as well as expanding to include Oliver Wendal Jones, a Black doctor whose nickname I won’t remind you of.
It very much is of its times and has some similarities to books like Jarhead, and more than anything is an example of where a source material can be highly outshone by adaptations. I’ve watched the film probably 3-4 times, and I’ve watched through the tv show more than 3 times through, and it’s also one of my clearest early tv memories watching early reruns as a kid.