"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The film version of MASH by the late Robert Altman is supposed to be an anti-war pic, but really isn't; indeed, the book's author, Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, a conservative who couldn't abide the TV series, liked the movie so much he saw it seven times.
Dr. Hornberger, who wrote as Richard Hooker, a pen name inspired by his golf swing, spent most of his life as a thoracic surgeon in small towns on the Maine coast. His experiences as a captain in the Army Medical Corps during the Korean War led him to write three novels after returning from combat, the AP reported when he died in 1997.
Hornberger modeled the character of Capt. Benjamin Franklin (Hawkeye) Pierce after himself, his son said. Partly for that reason, he disliked the television series and almost never watched it.
"He liked the movie because he thought it followed his original intent very closely," William Hornberger said. "But my father was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies that Alan Alda portrayed Hawkeye Pierce as having."
"My father didn't write an anti-war book," he added. "It was a humorous account of his work, with serious parts thrown in about the awful kind of work it was, and how difficult and challenging it was."
When the TV series finally went off the air in 1983 (having jumped the shark long before it outlasted the real Korean War by eight years), Newsweek went to Crabapple Cove, Maine, to interview "the real Hawkeye Pierce":
A conservative Republican, the 59-year-old retired surgeon has long been acutely uncomfortable with the show's anti-military tone. "Nobody is in favor of war," he explained last week. "But my characters weren't so liberal. The series seems to make the North Koreans heroes and the Americans bad guys. Once in a while I'll watch it for a bit and then some character will say something that will tick me off and I'll switch the dial."
Hornberger so loves the 1970 film version of "MASH" that he has seen it seven times. But he feels that the CBS series "sometimes tramples on my memories."
Hornberger cranked out two undistinguished sequels to "MASH," both set back home in the States. In "MASH Goes to Maine," a middle-aged Hawkeye reflects an ideological attitude that would horrify most of his TV-series fans. After being informed that someone had beat up a few political-science professors at the local college, Hawkeye replies: "They're a bunch of lefties, aren't they? Fella oughta kick the bejesus out of a liberal now and then just to stay in shape."