By Richard Hooker and William E. Butterworth

Pocket Books


239pp/$1.50/January 1976

M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The 11th novel in the series of books that followed Richard Hooker's M*A*S*H is M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas, in which the various characters from the 4077th make their eventual way to Las Vegas, although not without stops in other locations around the globe. In this adventure, they are joined by the cast of supporting characters Hooker's co-author, William E. Butterworth, introduced throughout the earlier books in the series. In fact, Butterworth's focus on his own creations means the novel feels less like a book connected to any of the versions of M*A*S*H and more like a lightweight farce in which some familiar names make cameo appearances.

Theoretically, the focus of the novel is on the fact that J. Robespierre O'Reilly (Walter Eugene O'Reilly in the television series, Radar in the original novel and film), who has made a fortune selling "Mother O'Reilly's Irish Stew," based on a recipe he got from the cook at the 4077th, has decided to propose to Kristina Korsky-Rimsakov, the sister of opera singer Boris Korsky-Rimsakov, who plays a rather large role in many of the novels. Their relationship has been building since M*A*S*H Goes to Paris, the six novels earlier. Butterworth also throws in a plot in which Monica Fenstermacher, a feminist reporter has decided to make a name for herself by bringing down the ancient and enigmatic Matthew Q. Framingham Theosophical Foundation, which claimed to be a high-minded organization, but was really just a glorified stag club, which, of course, Hawkeye Pierce belonged to.

The M*A*S*H novels written by Butterworth are not great literature, but in M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas, the series' worst excesses are highlighted, whether it is the misogyny or the homophobia. Granted, the misogyny comes directly from the original novel and was on display in the film and the television show based on it, but the sequels expand on it, although ironically, Margaret Houlihan becomes somewhat exempt from beings its specific target. Written as light entertainment and to take advantage of the popularity of the television series loosely based on Hooker's novel, M*A*S*H, in the twenty-first century, the book can't be seen as anything but offensive. Butterworth's introduction of Monica Fenstermacher, as a feminist gives him an opportunity to lampoon feminism in a manner which demonstrated both a lack of understanding of the movement and the fear that it would lead to the end of "boys-being-boys bad behavior.

Despite both Hooker and Butterworth's names on the novel, the majority of the M*A*S*H novels were written by Butterworth. Just as M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas is a slight, disposable book that wouldn't be worth considering if it weren't for the tenuous link to the more successful television series and film, so, too, are the rest of the novels in the series. They show no indication that Butterworth was capable of better or more complex novels. A reader would be forgiven for not realizing that Butterworth, who actually served in the Korean War, would go on the achieve great success writing military fiction using the pseudonym W.E.B. Griffin.

Although readers might be drawn to read books in the series based on the M*A*S*H name, the books, including M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas, are really only of interest for those who want to gain some insight into the mindset of men in the 1970s who feared the world changing around them. The attitudes exhibited seem dated, even if there are constant reminders that there are some who still harbor the feelings toward women and homosexuals that these novels champion, which make them feel so dated and wrong-headed.

Purchase this book

Amazon BooksOrder from Amazon UK



Return to