Gift Guide

Nam-A-Rama [NOOK Book]


Everybody knows War is Hell. Only the Few and the Proud know what fun Hell can be.

Here it is, folks: "How the cow ate the cabbage" in the CLASSIFIED words of the President hisself [sic]. TOP SECRET stuff. EYES ONLY. If you want to know the real story (and you know you do)-

Nam-A-Rama is Catch 22 meets "Apocalypse Now." It's the wildest, wackiest, saddest and truest war ...
See more details below

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$7.99 price


Everybody knows War is Hell. Only the Few and the Proud know what fun Hell can be.

Here it is, folks: "How the cow ate the cabbage" in the CLASSIFIED words of the President hisself [sic]. TOP SECRET stuff. EYES ONLY. If you want to know the real story (and you know you do)-

Nam-A-Rama is Catch 22 meets "Apocalypse Now." It's the wildest, wackiest, saddest and truest war story ever told, because it's all made-up, which means it's all real-from the oatmeal dropped on the VC (the Marines won't eat it) to the naked movie star parachuting into Hanoi; from the jarhead who calls in air strikes from a Bangkok brothel to the "Sky-Kyke" who fills out the Marine Corps' diversity quota; from the businessmen demanding a long inventory-reducing war to the Pentagon brass hoping for a glorious medal-worthy one; from the locals who'll do anything for a Yankee dollar to the grunts nobody ever asked and never will.

It starts and ends, like all the best adventures, in the air. Almost-Captain Gearheardt and his buddy, Almost-Captain Armstrong, are ferrying bodies (live in, dead out) for the CIA's Air America, but they have never forgotten their TOP SECRET orders, given when Gearheardt was delivering pizzas to the Oval Office for the CIA: Chopper into Hanoi and buy Uncle Ho a beer. Then either shoot his ass or shake his hand (the instructions get vague at this point).

And so they do, Semper Fi, pausing only to get an aircraft carrier black-flagged for bubonic plague, have an affair with Mickey Mouse, cleverly decode the message sewn into a lusty spy's black panties, commandeer a Russian truck complete with a midget Chinese 'Uncle Sam,' avenge themselves on a Cuban torturer, and dutifully experience all the Honor and Glory of the next-to-the-next-to-last war that never (God forbid) made the Nightly News.

And they do it all for laughs. Because if they were to stop laughing, where would the heartache end?

Phillip Jennings' unpredictable novel of Vietnam is an American classic in the making, a not-so-longing look at the absurdity of a war in which the damned and the innocent share the same hootch, the same Commander-in-Chief, and sometimes even the same body-bag. You won't stop laughing, or thinking.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

James Parker
At its best Jennings's humor comes down like lightning, fully charged, from some higher and more vital realm; at its least effective, when the page is crowded with pratfalls, improbabilities and silly names, it invites the use of that wilting word ''zany.'' Additionally, some estrangement seems to have occurred between the merry jester responsible for the book's best lines and the distinguished veteran gravely blessing America in the afterword. But this is Jennings's problem, and not the reader's.
— The New York Times
Washington Post
...the story rips up and down like zippers in a Saigon whorehouse...Jennings doesn't want the reader kept at the safe remove of irony. This is acid satire, because Jennings is still outraged and sickened by the war he attended. And satire is braver and more meaningful than irony....this reader was most moved when Jennings seemed to be writing from his actual war experiences. The break from insanity to reality adds to the horror...These pages will stay with me as do the best of Tim O'Brien, and John Del Vecchio's The Thirteenth Valley.... Interestingly, Jennings has also written that he wanted to show how the good soldiers who fought the war were betrayed by our military and civilian leaders. His lampoons of those leaders are miraculously funny. But what moved me to outrage and heartbreak were the pages in which he goes beyond satirizing venal leaders and to write fiercely and humanely as a man who was there, served his country, and is still clearly losing sleep over real flesh-and-blood kids with freckles and nervous knees.
Publishers Weekly
Published as the military and its actions abroad are under intense scrutiny, this highly entertaining, provocative lampooning of the Vietnam War is reminiscent of Catch-22 and David Mamet's Wag the Dog. Marine helicopter pilot Gerard Finnigan Gearheardt, in the Oval Office on CIA pizza delivery duty ("They don't let freckle-faced teenagers deliver pizza to the White House, you know"), overhears President Larry Bob Jones and the Joint Chiefs of Staff brainstorming the idea of escalating the American advisory presence in Vietnam into a full-fledged shooting war to enhance Larry Bob's image and beef up a flagging peacetime economy. To make sure the situation doesn't get out of hand, Larry Bob concocts a loony-tunes scheme to parachute Gearheardt and his buddy Lt. Jack Armstrong, along with antiwar movie sex kitten Barbonella, into Hanoi to meet with Ho Chi Minh and negotiate peace just in time to get Larry Bob reelected. The two hapless Marines rendezvous with Barbonella, but, thanks to the meddling of an American agent and a Cuban operative, the zany scheme goes haywire and Armstrong and Gearheardt wind up flying for the CIA in Laos. In this wonderfully irreverent novel, evocative of vintage Max Shulman, hearty belly laughs contrast with chilling insights into high level political machinations. Agent, Deborah Grosvenor. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tall tales of the flying war in Vietnam mix successfully, for the most part, with adventures both amusing and hair-raising in Southeast Asia. Oliver Stone confirmed that war is evil. Joseph Heller made the case that war is nuts. First-novelist and Marine aviation veteran Jennings suggests that war, even the war in Vietnam, could pretty much be fun. It was hell too, of course, and the battle scenes here are tough, fast, and frightening. But episodes of wackiness predominate in a story premised on secret orders from the nameless, though unmistakably Lyndonesque president. The orders send pilot Jack Armstrong and his fearless, wild-and-crazy buddy Gearhardt (first name seems not to have made it across the Pacific) into the Marine air wing with almost-captain rank and a mission to go to Hanoi and assassinate Ho Chi Minh-General Giap, too, if the opportunity arises. Success of the mission seems to depend on the powers of distraction associated with parachuting into Hanoi the luscious nude star of the film Barbonella (make your own connection), who is keen to have a go with the Hanoi anti-air battery. Gearhardt and Jack have a terrible time getting away from South Vietnam. Real war keeps intruding, and the pilots constantly have to fly real missions. When they finally do slip away, Gearhardt promptly loses the orders somewhere over the jungle, and their plane is shot down by irritable rice farmers well short of Hanoi. The naked movie star does drop, and the lads do make it to the North Vietnamese capital. But Ho turns out to be an awfully good drinking companion, and the orders to execute the communist leadership may actually have been orders to set up beer distribution agreements. Hmm. Bringon the bar girls. Veterans and military fans may be entertained, but the general audience will likely founder on the whimsy. Agent: Deborah Grosvenor/Grosvenor Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Set during a pivotal time in U.S. history and populated by a bizarre cast of characters, Phillip Jennings' zany novel is cynical, fast-paced, irreverent, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining." -Bob Kerrey

"Just when you thought it was safe to stop reading novels about the Vietnam War, along comes Phillip Jennings with Nam-A-Rama. . . . a wild, original and often hilarious ride from its opening sentence to the last. . . . [a] weird, painfully funny, wonderful book." -Christopher Buckley

"Nam-A-Rama is a dazzlingly inventive novel of an epic American adventure abroad run totally amuck, a work that demands your full attention from start to finish." -Nicholas A. Basbanes

"Jennings has done a big service to all of us Vietnam vets and anyone else who was touched by that conflict. He has written a book that hacks its way through the dark tangle of the Vietnam War with a blade that flashes with comedy. One of the most bizarrely profound aspects of the human condition is the way horror and hilarity can intimately embrace. To capture that truth in fiction may be the toughest stunt of all. Phillip Jennings does that, and does it brilliantly." -Robert Olen Butler

"Nam-A-Rama is a wild piece of work, a sustained vaudeville softshoe on the most rollicking, ugly topic. Very, very funny, ribald, raunchy and smart." -Stewart O'Nan

Christopher Buckley
"A wild, original and often hilarious ride from its opening sentence to the last. . . . [a] weird, painfully funny, wonderful book."
Robert Olen Butler
"[Jennings] has written a book that hacks its way through the dark tangle of the Vietnam War with a blade that flashes with comedy. . . and does it brilliantly."
Bob Kerrey
"Set during a pivotal time in U.S. history and populated by a bizarre cast of characters, Phillip Jennings' zany novel is cynical, fast-paced, irreverent, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining."
Stewart O'Nan
"Nam-A-Rama is a wild piece of work, a sustained vaudeville softshoe on the most rollicking, ugly topic. Very, very funny, ribald, raunchy and smart."
Nicholas A. Basbanes
"Nam-A-Rama is a dazzlingly inventive novel of an epic American adventure abroad run totally amuck, a work that demands your full attention from start to finish."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429912587
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/6/2003
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 475,904
  • File size: 496 KB

Meet the Author

Phillip Jennings left the Marines as a captain and subsequently flew for Air America in Laos. He won the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society short fiction award in 1998. He has a degree in business administration and is the CEO of Mayfair Capital Partners. He was recently proud and honored to swear his youngest son into the USMC. He lives in Kirkland, WA.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

  PART 1In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.—Napoleon

War must be made as intense and awful as possible in order to make it short, and thus to diminish its horrors.—Napoleon

Them as die will be the lucky ones.—Long John Silver1 • Not the Beginning YetGearheardt and I were having lunch next to a pile of dead Laotians when he came up with his scheme to redeem ourselves with the Marine Corps and settle the score with the Cubans. The sincerity in his baloney-muffled voice made me listen when I knew that I shouldn’t. Listening to my best friend had always led to disaster, if not for us then for a number of innocent and perhaps not so innocent bystanders. Gearheardt was one of those people who never looked in the rearview mirror. Causing the Tet Offensive, prolonging the Vietnam War, and getting the President fixed up with the girl who showered in her underpants in Olongopo were hijinks quickly forgotten by the boyish pilot who sat alongside the dusty Laotian airstrip listening to the small-arms fire and distant thump of artillery.Gearheardt threw the crust of his sandwich away and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.“Jack,” he said, “this plan will at least get us killed in a real war. Do you want to end up in a pile of dead Laotians?” He gestured toward the pungent stack and grimaced.“Is that my only choice, Gearheardt?” I asked.Gearheardt turned toward me, adjusting his shoulder holster and then licking the mayonnaise from the butt of his pistol. His thin blond hair was smashed wetly against his forehead, creases from his flight helmet still visible.“I’m not kidding, Jack. This is the poorest damned excuse for a war imaginable, and you know it. Look at those poor bastards in that pile. Waiting for us to haul their raggedy asses back to Vientiane so their raggedy-assed families can wail and piss until the government gives them fifty bucks or something. I’m embarrassed to be in this sonofabitch.”“You’d rather be sitting next to a pile of Vietnamese?”“Wouldn’t you?” He was serious.A mortar round hit the embankment across the runway, blowing dust and grit over us and causing the stack of Laotians to shift and settle. Gearheardt and I ducked and shielded our eyes.“Jack, this scheme will get us back into Vietnam. I’m sick of this pussy-footing around. We’re Marines, damn it. I didn’t become a Marine to haul dead Laotians up and down the countryside.”“It’s live up, dead back.”“Very funny, Jack. What about my scheme? Are you up for it?”“You don’t have a scheme, Gearheardt. You have an idea,” I said.A second mortar hit in front of us and Gearheardt stood up and peered at the hills to the east. “Isn’t anybody going to take that bastard out?” he asked rhetorically, pointing to the hill from which the mortar rounds seemed to be coming.“A scheme is when there are elements of a plan,” I continued. “Like some details of how things are going to get done, you know. That’s always your problem. You confuse an idea with a plan.” I slid lower against the wall of the shallow ditch. Gearheardt dropped back down beside me. “And technically we’re not Marines anymore. I think we belong to the CIA.”He looked at me. “Okay. We take an airplane to Hong Kong. We find that numbnuts Cuban that screwed us around in Hanoi. We shoot him until he’s dead. Then we take an airplane to Danang, march our asses up to wing headquarters, and get our commissions back. Those are details.”“You’re a planning genius, Gearheardt.”Gearheardt bit his lip and squinted at me, pissed.“Your sarcasm is wearing pretty thin, Jack. Will you ever get off my ass about Hanoi? I’m carrying that to my grave, aren’t I? We had the Barbonella plan. Sure it was missing a few details, but if you hadn’t lost the damn thing out of the window …”“You lost the plan out of the window, jackass. You were supposed to be flying us to Hanoi, not grabassing all over the cockpit trying to eyeball the paperwork.”A volley of mortar rounds hit the bunkers along the opposite side of the airstrip and I heard the CIA officer who ran the war in this part of Laos bellow from within.“Would somebody please call some fire in on that frigging mortar position?”Moments later the 105 howitzer, almost hidden in its heavily sandbagged slot behind the command bunker, fired a series of rounds. I watched the jungle near the suspected enemy mortar tube explode and fill the air above it with dirt and then black smoke. My ears rang. Gearheardt shook his head as if he were trying to dislodge something from his ear. The Laotian artillery crew climbed atop the sandbags and began shoving sticky rice balls into their mouths. The little artillery sergeant gazed toward the still smoking hillside and began to pick his nose.From inside the command bunker the voice of the CIA officer sang, “Thank you.”I looked behind where we were sitting and saw the flight mechanics resume refueling the helicopters that Gearheardt and I piloted. Serafico, my flight mechanic, looked my way and gave the thumbs up signal to indicate that we were ready to go. I rose by putting my hand on Gearheardt’s shoulder. Standing, I brushed the dust and debris from my trousers and turned to him. He was still staring, unfocused, at the smoke drifting along the hillside. Without looking up at me he spoke.“Do you ever wonder about the little sonsabitches on the other end of those 105 rounds, Jack? One minute they’re finishing a baloney sandwich, and the next they’re just meat decorating the trees.”Before I responded about the lack of baloney sandwiches in the North Vietnamese diet, Gearheardt went on. “War is weird shit, isn’t it, Jack?” He grinned at me as he stood up.“Where are you heading, Gearheardt?” I asked him as we walked to the aircraft.“I’m hauling ammo to that outpost by the old Site 85. You?”“The customer asked me to take a look over by 110 and see if I could spot signs of survivors.” Site 110, near the North Vietnamese border with Laos, had been thoroughly shellacked by the North Vietnamese two nights before, and the troops that escaped were expected to be trying to make their way to Site 36. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was between them and relative safety, and no one expected many to actually survive. But it felt good to look for them.Gearheardt grabbed my arm and stopped me, holding my elbow.“Look, I know you think I’m a screaming asshole sometimes …”“Yes.”“ … and I know you think I’m nuts …”“Absolutely.”“ … but we gotta get back to the Marine Corps and to our squadron. I miss those guys. I miss the real war. And before that, we gotta find that stinking Cuban and kill him. Air America is okay, but we can’t have guns—officially.”Some might think that a silly reason not to like flying for the CIA. But I knew Gearheardt. He had thought through the concept of not having official guns in northern Laos, and his statement was solid.“It wasn’t the Cuban that screwed up our mission to Hanoi, Gearheardt. And it wasn’t Barbonella, or Whiffenpoof, or that goofy Englishman in Hong Kong. Our ‘mission’ was doomed—”Gearheardt jerked his hand away from my elbow.“Jack, if you say it was because we didn’t have a goddam plan again, I’ll kill you. I’ll shoot you right damn now. We had orders! From the President of the United States!”“—before we even cranked up. Someone had a good idea, and we tried to execute our orders without the foggiest notion of what the hell we were doing or how to figure out if we had done it after we did it.”After a moment Gearheardt turned and walked straight-backed to his aircraft.Centeno, his flight mechanic, smiled and said loud enough for me to hear, “You and Captain Jack discussing your Hanoi plan again, Captain?”“Shut up, Centeno,” Gearheardt snapped.He began climbing into the cockpit. As he strapped in he looked over at me and keyed his mike. “You all set over there, Jack?”I clicked my radio, then turned and gave him thumbs up.“This war in Laos is no place to win medals. The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao are kicking the shit out of these guys, and we’re just dicking around while they do. Come on, Jack. Let’s get back in it.” I heard him on the radio and could see his mouth moving under the dark green Plexiglas eye shield on his helmet.Gearheardt and I had been best friends since flight school. He was a great pilot and a wonderful friend except for his habit of getting us into situations where people were trying to kill us. Besides flying, he loved drinking and whores.

“People think whores are mean, Jack. These girls don’t have a mean bone in their bodies, ”he said.

I sat looking over at him in his cockpit. I felt protected by him, and protective of him. I knew he would give his life to save mine. There were times when I hated him for it.“When we go to Hong Kong, we can talk about it, Gearheardt. If the Cuban is in Hong Kong, we’ll see what we can do. That’s the best I can promise.”“You’re a champ, Jack. A champ. Wait until you hear the rest of my plan.”I saw the dirt begin to swirl around his helicopter, and he slowly rose, swung the nose of the aircraft around into the wind, then lifted rapidly out of the refueling pits and was gone.This war was sad. The “war junior,” Gearheardt called it. A “back fire” to the Vietnam War, fattening up the local populace so that we could feed them to the forty or fifty thousand North Vietnamese troops pushing south through the territory. If we won the war in Vietnam, this place-holding action would deliver a free Laos to the survivors. If we didn’t, well, as Gearheardt put it, “They’re fucked.”I lifted off and banked low over the command bunker so the customer would know that I was back hard at work even if he wasn’t monitoring the radio traffic. I climbed into the cool, fresh sky, circling twice above the airstrip so that I wouldn’t pass over the jungle at an altitude tempting for the North Vietnamese machine gunners. A gorgeous day, and the miles of green jungle, punctured by rocky karsts and etched with muddy rivers, stretched languidly in all directions. Full of people ready to shoot me.At five thousand feet, I could see over into North Vietnam. It seemed crazy that not long before, I had been there.Copyright © 2006 by Phillip Jennings
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2014

    Think Twice

    Would hav been hilarious as a short story. Really got old the same old korny situations. Was ok but would not recommend it unless you had no other choices.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    The Funniest War Story Since 'MASH'

    Nam-A-Rama was an excellent read! The book is witty and, even though the subject is tragic, it makes you think rather than marginalizing the gruesome nature of war with humor. I really enjoyed the characters and found myself empathizing with them on a much deeper level than I've experienced with other books. And I was laughing out loud pretty much from start to finish. Nam-A-Rama is a war novel, so there is a fair amount of violent content and adult situations. The story is compelling, the characters well-developed and the book well-written. I would recommend this book to anyone - any generation, any gender. With the state of the world today, I think it gives some much needed perspective.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2005

    Don't buy this book...

    unless you want the read of your life. Funny, dramatic - storytelling unlike anything I have read for the past decade. This book didn't leave my hands until I had savored every last word of it. This is a slice of life from the Vietnam War that not only paints the absurdity of the situation, but also of the entire cast of characters that got us into it in the first place. I'm not kidding, you'll find yourself laughing out loud and crying from page to page, and find yourself wishing that you had been lucky enough to personaly meet and know these charactors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2005

    A Five Star Feast

    Nam-A-Rama has so many layers that it could be called a sandwich, but in reality it is a banquet. Like all good banquets, there is a toast, and a roasting of someone we all know and love. There's laughter, and a lot of craziness, and those are the appetizers and drinks. They whet the appetite and stir the desire for more. The main course, the painful truth about Vietnam told by someone who knows, is as filling as only a truly delicious, satisfying meal prepared by a fabulous chef can be, and the dessert is rich, as one should be, with a painfully provocative tang to it. So much so, in fact, that Phillip Jennings, master chef, leaves us wanting to return to the table demanding MORE! A great meal is not forgotten, but hope for another feast surfaces for tomorrow's pleasure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)