Nam-A-Rama: subtitle to come

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765349866
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/6/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.69 (h) x 0.95 (d)

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.

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