My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As a longtime M*A*S*H fan, I was elated when I found this book. I grew up loving Alan Alda’s character, Hawkeye, on M*A*S*H. He seemed so very cool, and the rest of the cast was awesome. So when I picked up the book, I was hoping for a lively autobiography complete with numerous M*A*S*H stories. BTW, it surprised me to see, while reading through Goodreads reviews, just how many people did NOT want that! It confirmed for me the fact that I’m a very different reader than most people. I like what most don’t, and dislike what most do. In this case, I wanted M*A*S*H stories while most people didn’t.
It’s painful, then, to say that the book barely mentions M*A*S*H. There’s a little over one chapter devoted to it about halfway through the book with barely any mention of cast mates or episodes, aside from one that he directed his father in. That was bitterly disappointing and it’s the reason I’ve knocked this book down from four stars to three. That said, it’s not a bad book. He spends a lot of his time telling us about his childhood, which seemed rather sad to me. He spent time with a mentally ill mother, a distant father, and he got beat up by the neighbor and school kids a lot. It’s amazing he’s as balanced as he is now! He spends a lot of time talking about religion, particularly Catholicism, which played a major role in his life. Indeed, I believe when he married his Jewish wife, it was in his Catholic church so he wouldn’t go to hell. The book discusses his struggles as an aspiring actor and writer and spends a lot of time on various plays he was in, both before fame and after. Strangely, when he gets to M*A*S*H, he basically glosses over it, as I said, and then moves on to Scientific American Frontiers, a show that he seems much more proud of. Isn’t that bizarre? The book basically ends with a harrowing tale of colon obstruction requiring colon re-sectioning while in Chile and his recovery from that with the support of his wife and daughters. It’s a good book, but it feels a little empty, a little hollow, like something major is missing, and it’s M*A*S*H that’s missing, which is a travesty. If you want to learn about Alan Alda, the person and writer, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about Alan Alda, Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, you’ve come to the wrong place.