What is it?
St. John, George. MASH Trivia: The Unofficial Quiz Book. New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1983.
Why should M*A*S*H Fans Care?
It’s another quiz book about our favorite show! Plus, the unofficial quiz book offers a few quizzes on topics that the official quiz book does not such as the Korean War, the original book, and the Robert Altman film.
As a M*A*S*H fan, what part should I read?
It’s worth reading all of it, even if the short answer questions can be more difficult.
This book has a great organization and quizzes not offered in the official quiz book. But since it is not officially licensed, it doesn’t have the great photos available in the other quiz book. Some of the questions can be difficult and the layout can make some question types difficult to complete. Of the two M*A*S*H quiz books available, this one is second best.
Last month, I reviewed M*A*S*H: The Official 4077 Quiz Manual, and I thought it made sense to compare that to MASH Trivia: The Unofficial Quiz Book this month. Interestingly, the unofficial quiz book beat the official quiz manual to publication. Published in 1983, the unofficial quiz book was published a year before the official one. This would have been great timing for the publisher as the book could capitalize on the success of the finale and the hype that followed. People couldn’t get enough M*A*S*H!
In a vacuum, the unofficial quiz book is very good despite not being licensed. The questions cover a wide variety of topics and are very well organized. I would argue that the organization of the unofficial quiz book is better than the official quiz book. Instead of being 101 separate quizzes, the unofficial quiz book breaks its questions up into 14 manageable categories. Topics covered in this book include episode specific questions (broken up into 3 date ranges), terminology, characters, the cast, guest stars, and more. One benefit of the unofficial quiz book is that it has quizzes for the Korean War, Richard Hooker’s MASH novel, and Robert Altman’s MASH film. The official quiz book only covers the series.
Another benefit of the unofficial quiz manual is difficult questions are marked with an asterisk (*). Difficult in this case can mean obscure, but there are some legitimately difficult questions in the book. They are aiming to test your memory! Another benefit of this book is that there is a M*A*S*H Exam at the end. There are 25 questions, and you take the number of questions you got right times four to get your overall score. You are then given a rank based on how many questions you got right. Think of it as a Buzzfeed quiz, but 23 years before the site’s founding.
Most of the questions in the unofficial quiz book are short answer. The official quiz manual has more of a variety of question types, so it can be more fun at times. There are some matching questions throughout, but these sets of matching questions are occasionally on two pages back to back, so you find yourself flipping the page back and forth to complete your matches.
The major weakness of the unofficial quiz book is right in the title: unofficial. It is not licensed by 20th Century Fox, so there are no cast photos in the book. In fact, there are no photos or illustrations in the book at all. The only illustrations you get are the five on the cover. For legal reason, there are two places in the book where the author has had to specify that the book “is not authorized by anyone connected with the movie or television series.” These disclaimers appear in the introduction and on the back cover. It is likely that the official quiz book had already been licensed so this book was published without.
As with the last quiz book, I haven’t had the time to sit down and verify whether all of the answers are correct. I am sure there are errors in this book given how quickly the book was published and how difficult it would have been to access the back catalog of episodes. This was long before M*A*S*H was available on VHS, DVD, or streaming. In 1983, no one would have known was streaming was!
Overall, this is a fun piece of M*A*S*H history. It beat the official quiz book to the market, and was likely something that fans would have bought (sadly, I have not been able to find sales figures for either title). The book is fairly inexpensive, and it is a good book to add to a M*A*S*H collection along side the official quiz book.