What is it?
Solomonson, Ed and Mark O’Neill. TV’s M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book. Albany, GA: BearManor Media, 2009.
Why should M*A*S*H fans care?
The title of this claims it is the “ultimate guide book,” and it is not wrong! This book is Suzy Kalter’s The Complete Book of M*A*S*H on steroids. The authors have written a great reference guide for every fan of the show.
As a M*A*S*H fan, what part(s) should I read?
I know I have said this about most of the books I have reviewed so far, but all of it! All 818 pages! This book is huge, and it is full of details about the series not covered in books that were published before or since it was released in 2009.
Solomonson and O’Neill take the stories and the behind the scenes details we have learned in the years since M*A*S*H ended and compiles, along with the familiar stories and storylines, and puts them to paper. While the book does not have many photos, it makes for it with everything else. The storylines, series details, character profiles, new interviews, and more make this book live up to its subtitle as the “ultimate guide book.”
When you first see TV’s M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book, you know it is serious. It is nearly two inches thick and has over 800 pages of M*A*S*H information. In it, you will find a fresh episode guide, character profiles, new interviews with actors and crew, season information, award information, and so much more. Authors Ed Solomonson and Mark O’Neill worked hard to create this book and gather as much M*A*S*H information as they could, and it shows. It is a labor of love created by fans of the show for fans of the show. Let’s explore why this book is the ultimate M*A*S*H fan reference book.
A few months ago, I reviewed Suzy Kalter’s The Complete Book of M*A*S*H , which is a book that many M*A*S*H fans own and cling to. TV’s M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book was published in 2009 making it more than three decades newer than Kalter’s book. The information is updated and very well presented. Looking at the table of contents, you see just how much information is here. The book begins with an introduction by series creator Larry Gelbart, a history of the series, and interviews with Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe. These interviews are contemporary to when the book was written and are worth the read.
The next section is the episode guide. The book breaks down the series into each of its eleven seasons. Each episode is summarized and the director, writer(s), guest stars, and many other details are all listed for each of the episodes. For each season, there is an appendix that includes information we learn about each character in that season, guest actor appearances, and the differences between the broadcast order and production order. This section of the book alone is about 600 pages and is worth the price of the book alone as the descriptions of the episodes are much more detailed than I have ever seen.
There are new interviews with actors including Wayne Rogers, Mike Farrell, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher. There are also interviews with guest stars and several of the writers. Several of these interviews appear to be written responses to an email of questions that the authors sent. Regardless, it is great to read their responses and their memories from the show. The interview with Rogers is particularly interesting because I haven’t seen many interviews with him specifically about M*A*S*H. There are several other features of the book worth mentioning. There is a section devoted to episodes in which certain characters didn’t appear, a full broadcast history, a section devoted to the spin-off series AfterM*A*S*H, episode ratings, awards won and nominations, and episode production codes.
This is the most complete M*A*S*H book I have ever seen. The episode guide and interviews with the cast, producers, and writers are worth the price of the book alone. There are a few drawbacks to the book. While it is huge and full of information, there are very few photos. A few black and white photos are scattered throughout the book, and I wish there was a section in the middle with color photos. Overall, this book is a must own for all M*A*S*H fans as it has just about every fact and figure about the series you’d need to know. The book is still available new or you can pick up a used copy.