Of Rice and Men

  • by Richard Galli
  • Narrated by Paul Michael
  • 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Spreading democracy takes more than cutting-edge military hardware. Winning the hearts and minds of a troubled nation is a special mission we give to bewildered young soldiers who can't speak the native language, don't know the customs, can't tell friends from enemies, and, in this wonderfully outrageous Iraq-era novel about Vietnam, wonder why they have to risk their lives spraying peanut plants, inoculating pigs, and hauling miracle rice seed for Ho Chi Minh. Brash, eye-opening, and surprisingly comic, Of Rice and Men displays the same irreverent spirit as the black-comedy classics Catch-22 and MASH, as it chronicles the American Army's little known "Civil Affairs" soldiers who courageously roam hostile war zones, not to kill or to destroy, but to build, to feed, and to heal. Unprepared, uncertain, and naive, they find it impossible to make the skeptical population fall in love with them. But it's thrilling to watch them try. Among the unforgettable characters: Guy Lopaca, an inept Army-trained interpreter who can barely say "I can't speak Vietnamese" in Vietnamese, but has no trouble chatting with stray dogs and water buffalo. Guy's friends include "Virgin Mary" Crocker, a pragmatic nurse earning a fortune spending nights with homesick soldiers; Paul Gianelli, a heroic builder of medical clinics who doesn't want to be remembered badly, so he never goes home; and Tyler DeMudge, whose cure for every problem is a chilly martini, a patch of shade, and the theory that every bad event in life is "good training" for enduring it again. Pricelessly funny, disarming, thought-provoking, as fresh as the morning headlines, and bursting with humor, affection, and pride, Of Rice and Men is a sincere tribute to those young men and women, thrust into our hearts-and-minds wars, who try to do absolute good in a hopeless situation.

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What the Critics Say

"This is a clever, quirky, surprisingly uncynical view of Vietnam." (Publishers Weekly)
"The novel unfolds with beguiling tenderness, humor, and wisdom." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Another MASH?

"Life's not much fun fighting without liberal arts education", or something along these lines, is the epigraph, and it really says it all about the book: a humorous, at times irreverent, look at the gory and pointless war from a viewpoint of a bunch of college-educated REMFs. Although there seems to be no plot line as such - the book is made up of short episodes related mostly by the theme and the characters - it's captivating and hard to switch off from.
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- Paul

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-04-2006
  • Publisher: Books on Tape