Cover image for The phantom blooper
The phantom blooper
Hasford, Gustav.
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New York : Bantam Books, 1990.
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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this sequel to The Short-Timers (Bantam, 1987), upon which the movie Full Metal Jacket was based, James ("Joker") Davis is still trying to survive the Vietnam War. For Joker, being a marine is to stand tall, lean, and mean, to train new recruits to become killers, and to never question what you're dying for. In pursuit of the legendary Phantom Blooper, supposedly a marine who joined the Vietcong, Joker is taken prisoner yet comes to feel for the land his buddies are destroying. Returned to the U.S., Joker faces hatred toward antiwar vets, among whom he counts himself, and misses Vietnam. Joker knows firsthand that "we drop bombs bigger than Volkswagens onto barefoot peasants twelve thousand miles from home and call it self-defense." Using irony, surrealism, and dark comedy, Hasford transcends the marine-turned-cynic formula and raises unsettling questions about a war we want to forget. --Danny Rochman

Choice Review

A sequel to The Short-Timers (1979), continuing the narration of the Joker, a US Marine during the Vietnam War. The blooper of the title, an M-79 grenade launcher, refers ultimately to "our collective bad consciences," and is represented as a Marine defector. Joker himself becomes this renegade after his favorable experiences as a Vietnam prisoner of war in a small village in North Vietnam. Through Joker's narrative, the author, a combat correspondent, advances the thesis that Vietnam veterans were betrayed by their country and that America, in losing touch with the land, has lost touch with reality. Excessive moralizing at the close by the sardonic protagonist and heavy-handed manipulation of character and plot to serve the thesis undermine the effect of the author's rhetoric and create a reductive narrative. For specialized collections desiring complete representation of Vietnam War fiction. -J. M. Sabre, Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus