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Dog Soldiers Paperback – April 2, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

Like Michael Herr's Dispatches, Robert Stone's National Book Award-winning novel Dog Soldiers trades on a hallucinatory vision of Vietnam as a place in which all honor and morality are ceded to the mere business of survival -- and, better, survival with personal profit. "This is the place where everybody finds out who they are," says the novel's protagonist, the journalist Converse, to which his friend and partner in crime Ray Hicks replies, "What a bummer for the gooks." Converse convinces Hicks to smuggle a shipment of heroin back to the United States, renegade CIA agents pop up, and all hell breaks loose in this beautifully written, dark study of the soul in anguish. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


''Harrowing . . . white-knuckled suspense . . . A here-and-now journey to hell.'' --Time

''Powerful, literally chilling.'' --St. Louis Post-Dispatch

''Compulsively readable . . . As forcefully as any novel one can think of, this novel conveys the cynicism, the terror, and the appetite for new experiences that have marked recent years.'' -- New Yorker

''Dog Soldiers is a novel so good, so interesting and serious and funny and frightening, so absorbing, so impressive, so masterful . . . It is splendid, terrific action suspense.'' --Esquire

''A dark decendant of Conrad and Hemingway's adventure stories . . . Goes hell-for-leather across the landscape.'' --New York Times

''[An] engaging story . . . A gripping performance.'' --AudioFile

''The language is stripped and strong . . . [with] unerring dialogue and characterization.'' --Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395860253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395860250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ROBERT STONE is the author of seven novels: A Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers (winner of the National Book Award), A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his memoir, Prime Green, was published in 2006.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Sam Mills on May 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you came of age in the late 60's and early 70s (as I did) and found yourself at the center of the counterculture (in my case, Madison, Wisconsin), you'll recognize all of the characters who people this extraordinary story. In no book I've read are they rendered with such precision and invested with such uncanny life. Charmian, the heroine dealer, is the most sensuous femme fatale in American Literature. There's Danskin, the hippie narc, turned by the feds to surveil the counterculture -- a far more convincing psychopath than Hannibel Lecter. There's Smitty, the jailbird 'muscle', for Antheil, the 'bent' DEA agent. There's Converse's own mother, nursing home-bound and lost in paranoid dementia -- and my personal favorite, Eddie Peace, the wheeler-dealer who supplies drugs to the Hollywood film community. And these are only the supporting cast. Converse, Hicks and Marge are the richest, deepest, most dimensional protagonists in recent fiction. The story is at once twisting, turning action-adventure (it was made into the wonderful movie, 'Who'll Stop The Rain,' with Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld and Michael Moriarty, all perfectly cast) as well as a dark parable of the Manson-flavored decline of the Woodstock Generation. Briefly, John Converse, a playwright, has decided to escape a degrading job (he writes for his father-in-law's skin magazines ('Woman Impaled by Falling Skydiver!')) and failing marriage and becomes a freelance journalist in Vietnam. As his tour draws to a close, he has a brainstorm: Buy two kilos of pure, Golden Triangle heroine, smuggle it back into the US and reap the enormous profits. For the smuggling, he calls on old friend Ray Hicks, a merchant marine who's a student of Nietsche and Zen, and 'cultivates the art of self-defense.Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I first picked up this novel about fifteen years ago, after I'd seen the film adaptation of it-the strangely titled "Who'll Stop the Rain" with Nick Nolte and Michael Moriarty. I had never read any of Stone's work before, and I was absolutely blown away by this, his second novel and winner of the National Book Award. The story of drug smugglers in the waning days of Vietnam, the novel owes much to American Naturalism (Stone has been compared to Conrad, but I think Jack London and Stephen Crane are closer), but filtered through the post-war sensibility of Ken Kesey or even Hunter S. Thomson. Fast-paced and utterly plausible, the narrative ranges from the shadowy cafes of war-time Hanoi to the lawless valleys of the American southwest. Throughout, Stone describes the varying landscapes of moral corruption with equal vividness and intelligence. For my money, "Dog Soldiers" is the best novel of the 70s, and yet it still seems completely contemporary today. I re-read it every few years and always discover something new.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Smith on March 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a college course on the cold war. I couldn't believe my professor. He actually apologized for putting it on the curriculum! He said that it was perhaps too gross, or graphic.... or something. How insulting!...How are we s'poseta learn about the cold war if the teachers teach with sterilized kid gloves. This book is, to Vietnam, a more accessible version of what Gravity's Rainbow is to WWII. It's harsh but not without redemption. Dog soldiers is goods good good...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Gary M. Krinberg on March 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this years ago, and saw the movie adaptation, 'Who'll Stop The Rain', and found Stone's take on the questions to what our involvement in southeast asia was and the crippling results of that amoral action hard edged and totally embodied by the pathetic denizens of this novel. From Hicks' stance as a lost samurai to Converse's justification to sell dope and make money it's only natural all who they come in contact with suffer from some delusion or another of what is 'right' . There are no good guys in this book. This was a pretty delusional era and the symbolism of dope as gold as cure all to be lost in the dust of the desert with leisure suited thieves works as a beautiful ending. A hard book to put down, especially for anyone who lived through this time and like Hicks, has a decent sense of irony.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Allan MacInnis on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Stone's DOG SOLDIERS is a fine book, but if you happen to see this without exploring the rest of the reviews on Amazon -- access them. The novel was assigned as a high school project in Iowa, and the kids who had to read it seem to have flocked en masse online (perhaps part of the project) to review it. I found reading these reviews very entertaining, and recommend the experience to anyone, though it won't tell you much about the book. I like kids, what can I say. Now that that's out of the way, Stone is one of the most important (and most strangely neglected) writers of the 20th Century. I think comparisons with Hemingway and Conrad are a bit off the mark; this novel is far more reminiscent of COMEDIANS-era Graham Greene, in his troubled Catholicism and concern for the decline of religion in the 20th Century. While Stone is hardly interested in promulgating any particular religious point of view, he IS a moralist, and a scathing critic of what we've become without a sense of God. This novel can be read, I think, as a crucifixion myth of sorts, made relevant to the 20th Century. It IS dark, but it's brilliantly paced and written, and a fairly accurate look at the time it deals with. Stone, by the way, talks of a recurring dream he has, where he's bringing drugs or contraband into a country, usually on a ship, and knows that he is about to be caught. This motif informs the paranoid tenor of the novel. A final point: the title has nothing to do with Lakota warrior societies, and is a bit of a misappropriation. It appears to be a reference to the proverb "better a living dog than a dead lion," which Converse muses on in the text. The outstanding performances by Michael Moriarity as Converse and Richard Masur (who usually seems to have a limited range) as Danskin are two really good reasons to see the film...
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