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Ambush at Fort Bragg Audio, Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged

2.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

In Tom Wolfe's audio-only Ambush at Fort Bragg, no one escapes the author's satiric barbs. The doughy, rumpled network producer of a hard-hitting 60 Minutes-style TV show dreams of fame, while the limelight always shines instead on the tough-as-nails blonde investigative reporter in the perfect silk blouse with every hair always in place. The TV team, in their zeal to get the story, entrap a trio of skinhead gaybashers by having an exotic dancer (with the pitch-perfect name Lola Thong) lure them into a trailer, where hidden TV cameras capture their unwitting confessions. As usual, Wolfe makes it impossible to predict where your sympathies will land. Actor Edward Norton gives a delicious reading, especially in capturing the North Carolina drawls of the guilty men.

From the Inside Flap

He's been called "the inventor of the New Journalism--and possessor of the age's most distinctive prose style."  Now in this original novella, serialized to critical acclaim in Rolling Stone magazine in December 1996, Tom Wolfe, author of the bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities, turns his penetrating eye and devastating wit to the world of TV news...

As the producer of a prime-time TV newsmagazine, Irv Durtscher fancies himself the Federico Fellini of television journalism.  For who else can draw 50 million viewers, satisfy the network's gluttony for profits, and advance the cause of social justice?  The only problem is that no one else recognizes Irv's genius.  Instead, all the accolades go to the blonde bombshell anchor who won't give balding, near-sighted Irv the time of day.  But suddenly Irv has a chance to break the most sensational story of his career--one that will surely catapult him into the national spotlight and into Madame Bombshell's heart.  For months the wheels of justice have ground to a halt as three soldiers from Fort Bragg have categorically denied that they savagely beat and murdered a member of their company because he was gay.  Now, Irv Durtscher, self-proclaimed soul of a soulless industry, is poised to expose the truth.  With a fortune in surveillance equipment, he has infiltrated a bar near Fort Bragg, in the hopes that the unwitting soldiers will hang themselves on videotape.  What he gets is pure dynamite.  But Irv's story won't be complete until he arranges to ambush the three young toughs and show them the footage.  What happens when one of New York's media elite confronts the Lords of Testosterone?...not what you think.

Ambush at Fort Bragg is classic Wolfe--a blistering send-up of one man's drive for fame and glory and the lengths to which the media will go to showcase their version of the truth. This is Wolfe at his very best--timely, relevant, and right on the money about many aspects of 90s America: the media, the military, the South, discrimination, and homophobia.

Not available in any book format, Ambush at Fort Bragg has been published by BDD Audio on cassette and CD.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Audio (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0000000167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0000000163
  • ASIN: 0553478966
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,484,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Edward Norton ably "reads" this novella by Tom Wolfe. This is more than a "reading," this is a performance. Tom Wolfe's works require an actor to "read" them due to his intense love affair with the various accents, slang terms, and diction in America today. Tom Wolfe is a modern day Mark Twain, an astute observer of the beautiful variety of uniquely American characters.

In this novella, Tom Wolfe hits us square between the eyes with the issue of gays in the military. He uses the true story of the murder of a gay soldier by other soldiers at Ft. Bragg to open a huge can of worms - the issue of gays in the military. As with everything Wolfe does, he ably presents both sides of the issue by presenting us not with the arguments, but with the people on each side. What a muddy mess - this is reality we're dealing with.

Wolfe brilliantly illustrates the conundrum of the infantry soldiers - we here at home want them to be gutsy, rough, strong and fearless enough to kill the enemy and keep us safe. However, like a semiautomatic rifle, the same object that keeps us safe can kill the innocent as well. Anyone that has driven down the ugly main strip in any military base town will instantly recognize what Wolfe is describing. At the same time, he skewers the tabloid news magazine characters who we are all familiar with.

No one is innocent here, and maybe no one is guilty. Reading Wolfe's works, I always feel a sense of predestination - of destiny - despite the horrific outcomes, its impossible for the characters to act any other way.

Ed Norton is a one-man ensemble; his performance of the varied characters in this drama is riveting. I commend him for taking on this project. He attacks it with gusto; he must be a devoted Tom Wolfe fan. The subject matter is timely and the issue of gays in the military is unresolved yet as I write this, 12 years after this novella was written.
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Format: Audio CD
Tom Wolfe presents an even-handed tale about a head-twisting attempt of a newsmagazine crew to ambush military men accused of killing a gay fellow soldier. This short story will leave you wondering, "Who actually got ambushed?" The soldiers? The murdered victim? The newscrew? The American public? Possibly everyone.
In comparison to other Wolfe works, AMBUSH is relatively shallow. It's still a work that might make a number of other best-selling authors green with envy. Wolfe explores the minds of soldiers and newspeople whose motives and actions are far more complex than they appear on the surface. One would be tempted to initially label both parties in black and white judgements, but Wolfe's rich internal monologues make that difficult. The murder and it's criminal investigation ultimately become secondary to the news story and the circumstances surrounding it.
Wolfe's even-handed approach to presenting the complex details of what appears to be an open and shut case will have folks from opposite sides of life react to different details with ire. It's easy to hate the accused rednecks. They're crass, unpolished, crude, and embody every bad southern male stereotype. It also becomes easy to hate the media moguls who twist and torment the story, not because they want justice (they don't REALLY care about gay rights or even solving the crime), but because they want huge ratings. They want their names up in lights. They'd sell their souls for things they don't even believe in. The converse observation of the accused soldiers is that they'd never hide behind false pretense, even to the point of death.
The audio book has its own set of issues. Edward Norton's reading certainly hits the mark on tone and atmosphere. He's earnest, but varied in quality.
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By A Customer on July 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Wolfe's satiric edge, reporter's eye for detail, and understanding of our media institutions are as sharp as ever. I'm amazed by the number of otherwise literate-sounding reviewers who say that the audionovel seems "incomplete," or just plain don't grasp the ending. As for those who believe the scenario is far-fetched, well, just read a little about the purported "hate crime" down at Fort Jackson, current news as I write...
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Format: Audio CD
Tom Wolfe does a fine job of carving a network TV news magazine crew with sharp, satiric strokes. He creates a situation that is both engaging and topical. It's an entertaining diversion, but ultimately I didn't feel particularly amused, enlightened, or otherwise moved by this story. In part, this is because there is no follow through with the key plot elements (murder, journalistic excesses) protrayed. More important, Wolfe settles for allowing key characters to fire off their points without effectively engaging one another. I had little sense that the narcissistic producer, Irv Durtscher, was any different at the end of the tale.
There was a story worth telling here. Wolfe takes on issues as troubling and challenging as homophobia & tradition vs. diversity in the military, and investigative and story-making zeal vs. accuracy and fairness in broadcast news. When a novelist of Wolfe's stature takes on issues of this size, to produce but a diversion feels almost li! ke exploitation. Can America come to terms with market-driven investigative journalism? Can America tolerate a military subculture intolerant of diversity, and can a military forced to relinquish part of traditional prejudice develop an effective identity? I think that Wolfe is very adroit at sketching self-absorbed caricatures that can amuse us with these themes as a backdrop. I'd like like to see him try his hand at characters capable of movement and growth.
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