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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Some wear on cover from normal use. Pages are clean and crisp with tight binding.
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Buffalo Soldiers Paperback – March 15, 1994

3.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Once again, a first novelist inveigles the reader's empathy for a swaggering substance abuser by using direct address in the second person. But while Bright Lights, Big City jammed its hero's addiction up the nose of a greedy decade, this book can make no such zeitgeisty claims for its cocksure central character--Army Specialist Ray Elwood, based in present-day Germany. Elwood has brokered his genius for writing never-fail requisition memos into a profitable operation, specializing in skag and elaborate favor-banking. When a new sergeant threatens his system, Elwood tries for one final payday. Despite the annoying and intrusive familiarity of the formal device ("You want to get off, and two men in your squad need to shoot up. Here's how you do it . . . "), the novel remains highly readable; O'Connor writes bitter, funny prose and creates bureaucratic snafus of the first order. Alternating scenes of Army idiocy and clinically realistic drug addiction are far more compelling than O'Connor's attempt to attribute his hero's bracing nihilism to his tragic past. Toward its end the book falters, as Elwood flirts with maudlin self-pity. But O'Connor misfires now and then only because he aims high; aided by his infectious gift for sneering and his sharp eye for institutionalized depravity, he marks most of his targets with tight clusters around the bull's-eye.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"An M-1 tank of a novel, fast and powerful and dangerous...way nasty and blindingly funny." —Jay McInerney

"This book may well find a place on the shelf with Joseph Heller's Catch-22.... It takes a fine novelist to tell such a sordid story so beautifully—and a brave one to hold out no hope for redemption but the jolting effect of a cold-eyed look at the truth." —The New York Times Book Review

"Buffalo Soldiers rips a story of survival from the fearsome realm of the modern Army's barracks, trenches, and gutters. Military jargon becomes in-you-face narrative, punctuated by extremes of horror and humor.... This book is about now, and its present-tense urgency never flags." —Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679742034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679742036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first read this novel back in 1993, when I worked at a local Bookstore. I took Buffalo Soldiers home with me one night and once I opened it, I could not put it down. The subject matter is not very pretty, nor is it something that I would under normal circumstances read about. But the author has such a wonderful way of drawing you into this story. You find yourself outraged, disgusted, alarmed and even frightened. And you are enjoying every single minute of it!! Elwood is this century's best "anti-hero". A man with nothing: nothing to lose, nothing to hold onto, and nothing to live for. I mean, lets get real. Elwood is a drug dealing [scoundrel] who uses people to get what he needs at that moment. Yet, you find yourself rooting for him, hoping against hope that he will turn his life around, wanting more for him than he wants for himself. Elwood is someone that you would never want to be, yet by the end of this novel, you can't help but want to meet him. Elwood gives us hope that even the worst of people can change, or at least desire to change. I have been a book lover and collector since I was 12 years old, but this is the first author that I have EVER wanted to talk to and congratulate for writing a book that is one of the most beatiful that I have ever read. I tried, unsuccessfully, to contact him. I have read this book 6 times and am still amazed at the depth of it. Do not miss this one!!!
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book five years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. Having read it again twice since, it was only the third time that it struck me as one of the finest novels about the absurdities of army life, perhaps only bettered by 'Catch 22' (Joseph Heller) and 'One to count cadence' (James Crumley). Like Heller, O'Connor seeks out all the intricacies of enlisted life, and the rawness of the book's content, coupled with the theme of drug abuse in the army make for an, at times, unsettling read. However, despite their obvious failings, one cannot help but like the characters in the book, nor fail to understand their obvious dissatisfaction with their lot in life. Elwood is the classic anti-hero, and you find yourself laughing out loud at some of his thoughts, remarks and deeds particularly at times when it seems inappropriate to do so. Indeed, that's where the beauty of this book lies. Ordinarily, the themes dealt with (drug abuse, disability, prostitution, racial tension) would be depressing enough to allow the reader to digest it only in small doses, but the scintillating dialogue, coupled with excellent scene-setting make for an exciting, rollercoaster ride that is nigh-on impossible to put down once begun. Much was made of the book's style, setting it in second-person perspective. The highest compliment I can pay it is that the only other novel I can recall that is written in this manner (Bright lights, big city by Jay McInerney) is totally outshone.
In short, buy this book, read it and love it. Then ask yourself why this guy hasn't written more!
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By A Customer on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
buffalo soldiers is one of those books that i can't imagine having never read. not quite recommended to me, by a mate, who said "it's not a pretty read", i immediately ordered myself a copy.
i sat me down, late late at night, so late that it by rights should have been called morning. the cold light of a winter morning peeked in between the curtains as i snuggled in bed, and began a dark journey into the seedy world of skag, kodak film cannisters, life in an army barracks in germany ... i couldn't put the book down, and found myself inexorably bearing down on the ending...
i could see it coming, who wouldn't? but it nonetheless kept me enthralled right up until the last line.
reading it, whether simply the book itself, or the time at which i read it, changed my outlook on everything. there was a certain charm, a degenerate affection i grew to feel for the anti-hero, and in feeling it, i just had to admire o'connor for his abilities.
as my mate says, it's not a pretty read, but it is a good read.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You aren't quite sure what to make of a book like this.

It's written in the second person. You like the second person; you think it's very underused. It helps you identify with the protagonist, and it reminds you of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books you read a kid. Only in this adventure, all the options are bad--you get glimpses of a peaceful pleasant world, but you are drawn steadily away from it. And there is no way to get to a different ending.

How could it be otherwise, though? You are living life through the eyes of a soldier stationed in Germany who's dealing heroin to the arms of America and chasing after the First Sergeant's daughter. Such situations never end well, except in the ego-fevered imagination of the addict. Still, even though you know this will most likely end poorly, you feel the need to follow the protagonist's steady slide deeper and deeper into his self-made hell.

Occasionally you are distracted by the world the author has created. That world does not always feel honest. Or rather, the drug parts feel incredibly honest, and the army parts feel like a Hollywood version of honesty--the characters describe cooking and shooting heroin in a way that shows they know and love the craft, but their descriptions of army excercises feel cartoonish and overblown compared with the finely detailed grit of the junkie's life. And the book seems to be set in the late 80s, but the army it describes more resembles the army of the mid-70s, when heroin ran rampant.

But you end up really liking this book, in spite of these reservations. Realistic and multidimensional characters are always more interesting than the occasionally phony scenery behind them. They don't do likeable things, but they are honest, and that makes them likeable in spite of themselves. In fact, you start liking them almost as much as they dislike themselves. What more can you ask for?
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