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.


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

I really liked it

It has that quirky MASH type of humor, and I think the author did a really good job. It was a funny book, and you grow fond of the characters the same way the author did. What I want to know though is whether the the main character ever married Virgin Mary. I kind of felt the author should have done a what they are doing now speil at the end of the book.
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- Michael

No guts

Ultimately this story went nowhere. Its a story of the peace corps in Vietnam, except they are in the army, non combat types, during the war told through the eyes of a couple of characters.
The theme is kind of interesting and the author has some writing skill but ultimately the undeding series of largely unrelated incidents an the unrelenting sensitive new age approach left me feeling the book had nothing interesting to say. And I say that even though I share some of the sentiments. My wife felt the same way and neither of us finished it.

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- David

Book Details

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