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Every kid has some tragedy that he has to face, mine was a classic for our generation. My most prized possession was a Rat Patrol lunchbox, until the day I tried taking a soda to school and the inside of the Thermos exploded. I am still scarred by themoment I twisted off the cup and stopper and poured out a soup of bubbly broken glass...

Even years after the show was cancelled I recall that one of the books I took to summer camp in 1976 was this adaptation by Norman Daniels. It's not great literature, but it's more than adequate pulp fiction and a reminder of why the show was so lovable. The characters, like Doc Savages sidekicks, are certainly caricatures but they're sharply drawn ones and reliable.

Sgt. Sam Troy was the prototypical brash American, beloved by his men, who was impatient of command and willing to skirt the rules to bring the battle to the Germans. Sgt Jack Moffitt was the desert-wise Brit attached to the unit and their conscience. Private Mark Hitchcock was quiet but tough, while Pvt. Tully Pettigrew was outspoken and troublesome. Unusually, the tv show featured a decent German, Hauptman Hans Dietrich, their lovable loser nemesis.

There's one especially fine moment of moral seriousness in the book, that belies the popular dismissal of the comic books and pulp of our youth. In their penultimate adventure, the Patrol has to root some Nazi soldiers out of a mosque spire, which they do after considerable destruction, producing this exchange:
"This is a church," Moffitt said angrily. "Never mind how or whom they worship, it's a church. The damn Krauts defiled it by turning it into a sniper post and made us further defile it by killing them there.

"Would it have been better if they'd killed us?" Sam asked, quietly.

"You know I don't mean it that way. I just think there are places that war has no business sticking its bloody nose into."

"I'll speak to Hitler and the High Command."

"Don't laugh, Sam," Moffitt said, but there no longer an edge in his voice. "That's what's wrong with this bloody war--people find too much to laugh at."
That's good stuff.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

Websites:

See also:

War
Norman Daniels Links:

    -AUTHOR PAGE: Daniels, Norman A. (GADetection)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Norman A. Daniels - Summary Bibliography (ISFDB)
    -AUTHOR Page: Norman Daniels (SpyGuysandGals.com)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Norman Daniels (Unz.org)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Norman A. Daniels (Sleazy Digest Books)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: The Rat Patrol (1966-68) (IMDB)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Rat Patrol
    -VIDEO: Rat Patrol Ep1S1 (YouTube)
    -INFO: Rat Patrol (TV.com)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Rat Patrol (Season Two) (Metacritic)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Rat Patrol (Season One) (Metacritic)
    -DVD REVIEW: Rat Patrol (Season One) (Cynthia Boris, DVD Verdict)
    -DVD REVIEW: The Rat Patrol (Complete Series) (Paul Mayer, DVD Talk)

Book-related and General Links: