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Dog Soldiers

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  5,176 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
In Saigon during the last stages of the Vietnam war, a small-time journalist named John Converse thinks he'll find action - and profit - by getting involved in a big-time drug deal. But back in the States, things go badly wrong for him.
Paperback, 342 pages
Published April 7th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1973)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
*****NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER 1975*****

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to fuck up like this.”

The Summer of Love has withered away into the Autumn of Paranoia and the Spring of Delusions. John Converse, a journalist, whose claim to fame is his ability to produce compelling headlines (stories to go with the headlines, well that is where things go haywire), is in Vietnam, but he isn’t really sure why he is still there. His room has been tainted by some maniac American who chased lizards along th
...more
Kirk
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago I happened to catch the 1978 adaptation of this novel, Who'll Stop the Rain, starring Nick Nolte when he was only, like, 36 instead of 902. The movie made me nostalgic for Robert Stone's original novel, so I found a first edition online for amazingly cheap and re-devoured it in a day. It's a great glimpse into scuzzy America c. 1970---the death of the 60s' cultural revolution, when druggie enlightenment turned into junk dealing and free love degenerated into a trip to the titty b ...more
Amanda
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam, blog
I began this book thinking it would be about the Vietnam War told from the perspective of an in-country reporter named John Converse. I came to find that, while a few early scenes were set in Vietnam and Converse did occasionally reflect on his time spent there, the focus of the book is a drug deal that goes wrong--horribly, horribly wrong. However, I still loved the book. It has a bit of a Pulp Fiction or Guy Ritchie film feel to it. None of the characters are likable people and they have the m ...more
Mariel
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cracked actor
Recommended to Mariel by: future legend
Whenever I spy a cop car in my rearview mirror I feel like they might be coming after me. If I step out of line they'll pull me over and that'll be it. (That I've been ticketed twice for bullshit reasons - driving through a one road town with shiny new cop cars for all with out of county plates type of reasons - is neither here nor there. "It's all over. The game is up!" What game? Beats me. I'm probably fucking crazy. ) I slow down to the absolute speed limit, turn my music off, grip the steeri ...more
Lyn
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Relentless and dirty.

First published in 1973, Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers is a hip and groovy but graphic and ugly depiction of a time and a place when our culture, our world was at a crossroads and Stone embraces the suck with the fervor of a Marine at Parris Island.

First, Stone describes the scene in language contextually correct for the time. This has the feel and sound of a Dirty Harry film and behind the early 70s prose a reader can almost hear a Lalo Schifrin score grooving out in stacked
...more
Adam
I always wrote Stone off as a post-Hemingway tough guy writer (which on some levels he is), and really wish someone had slapped me and forced one of his books into my hand. He uses the stark storytelling of Hemingway with the dark forebodings of Conrad and the apocalyptic humor of Nathaniel West. This novel travels through the same anxieties of Pynchon’s Gravity;s Rainbow( with a bag of heroin replacing phallic rocket technology) but with more naturalistic prose, on the edge borderline demented ...more
John
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: who wouldn't profit from a portrait of idealism gone wicked?
Recommended to John by: many readers & writers
Robert Stone, let's all remember, joined his Stanford classmate Ken Kesey & the rest of the Merry Pranksters aboard the LSD-fueled bus "Further," back at the onset of the High Sixties. The experience brought in its richest harvest, however, not in any memoir (though Stone's recent PRIME GREEN makes an admirable effort) but in this piercing & scarifying *noir.* Though first published just as the '60s hallucinations were petering out, DOG SOLDIERS remains the essential depiction of how the ...more
Kemper
Sep 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the early '70's as the Vietnam War was winding down, Converse (a guy, not a shoe)is supposedly a journalist, but in reality has gone to Vietnam mostly as a tourist. As he gets ready to return home, he gets involved with a deal to smuggle a large quantity of almost pure heroin back into the states, and he has reason to think that the CIA is covertly sponsoring the plan.

Converse recruits a former soldier, Hicks, to get the dope back into the States and hand it off to his wife, Marge. Marge
...more
Larry Bassett
The novel tells the story of an American journalist in Vietnam who schemes to smuggle heroin into the United States aided by his wife in California and an ex-Marine accomplice. As the plan goes askew, Stone creates a harrowing struggle for possession of the drug while investigating the psychological motivation and interrelationships of the major characters.

Having experienced the American involvement in Vietnam firsthand, Stone is seemingly more concerned with analyzing the aftermath of the conf
...more
Jessica
This is one of those books from the 70s where every conversation they have you know that they're really talking about something else, something much deeper and more profound than what they're saying on the surface, but you have no idea what it is. Or maybe that's just me. I want to like this book, I want to be hip to the cool, 60/70s druggie counterculture. I want to be in on the joke and get what the cool kids get. But I just don't seem to. It's the same for me with Naked Lunch or On the Road, ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Were Americans ever really naive or is that just something common myth tries to convince us of. Personally, I don't think so. The 60's is a duplicitous reflection of history that depends on where it was one stood at the time. Were you in the back of the bus, in Stanford or Harvard, at Woodstock, or in a POW camp? I was a child of the 70's and I'll be the first to admit that my mind used to go into "shutdown" mode whenever some older suburbanite started waxing poetic about what a free spirit they ...more
Checkman
I was born in 1968. My memories of the early 1970's are that of a child. My parents worked. They provided a nice safe house and I was never cold or hungry. What memories I have of the first part of that decade (outside of my family) are associated with television shows ( The Rookies, Adam-12, Emergency, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and a few movies. So when I am curious about what was going on in America's soul during that time period I turn to works of fiction - books and movies. Everything from ...more
Jeremy
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
The conventional wisdom goes that this book is a scathing examination of how far the ideals of the flower power generation had fallen by the mid 1970s. A would-be heroin smuggler returns from Vietnam to find that his real war is in America, amidst a revolving cast of of dissipated junkies, sleazy hustlers, violent thugs and burnt out old hippies.

Maybe as a millenial reading this in 2015, I'm just generationally too far removed from the social fabric of this age to really 'get it,' but I thought
...more
Jonathan
Enjoyable, but did not really get under my skin.
Eve Kay
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: druggie
It suddenly dawned on me that I read too many books on taking drugs. They tend to get into the details alot and for someone who doesn't do them I sure know how!
I'm just gonna let that linger here and not comment whether it's a good thing or bad.
I like Stone's writing style and that's why I've continued to read his work even though the story here wasn't anything special. Actually, it was pretty simple and in retrospect I could have easily figured out the ending but for some reason it surprised me
...more
Lukasz Pruski
On the cover of Robert Stone's "Dog Soldiers" a blurb from Washington Post Book World screams "The Most Important Novel of the Year". Had this been indeed true, then 1973 would have been a terrible year for books. "Dog Soldiers" is just a complex and competent thriller, with some nuggets of social observation thrown in to make it appear wise and deep.

1973, Saigon. Vietnam war is winding down. The main characters are John Converse, a low-level journalist and an aspiring writer, his wife, Marge,
...more
Aaron
John Converse decides to smuggle heroin from Vietnam to the U.S. almost on a whim, and his wife Marge and "friend" Hicks end up bearing the burden of unloading it while John is pursued by a team of possible federal agents.

It's pretty easy to tell when I don't get a book, and in this case I seemed to be missing crucial context about Vietnam and how the world worked in the mid-1970's. I also think my Kindle version of this book was riddled with typos and bad formatting, especially with dialogue, w
...more
Ben Bush
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
The awesomeness of this book comes and goes, but if you're interested tight brilliant sleazeball dialogue with metaphysical undertones, there's sections of this that were made for you.
Ed
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Heart of Darkness put in the Vietnam War times and fueled by the addiction and money profits of smack. I liked the hard-nosed attitudes and trancy prose. Rather grim at times.
Tim
This was one of the toughest, liveliest, most biting things I have ever read - real, funny, and sharp. Stone writes in the Hemingway style - short, clear sentences, terse and direct. But he is no Hemingway as far as his concerns go, althou the macho content of his writing is reasonably high. He is interested in moral and emotional ambiguity, greed, toughness, and some of the stranger conflicts that can occur between men and men, and men and women.

The story follows a small-time journalist named C
...more
Realini
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

If you search for Dog Soldiers on Google you get results with a 2002 movie, not based on the book.
On Goodreads the search results in a book, but not by Robert Stone. I had to add a new entry for the book, with the associated pride that I am the first on Goodreads to have read it.
An yet this book is included on the TIME 100 best books list…not only that, but the book is great, I loved it.
It has everything: Love, war, deception, drug dealing, Humor-lots of it, enticing
...more
Michael
I started reading this because I heard that this was a cross between Raymond Chandler and Hunter S Thompson. While I haven’t read anything of Thompson (I will soon) I am a huge fan of Chandler; this is more neo-noir than hard-boiled but that’s ok. Dog Soldiers follows the story of a war journalist, a marine and the journalist’s wife as the plan a smuggling deal. Converse (journalist) plans to ship heroin from Vietnam on a marine vessel with the help of Hicks (marine). When Hicks gets to America ...more
Mark
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time-100
Another one that should be filed under "wanted to like more than I did." The beginning here is strong, with the tourist reporter John Converse in Vietnam and trying to get into a drug deal on his way out. There are some funny observations in here, and the one that made me laugh the most is when Converse thinks, "In a world where flying men hunted down elephants, people were just going to want to get high." This in reference to rumors that American helicopters were shooting at elephants as they h ...more
Chris
It took me a while to start enjoying this book about three people near the end of the Vietnam war who decide to smuggle 3 kilos of heroin into the states. It felt a little dated, and grounded in an ancient sense of cool, where a willingness to get high was supposed to be an indicator of your superiority as a human being. The characters were generally unlikable, and Marge, especially, grated on me. But the dialogue overall was very good, the antagonists were far more than just stereotypical cardb ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“If you think someone’s doing you wrong, it’s not for you to judge. Kill them first and then God can do the judging.”
The time was rough and the time was wild. The counterculture was on the rise and then it was in decline. Reaction and decadence were settling in.
“If you haven't fought for your life for something you want, you don't know what's life all about.”
In the tumultuous times many are sucked in by the dangerous undercurrents and the price of survival grows high.
Jason
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ted
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A drug deal gone bad, lots of guns and violence is usually fodder for a good novel. This book was founded on a good idea and had all three of those elements. Unfortunately the writing was awful. As the story progressed the writing did improve some, but the last 30 pages were almost unbearable. It seems like Stone struggled to sound like someone or something he is not. When you rely on sentences like, "The flashing lights blinded him and oppressed his brain." You are struggling.
Joey Gold
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Yes," Dieter said, "I can see that. But in real life, you can't pull it off."
"Well then, fuck real life. Real life don't cut no ice with me."
("Dog Soldiers", Robert Stone, p. 292).

The most unique thing about this book is how its language runs in collision with its pace. It has the rhythm of a bloody heist thriller, but the language that describes this action is filled with strange, psychedelic imagery. Towards the last section of the novel (and no, this isn't a "spoiler") a raging battle in Mex
...more
Stephen
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts out wonderful with insights of a civilian journalist who goes to Vietnam to feel the pain of his generation and write his great novel/play, and how he later returns with the knowledge that he is just trying to make a quick buck smuggling heroin back to the states. Then it shifts to his partner, the one-time all-American boy who thinks of himself as a peaceful zen warrior, but finds himself surrounded by an unfamiliar America that wants nothing more than drugs and titty bars. His experienc ...more
Eli Bishop
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Rereading this and A Hall of Mirrors, I was knocked over by both of them again in different ways... but while I still can't rate this one as any less than great, it now seems like a lesser kind of thing, a little more schematic. Where A Hall of Mirrors felt like it took place in a living world (though an often yucky one), Dog Soldiers feels more like a hollowed-out dream-world where the characters are totally alone with the results of their free will-- which is probably exactly the effect Stone ...more
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SSG: Spy/Spec-Ops...: Robert Stone 3 24 Aug 02, 2015 08:03PM  
Stone's genius with characters 8 19 Sep 02, 2014 08:09AM  
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ROBERT STONE was 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.
His work was typically characterized by psychological compl
...more
More about Robert Stone...

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“I’ve been waiting my whole life to fuck up like this.” 29 likes
“I've always remembered. This fellow said to me - if you think someones'doing you wrong, it's not for you to judge. Kill them first and then God can do the judging.” 18 likes
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