The Phantom Blooper
is a 1990 novel written by Gustav Hasford
, and the sequel to The Short-Timers
. It continues to follow James T. "Joker" Davis through his Vietnam
odyssey. The book was supposed to be the second of a "Vietnam Trilogy", but the author died soon after completing it.The book is now out of print, but Hasford's website contains the entire text.
The novel begins sometime after The Short-Timers
left off and is divided into three parts. In "The Winter Soldiers," Joker (having been demoted from Sergeant to Private) is still at the Khe Sanh
base, which is about to be abandoned by American Marines
after withstanding a two-month siege. He believes most of his previous squad-mates to be dead, even the seemingly indestructible Animal Mother. Joker blames their deaths on "The Phantom Blooper," supposedly an American, armed with an M79 grenade launcher
, who fights alongside the Viet Cong
against his countrymen.
Joker is still haunted by the memory of his friend Cowboy, whom he killed in order to keep his squad from being cut down by a sniper; as a result, his behavior has become increasingly erratic and violent. He sets up one of his squad-mates to be killed in an attempt to draw the Phantom Blooper out of hiding, then forces an inattentive soldier on guard duty to hold a live hand grenade
with the pin out. Later, as the Viet Cong attempt to overrun the base, he splits his platoon sergeant's tongue with a straight razor
. The... Read More