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Put Out More Flags Paperback – August 15, 2002

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), whom Time called "one of the century's great masters of English prose," wrote several widely acclaimed novels as well as volumes of biography, memoir, travel writing, and journalism. Three of his novels, A Handful of Dust, Scoop, and Brideshead Revisited, were selected by the Modern Library as among the 100 best novels of the twentieth century.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (August 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316916056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316916059
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. A Newman VINE VOICE on February 23, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one the great comic novels of the history of the world. I would expect it would not be quite the work to start out with, but for people aware of what Britain was like during the first days of WWII, this is pure pleasure.
The book, like most of Waugh's satires, contains a number of secondary characters who are often quite amusing. In this Waugh is the equal of Dickens (a comparison Waugh might not have appreciated), in his celebration of the English eccentric. From a technical execution the novel is rather interesting in that its main character, its anti-hero, Basil Seal, is somewhat of a character himself.
Basil Seal originally appeared in the work "Black Mischief" is a trickster, eternally on the lookout for a way of earning a dishonest living. Basil's life is complicated by the outbreak of war and the insistance by the women in his life to play a hero's part in it (preferably dying while do so, in the case of his mother).
Possessed of considerable guile he hotfoots it off to the country where he runs a profitable extortion racket involving three very undesirable war refugee children. These obnoxious brats manage to destroy most of the stately cottages of, if not the upper classes, then the upper middle classes.
Another central character in the book is Ambrose Silk. Silk wishes the war would go away and at the same time wonders what his role should be. Eventually he settles on publishing an arts magazine, whose most notable work celebrates his love for a German soldier is twisted into Nazi propaganda by Basil working as a counterespionage agent.
Though filled with topical humor, "Put out More Flags" manages to transcend the time in which it was written. It contains a number of thinly disguised portraits of famous people.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on April 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Not even the traumas of World War II could put Evelyn Waugh's delightfully satirical pen on hold; the horrors of war expose the grimness beneath his humor and invite a new kind of irreverence. Consider a scene in "Put Out More Flags" (1942) in which a woman's husband has just been killed in combat and the man with whom she's been having an affair wastes no time in proposing marriage. Her lackadaisical response to this most solemn of requests: "Yes, I think so. Neither of us could ever marry anyone else, you know."
Like Wodehouse, but with greater subtlety, Waugh finds an underlying silliness in all types of characters and sets them up to be knocked down like ducks in a shooting gallery. In "Put Out More Flags," he dredges up some characters from previous novels and introduces them into comic situations within the context of the incipient European war (1939-1940). Foremost among them is Basil Seal, a thirty-six-year-old who is as unemployable as a six-year-old. His mother tries to help him get a prestigious position in the Army, but he blows it when he unintentionally and unknowingly insults the Lieutenant-Colonel of the Bombardiers. Fortunately, he is able to get a job with the War Department where he discovers that the secret to success is to level charges of Communism and Nazism against his (mostly) innocent friends and inform on them.
Basil's friends and family also make the most of war time. Ambrose Silk, a Jewish atheist, takes advantage of his job at the Religious Department of the Ministry of Information to start a fustian periodical.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Birkett on December 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's vintage Waugh, standing halway between the farcical funny ones and the serious ones. He's unique in being a satirist of the idiocy of war who can also deal with patriotism and courage.
This is set in that strange time when Britain had just gone to war but France had not fallen. You meet some characters from his other books. This added to the pleasure for me but I don't know if it's the one I would recommend to someone who'd never read any Waugh before. It also helps if you know something about the 1930's British literary scene and can recognize who is being satirized. Parsnip and Pimpernell are presumably Auden and Spender. I've heard of various candidates fir being Ambose Silk.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Derby VINE VOICE on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While not one of his better known books, "Put Out More Flags" is a gem by Evelyn Waugh. Turning from satire to taking up more religious and moral themes, "Put Out More Flags" will be appreciated by Waugh's fans as a bridge between earlier works like "Vile Bodies" and later works like "Brideshead Revisited" and "The Sword of Honour" trilogy.

Still, this book can be enjoyed on its own merits. Waugh skewers government and military leadership in the early stages of World War Two and offers hilarious accounts of how civilians deal with the war. Even children being sent to the country to avoid bombings draws Waugh's attention--and provides some funny moments. Despite the laughs, Waugh has a few serious messages in this work and they will stay with the reader. At the center of the book is Basil Seal who some readers might remember from "Black Mischief." Basil holds the book together as his constant schemes and pivots provide much entertainment. The Kindle version also includes "Basil Seal Rides Again," a funny and biting look at the 1960s, which was the last piece of fiction Waugh wrote.

Waugh was one of the best English writers of the 20th century and "Put Out More Flags" ranks as one of his best works despite not being well known. Highest recommendation.
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