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Scoop Paperback – September, 1999

86 customer reviews

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Paperback, September, 1999
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Editorial Reviews Review

Evelyn Waugh was one of literature's great curmudgeons and a scathingly funny satirist. Scoop is a comedy of England's newspaper business of the 1930s and the story of William Boot, a innocent hick from the country who writes careful essays about the habits of the badger. Through a series of accidents and mistaken identity, Boot is hired as a war correspondent for a Fleet Street newspaper. The uncomprehending Boot is sent to the fictional African country of Ishmaelia to cover an expected revolution. Although he has no idea what he is doing and he can't understand the incomprehensible telegrams from his London editors, Boot eventually gets the big story.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316926108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316926102
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 79 people found the following review helpful By oh_pete on August 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's London in the 1930s and novelist John Boot thinks he'd be the best writer for a special correspondent's job in Ishmaelia, East Africa, where revolution is in the air. He very well may be, but no one will find out because the powers that be at the great London newspaper, "The Beast" (heated rival of "The Brute"), mistakenly send his distant cousin William Boot instead. Poor William, who works for the paper already and was perfectly happy sending in his two essays a month on "Lush Places," is pulled out of his comfortable country lifestyle and thrust toward a greatness so great he could only stumble upon it by accident.
"Scoop" is an unrelenting satire of the tabloid press of Waugh's day. While it's arguably the most clever and well structured of the six of his novels I have read, imagine how much funnier it would be today if the general public didn't know so much about how journalists (even at the most respectable, unjaundiced papers) gather their stories. William quickly learns how the Special Correspondents submit their "eyewitness accounts" of battle from cushy hotel rooms fifty miles from the fighting, how a telegram of ten words will get turned into three hundred and splashed on the front page. And if the paper isn't happy with one writer, they can't send another because the journey from England to Africa takes three weeks!
As he does in "Decline and Fall" and "A Handful of Dust," Waugh once again shows us an Englishman thrown into absurd circumstances beyond his control who won't or can't speak up to save himself the trouble. Where "Scoop" improves, or at least differs, from the earlier works, is that William Boot does speak up for himself and it still doesn't help.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
In October 1935, Italy invaded the independent African nation of Ethiopia. The Italo-Ethiopian War lasted less than eight months, Emperor Haile Selassie's kingdom falling quickly before Italy's modern weaponry. It was a little war that, nonetheless, implicated the great powers of Europe and foreshadowed the much bigger war to follow.
Evelyn Waugh was in his early 30s, already the author of four remarkable comic novels, when he accepted an assignment to cover the Italo-Ethiopian War for a London newspaper. The enduring result of that assignment was Waugh's fifth novel, "Scoop," a scathing satirical assault on the ethos of Fleet Street and its war correspondents, as well as on Waugh's usual suspects, the British upper classes.
The time is the 1930s. There is a civil war in the obscure country of Ishmaelia and Lord Copper, the publisher of the Beast newspaper, a newspaper that "stands for strong, mutually antagonistic governments everywhere," believes coverage of the war is imperative:
"I am in consultation with my editors on the subject. We think it a very promising little war. A microcosm you might say of world drama. We propose to give it fullest publicity. We shall have our naval, military and air experts, our squad of photographers, our colour reporters, covering the war from every angle and on every front."
Through the influence of Mrs. Algernon Stitch, Lord Copper soon identifies John Courteney Booth, a best selling popular author, as the right man to cover the war in Ishmaelia. Neither Lord Copper nor his inscrutable editorial staff, however, is especially well read or familiar with the current socially respectable literati. Amidst the confusion, Mr.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on May 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
A lot of books complain about the world, but here's a book that knows that there's a difference between what actually goes on in the world and what gets reported as news, and that the news is only as good as the people that report it. Inspired by his own experience as a foreign correspondent, Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop" is partly a satire of journalism, partly a spy story with a well-crafted plot, and totally a masterpiece of comic writing.
Civil war is brewing in a fictitious African country called Ishmaelia. In England, a successful novelist named John Courteney Boot would like to be sent there as a foreign correspondent/spy, so he gets a friend to pull some strings with the owner of a London newspaper called the Beast, a paper which "stands for strong mutually antagonistic governments everywhere." The paper's owner, Lord Copper, has never heard of Boot, but accedes to the request and has his Foreign Editor, Mr. Salter, set up the engagement. Salter mistakenly taps John's less famous, less talented cousin William Boot, who writes a dippy nature column for the Beast, to be the foreign correspondent in Ishmaelia. So off William goes, a large assortment of emergency equipment for the tropics in tow, including a collapsible canoe.
When William gets to Ishmaelia, he encounters several journalists from newspapers all over the world who also are looking for the big scoop on the war. The problem is that nobody knows what's going on, as there is no palpable unrest, and the country's government is an institution of buffoonery. The events in Ishmaelia are reminiscent of the circus-like atmosphere of Joseph Heller's "Catch-22.
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