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Sword of Honor a Trilogy Hardcover – June, 1966


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T) (June 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316925985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316925983
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,384,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Guy Crouchback is almost saintly. He is Catholic, patriotic, and selfless. When World War II comes along he is eager to serve his country and to be thrown into the caldron of war. But, by his own admission, he is not "simpatico" and he always seems to be the square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Perhaps his military career parallels that of the author, Evelyn Waugh.

There is of course no place for Guy in the British Army where his hard work and dedication are little rewarded and his war experiences are spotted with malfortune, little of which is of his own making. Guy "blots his copy book" early on and ends up being suspected of spying for the Italians. Waugh dots this novel with a cast of clownish characters and comic adventures in which Guy sadly participates.

Waugh's irreverent attitude toward World War II has probably made this novel less popular than it should have been. For example, at the opening of the war, Crouchback wonders why England, in the face of simultaneous invasions of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, chose to go to war with one and not the other. At another point, Guy muses that "he was engaged in a war in which courage and a just cause were quite irrelevant to the issue." In the best Waughian tradition, he does a hatchet job on the much-celebrated Yugoslav resistance movement of Marshall Tito.

Waugh, oddly enough, has also made the interesting comment that he wrote the "obituary" of the Roman Catholic Church in England with this novel. I take him at his word although perhaps I can't fully appreciate the Catholic subtleties of the novel.

Waugh originally published this novel in three volumes between 1952 and 1962. He then published the three volumes in one, omitting "tedious" passages.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "ozboz" on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The sad thing is that this book (originally three books) is now rarely read or even remembered. Sad, because it is a remarkably good read, as good as anything Waugh ever wrote. It follows the trials of Guy Crouchback, a middle aged (at 35!) upper class Englishman from a distinguished but fading old Catholic (of course) family who desperately wants to do 'his bit' during World War 2. It is funny, sad and enlightening from start to finish. Oddly enough, considering the vastly different backgrounds and styles of the two writers, I almost see this book as a companion to Spike Milligan's War diaries. While Spike tells us about the war from the view of a working class oik in the lower ranks, Waugh gives us the upper class officer's perspective. You could easily imagine their two characters (biographical in Spike's case, and pretty close to biographical in Waugh's) passing through each other's books. If you can't get a copy on Amazon, pick it up if you see it at a shool fete jumble sale. You'll find it surprisingly rewarding.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By outlawyerjay on September 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
England and the church in transition, the follies and wreckage of war and the sturdy character of one man during the entire course of WWII in the life of England, its soldiers and civilians. Parts of Waugh's narrative about this period and its characters are indelibly, laugh-out-loud funny, and others are sad or difficult. What a window into the human condition! This is the book that the author was forced earlier to break into three parts, now the seamless and engrossing whole he intended. The minute I finished, I went into withdrawal. It was that good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What can you say about a book that was written by such a master of the snide remark that he can place his lead character’s Army desk under the loins of a model dinosaur?
“The compartment assigned to the Special Service Forces Liaison Office — Guy's — was larger than most but there was little floor space for he shared it with the plaster reconstruction of a megalosaurus, under whose huge flanks his trestle table was invisible from the door.”
Sword of Honor is to WWII what MASH was to Korea, pointing out the ludicrous amidst the heroic does not deter such high quality entertainment from also being lasting and meaningful. Waugh’s work is so often scathingly funny—so many characters in the books simply miss the irony of situations, that his work becomes comic and sad, uplifting and depressing all at the same time. Sword of Honor is Evelyn Waugh’s last big book, (actually three books later edited together into one) and as such, is as close to masterful as a writer can get. However, Sword of Honor is vastly different from the book many readers will know this Waugh for—Brideshead Revisited. Sword of Honor could be viewed as the follow-up to Brideshead; both novels are obviously based upon Waugh’s own life, (his belief that Roman Catholicism provides a worthwhile philosophical system) and while Charles Ryder and Guy Crouchback are not the same character, the action in Sword picks up pretty much were Brideshead left off, but Sword continues to the end of WWII. Sword deals far more with the incongruous results of naïve, Catholic and nearly Italian, Guy’s reactions to the world problems thrust upon him by the war. Brideshead, on the other hand, dealt more with the more personal and internal struggles of Charles and the Flyte family as they try to live in a world in which they are slightly alien.
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