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Flashman: A Novel Paperback – August 1, 1984
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Praise for the Flashman series
“Hilariously funny.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Great dirty fun!”—Grand Rapids Press
“The most entertaining anti-hero in a long time… Moves from one ribald and deliciously corrupt episode to the next… Wonderful and scandalous.”—Publishers Weekly
“Raises dastardliness to the level of an art… One of the most amusing and sardonic novels I have ever read!”—Omaha World
“As irreverent and picaresque as Tom Jones and always more dramatic… Flashman is a one-man demolition squad!”—Chicago Today
“Marvelously entertaining… A delight!”—Providence Journal
About the Author
George MacDonald Fraser was a bestselling historical novelist, journalist and screenwriter. He is perhaps most famous for his series of Flashman novels, featuring his antihero Harry Flashman. In addition to his novels, he wrote numerous screenplays, most notably The Three Musketeers and the James Bond film Octopussy. George MacDonald Fraser died in 2008 at the age of 82.
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Top customer reviews
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Harry Flashman is next in line of excellence. Satirical historiography, serving well as quick guide through the Empire's history. Just choose any trouble spot that English soldiers were remotely related to in the 19th century, and Harry was there. Think of the English Afghanistan desaster, the Indian Mutiny, the Crimea War, the Taiping rebellion, the Mahdi rebellion, even the civil war in the US is in Harry's range. Drinking, cheating, fornicating, lying, betraying, bullying his way into and out of trouble and up the army career ladder.
The author just died recently, which reminded me of Harry. Try him!
Let me make a simplistic statement: had the Russians read Flashman, they might have reconsidered their stupid invasion of Afghanistan. That would have kept the CIA idiots from supplying arms and training to Taliban. That then might have kept ObL out of Afghanistan and away from 9-11 ideas.
It might have kept arms and drugs smuggling in Pakistan on smaller levels and might have kept Pakistan a safer country. It might have reduced trouble in Kashmir and between India and Pakistan. Benazir might still be alife, as might her father.
See how easy history could be?
(This is meant as an obituary for George MacDonald Fraser.)
When I finished reading the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian, my daydreams cast me as recombining the two, Aubrey's body, Maturin's mind; we can be honest about our daydreams, can't we, gents? Now I'll have to imagine myself as a Trinity, with the soul of Harry Flashman, nasty as original sin.
There are already 87 reviews of this book, and I fancy I'm the last male bookworm in the English world who'd never heard of Flashman until recently, so I don't feel obliged to summarize the plot or certify the accuracy of the historical context of this first book in the series. Anyway, the pleasure is in the language, sentence by sentence, not in the action.
I can hardly tell you with what shame-faced glee I look forward to reading the further adventures of this despicable grifter! I plan to order all of them as soon as this review is processed.
Its relevance to 2010 Afghanistan is amazingly uncanny and very scary. What on earth are Americans (and the UK too) doing there today other than repeating age-old mistakes, waging a winless war and dying? But, back to "Flashman."
One has to simply tolerate Flashman and his misogyny, beliefs, conduct and idiotic philosophy. So much of his anti-woman rhetoric is simply abominable today, even if it reflected some reality of the early 19th Century and even in its comedic format. Would this book have been funny back then? Or, in 1969 when it was published? Does anyone think misogyny is funny now?
There is also a strong homoerotic flavor in much of the story and plenty of the subsequent garbage and name-calling surrounding love and attraction between men, fitting to the era. This tone was especially obvious between Flashman and Sergeant Hudson.
What rings true and fully entertaining is the scathing critique of Jolly Olde England, the unspeakably snobbish upper class brainlessness of Britain, the class distinctions, the disgusting racism, its colonialism, the mind-set of Brits who were ostensibly in charge of its empire, and the soon debunked superiority of all things British. Just look at the U.K. now for affirmation of the folly of its colonialism and its subjugation of all who were not properly born white British "Gentlemen and Ladies."
Rather than focusing on the truly funny passages in "Flashman," a reader should relish in its sober history lessons. For that reason alone, this book is worth reading.
If you are content to simply read this story as a comic book, replete with stand-up comedy put-down sarcasm, that works, too.
All in all, it's a 3 on Amazon's rating scale.
I have outgrown this type of humor, and I believe that many people will find this character and his world hard to stomach. Reading this book was like having one's "nose rubbed in it." The good news is, we (as humans) have come further than we may realize in terms of social progress.
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