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The Sword of Honour Trilogy (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 10, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Deckle Edge, May 10, 1994
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Editorial Reviews


“[Men at Arms is] a highly entertaining novel. Waugh’s sharp wit and sure touch of satire are always at work.” –The Atlantic Monthly

“[Officers and Gentlemen is] deft and amusing, sober and appalling. And it offers, incidentally, one of the most graceful salutes of many seasons to the flexibility of the English language.” –New York Times

“Wise, amusing, and beautifully written. And because Officers and Gentlemen verifies a deepening seriousness and charity in Mr. Waugh’s art, it extends and renews the promise of his brilliant talent.”

The End of the Battle [is] hypnotically readable . . . The complete work now clearly emerges as Mr. Waugh’s main achievement to date, and the one piece of English fiction about [World War II] which is certain to survive.” –Times Literary Supplement

Sword of Honour was the climax of [Waugh’s] career as a novelist . . . Here in his final work there run together the two styles, of mischief and gravity, that can be noted in his writing from the beginning . . . He may justifiably have thought of it as crowning his work.” –from the Introduction by Frank Kermode

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Series: Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics
  • Hardcover: 760 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (May 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679431365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679431367
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.6 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When these books came out a number of reviewers thought that Waugh had lost his touch. Perhaps the atmosphere of the swinging sixties did not lend to itself a real understanding of the greatness of this work. In my opinion this work represents one of Waugh's major works. While it does not cover every aspect of World War Two (Proust did not feel the need to fight out every battle of World War One either), it does provide a kind of summing up of the state of Britain and what happened to former ruling class, a body that provoked feelings of great affinity from Waugh, even though he was a product of the upper middle class.

The key to understanding Waugh, not just this book, but also all of the others is his distrust of the 20th century. He came of age during the 1920s and biographers have noted an early fascination with the pre-Raphaelites. Although this artistic brotherhood focused on life in the pre-industrial age Waugh the satirist brought his powers to bear on the post World War I modern world its mores and hypocrasies. World War Two brought high taxes and democracy to this admired world of the British gentry and Waugh correctly chronicles this in his summary of the war in the trilogy.
The book is also a wonderful social satire drawing portraits of many of Waugh's own circle including Diana Mosley (With the fascist sympathies air brushed out here) Cyril Connolly and others. He marks the fall of the aristocratic officer and the rise of the "Trimmers" of the world whose heroism is more a result of luck and press puffing than genuine achievement.
The turning point in the book is the Crete campaign. Here British high born leadership collapses finally.
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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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Format: Hardcover
Great fun. The sort of thing that you read in the study with an open fire, a glass of 10 year old port and a cigar smouldering in the ashtray, the Great Dane snoring in the corner next to the mahogany sideboard.

Or that's the image that the book throws up.

I really enjoyed the book, wit in bucketfuls with an irony and a poignancy that had me chuckling away in time to the Great Danes' snoring.

Waugh takes you to the world of officers and gentlemen that he obviously experienced during his own wartime service- the injustice, the inept leadership and the crazed bravado of some of those around him. The waiting, the rumour, the boredom, the politics and luck, both good and bad are all major players in this book. The class system of officers and privates- all of the ingredients that make a Waugh book are here.

Oh yeah: and he fully describes and realises the insignificance of one soldier in the great scheme of things in an army, no matter how hard that one man wants to make a real difference.

Watch out for the exploits of the great Richie Hook- comic relief and so incredibly un-PC it will make you winch and laugh at the same time
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Format: Hardcover
The best of Evelyn Waugh works, this trilogy is the perfect combination of story and history. Waugh's actual experience during the war leaves its mark all over the place, as well as his particular brand of humor - and his distaste for communism. Great read for anyone who wants to be entertained by a touching story, and see how the war was fought by the British, and why they turned against Churchill when it was won. Even if you don't care about any of that, the jokes are still fantastic, and most of the characters are brilliantly developed. They don't make novels like these ones anymore.
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