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Seventy-Two Virgins Paperback – 3 May 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (3 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007198051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007198054
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in May 2008. Before this he was the Editor of the Spectator and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames. He is the author of many books, notably Have I Got Views for You and Dream of Rome.

Product Description

Review

'A hectic comedy thriller…a rip-roaring knockabout farce…refreshingly unpompous, faintly dishevelled and often very funny.' Mail on Sunday

'At the centre of his first novel, a light comedy, is a terrorist plot of frightening ingenuity…the comedy is reminiscent of Tom Sharpe.' Sunday Times

'Johnson scores in his comic handling of those most sensitive issues…he succeeds in being charming and sincere…Boris Johnson has written a witty page-turner.' Observer

'Among the hilarious scenes of events and the wonderful dialogue which keeps the story moving at a cracking pace, Johnson uncovers some home truths…I can give no higher praise to this book than to say that I lapped it up at a single uproarious sitting.' Irish Examiner

'As an author, the Shadow Arts Minister is in a class of his own: ebullient, exhausting but irresistible.' Daily Mail

'fluent, funny material…the writing is vintage, Wodehousian Boris…it has been assembled with skill and terrific energy and will lift morale in the soul of many.' Evening Standard

'This is a comic novel, but Johnson is never far away from making serious points, which he leads us towards with admirable stealth.' Daily Telegraph

Book Description

A Comedy of Errors


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By El Loro on 23 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
Boris Johnson is one of those people who hide a frighteningly acute mind behind a bumbling persona, and I get the impression that he knocked this book out over a long rainy weekend. The plot is flawed, the pace slackens in places and, on reflection, this is a piece of lighter than light fluff. I can understand why BJ would resist a stronger editorial hand, but the book suffers as a result.

But, by Heaven, its funny! Boris Johnson takes huge swipes at the world and his dog, including himself, but cleverly avoids taking sides. ON the other hand, like Dave Courtney, he can dress up discomforting ideas in hilarious language and make you laugh despite yourself.

A good way to spend a rainy afternoon.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By "chris-westminster" on 7 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A witty and highly enjoyable romp through much that is wrong with how Britain works (or doesn't) today.
The plot revolves around a bicycling MP who's a bit hapless, but basically a decent sort of chap (where have we seen that before?); islamist terrorists; a stolen ambulance and a speech by the President of the United States (POTUS) in Westminster Hall. Just don't cheer too loudly when the parking attendant gets stabbed! It had to lose one star off the maximum, though, because of a rather cheesy plot device involving the terrorist's demands and the general public - I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it!
Regular readers of Boris's journalism will know what to expect. Readers who have previously been taken in by his highly cultivated "bumbling, public-school educated, bit of a thicko but basically decent chap" image will be pleasantly surprised!
Enjoy!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peter Smith on 21 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is simply excellent. Boris Johnson's charmingly erratic personality shines through, making this book a delight to read.
But it's not laughs all the way - the subject matter is deadly serious, terrorism being something that the Western world has learnt to live with on a daily basis - and the author provides lucid, cogent and convincing arguments for questioning America's response to 9/11 and the country's treatment of terrorist suspects.
The characters are believable and convincing, and you do not need to peer too closely between the lines to discern the real identities of some of the principal players in this comedic masterpiece. The dialogue is deftly handled, descriptions are crisp and to the point, and overall the book works extremely well on several different levels.
More than a little reminiscent of Tom Sharpe at his best, this isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but you'll probably find yourself reading it with a smile on your face for most of the time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Russell Telfer on 11 July 2006
Format: Paperback
On the evidence of Seventy Two Virgins, Boris Johnson would make a good novelist or a good Prime Minister - he would probably have to decide which. `Flawed genius' may be a bit rich but hints at the general impression.

The American President is due to address the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall and meanwhile a serious but badly planned bomb cum kidnapping venture is under way. It's set in 2004, after 9/11 but before 7/7. Things go awry on all fronts but Johnson presents the drama with considerable tension, great humour and an astonishing political sensibility. How could this man be a Conservative MP?

The book is slow to start. The entire story takes place in under 4 hours but the build-up to the drama takes half the space without much happening. There is also a great deal of gratuitous erudition: okay, Boris, we've got the point, you're an extremely clever bloke but when you're writing a story like this, you need to move like Archer!

The kidnapping attempt, when it comes, is taken with deadly seriousness and yet has some hilarious sections as the author (relevantly) attacks some random targets: the fast food industry, bureacrats, celebrity chefs, religious fanatics, misogynists and military maniacs in no particular order. The book is worth the money for the rant about the food industry alone.

I was kept guessing as to how the book would end, but when it did it was satisfying. And was it all an improbable farrago?

I leave you with the author's last words:

-The only implausibility in this story is to imagine that (the kidnappers) could for a moment elude the police who guard the Palace of Westminster with such vigilance, tact and kindness.-
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Holland on 8 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Classically constructed novel by the classically educated man, but don't let this put you off. This novel is a farce set in modern times, highlighting the ineptitude of government, authorities, systems and those se rely on for our safety. The characters are pastiches of the people we recognise in power, and surely a bicycling MP is a little too close to home for Mr Johnson.

There are parts of this that you will love - an ambulance being clamped by an over-zealous warden springs to mind. There are parts that plod a little, but the story turns a page and is off again. A great holiday read.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Chris Chalk on 17 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
Having got about half way through Seventy Two Virgins I couldn't help feeling that although the narrative was "nice", that's all it was. What I mean by that is I didn't really see where the book was going, or more correctly, I didn't really care. So picture the scene, I have managed to get half way through of a book I am pretty nonplussed too, then it hits me. The story speeds up.
The second half of this book does occur at rather more pace and in my opinion is no bad thing! The carefully worded manuscript that has preceded it really does make a lot more sense once things to get going and you find yourself being glad that you carefully navigated your way through it.
The central characters are myriad and all take a central theme and different times during the book. This partly explains the length of time it takes to get going, there is a lot of background work to get through there! A Lebanon born, Wales educated soon to be terrorist going by the name of "Jones" is cooking up a dastardly cunning plan. As "Baldric" might once have said, it is more cunning than Mr Fox after advanced cunning lessons from the cunning University... Ok a slightly twee explanation but one not totally out of keeping with the book, in that it pokes no small amount of fun at what really is a comedy of errors.
The book isn't as predictably as one might have expected and doesn't take a moral high ground either way, it quite cleverly balances the seemingly reasonable demands of the terrorists with the abhorrence of seeking these outcomes through the means they employ.
I wont go on, but suffice to say I strongly recommend this book to you all, it is an excellent read and damn good fun!
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