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The Sword of Honour Trilogy: Men at Arms, Officers and Paperback – 29 Apr 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014018967X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140189674
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,067,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Evelyn Waugh was born in Hampstead in 1903. His first novel, Decline and Fall, was published in 1928 and it was soon followed by: Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). He travelled extensively, served in the Royal Marines and the Royal Horse Guards and continued to write, winning many prestigious literary awards. Brideshead Revisited was first published in 1945. Evelyn Waugh died in 1966. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
When Guy Crouchback's grandparents, Gervase and Hermione, came to Italy on their honeymoon, French troops manned the defences of Rome,1 the Sovereign Pontiff drove out in an open carriage and Cardinals took their exercise side-saddle on the Pincian Hill. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 17 May 2002
Format: Paperback
Witty and tragic, engaging and insightful, this work must be counted next to 'Brideshead Revisited' as Waugh's most enduring novel. Sword of Honour effortlessly treads the line between the personal and the political - it is at once an indictment of the incompetence of the Allied war effort, and a moving study of one man's journey from isolation to self fulfilment. The chaos of war throws up winners and losers in a way which is at once unpredictable and disconcerting - for many readers this work will be an invaluable lesson in the horrors (and petty joys) which war brings.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I love Evelyn Waugh's writing and was amazed to come across this and realize that I hadn't read it before. I took it on holiday with me, as it is a fairly weighty tome, being three novels in one. In his introduction Waugh writes that he wrote the three books as single volumes in order to make money, but that he always knew they would work best together in one volume and edited it accordingly.

It is semi-autobiographical, dealing with Waugh's experiences in WWII through the fictional life of Guy Crouchback, a socially inept aristocrat whose only real feeling is about his Roman Catholic faith. Waugh states in the introduction that he intended it to be his thoughts about the War, but on re-reading it, realises it is his eulogy to the Catholic church. I would say it's about fifty fifty and none the worse for that.

There are bright splashes of the satire to be found in Scoop and The Loved Ones here along with the tragedy and cynicism about society that colour A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited, all set against the war being played out in London, Crete and the Balkans. It is touching and tragic and blackly funny, particularly the segment where Guy is sent for training on the isle of Mugg. A great book.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
A revealing, semi-autobiographical tale of EW's journey and ultimate spiritual fulfilment - 'Unconditional Surrender' - camouflaged under the guise of one Lt/Captain/Lt Guy Crouchback RC, Royal Corps of Halberdiers.

I found 'Officers & Gentlemen', the middle section of the three volumes quite by serendipity, long ago whilst on an extended holiday in Tobago, West Indies. Having previously read none of EW's work and with the requisite amount of time on my hands, I became utterly absorbed; and slightly irritated. It was a unique tale, and yet unsettling for some reason. I longed to read the first & last books in the series. Back in the UK and having sought out and read the rest of the trilogy, I began to understand something of the mastery of the language that this man possessed. His work demands much of the reader, and if the reader cares to respond, he or she will not be disappointed. I am no longer irritated or unsettled by his writing.

Funny, bitter, perceptive, witty, dry, deeply enjoyable but above all else, beautifully written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb on 29 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback
Through Guy Crouchback, the detached observer and would be knight, who thought his private honour would be satisfied by war, Evelyn Waugh perfectly captures the bureaucracy, pettiness, absurdity, humour, and confusion of war. It all rings true with numerous little details that make this book so satisfying. It's everything that great literature should be - beautifully written, evocative. poignant, funny, tragic and profound.

I wonder how many of the great characters are also based on real people. I really want Jumbo Trotter, Apthorpe, Ludovic, Box-Bender, Trimmer Virginia, Peregrine, and - of course - Brigadier Ritchie-Hook to be real characters, as I do, the denizens of Bellamy's club.

In April 2013, I finally read Brideshead Revisited and was captivated from start to finish. You probably don't need me to tell you it's a masterpiece. Before embarking on Sword of Honour, I would never have believed that Evelyn Waugh could have written two masterpieces. He has. Brideshead Revisited and Sword of Honour. That's in addition to all the other wonderful fiction and non-fiction.

Epic and extraordinary. You really should read Sword of Honour. A wonderful book. 5/5

NOTE ABOUT DIFFERENT EDITIONS:

Sword of Honour was originally published as three separate volumes Men At Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955), and Unconditional Surrender (1961), however Waugh extensively revised these books to create a one-volume version "Sword of Honour" in 1965, and it is this version that Waugh wanted people to read.

The Penguin Classics version of "Sword of Honour", contains numerous informative and interesting footnotes and an introduction by Angus Calder, each time Waugh changed the text there was a note.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Evans on 5 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this trilogy many years age, and have been meaning to return to it for ages. This is the revised one volume version, and I was inspired to buy it by reading an interesting review in "Slightly Foxed", the excellent reader's quarterly magazine. I have not been disappointed. It is both funny and very touching, reflecting as it does Waugh's own war experience. I thoroughly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr Chris on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderfully illuminating about the muddle, incoherent decisions, chance events, civilian life, accidental bravery, and social class dynamics of the second world war. Told with a wry but gently forgiving irony, with experiences in and outside Europe and a rich cast of characters: there are permutations of nobility, devoutness, promiscuity, self-absorption, snobbery, courage and craziness.
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