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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work of enduring relevance
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...
Published on 17 May 2002 by Amazon Customer

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6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Pricing For Kindle Edition
Outrageous profiteering by Amazon regarding the Kindle price. Please boycott Kindle for this book and buy a paper copy, perhaps Amazon will take the hint.
Published 15 months ago by Tome Raider


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work of enduring relevance, 17 May 2002
This review is from: Sword of Honour (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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waugh on War, 1 May 2010
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sword of Honour (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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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great work by a master, 16 Jan 2000
By A Customer
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections on the passing of an age - and the absurdity of war, 18 July 2009
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sword of Honour (Paperback)
Perhaps Evelyn Waugh's finest work, this is his one-volume edition of the trilogy whose parts were previously published separately as `Men at Arms', `Officers and Gentlemen' and `Unconditional Surrender'. The three novels follow Guy Crouchback, scion of an ancient English Catholic family, exiled to Italy by the disgrace he feels at his own divorce. At the start of World War II, he returns to fight for his country against the `Modern Age' represented by the looming threat of Nazism.

Despite the subject-matter, it's actually a very funny, if at times rather too genteel, satire on the futility of war, which seems to amount to one per cent heroics (and some of that a very dubious snatching of honour from the jaws of farce) and ninety-nine per cent boredom, time-wasting, foul-ups and general folly. Throughout, Crouchback's attitude remains fairly enigmatic, though he is clearly meant to be a cipher for Waugh's own feelings lamenting the passing of old-fashioned chivalrous and courteous ways. That the work's main figure should remain so under-developed is perhaps a reflection of Waugh's professed lack of interest in character, which he sidelines in favour of `an exercise in the use of language - drama, speech and events'.

It's impossible not to warm to Crouchback, though, as he attempts to do the best for his men and country, whether on farcical training exercises in Scotland, the chaos of retreat during the fall of Crete, or among the partisans and beleaguered Jews of Yugoslavia. Never quite `up' with what goes on, frequently outflanked by modernity, he nonetheless emerges from the tragedy of personal loss - of family, of values - if not unscathed, then at least not bowed and broken. As Waugh's own mature reflection on the passing of an age, this is a work to be savoured.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Sword of Honour (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend revisited, 5 April 2013
By 
J. D. Evans (St Bees, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waugh at his best, 30 Mar 2013
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I have read this trilogy many times but each new time I enjoy it at least as much as the previous time. Waugh "gets" the British Army brilliantly. And he gets the futility of war brilliantly too. It is one of those books that has you laughing out loud and almost crying with sadness later on. If you have never read this book, rectify the situation immediately! You will not regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English eveocation at its best., 4 Feb 2013
By 
Tj Gavell - See all my reviews
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Waugh's comment on war and the idiocy and futile waste. Dreams of glory and honour turn to a tired and mutedly cynical reminiscence of life in teh class-ridden British army of the 1940s.
Waugh's lapidary prose is a joy. He has a sublime ability to capture the zeitgeist of the upper classes, revealing their faults and passion and yet evoking a sympathy for the characters.
His style has been used as a template for so many TV costume dramas (other than the ones based on his novels) that it almost seems like parody. A wonderful trilogy written by an observer who was actually there at a pivotal time in western history. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and extraordinary. A wonderful book, 29 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Sword of Honour (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. Most of these are notes about sections that Waugh has removed with a view to ensuring that his "hero" Guy Crouchback is perceived as more worldly and experienced than was the case in the original version of the books. I can see why Waugh would choose to change the emphasis in this way and I think it makes the overall narrative more convincing and effective.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than Brideshead, 8 Sep 2010
By 
mo "Mo" (blackpool, lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sword of Honour (Paperback)
If you can put aside the fact that Evelyn Waugh is a total snob and held some pretty unpleasant opinions. Sword of Honour is an excellent book. He observes scathingly the incompetence of the upper classes, their inability to form anything approaching "normal" relationships and their unshakeable belief that ultimately they are always right and no one else matters or indeed exists outside their circles. Darkly humorous and satirical observation of a whole way of life amongst the British upper crust. Even his "hero" Crouchback frustrates. As heinous and self serving as many of the characters often are, they hold one's attention absolutely. Set against the background of WW2 there is also an underlying sadness in the book of lives lost and lives wasted.
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Sword of Honour
Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh (Paperback - 29 Mar 2001)
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