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3.9 out of 5 stars65
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 23 January 2004
This is an incredibly funny novel, and a must read for anybody interested in the politics of the world during the 30's, or the farcical nature of the press. All the way through it is funny, and I can think of no novel similar to it.
In regard to the novel being racist, I don't think it is. It must be taken in the context of it's time, much of the language is outdated, and would never be used now for fear of offence, but was, at the time acceptable. The African characters in the book are never criticised more than the white characters, and if anything, the African's end up fooling the journalists and being portrayed as intelligent, insightful characters. How this could be considered racist is a mystery to me.
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2005
Waugh is both appreciated and reviled for much the same qualities. The same caustic wit and social observation that sliced through the ridiculous class structure of his time also brought a flippancy and 'carelessness' which in our politically correct age reads uncomfortably.
Scoop is a classic example, essentially involving a mix up in the assignment of a plum overseas journalism posting to cover the Ishmalian civil war. This is written in the age of Goebbels and Stalin, and so it is no surprise to see that the power of the press is essentially responsible for destabilizing the otherwise unassuming African state. Where the journalists decide there is a story, a story will exist. Is it really that different today?
Waugh uses his social observation skills to almost ludicrous extremes, with portraits of Lord Copper, Boot of the Beast and the other journalists in the pack being both ghastly and stunningly incompetent. The novel retains its comic touch, although has dated slightly more than some of Waugh's other works. Essentially many of the caustic barbs would be more suited to an age familiar with the excesses of Beaverbrook and Rothermere.
This is essentially classic Waugh, and thus should be approached with a little prior knowledge of his style. If you like him, you'll love this - I devoured it in a day.
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on 6 November 2000
Waugh effortlessly sucked me into this barmy but beguiling world where everyone speaks their mind but no-one pays any attention. If I said it was about journalism, international relations, nepatism, government, privilege, and philosophy you'd get totally the wrong idea, but it is. If I said it was firstly laugh-out-loud funny, secondly, a classic depiction of life for a certain class of people at a certain time in Britain and thirdly, based around an interesting set of observations I think I'd be getting closer to the truth. You see Waugh, I believe, didn't write about the answers to the injustices, or contradictions he saw. He just redrew them for his reader to make up his or her mind. Which is what I think you should do with Scoop. Only laugh first.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2002
Evelyn Waugh was without doubt one the funniest writers that 20th century Britain produced, and this is one of the best examples of his work. Written during the interwar period, the book parodies the battles of mass market Fleet Street as the rivalry between the Daily Brute and the Daily Beast.
William Boot mistaken for his travel writing cousin is sent to Africa to report on a possible coup in the independent state of Ishamlia.
Having previously only produced a nature column called lush places, Boot's journey is a superb comedy of errors. This book is not only excellent in it's own right but provides a superb introduction to the rest of Waugh's work. Waugh might be best known these days for 'Brideshead Revisited,' but his earlier comedies are for me at least as rewarding.
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on 20 March 2002
SCOOP is probably the most purely enjoyable of Evelyn Waugh's books and Simon Cadell's wonderful reading has enhanced my pleasure in it. His characterisation is subtle and very very funny. When I read the book for myself I now hear Simon Cadell's interpretation of Corker, Gretchen, and Lord Copper. A flawless rendition of a marvellous novel.
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on 16 January 2000
It is widely known that Waugh's books are witty, observant and highly readable. This is no different, the depiction of the newspaper business then, is probably nearly just as relevant now. The book is amusing and clever to the extreme. The plot moves from traditional British farce (although highly believable) to cutting observant wit that stirs the grey matter. Excellent.
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on 7 August 2001
.
This book is set just 54 years before CNN redefined the role of war correspondents during the Gulf War of 1990.
Back in the late 1930s just before WW2, the global powers were having a trial run ahead of the Big One. In those days, it was the newspapers (and not the TV networks) who called the shots.
Evelyn Waugh in his inimitable, over-the-top style goes right to the heart of the media business. It's not about delivering news; it's pure power politics. The egos of the media owner are the prime drivers of the machinations of this industry. Their bungling underlings are constantly in damage control and covering up their incompetencies.
Only Waugh could get away with these observations on indigenous Africa. His descriptions of the supposedly fictitious Democratic Republic in Africa (20 years before most of the continent went independent of their colonial masters) is pure clairvoyance.
Most of Africa today is just like his Ishmaelia. So-called democracies run by autocratic Presidents-for-Life.
This book as well as being a primer for foreign correspondents, is an excellent manual for students of African politics.
Unfortunately, for many readers on the West Side of the Atlantic, Waugh's subtle ironic style might be at times impenetrable. Rule one with Waugh is never to take things at face value. He was a brave and clever man to get away with the demolition jobs he does on his own class ridden British society.
Once you twig to his wit, his writing becomes a pure pleasure. There is never a dull moment. His observations on society, politics, business and the human condition are timeless.
Waugh is the master of 20th century satirical literary humour. Scoop is one of his best.
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on 25 May 2010
William Boot writes a nature coloumn for the Daily Beast. The Beast is owned by Lord Copper who sends the hapless Boot, mistaking him for an author with the same surname, to report on the war in the East African country of Ishmaelia. Boot is totally inexperienced and incompetent in his role as war correspondent, but by luck rather than judgement manages to get a sensational scoop for the Beast. He returns to England and is feted as hero and world-renowned journalist. Lord Copper asks the Prime Minister to award a knighthood to Boot. The award is conferred on the other Boot, who can't believe his good luck in becoming 'Sir John Boot'.

'Scoop' is a mordant satire on Fleet Street. Waugh uses his experience of reporting on the Italian-Abyssinian War for the Daily Mail to lampoon the devious ways journalists employ in trying to outwit each other to deliver the most sensational story.

In 1972 'Scoop' was serialised by the BBC, and in 1987 in was made into a film for TV starring Michael Maloney and Denholm Elliott.
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on 6 November 2000
Waugh effortlessly sucked me into this barmy but beguiling world where everyone speaks their mind but no-one pays any attention. If I said it was about journalism, international relations, nepatism, government, privilege, and philosophy you'd get totally the wrong idea, but it is. If I said it was firstly laugh-out-loud funny, secondly, a classic depiction of life for a certain class of people at a certain time in Britain and thirdly, based around an interesting set of observations I think I'd be getting closer to the truth. You see Waugh, I believe, didn't write about the answers to the injustices, or contradictions he saw. He just redrew them for his reader to make up his or her mind. Which is what I think you should do with Scoop. Remember, laugh first.
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on 28 January 2016
Newspaper journalists often get stick from Joe Public and when you look at some of the dubious practices they've resorted to in recent times it's hardly surprising. In the era this novel is set there was also the rampant drinking culture to consider - Fleet Street pubs packed from morning to night with a motley collection of reeling drunks and ne'r-do-wells in trilby hats - though readers can rest assured that on that score at least these days mineral water and wholegrain lunches, and puritanical flexing and stretching in city gyms, are more the order of the day. But if workplace habits have changed, the driving force behind the business certainly hasn't - getting stories, the more "exclusive" the better, because we all love a good story. EW's hilarious tale shows the lengths to which reporters will go to get them and how even complete rubbish will do the trick, if it's what people want to read. All the types are here - the monstrous proprietor Lord Copper, never happier than when he's boring people to death with glib speeches; the put-upon, countryside-hating Foreign Editor who really wants to be in charge of Competitions; and fey hero, bucolic ingenue William Boot, despatched to Africa in error and becoming a journalistic legend by complete accident. Throw in a cast of other reprobates - corrupt but clever African politicians, back-stabbing press agency men, a mercenary German fraulein (we think), and a swivel-eyed Swede who goes absolutely nuts after drinking 60% alcohol - and you end up with a comic masterpiece that will make you laugh out loud. Brilliant.
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