Customer Review

87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Best, 19 Feb 2003
This review is from: Flashman (The Flashman Papers) (Paperback)
A friend of mine last year had to spend some time in the delightful town of Kabul. Prior to his departure I managed to secure a copy of this book for him; I hoped that he would see the funny side of me giving him a story which involved one of the greatest military defeats ever retreating from the very place he was being sent to.
I knew though that I was also giving him the start of the most enjoyable series of books I had ever read, and that if he gleaned even half as much enjoyment from it as I had, then he would have his stay brightened considerably.
For those of you who have never heard of Harry Flashman before, he is the bully and cad from Tom Brown's Schooldays (and incidentally the only character worth remembering amongst the various hypocritical do-gooding manly little Christians that are otherwise described). The story starts where his exit from Rugby in Tom Brown had ended, his being expelled for drunkenness. He consequently joins the army, not with a view to doing any valuable service but as an occupation he could loaf and skive to his hearts content (not that much has changed at Horse Guards since). With a constant eye for the ladies his tale makes an interesting one (especially as he was such a nasty piece of work) even before he was posted to Afghanistan. When he arrives in India we discover, as he does, that he has a talent for horse-riding and languages as well as with the ladies, and so makes an interesting correspondent for us as readers, as he can be shifted to wherever the action is with relative ease. The fact that when the author does so he tends to either be chasing skirt, or running away like the coward he is (directly into trouble more often than not), again makes the whole thing more interesting.
I do believe that although there are no redeeming qualities about Flashman's character we are dragged into liking him due to his honesty as a writer (for these papers are his recollections) and his bucket loads of style. He's also damnably funny.
I recommend this book to all who love life being lived at full throttle (even if the gear selected is usually reverse), also all those who wish to learn about the Empire as it truly was. Go on, treat yourself today, buy a Flashman!
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Feb 2008 21:41:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Feb 2008 21:46:26 GMT
Seeker says:
This is 'the Empire as it Truly Was' for a thorough rotter, certainly. Most people were (and are) not actualy like this, as society would come to a halt pretty quickly. This reviewer's referring to Flashman's schoolmates as hypocritical is too good; Flashy is the hypocrite supreme pretending to virtues like bravery, loyalty, honor, chastity etc. which he has no concept of and would probably not recognize if they bit him on the leg. The boys at Rugby, wrestled with real problems of behaviour and sometimes even succeeded; Flashy is the one who never even bothered to try.

Still if someone dislikes Britain, and the Empire, and Christianity, and decent behaviour and so on, praising a book about someone who just chucks it all would be natural, of course. Maybe the reviewer would even hail him as an early progressive thinker. Remember though, the books protagonist does not give a damn about anyone except as far that one can be manipulated to personal advantage. So, if he were in a modern story, he would likely be be agreeing with all the reviewers ideas about global warming vegetarian communes, or whatever it is, and laughing up his sleeve the whole time. Note that this debased point of view renders much of Flashman's 'everyone's in it for what he can get' analysis of people and events in the Victorian era suspect. But then, that is part of the fun.

Books about complete lowlifes who are successful at it are always fun, actually. And this one is very well-written. Be sure to buy it. Then pick up one of G.A. Henty's books on the same events and see the contrast(available at robinsonbooks.com). Continue so for the rest of the Flashman series.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2011 15:06:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jul 2011 15:07:55 BDT
T Marshall says:
What a bunch of arse! Flashy was not a hypocrite; he was a liar, a bully, a cheat and toady, BY HIS OWN ADMISSION. (there, you've made me use caps lock, damn you!) To say that someone does not like Britain because they enjoy GMF is like saying that someone doesn't like masturbation, which let's face it Mr Seeker really does as his comments are total ****.

I wish my review had been read before it was commented on, *sigh*.

Oh, and you can shove Henty up your bum as well.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2011 14:10:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jul 2011 14:12:02 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
I wonder if the person who gave my similarly approving rating for the first Flashman Book a detriment mark is the very same Seeker as the one above. Really, he just doesn't get it, does he?

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2011 14:29:11 BDT
T Marshall says:
The bloke's an idiot, I particularly like the part where I am accused of not liking Britain having held the Queen's Commission myself for over 11 years.

Posted on 21 Jul 2013 15:39:31 BDT
Excalibur says:
Political incorrectness, cavorting, violence, humour and suspense are also to be found in this latter day Great Game novel Distant Annihilation: A Contemporary Great Game Thriller.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2014 11:31:30 GMT
QED the gentleman must be a product of Rugby and the doctor's brand of muscular christianity. Perhaps a distant relative of Scud East ...

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2014 11:32:24 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 17 Jan 2014 11:34:10 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2014 17:55:54 BDT
Oldbiker says:
This is my current read and I'm enjoying it immensely.
Aside from the unlovely Flashman's misadventures the fact that you could transpose the historically correct parts of the story into the present day are quite sobering.
Excellent review by the way Mr Marshall, Seeker deserves to be roasted slowly Flashman-style until he sees the error of his ways.
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