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on 2 March 2018
A novel about, as the subtitle says, journalists and also about the Establishment, mistaken identity, the Englishman abroad and a strange, fairly dysfunctional, county set, extended family.
A spiffing, well written, humorous yarn but, sadly, one which does not survive the test of time; a lot of the humour is based on racism, jingoism, xenophobia, chauvinism (is that another term which, like "entrepreneur", GWB, POTUS 43, thinks the French do not have a word for?), etc., with Johnny (and even Kätchen) foreigners queuing up to take advantage of and rip off our innocent, honest (mainly) and upright (mainly) Englishman protagonist.
It is heavy sprinkled with extreme racist language, especially when referring to the indigenous inhabitants of the fictional African country in which the main action is set, which would, I suspect, lead to widespread protests and even legal action, if it was published today.
Anyway, another tick on my booket list and, putting my modern PC leanings on one side, a very enjoyable read - just to show that I have not gone completely non PC retro, I'll only give it four stars, not five.
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on 4 June 2016
This book is a 'forgotten' gem by one of our greatest writers. Re-reading it after about 30 years, I found it as wickedly funny now as then. It's a classic of 'comedy of errors' writing, as bitingly funny about Waugh's own class and profession as it is towards any other cultures mentioned .I say 'forgotten'. Do I mean edited out? Censored? Many journalists still appreciate its merciless lampooning of who and what makes 'news'. Some of course are shocked by its apparent racism and blatant snobbery, while many academics prefer to ignore it in writing courses for fear of giving offence to all the usual suspects. What a travesty that students should miss out on studying such a book for its subtle insights, wit and irony, brilliant use of viewpoint, dialogue and background colour. It's a work of its time, but so are all literary classics and other art forms. Then ask any journalist if it doesn't still have relevance today.
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on 14 August 2017
A bit of a curate's egg, possibly because Waugh was trying too hard to be acerbi and a lot seems somewhat dated. But there are some flashes of real wit..
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on 5 January 2017
Stinging satire and very very funny....but you of course have to leave political correctness and modern mores at the door as you enter. A short book but a near perfect comic novel. Drawn from experience but much of it is so relevant today.
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on 1 February 2017
What a great book ,and I am inclined to think that a good deal of the ' make it up as you go along' school of journalism alluded to in this excellent book is as true today as when it was written. Witty, erudite and contemporary . Loved it!
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on 4 December 2016
I liked the excellent descriptive prose, and the humour at the expense of journalism , proprietors , and hacks. Though written in the thirties it still resonates today. Waugh brilliant descriptions brings to life colonial Africa , and the west country life of faded minor aristocracy. The racist, white supremicist descriptions of Africa shocked, but were not untypical if those times.
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on 8 April 2018
Waugh's second best book (after Decline & Fall, of course) is a joy, and if the satire on the journalists themselves now seems dated, that on the media moguls seems more apposite than ever, these days.
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on 13 May 2017
Very entertaining and funny read. I can only recommend it. Not too heavy, lots of sarcasm. A story of misunderstandings.
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on 31 July 2017
Faintly amusing - good to finish it!

Satire no longer subtle - times and critics change beyond our wildest expectation
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on 27 April 2017
Can see why this is a classic. Brillant.
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