I hated History at school. It was taught at me and I was expected to learn it parrot fashion. I could never remember the dates of the reigns of the monarchs or why there was a Rump Parliament or who was Elizabeth I's particular favourite at any given stage of her reign. Fortunately, having scientific leanings, I did not require qulaifications in history in order to pursue a career... It was while I was an undergraduate chemistry student that I first encountered George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman. I almost didn't read it, having had to struggle through 'Schooldays' when at school. Thank God I did read that first page, because, from that moment onward, I was hooked! Through the words of this Victorian gentleman, soldier and poltroon, history, for once, came alive. Names that had previously only been ink on paper became living, breathing entities. Queen Victoria became a young girl with a shy smile as well as an older woman in mourning, but with a dour sense of humour. This new edition of 'Flashman', relating the adventures of the bully from 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' from his expulsion from Rugby to his 'heroic' defence of Piper's Fort, is as readable as prior editions. The character portrayed on the cover, to my mind, looks more like the character described within than those previously portrayed. If your were not exactly a keen student of history but would still like to brush up your knowledge of the major events of the latter part of the nineteenth century, you would be well rewarded by dipping into the historical repository of the Flashman Papers.
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