- Flashman Books :-)
the ideal thing to dip in and out of when I couldn’t be bothered with a proper book.
I used to think like that, I called my love of the Flashman books a dirty little secret but I’ve changed my mind. They are not all of the same quality but when he was on form GMF was up there with the great story tellers like Robert Louis Stevenson. Even when he wasn’t on best form you get some great historical gems. Anyone who doesn’t believe me that GMF is a great story teller should read his war biography ‘Quartered Safe out Here’. Or if you find Flashman’s obvious failings jarring to modern sensibilities try the trilogy about a Highland regiment just after WWII that starts with ‘The General Danced at Dawn’
I’m a fan as you probably gathered.Posted 6 days agohamishthecatMember
I too read them in my early teens and very much enjoyed them at the time. Impeccably researched and an excellent way to develop an initial knowledge of British military history in the 2nd half of the 19th C.
Tried them again a few years ago and found them unreadable. Bizarre.
An extract from The Great Game was in the 1980 A level English exam as the precis passage IIRC. Unfortunately it was the mock exam when I took it and I was unable to repeat the performance for the real thing. ☹️Posted 6 days agoSpinMember
as YoKaiser says there is some pretty shocking stuff in there.
Its kind of obvious but this is because GMF’s stated aim was to make the characters as much as possible OF their time rather than just IN that time. Lots of historical fiction inserts characters with modern sensibilities into historical situations, I don’t necessarily mind that but I appreciate writers who try to do otherwise.Posted 6 days agofunkrodentSubscriber
I love Flashman! Must have read each one at least five times. The whole point of the books is that he is an unabashed rogue, cad, coward, pilferer and cheat. If anybody’s #MeToo sensibilities get put out by them then they are goinig to find a whole swathe of classic literature similarly distasteful.
For the record the original Flashman is probably the weakest of the lot, GMF was only getting started. The really good ones (imho) are Flashman and the Mountain of Light (the Sikh campaigns), Royal Flash (Bismarck and the unification of Germany, rip-off of Prisoner of Zenda), Flashman in the Great Game (Indian Mutiny), Flashman’s Lady (early days of cricket and Brooke) and Flash for Freedom (slavery and one of his meetings with Lincoln).
As mentioned above, impeccably researched and written so straight faced by GMF that when the first one came out, several reviewers and readers in the US thought they were genuine memoirs discovered in Leicestershire and edited by GMF. For years afterwards he would get letters from various American readers referencing their Great great uncle who had fought with Colonel Flashman in the Civil War (a lot of the books – incl the first – reference his adventures fighting for both Confederates and Unionists in the civil war, sadly GMF never got round to writing up those adventures before he died).
Very funny, rip roaring adventures, and in no way do they endorse the views or actions of Flashman who is shown to somehow succeed despite his very many obvious failings.
Interestingly GMF wrote the first one whilst a journalist in Scotland. He didn’t like it and was going to bin it until his wife read it and persuaded him to send it to a publisher.
Great conceit as well to take a famous literary character (Flashman being the bully from Tom Brown’s Schooldays) and creating a “rest of his life” where he is present at every major British military engagement in the 2nd half of the 1800s (including the Charge of the Light Brigade – in the front row of the charge, gibbering with fear and uncontrollably breaking wind due to a dodgy bottle of looted Russian champagne).
Also by GMF is the above mentioned wartime memoirs which are brilliant (great story about the Suez crisis and how a Special Forces soldier unconventionally saved him and his platoon from being torn limb from limb by a riotous mob wanting to cross the bridge they had been told to hold at all costs). Also worth reading is the Border Reivers.
He also wrote the screenplay for Octopussy (which I guess will be the nail in his coffin with the PC brigade 🙂Posted 4 days agofunkrodentSubscriber
As an aside, anyone who enjoys Flashman and/or historical adventures with a bit of humour thrown in, could do a lot worse than read the Brigadier Gerrard books. All about an arrogant, conceited and “not very good” French Napoleonic officer. Written by Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame and absolutely fantastic as well!Posted 4 days agonicko74Member
nicko74 what would you consider to be a “proper” book?
One I was reading about a year in the life of a Cumbria sheep farmer, some business books, Alistair Reynolds and other cerebral sci-fi – y’know, the stuff you tell people you read, while actually finding it tough to tear yourself away from Flashman! 🙂
Definitely agree with the comment above that they’re a bit variable in quality. The first (Afghanistan) is fantastic, and genuinely got me interested in the British retreat from Kabul; the second is a bit meh (although still fun), and the third seems to be a game of two halves so far.Posted 4 days agogobuchulMember
As others have said, Quartered Safe Out Here is superb.
His description of an attack on Japanese positions alongside a squad of Ghurkas is something else.
He was on the South Bank Show and he didn’t hold back on his feelings towards the Japanese. Totally understandable when you read his memoir.Posted 4 days ago
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.