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When the Going Was Good

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  194 ratings  ·  18 reviews
When The Going Was Good presents five long excerpts from the four travel books Evelyn Waugh wrote between 1929 and 1935, chosen by the author. Starting with a tour of Mediterranean pleasure dens, Waugh pushes on to Abyssinia (where he reports indelibly on the coronation of Haile Selassie), across the continent of South Africa, to the wilds of Brazil and British Guiana, and ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published 1976 by Penguin (first published 1946)
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Mark Nenadov
This anthology contains what very well might be the best post-WWI, pre-WWII travel writing extant. Waugh skilfully documents his travels through Yemen, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Kenya, Congo, Guyana, and Brazil.

As I read this, I begin to feel a bit of nostalgia for the "good old days" of travel. That nostalgia was quickly extinguished, though, by Waugh's witty narrative, in which one clearly sees how miserable world travel was back then. As Paul Johnson once wrote in The American Spectator a
"When the Going Was Good presents five long excerpts from the four travel books Evelyn Waugh wrote between 1929 and 1935, chosen by the author. Starting with a tour of Mediterranean pleasure dens, Waugh pushes on to Abyssinia (where he reports indeliby on the coronation of Haile Selassie), across the continent to South Africa, to the wilds of Brazil and British guiana, and back to Abyssinia in the wake of the Italian invasion."
~~back cogver

This isn't a travel book. At least not as you & I th
I liked it.

Waugh is a typical product of his class and generation. Courageous and yet haughty. Fun and yet serious. This is a collection he made from his own travel writing; the material of novels also, but told winningly in the first person.

I would never be able to share all his viewpoints, of course, especially the one that the poor aren't quite fully human, that's a note I am familiar with from most English literature in the 30's - almost exclusively the writers from this period are public
Randy Paterson
An entertaining snapshot of the interwar period, and of Waugh's own mind. Although adventurous, he doesn't really seem to have enjoyed, much less respected, most of the cultures he visits in this collection of his travel writing.
Though Waugh's politics are occasionally more offensive than the circumstances of the times permit, I enjoyed this collection more than some of his other travel writing that I have read. His youthful excitement at globe-trotting is palpable, and he captures very well the feel of exploring, without going into extensive detail. There are also several instances in which potential inspiration for his later novels may be found.

I happened to begin reading this just after I had finished Twain's "The In
Don't read this book if you actually want to learn much about the areas or culture Waugh writes about - like far too many European authors of the period he assumes that any non-European civilisation will only ever be ruidementary by default and that all non-European people are at best as intelligent as a bright and somewhat charming child. However if you want entertaining tales of journalistic stupidity, strange ex-pats abroad and the fact that whilst on holiday everything that can go wrong, wil ...more
this book is a must. for any one that has traveled or wants to, you should search for this. and search you might have to. it is no longer in print!!! the stories of this true wanderer at heart are funny and captivating. the way people used to travel in the 1930's was amazing, the places you could go, the things you could see. as an avid traveler, sometimes it is hard to find a place that you feel is untouched. as our technology has advanced, the gaps in our cultures have closed. and i think this ...more
Adventures and experiences abroad related with Waugh's acerbic wit. Fascinating insights into travel in the early twentieth century - just as much for the similarities (the behaviour of tourists, for instance, which is entertainingly mocked) as that which has changed irrevocably, through war or the end of empire. There is also revealed, during a sojourn in Athens, an excellent hangover cure.
Very readable. Waugh was indeed an adventuresome young man, though he states in the preface that travels such as his, including such undeniable "rough" travel, was commonplace with young men of his generation - "It was what we did."

Waugh travelled on assignment for various periodicals, and for his own interest. His writings in this anthology are vivid period pieces of a time long past; the prejudices and mores of the time are indelibly recorded.
Travel in the 1930s as the world slid downhill towards chaos and destruction. Evelyn Waugh's acerbic observations of the manners and mores of both the visitor and the visited remain as pungent today as when they first appeared. Granted, those of a sensitive nature might find offense in some of his observations of native cultures but Waugh is an equal-opportunity writer as his comments on many of his fellow Britons are just as sharp.
John Lucy
A collection of old traveling memoirs of Waugh. The writing is good and the stories are often quite funny and insightful, as Waugh generally is, but these types of things are not interesting to today's readers. Today we can travel to New places or watch videos of those places rather than read a travelogue. Good piece of reading, but out of date.
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Decent travel writing from the 1930's, although not as good as Norman Lewis. There are some sketchy racist undertones and the occasional outright remark, such as the following when referring to some African peoples in relation to their colonial occupiers : 'It seemed just tribute from the weaker races to their mentors.'
Jim O'Donnell
Holy cow. One of the most racist, pompous, colonial pieces of crap I've ever read. And for that, it is well worth the read. Its worth having insight into the world views and values of an overbearing, high class British punk at the height of Empire.

Educational. If you can stand it.
Waugh travels the world in the 20s, blissfully unaware that Europe is on the edge of the abyss. "I'm glad I went when the going was good." I'm a sucker for Waugh, but this is not his best.
Oct 21, 2007 Thediplobad rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in travelogues
Before there was tourism, there was travel, and Waugh was an expert. His description of the heat in Zanzibar will make you prespire!
Timothy Krecsmar
Fantastic travelogue of a time and life style, while English colonialism was still a powerful force worldwide.
Duncan Box

Great window into travel by the wealthy and pretentious in the 1920s/1930s.
A great set of travel writings to disparate locales.
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Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher. His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note. In fact, his book “The Loom of Youth” (1917) a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College. He said of his time there, “…the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al ...more
More about Evelyn Waugh...

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