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Officers and Gentlemen (Sword of Honour #2)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  974 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Fueled by idealism and eagerness to contribute to the war effort, Guy Crouchback becomes attached to a commando unit undergoing training on the Hebridean isle of Mugg, where the whisky flows freely and respect must be paid to the laird. But the comedy of Mugg is soon followed by the bitterness of Crete, where chaos reigns and a difficult evacuation must be accomplished.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 30th 1979 by Back Bay Books (first published 1955)
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A grimmer, less slap-sticky continuation of Men at Arms, this second book of the Sword of Honour trilogy is heavy on military strategy (or lack thereof), inertia and the tales of characters other than our primary protagonist, Guy Crouchback, as it spends a good deal of time following the elder, rotund "Jumbo" and the detrimentally by-the-book Hound. Officers and Gentlemen marks a steady turn away from the outright farcical elements of the first book, and is quite stark towards the end: death, ma ...more
The social rules applying to gentlemen may transfer to training camp, but they don't always transfer to the battlefield. The most random mishaps occur, nothing goes as planned, sometimes there isn't any plan, at other times the plan is really stupid, and gentlemen don't always behave like gentlemen. The main point of the book (at least as far as I can tell) gets summed up in the main character's mind as he is convalescing from a traumatic experience during the British withdrawal from Crete: "He ...more
The first volume of the Sword of Honour trilogy Men at Arms ended with Guy Crouchback back in London. This is where we find him at the start of Officers and Gentlemen, contemplating the beauty of the blitz and meeting up with old acquaintances at Bellamy's, a place of solace in a changing world. Nobody seems to have expected Guy back and so he goes in search of Apthorpe's belongings to pass them on to his friend, the oddly named Chatty Corner.

After somehow being saddled with a whole lorry load o
Waugh, Evelyn. OFFICERS AND GENTLEMEN. (1955). This is the second novel in Waugh’s projected trilogy, “Sword of Honour,” and continues the adventures of Guy Crouchback in the branch of the Halberdiers known as the “X Comandos.” Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, there are lots of references to earlier events that occurred in the first novel that make it better read in order. There is nothing like these novels to compare them to within the American writings about the War, unless it ...more
Serjeant Wildgoose
A book of 2 distinct halves: the first is much more of the same, following Guy Crouchback's military exploits and peppered with the delightfully arcane and ludicrous. With introductions to Trimmer/McTavish and the superb oyster-eyed Corporal Major Ludovic, the remainder of the cast pulls through from Men at Arms.
The 2nd half of the book is altogether darker and brutally compelling as Guy and the men of X Commando stumble in to the last days of the calamitous and shambolic British collapse in Cre
Not much to crow about here. I couldn't put down the first book in the "Sword of Honour" trilogy, but this one was kind of "blah". The center-piece of this book is the Evacuation of Crete (or what Waugh's alter ego saw of it). It's no Hemingway-esque "Retreat from Caporetto", but it was relatively engaging in that it conveyed the utter confusion and chaos that must've characterized the event. There was one conversation in the novel about the changing meaning of honor that was very interesting. I ...more
Officers and Gentlemen is the strongest stand-alone novel in the Sword of Honor trilogy because it gives the clearest picture of the exotic setting. No matter whether that setting is London during the Blitz or evacuation from Cretan beaches, the vivid setting is clearly sketched and then shaded with the gloom of the its forlorn characters. This pall conveys not only the desperation of individuals but also a national and military desperation and confusion.

If you are interested a fictionalized pe
Better than Men at Arms. Joseph Heller must have taken inspiration from Officers and Gentlemen when he wrote Catch 22. Several characters, including the protagonist, have direct counterparts in Catch 22, and the mindless illogic of war is beautifully rendered here. Crouchback wanders through a dismal battlefield of defeated, broken armies, and although he makes a good faith effort to get involved he never quite accomplishes anything other than finally escaping with his life. Waugh's satiric gen ...more
Procyon Lotor
Sono sopraffatto da quest'uomo. Waugh che conoscevo poco e che in copertina � gratificato da grandi lodi internazionali (Borges) e nazionali (Fruttero) ha la capacit� estremamente ingannevole di organizzare un caos fluido e ordinato tale da evocare la nozione che al mondo esistono i savi i pazzi e gli inglesi, il tutto con humour continuo da circolo pickwick (chi lo apprezz�, qui si trover� benissimo) e quando sei preparato e hai preso il tono e il ritmo e danzi il suo foxtrot, di piazzarti a tr ...more
Officers and Gentlemen is more of a classic war story and features, which Waugh himself took part in. There are some details of the military action itself, but the book is more concerned with how people behave under pressure. There is much less humour in this book than the first one, as suits its story of the realities of war. Guy and the story become increasingly cynical. There are several side stories which add to the overall theme of how so many people ...more
Huda Ghanem
صحيح درسناها هالترم الماضي
بس نفسي أقرأها كاملة
رح أتسلى فيها بطريق السفر ان شاء الله
“…said Guy Crouchback, enthusiastically; he came fresh to these delights” (3).
“A crescent scream immediately, it seemed, over their heads…” (4).
“He jammed his valise across the corridor with his suitcase a few yards from him, making for himself a seat and a defence” (13).
“Now he dismissed the Cuthbert plot and considered two problems that had come to him with the morning’s post. He was a man of regular habit and settled opinion. Doubt was a stranger to him. That morning, in the hour between Mass
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by one of my favorite authors. This book did not disappoint. Waugh's satirical views of the army and culture are as sharp as ever in this story. His ability to craft phrases is so special that I want to read paragraphs over instead of moving on in the book. In this story, the protagonist is, like many of Waugh's other protagonists, somewhat woeful, pathetic and unlike the traditional hero of a story in other books. Guy wants desperately to alter his failed life so ...more
Reading the reviews of this on this site, I was interested to see how they split fairly evenly between readers who thought this second volume was weaker or less interesting than Men at Arms and those who preferred it. I think I can see arguments for both positions.

At the level of pure pleasure, I’d say that Men at Arms wins hands-down. There is nothing comic in this second novel to equal the glorious weirdness of Apthorpe and Ritchie-Hook. I missed them especially during the first half of the no
Patrick McCoy

Officers And Gentlemen (1955) by Evelyn Waugh is the second volume of the Sword Of Honor trilogy. I have to admit I didn't like it as much as the first volume, Men At Arms, even though it had many of the same elements: satire about the military and society, a comic figure in "Trimmer," and some excellent stylish passages. I think most of this had to do with the situations Guy Crouchback found himself in: training, military transport, surrender, and being adrift at sea. The action packed scenes w
Mike Harper
This book starts out funny - really funny - but ends up very sad. That's because the hero, Guy, leaves Great Britain, where the war seem distant despite the blitz, to Crete, where the war is miserable and all-encompassing. I like Waugh when he's being funny, poking fun at the class system. I like him less when he tackles serious subjects like death and cowardice. So for me, the book started as a five star read and became a three star as the story wandered.
We had read a book by Evelyn Waugh in book group, so when I saw this at a book sale, I bought it. It is both humorous, and sad in parts, too--telling the story of Guy Crouchback who goes from commando training, to an assault on Crete, and ends up convalescing in a hospital in Egypt. The rear cover mentions that this is the second in the trilogy--Sword of Honor, the others being Men at Arms and The End of the Battle. I found it quite readable.
John Lucy
Probably the best of the three books in the trilogy. Guy meets the characters that will feature prominently at the end of the story, and he continues to be frustrated by bureaucratic red tape in the government that will determine his future.

Not much changes, really, from the first book, and the same can be said of the third book. The story more or less follows Waugh's own experience during WWII and would be otherwise predictable anyway. That predictability and self-emulation shouldn't bother yo
Part 2 of Sword of Honour.

In many ways this is very similar to the previous book about Guy Crouchback of the Halberdiers: soldiers being resigned to the comic ineptitude of their commanders and all sorts of intriguing characters.

However, this volume has more about the tactics and experience of war, so that I did slightly lose track in places (despite all the historical footnotes) and less outright comedy, less of life back home, less Catholic angst (less Catholicism altogether) etc.

It is all the odd details that accumulate as our gormless hero Guy Crouchback sleepwalks through the war that make book so compelling. As a New Zealander the sections on Crete are especially interesting and also in light of having recently read the great NZ writer John Mulgans minor war classic "Report on Experience" which covers his hard fighting in Greece and time spent in Egypt which Waugh covers in this book. The Mulgan book was recently republished, it is very lucid and Orwell-like in its c ...more
Second in the Sword of Honour trilogy. Again, a great novel, but I wouldn't point the average reader toward it unless he or she is really into both Waugh and the ins and outs of the British military service. I'd be interested to know how many readers qualify for that one.
This second installment of the Sword of Honor trilogy pretty much takes on from where it left in book one, and continues the wry witted meanderings of the ever so likable "Guy" through second-world-war. The wit is so pervasive, that one is always chuckling through the chronicles. Vintage British humor -- self-deprecating, dark, matter of fact.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
I read this more than five years ago. What I noted: #2 in a WWII trilogy. Want to find and read the first, MEN AT ARMS. Have #3, THE END OF THE BATTLE. Well-written story about the life of an English officer, Tim Crouchback, during WWII, and how poor decisions by some officers led to tragedy. Amusing at times, as well as appalling.
Better than Men-at-arms, the preceding book in the series. However, Officers and Gentlemen cannot decide whether it wants to be serious comedy, serious farce, or serious satire. Of course, the three are hardly mutually exclusive, but O&G only manages to perform rather adequately in each area.

On the whole, still quite enjoyable.
The Empire Strikes Back if it were British and set in WWII, minus the paternity issues and hand amputations.
Favorite Quotes- "Virginia, as near as human possible, was incapable of shame, but she had a firm residual sense of the appropriate."
"Steady, old boy. One of ought to be sober and it's not going to be me."
Peter Kirsop
the whole series is really rather sad but not in the way Waugh intended. Its sad because of his fixation with the English upper class Whatever he may think World War 2 was not won on the playing fields of Eton (or Stonyhurst for that matter) and it was well worth winning
Confusing and plotless. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read the first in the trilogy, but I have a strong belief that if you publish a book, that book should stand on its own merits (I feel the same about films, incidentally).
Some language, but otherwise it was a good novel. I think I would have enjoyed it even better had I read the first in the series before the second, but not matter. I'll attempt to rectify it sooner or later and read the first one.
Anne Cupero
I am still reading, good Waugh story. Waiting to see what happens to Guy when he really has to fight. Something about him (reticence maybe) reminds me of Winston. Actually he is Winston without any decisive quality.
Evelyn Waugh's first wife was also named evelyn. he referred to her as "She-vlyn" and to himself as "He-vlyn." I suppose it could be said that when they parted ways he considered himself the lesser of two Evelyns.
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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
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