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Officers and Gentlemen (Sword of Honour #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,147 Ratings  ·  45 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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The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William ShakespeareMadame Bovary by Gustave FlaubertLady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. LawrenceThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithLe Bourgeois gentilhomme by Molière
Ladies and Gentlemen
22nd out of 66 books — 10 voters
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroThe House at Riverton by Kate MortonBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughA Room with a View by E.M. ForsterHowards End by E.M. Forster
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448th out of 504 books — 877 voters

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Apr 30, 2011 Sebastian rated it liked it
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
Jan 21, 2015 Jocelyn rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 23, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it
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
Apr 05, 2013 Corto rated it liked it
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
Dec 26, 2012 William rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2009 Al rated it really liked it
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 tradim ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
I didn't realize until I was a little bit into it that it was the second in a trilogy, which explains why some characters were introduced as if we should already know them, and why a few plot threads are left to be followed up in the next book. But that's okay, because Waugh was such a great writer, capable of turning out richly evocative descriptions, hilarious dialogue, and satirical insight. This is a story of the first year of World War II, and is right there with Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-5 ...more
Huda Ghanem
صحيح درسناها هالترم الماضي
بس نفسي أقرأها كاملة
رح أتسلى فيها بطريق السفر ان شاء الله
Jan 20, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it
“Officers and Gentlemen” by Evelyn Waugh (originally published 1955, and book two of what became his Sword of Honour trilogy) continues the tale of Englishman Guy Crouchback, temporary officer, and his part in representing Great Britain in World War II. Once again, threads to Heller’s “Catch 22” and Hooker’s “MASH” are easy connections because of the witty, absurd, and tragic events Crouchback faces.

In this second book of the trilogy, Crouchback begins still in training and once again there is l
Nov 06, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“…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
Jan 09, 2014 Marten rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2013 Issicratea rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 1950-1970
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
Aug 14, 2013 Patrick McCoy rated it liked it
Shelves: classics

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
Feb 07, 2014 Mike Harper rated it liked it
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.
Feb 26, 2014 Marti rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2013 John Lucy rated it it was amazing
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.

Nov 22, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2014 Jenn rated it really liked it
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.
Harry Burnside
Dec 11, 2015 Harry Burnside rated it liked it
My feelings towards this book would have given it a 2.5 stars but as a 2 would have been too little and as others seemed to like it to an average of 3.99 I decided a 3.
Waugh has an unbelievable reputation and as I have read three of his books and I still can't believe he has such a reputation. Perhaps his comedy and characterisation is too subtle for me but I have found his style tiresome. I can't even put it down to of it's time. Great literature transcends all boundaries. I still have the last
Tom Britz
Dec 31, 2015 Tom Britz rated it really liked it
The second novel in Waugh's WWII trilogy. Guy Crouchback's war effort is still not going to his plan and the war effort is decidedly a much darker place.
May 29, 2015 Skyring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Paul Higbee
Worth reading. British WWII humor and language a bit hard to follow. A good accompaniment to the first in the series. Guy is growing up.
Joel Zartman
Mar 20, 2015 Joel Zartman rated it it was amazing
Too short.
Mar 23, 2014 Amit rated it really liked it
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.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Sword of Honour (3 books)
  • Men at Arms
  • The End of the Battle

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