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Officers and Gentlemen by Evelyn Waugh
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Dec 23, 10

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in December, 2010

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 was “Catch 22,” or “M*A*S*H.” At the end of the last novel, we found Crouchback being shipped back to England after a debacle in Dakar. After roaming around a bit, he finally gets attached to another company – again through the influence of his friends – that is off to Suez. He somehow manages to end up in Crete, where his company is ultimately totally disorganized and attached to as many other companies as they can find. The novel ends with his escape from Crete on a fishing vessel and ending back in England looking for another posting after his recovery from shock. Although set in wartime, these novels are not really about WW II. They are about the presence of personalties within the British armed forces who represent England of the old school. All the men within the group under study here were members of the same clubs, attended the same school, and all have the same attitude towards the conduct of war which is totally different than the concept of total war that England was trying to foster. Guy, although the major player in these novels, is merely our guide to all the “friends” that surround him. There is no way to summarize the plot. These books have to be read. Recommended.
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