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(Flashman Papers #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  12,121 ratings  ·  1,028 reviews
Coward, scoundrel, lover and cheat, but there is no better man to go into the jungle with. Join Flashman in his adventures as he survives fearful ordeals and outlandish perils across the four corners of the world.

Can a man be all bad? When Harry Flashman’s adventures as the reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan lead him to join the exclusive company of Lord Cardigan’s Huss
Paperback, 323 pages
Published 1999 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1969)
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Set Sytes Enjoyable for many reasons. The strength of the prose, the attention to detail of the time period and setting, the historical research clearly gone in…moreEnjoyable for many reasons. The strength of the prose, the attention to detail of the time period and setting, the historical research clearly gone into it, the storytelling itself, the cynicism towards imperialism and British exceptionalism and even military heroism, the lively sense of humour, the send-up of historical figures and the demythologising of them, revising them to the exact opposite of hagiography (most of the people we revere as heroes in our nation's history were most probably total bastards), and most of all the unique "voice" of the work, making Flashman, as another put it, one of the greatest fictional anti-heroes (although it's wrong to have the word hero anything to do with him really) of all time.

It's probably just not for you. But in terms of understanding how someone else can enjoy it, think of it as learning about history, especially a lot of the stuff we don't really learn about otherwise, in an entertaining, deeply cynical, subversive and even farcical manner.

As for Harry Flashman himself, think of him like a worse Blackadder (or maybe the cast of It's Always Sunny!). We root for Blackadder even though he's a truly horrible person, therefore we sort-of root for Flashman - less because he's a charismatic villain, but because others are even worse. Although it's satisfying too to see him suffer as much as he does, anyway. I will say though that he's never as awful a person in later books as he is in this first one, and quickly becomes closer to Blackadder in morality.

I personally consider these books the finest written historical fiction books out there.(less)

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Harry Paget Flashman is NOT your typical morally-challenged but likeable scoundrel who you can’t help but love because of his sharp wit and buckets o’ charm.
No…he’s an ASSHOLE…a big one. A rapacious, lecherous, despicable scumbag with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I’m talking such odious funtivities as:

**Having sex with his Father’s mistress, and then beating and sexually assaulting her when she refuses his subsequent advances.

**Forcibly selling his Indian concubine to a passing artille
Henry Avila
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Harry Flashman anti-hero extraordinaire, soldier, coward, liar, womanizer, thief , charlatan, drunkard, in one word...scoundrel joined the British Army at 17, in the service of the Queen, after being expelled from the famed Rugby School, a little intoxicated, his father Henry a wealthy widower with a mistress Judy, of the same ilk as son, isn't too concerned quite busy with his gallivanting. So in 1839 as the former Princess becomes the newly crowned Queen Victoria (1837) , ruling England Flashm ...more
This is the first book of the Flashman papers, much-loved by many. It purports to be the memoirs of a Victorian officer. In this book, he serves in Afghanistan and India. The cover art encapsulates the plot and tone.

A rake’s adventures

Harry Flashman is a self-aware, shameless, shrewd, cowardly opportunist who describes himself as “A scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward - and, oh yes, a toady.” (Note that he doesn’t mention his treatment of women.)

He joins up; fights; escapes; sleeps
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've just been looking at the other reviews, and every guy likes Flashman. Every single one. I'm afraid I do too. What does that say about us? I often wonder why women put up with men at all.

J.G. Keely
How do we distinguish between the author and the characters he writes? There are readers who assume that if a main character does something racist or sexist, that means the author is, too. But then, characters can also transform into cockroaches, commit interplanetary genocide, and die gloriously in a hail of bullets without the author having to undergo those experiences, himself.

Even in an autobiography, the author still isn't writing himself--he's writing one biased version, crafting coherent
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's a recurring theme to the reviews I've read of 'Flashman' which is that whilst, by his own happy admission, he is a racist, scoundrel, bully, cad and coward, Flashman is also an engaging storyteller who has the happy coincidence to be an active participant in the middle of momentous historical events.

George MacDonald Fraser has done a magnificent job of evoking the Britain, India and Afghanistan of 1839 to 1842, and the literary conceit that what we are reading is the first part of a cac
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent read about an appalling man. You get a good feel for Flashman's character early on. With his unflinching and intelligent take on the people and situations surrounding him you feel very much a part of the action. It is extremely well written and a very entertaining book.

Given the current situation in Afghanistan, it's pretty poignant too. I was laughing till I snorted in public at the description of the incompetence of Major-General Elphinstone; then within moments nearly in tears a
Evan Leach
I am not a big historical fiction buff, but I fell head-over-heels in love with this book. The very premise is awesome: in 1857, Thomas Hughes wrote a novel based heavily on his own experiences as a schoolboy. The villain of the book is a boy called Flashman, a bully, drunkard, and general asshole. Naturally, 100 years later George MacDonald Fraser decided to write a series of historical novels starring a grown up Flashman as the “hero.” The result, at least in Fraser’s original book, was pure m ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh boy, I’ve got to admit that I did love this one.
The last ‘unputdownable’ novel I read was Irvine Welsh’s ‘The Blade Artist’. Needless to say, 'Flashman' features an equally foul and notorious protagonist, whose depravity, shameless bullying and honourless scheming kept me reading on about his life in acute disbelief.
The fact that Flashman’s justification for his actions is often hilarious and at times insightful does not redeem him in any way. The fact that he is honest enough to openly and
Mike (the Paladin)
There are a lot of was enough for me. Flashman is in a way the primary example of an anti-hero. The books are comedies about a cowardly, bullying,thief who always comes out looking like a hero through a combination of cunning and luck. I thought the idea sounded funny but I found the actual book rather annoying. All I can suggest is try it and see, I didn't care for them.

I wrote that review a long while back, I thought I'd give a short example from "early on". Flashman in facing a du
Raegan Butcher
Apr 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Meet Harry Flashman, decorated hero of the Victorian age. He also happens to be a liar, a lecher, a bully, and a sniveling coward, and that is what makes these comic historical novels so funny.He is also gloriously un-PC, which seems to ruffle some dainty feathers these days. Great stuff.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
Flashman was picked as the February book for the NeoGAF bookclub. I thought I would like the adventures of Flashy based on the first few pages. Who wouldn't like a story that starts off with being expelled from Rugby school for drunkenness?

Unfortunately, after reading 1/3 of the book, I can't continue. Flashy is an unapologetic ass! I'm usually fine with antiheros, but this one takes it too far. Flashy's treatment of women is awful and while this could be the norm for his time and his class, it
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book in what is almost certainly the finest series of historical comic novels ever written. Over the series, written over a 30 year period, Harry Flashman becomes one of Victorian England's most decorated military heros while in actuality he's its most craven coward. There's scarcely anyone of importance in history that he doesn't eventually meet. The books heavily satirize Victorian society and morality. Flashman himself is not only a coward, but is also a bully, a scoundrel, a cheat, ...more
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Let me begin this review by saying that my star rating has less to do with the quality of the book and more with the fact that it was a bad match for my reading tastes.

I became interested in the Flashman books after hearing them described as a much-loved series of historically accurate, comic fiction. Though title character Harry Flashman is a self-described coward and cad, he does have a certain charm as he describes how he repeatedly finds himself in the middle of one British military disaste
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
Fraser took a small character in Tom Brown's Schooldays and turned him into a legend. The mock memoir set-up is very fun, and Flashman in his first outing is a real loathsome character. I didn't much like him! He's the embodiment of ugly British colonialism, raping women and doing whatever he can to get whatever he wants. But I had to keep reading about the fiendish little cad, because the scrapes he gets into and the sh!t luck that keeps him alive was far too amusing.
Mr. Matt
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Harry Flashman, despite every effort to stay out of harm's way, finds himself propelled into one life threatening event after another. Eventually he winds up in Afghanistan for the start of the first Anglo-Afghan war. And despite all this, I can't help but love the bastard.

Harry Flashman is the nineteenth century version of Archer. He is a bumbling buffoon with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Time after time he winds up in trouble, but somehow he always winds up smelling
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: my husband
Shelves: fiction, history
A braggart, bully, liar, cheat, lecher, racist, cad, wastrel and coward — how does author George MacDonald Fraser make a riveting and even sympathetic character out of such material? He pulls it off with deceptive ease. First, there is the backdrop of Victorian hypocrisy. Behind a public show of prudery and self-satisfied morality flourished a robust traffic in prostitution and indifference to social injustice. Abroad, diplomats cynically formed duplicitous alliances while jockeying for power an ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sexually incontinent, self-centred, spineless and shameless - what's not to like about Harry Flashman, George McDonald Fraser's timeless comic character? This is the first book, originally published in 1969, and it began one of the greatest series of historical fiction in the English language. The Hornblowers and Sharpes have their place, but heroic types can be dreadful bores at times. Give me a promiscuous, drunken coward nine times out ten; the tenth time being when it was my hide or Flashman ...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny
Another book Neil Gaiman mentioned in his blog. I liked it and thought parts were really funny. Some parts made me uncomfortable, though.
One positive aspect to Harry Flashman, scoundrel, rogue, coward and all round bounder.......he does have some insight into his own "shortcomings".

Must admit that I wasn't quite expecting this. I did enjoy the story arc overall and the historical setting of India and Afghanistan. Also liked the "tongue in cheek" vein that the novel was written in. I did not like Harry Flashman though, didn't like the way he spoke of women, his treatment of women, the way he thought about women. I did enjoy the bi
S.J. Arnott
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: flashman
Poor old Flash.

What would he say to all these one star reviewers? Actually, he’d probably damn their eyes, then nip round the corner to pay a couple of toughs to knock them down, de-bag them and blacken their backsides with boot-polish...

I can see why some people might take against Flash after reading the first book in the series. Although I think it’s excellent, it has slightly rougher edges than the ones that follow and portrays our protagonist more as the vicious schoolboy he was, rather than
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to review the whole series here, instead of saying more or less the same thing for each of the books I've read.

Flashman, the character, is an asshole. Really, he doesn't have many redeeming qualities. I shall list those which come to mind:
He seems to genuinely love his wife, in his own way (he cheats on her, or tries to, pretty much constantly, but he also has ample reason to believe she does the same and knows about his own infidelities; still, his thoughts seem to go back to her more
Kirsten Mortensen
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'll admit it. Perhaps because I'm a gal, a couple chapters into this book I wondered if I was going to have to force myself to keep going.

Because -- as you know if you know anything about the Flashman series -- the narrator of these books is *not* a nice guy.

But something happened as I reached a quarter mark or so of the novel: I found myself hooked.

And by the time Flashy found himself in Afghanistan (the series' conceit is that Flashman was an eyewitness to a number of significant 19th
Maru Kun

"...There is a painting of the scene at Gandamack, which I saw a few years ago, and it is like enough the real thing as a I remember it. No doubt it is very fine and stirs martial thoughts in the glory-blown asses who look at it; my only thought when I saw it was, 'You poor bloody fools!' and I said so, to the disgust of other viewers. But I was there, you see, shivering with horror as I watched, unlike the good Londoners, who let the roughnecks and jailbirds keep their empire for them; they are
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ok so I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would. I rather like ole Flashy and I suppose I'll read the next in the series. I wouldn't review it as "hilariously funny" as stated on the cover, but to each his own.
Stephen McQuiggan
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cowardice is a virtue. Flashy is totally unapologetic for his many shortcomings as a human being, which in the spirit of the book makes you want to yell 'Bravo!'. A refreshing change to the derring do heroes that saturate modern society with their relentless perfect boredom. Flashy - a cross between Terry Thomas and Dick Dastardly - rapes, flirts, lies and seduces when he's not praying for the death of his comrades... and lands on his feet every time. Just when it seems he's about to exhibit a n ...more
Victor Bruneski
I picked this book up after a mere reference to Flashman in The Bookman Histories. From what I read in the reviews it looks like just my cup of tea, and boy howdy is it.

The novel is told by Harry Flashman, the same Harry Flashman who's claim of fame is from Tom Brown's Schooldays & Tom Brown at Oxford (I had no idea of that book before this). The author decided to write some further adventures of the school bully, to hilarious results.

The story starts out right after Harry Flashman is kicked out
N.N. Light
Oct 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was not the right reader for this book. While Flashman created intense emotions in me, I despised him which I don't think was the author's intention. lol!

My Rating: 1 star
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It's rare for me to actually feel guilty for enjoying the antics of a protagonist but I had this nagging cognitive dissonance the entire time I was reading this--Harry Flashman is certainly one of the more repulsive, boorish fictional people I've rooted for. He's devoid of pretty much every trait humans find admirable and stuffed with every trait we find deplorable...I'm struggling to think of one positive thing about him. And yet, I can't deny there was a part of me that took a perverted glee i ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
The first of the Flashman Papers, in which our hero joins the army and serves in Afghanistan. This chronicle covers 1839-42: we see Flashy undergoing the pathetic retreat from Kabul under the dithering General Elphinstone, and unwillingly making a last stand at Piper’s Fort.

Although no stranger to Flashy’s exploits, of course, I had never actually read this, the first exploit that cemented his reputation. Here we see a Flashy that is perhaps more cowardly than in the later books; he actually bre
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Man Reads Book: Flashman 2 18 Feb 25, 2017 02:36PM  
UK Amazon Kindle ...: Recommend Flashman style books 22 342 Apr 01, 2014 09:31AM  
The Flashman Club: The real history behind Flashman 10 108 Sep 24, 2013 03:45AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN Issue: What should I do? 11 39 Nov 10, 2011 12:54AM  

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See similar books…
He is best known for his Flashman series of historical novels, purportedly written by Harry Flashman, a fictional coward and bully originally created by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days. The novels are presented as "packets" of memoirs written by the nonagenarian Flashman, who looks back on his days as a hero of the British Army during the 19th century. The series begins with Flashman, and ...more

Other books in the series

Flashman Papers (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, #2)
  • Flash for Freedom (The Flashman Papers #3)
  • Flashman at the Charge (Flashman Papers, #4)
  • Flashman in the Great Game (The Flashman Papers, #5)
  • Flashman's Lady (The Flashman Papers, #6)
  • Flashman and the Redskins (The Flashman Papers, #7)
  • Flashman and the Dragon (The Flashman Papers, #8)
  • Flashman and the Mountain of Light (The Flashman Papers, #9)
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord (The Flashman Papers, #10)
  • Flashman and the Tiger (The Flashman Papers, #11)

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