Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Flashman on the March -- George MacDonald Fraser

I bought the first Flashman book off a paperback rack more than 30 years ago, attracted probably by the fine Frazetta cover. I read the blurbs and a couple of pages and was hooked. Flashman seemed like my kind of guy.

And he was. I've read most of the novels since, maybe missing one or two, and I've also read a couple of other Fraser novels, The Pyrates and Mr. American. The former is still my favorite pirate book of all time.

As you all no doubt know, Flashman is the author of "the Flashman papers," which have been edited for publication by Fraser. They've been presented not in chronological order but in whatever order struck Fraser's fancy.

Flashman, as it happens, was involved in nearly every military encounter of the 19th century. He was in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He was at Harper's Ferry. He was at the Little Big Horn. And that's just for starters. He's also a no hero, however. He's a bounder, a sniveling coward, and a liar, but he never lies to his readers. As far as I know, nobody's ever questioned the accuracy of the history in any of the books.

Flashman on the March is, I think, the twelfth of Flashy's memoirs to be made public. There are many more, and the one I'd really like to read is the one that tells of his Civil War experiences. He's referred to them often, and we know that he fought on both sides, but we don't know the details. I, for one, would welcome them.

This time he gets reluctantly involved in the Abyssinian War, a very short one, indeed, but with plenty of room for typical Flashy adventures, both in and out of the bedroom. There's plenty of action, and there are a number of battle scenes. Fraser, or Flashy, has the ability to show these so clearly that it's like looking at a painting of watching a movie. Great descriptive power at work. As usual, Flashy becomes quite the hero while doing his best to avoid doing anything heroic; and, as usual, he's pleased to take the credit.

If you've never read any of the Flashman books, you've missed some real reading pleasure. Check 'em out.


Anonymous said...

I've read all the Flashman books, too. Plenty of fun reading here! Fraser also wrote an entertaining non-fiction books about Hollywood movies.

George Kelley

Bill said...

I forgot about that book about history in the movies, George. I have that one, too. Highly recommended.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Thanks, Bill. I'm a few books behind on the series. I've also read his three (semi-autobiographical?) books about the Scottish regiment after WWII, starting with The General Danced at Dawn.

And I agree on The Pyrates.