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Flashman [Paperback]

George M Fraser
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 4 1999 The Flashman Papers (Book 1)

Flashman, soldier, duellist, lover, imposter, coward, cad, and hero, triumphs in this first installment of The Flashman Papers. His adventures as the reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan and his entry into the exclusive company of Lord Cardigan's Hussars culminate in his foulest hour- his part in the historic disaster of the Retreat from Kabul.

This is the story of a blackguard who enjoyed villainy for its own sake. Shameless, exciting, and funny, Flashman's deplorable odyssey is observed with the cynical eyeof a scoundrel who was honest only in reporting what he saw. He makes all other black sheep look respectably grey.


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Review

'The Flashman Papers do what all great sagas do - winning new admirers along the way but never, ever betraying old ones. It is an immense achievement.' Sunday Telegraph 'Not so much a march as a full-blooded charge, fortified by the usual lashings of salty sex, meticulously choreographed battle scenes and hilariously spineless acts of self preservation by Flashman.' Sunday Times 'Not only are the Flashman books extremely funny, but they give meticulous care to authenticity. You can, between the guffaws, learn from them.' Washington Post 'A first-rate historical novelist' Kingsley Amis

About the Author

The author of the famous Flashman Papers and the Private McAuslan stories, George MacDonald Fraser has worked on newspapers in Britain and Canada. In addition to his novels he has also written numeous films, most notably The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, and the James Bond film, Octopussy.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have to agree with an earlier reviewer who described George Macdonald Fraser as one of the best writers of the late 20th century - yet you do not want to get too precious when describing the Flashman novels because above all else, they are bloody good fun.
This first novel, which describes Flashman's entry into adulthood after expulsion from Rugby school for being found inhebriated in a wheelbarrow, scorches along at a tremendous pace, immersing you in the nineteenth century world, with all its blemishes and contradictions.
It will lead you to a war in Afghanistan that I would imagine 99% of readers would not have formerly known about (I certainly didn't), but you will never forget the characters he meets, most of whom actually existed. I admit to a certain wry smile when I see items on the news about Afghanistan nowadays, what with the mujahedin and the Taliban, when I think of what their ancestors did to the British Army all those years ago.
I heard George Macdonald Fraser comment recently that when this novel was originally released, certain American critics mistook it for a genuine memoir and acclaimed it as a historical find of genuine importance. In some ways this was an understandable mistake as most of the truly outrageous incidents in the book actually happened and the fictional embellishments are skillfully woven around these.
If you have not yet read any of the Flashman Papers, buy or steal a copy, give any PC sensibilities a week off and enter the wonderful world of Harry Flashman, gentleman, bounder, cad, adventurer, philanderer and studious observer of the underbelly of the Victorian world.
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Format:Paperback
I've been reading the Flashman books for close on two decades now, after learning about them in an interview with Richard Lester (who directed the disappointing movie version of Royal Flash). I can say with certainty that George MacDonald Fraser significantly influenced not only my writing style but also the way I view the world. Fraser taught me to reject sugar coatings, mindless patriotism, and deification of historical figures, and to look at past events with a new and critical eye. Note that most heroes ARE anti-heroes to some degree; they just had friendly biographers to hide their flaws. The genius of the Flashman series is that the heroic/mythic veneer is stripped away to reveal the human underneath. (Flashy, of course, takes roguishness to an outrageous degree, which is a major reason why the series is so funny, though sometimes the laughter is shocked laughter.)
As for the writing, well... IMHO, Fraser is one of the best writers of the late 20th century. Nobody does battle scenes as well as he does. No one explains political motivations as well. Nobody makes history more palatable or weaves it into the story so naturally. And there are few characters as well drawn as Flashy, who is strangely likable despite his behavior.
For the record, I'm a woman, and I don't have any problem with the depiction of women in this and the other books. It's fiction, and Flashy's behavior has to be taken in the context of the times. (Frankly, if he'd behaved like, say, the wholly unbelievable folk who populated the historical travesty that was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, I'd've been bored stiff after three pages.)
So read this first book to familiarize yourself with the character, but know that it isn't the best-written of the series. Fraser really settles in with Flashy's voice in the second book, Royal Flash, and just gets better from there!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A less than honorable Indiana Jones Nov. 22 2000
Format:Paperback
I liked this book regardless of the myriad offenses it contains. "Flashman" offers a wild ride from beginning to end. However, it must be read with a sense of humor. Throw aside political correctness and laugh.
Flashman, following expulsion from school for drunkenness, enters the military. Following a shotgun wedding, he is sent to India where he expects to make the best of it with a concubine and an adequate number of servants to see to his comfort. His posh assignment crumbles quickly as he is further transfered to the wilds of 19th century Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, he survives incompetent military superiors, snakes, the elements, ambushes, torture, a vengeful woman, and most amazingly, himself. He is everything he admits to being -- a drunk, a rogue, a lecher, a bigot, etc.
The book is chock full of every vice and evil imaginable. Flashman uses and abuses (even rapes) women. His "heroism" is really misinterpreted cowardice. He thumbs his nose at God and country and leaves women and children to die. Nothing admirable here. Every other paragraph contains a new form of violence. But, again, read the book with sensitivity pushed to the side and you will see the irony. This book can be laugh-out-loud funny if the reader wants to see it that way.
The first of a series, I'll probably read another Flashman book when another change of pace is needed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great historical fiction for the boys.. May 16 2000
By lazza
Format:Paperback
A colleague described Flashman as "Forrest Gump on drugs", which isn't quite correct. Like Forrest Gump Flashman (..a fictional character) magically turns up at all the most memorable moments in history. However unlike Forrest, Mr. Flashman is cad and, surprisingly, a marginally likeable person (whereas Forrest Gump is completely sugar-coated).
This first Flashman novel quickly reviews Flashman's childhood and how he, quite fantastically, enters the military and dives into rather incredible battles in the outer reaches of the 19th century British Empire. What really shocks the reader is that while Flashman isn't real, all the horrors (and shame) of this British battles (in Afghanistan) were real. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
The author tells the story in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion. Flashman is an immature rascal and skirt-chaser, with a tendency to get out of trouble through unbelievable luck. His travails are meant to be unbelievable, and all in good fun.
However after reading Flashman I noticed that there are no credible female characters in the entire novel. All the women are either conniving bimbos, or ugly and "not worth bothering". While maybe this can be partially forgiven in light of the leading character being a sexist brute, I believe most women would find this novel to be mildly offensive (at best). For all others, read and enjoy. I certainly look forward to reading the next in the Flashman series.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More of Flashman
Instant Flashman...I love it! I search high and low years ago for the entire series...and it was going to cost me a ton of money.Not any more... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Frank Dembicki
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever Became Of...
... the school bully? George MacDonald Fraser (April 2nd, 1925 - January 2nd, 2008) answers that question for one of the most famous bullies in literature. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2009 by Dave_42
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual(the hero is an anti-hero), entertaining, ribald tale
I picked up the audio version of this book at the library and found I was forced to listen to one tape after another, I just couldn't stop listening. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by Michael Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars the best of Flashman
This is the first and the best of the Flashman series. I first read this book back in 1990 and it combines history with a good dash of humor. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2001 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Wicked!
Fraser is an absolute master of historical fiction. In this, the first effort in the acclaimed "Flashman" series, Fraser is at the top of his game. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2001 by Christopher Macias
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Superb and 1001 other superlatives
How many of us.. with a low chuckle and under our breath murmur... "flashy"... with a smile on our faces, whilst reading the flashman series, when our hero gets into one of his... Read more
Published on May 28 2001 by "austin_ed"
4.0 out of 5 stars A scurrilous historical romp
Having read Tom Brown's Schooldays and thoroughly enjoyed it, I was initially perturbed by the idea of Flashman being developed into an anti-hero figure. Read more
Published on May 27 2001 by Gordon Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW
In a good week, I read two books. So, over the past ten years, that makes...well you do the math. Out of all of them over the past 10 years, I have to rank "Flashman"... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2001 by "frnick"
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Storytelling!
George MacDonald Fraser kept me on the edge of my seat while reading his delightful novel. With an abilty to get in to situations where the courageous cower, the cad known as... Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2000 by Lawrence Domkowski
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of the End for "Victorian England"
Thank goodness for Harry Flashman. If not for this man's self-depreciating, lurid, immoral, wanderings through psuedo-prim & proper "Victorian England", I might have... Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2000 by Jeffrey R. Bednar
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