Men at Arms, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Guy Crouchback, determined to get into the war, takes a commission in the Royal Corps of Halberdiers.

His spirits high, he sees all the trimmings but none of the action. And his first campaign, an abortive affair on the West African coastline, ends with an escapade which seriously blots his Halberdier copybook. "Men at Arms" is the first book in Waugh's brilliant trilogy, "Sword of Honour", which chronicles the fortunes of Guy Crouchback.

The second and third volumes, "Officers and Gentlemen" and "Unconditional Surrender", are also published in Penguin. "Sword of Honour" has recently been made into a television drama series, with screenplay by William Boyd.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Few authors explore the juxtaposition of tragedy, reality and farce as frankly and yet compassionately as Evelyn Waugh. His everyman heroes - to include Crouchback, the central character of this tale - seem intuitively to understand and uncomplainingly accept that rather than representing points on a continuum, tragedy/reality/farce exist simultaneously, and that the only thing a good Englishman can do in the face of the chaos that inevitably ensues is to strive to do his duty, preserve his dignity, and maintain a stiff upper lip. Could be that Waugh is just an adept social satirist - but I suspect the fact that he was born and bred a Brit has much to do with it. In 3000 years of history the English have had ample opportunity to observe how often tragedy turns to farce, and how often farce turns to tragedy. This story provides many, many examples of both in the run-up to WW2, embedded in a tale that may leave you - as it left me - simultaneously laughing and crying.

Review by

This wasn't the book I thought I was going to read when I picked it up, and I had a hard time getting myself to keep going with it because it was so much more serious than what I was looking for.<br/><br/>But I found that once I did pick it up, the dry, easy tone and the accessibility of the characters propelled me through it fairly quickly and enjoyably. <br/><br/>I'm not quite inspired enough to read the two sequels right now, but I do recommend this book to anyone who enjoys war novels and quality writing.

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