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20 August 1992
Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma 
by George MacDonald Fraser.
Harvill, 255 pp., £16, June 1992, 0 00 272660 2
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Tyrants and Mountains: A Reckless Life 
by Denis Hills.
Murray, 262 pp., £19.95, June 1992, 0 7195 4640 0
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... The chronicler of that glorious cad Flashman, last encountered as General Sir Harry Flashman VC, was himself a man at arms. As a one-striper in General Slim’s 14th Army GeorgeMacDonaldFraser took part in ‘the last great battle in the last great war’, a showdown which was also ‘the final echo of Kipling’s world’. More specifically, it was the struggle for Meiktila and Pyawbwe on ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman

9 May 2002
... Schooldays: Amazon.co.uk hasn’t even heard of it.) It’s a different matter for young Tom’s Voldemort, ‘that blackguard Flashman, who never speaks to one without a kick or an oath’. GeorgeMacDonaldFraser’s series of novels about him – known collectively as The Flashman Papers, the first of which appeared in 1969 – are, I would guess, read much more widely than their worthy ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels

31 October 2002
Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... Have you ever tried to write a Victorian novel? Here’s a beginning, with apologies to Sarah Waters and Michel Faber (and a nod to GeorgeMacDonaldFraser): London, 1860. November. A pea-souper billowing up from the flotsam bobbing in the Thames. The gas lamps already blearing. Good things of day begin to drowse. The rookeries are emptying, and their ...
4 September 1997
The Fu Manchu Omnibus: Vol. II 
by Sax Rohmer.
Allison and Busby, 630 pp., £9.99, June 1997, 0 7490 0222 0
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... In a panic he sees himself transported to an infamous role – ‘I should awake somewhere in China, as a male concubine to this Eastern Circe.’ That is the sort of career break the Flashman of GeorgeMacDonaldFraser could have taken in his stride, but Rohmer’s males have ‘a marked streak of puritanism’ in them, saying things like ‘I had never been a woman’s man’ or ‘I was never a ...

The Great Escape

Philip Purser

18 August 1994
The Fortunes of Casanova, and Other Stories 
by Rafael Sabatini, selected by Jack Adrian.
Oxford, 284 pp., £15.95, January 1994, 9780192123190
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... an Academy Award, and two versions of The Sea Hawk. As indicated by these titles, or even more by the name of Errol Flynn (as star) above two of them, Sabatini was not only a ‘history-teller,’ as GeorgeMacDonaldFraser defines his art in a foreword to The Fortunes of Casanova, but one who delighted in a spot of swashbuckling. At the same time he was recognised as a serious historian who had ...

Never Mainline

Jenny Diski: Keith Richards

16 December 2010
Life 
by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... the other back to her big sister. Although there’s another big tour coming up next year, Richards is OK now, he says, he can rest on his laurels in his handsome study in Connecticut, reading GeorgeMacDonaldFraser and Patrick O’Brian, and he’s always ‘got some historical work on the go’: Nelson, World War Two, the ancient Romans. Before the settling down, though, back in 1973, while ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Football Tribes

1 June 1989
... past of tribal conflict – family against family, clan against clan, ain folk against the world. They are to be found in the Middle Ages among the fighting families of the Anglo-Scottish Border, as GeorgeMacDonaldFraser’s book The Steel Bonnets makes clear.* His synonymous reivers, raiders or riders used to get off their horses and play the football that became soccer and rugby, and they were not ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell

2 December 2010
J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... work into sharper focus without unduly cleaning up its oddness and irony. James Gordon Farrell – Jim to his friends – turns out to have had more in common with J.G. Ballard than with Paul Scott, GeorgeMacDonaldFraser, M.M. Kaye and other writers of 1970s bestsellers with imperial themes. Like the empty swimming-pools and weed-choked concrete landscapes that appear again and again in JGB’s ...
5 January 1989
The King’s Jaunt: George​ IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... fur sporran, had I been able (aged nine) to find out from such a book as this latest work of John Prebble’s that all these tartans were nothing but hype: a stunt devised chiefly by Scott to make George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in August 1822 as splendiferous as possible. In his anonymous shilling pamphlet ‘HINTS addressed to the INHABITANTS OF EDINBURGH AND OTHERS in prospect of HIS MAJESTY’S ...

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