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As much as I love this series, I have to admit that by book 8, The Flashman Papers have settled down into a very comfortable formula Flashy agrees to join an adventure in some exotic corner of the globe, the adventure turns out to be something other than what it first appeared usually due to treachery , Flashy is taken prisoner, Flashy is assisted by some exotic woman with an enormous carnal appetite, Flashy falls out with the woman because one betrays the other, and finally Flashy is rescued As much as I love this series, I have to admit that by book 8, The Flashman Papers have settled down into a very comfortable formula Flashy agrees to join an adventure in some exotic corner of the globe, the adventure turns out to be something other than what it first appeared usually due to treachery , Flashy is taken prisoner, Flashy is assisted by some exotic woman with an enormous carnal appetite, Flashy falls out with the woman because one betrays the other, and finally Flashy is rescued by some other force and somehow comes out looking like a hero despite his best efforts to the contrary In the previous installment,Flashman and the Redskinsand in this one, this same formula is played out twice in the course of one novel But putting that aside, this is still a damn fine adventure story, and still shows the meticulous research and attention to detail that is a hallmark of the series This time, Flashy is adventuring in China and gets swept up in the events of the Taiping Rebellion and the Second Opium War As is often the case in these books, in its pages I learned that this particular episode was far nastier and weirder than I recall from taking Modern History in high school And again, as usual, Fraser makes historical personalities leap to life Particularly memorable and interesting to me were his characterisations of Frederick Townsend Ward, Hong Xiuquan, and Yehonala the future Empress Dowager Cixi , which left me wanting to readabout their historical counterparts Flashy is still the embarrassing old uncle who happens to tell the best tall tales Solid stuff TheI read the Flashman series theimpressed I get and theI wonder at the fact that George MacDonald Fraser didn t get a knighthood and an honorary degree for services to the understanding of English History during the Victorian Era The man s a genius Flashman and the Dragon is Flashman s China adventure covering the Taiping Rebellion the greatest loss of life in any civil war and I believe second only to the Second World War and the Second China or Opium War The tale TheI read the Flashman series theimpressed I get and theI wonder at the fact that George MacDonald Fraser didn t get a knighthood and an honorary degree for services to the understanding of English History during the Victorian Era The man s a genius Flashman and the Dragon is Flashman s China adventure covering the Taiping Rebellion the greatest loss of life in any civil war and I believe second only to the Second World War and the Second China or Opium War The tale is hilarious at times but it is also quite enlightening about a moment in history I doubt many of us are aware of The British Empire was created by men who really did have stiff upper lips and ramrod straight backs and we see their self confidence and courage matched against a different, just as arrogant, culture In a tale where the British and French are pulled almost unwillingly into a war in order to ensure Chinese adherence to existing trade agreements and where the Chinese actually do see themselves as the centre of the world where everyone except themselves is a barbarian only fit to be treated as a slave, casual heroism abounds Through the maelstrom sails Flashman, bravely trying to avoid any situation in which he might put his life at risk and exploiting any misunderstanding that places him in a heroic light We see him at his worst and at his best and we learn so much about this far off time and place that still has resonance today.The whole book asks serious questions about what constitutes civilised behaviour and about the crimes committed by the powerful and what might be a suitable means of punishment for those crimes China still looks back at the form of punishment meted out and the ending How lovely only Flashman The first half of the book dragged for me, it was the same story all over again, which is one of the joys of the series, but this time seemed pedantic But man, that ending the last third of the book I couldn t set it down and was cheering for our unscrupulous hero Yippee.Don t you just love it when you expect to enjoy a book and you do.I laughed until I all but wet my pants.Go on You know you want to. Once again the Flashman finds himself caught in the Victorian Imperial policies, this time in China In the tail end Taiping Rebellion Harry Flashman is hoodwinked into the rebel camp by the lure of fast money in the opium trade This was an audio listening experience, so it should be worth mentioning the greatness of the narrator, David Case, who is the perfect voice for the Flashman. In this entry, Flashy finds himself in Hong Kong and already knowing Chinese, for some reason and quickly is tricked into running guns, meets Frederick Townsend Ward, is sent to parley with the Taipings, is captured by the Imperials, and is present at the burning of the Summer Palace Not bad for not quite a year s work, eh All the praise I showered on this book when I first read it, not to mention the praise for the other volumes recently, goes here as well Erudite, bawdy, witty and hilari In this entry, Flashy finds himself in Hong Kong and already knowing Chinese, for some reason and quickly is tricked into running guns, meets Frederick Townsend Ward, is sent to parley with the Taipings, is captured by the Imperials, and is present at the burning of the Summer Palace Not bad for not quite a year s work, eh All the praise I showered on this book when I first read it, not to mention the praise for the other volumes recently, goes here as well Erudite, bawdy, witty and hilarious, as always Yes, Flashy s skill at languages is starting to border on the superhuman and there are at least two linguistic mistakes as far as my incredibly limited knowledge can tell he and it are treated as different words, and Prince Y I is made to rhyme with eye but who cares Another cracking good piece of historical fiction hilarious, well researched, compelling An amazing book, as all the Flashman entries I ve read have been It s an erudite, bawdy adventure yarn, masterfully plotted What s really impressive is how Fraser puts a human face on historical figures and events, giving concubines, princes and rebels distinct, believable personalities and motives And he adds Flashman as an historical mover and shaker, to boot Great stuff Read twice 1 21 00, 3 14 04 .Read Book ♭ Flashman and the Dragon ⚐ Harry Flashman the unrepentant bully of Tom Brown s schooldays, now with a Victoria Cross, has three main talents horsemanship, facility with foreign languages and fornication A reluctant military hero, Flashman plays a key part in most of the defining military campaigns of the th century, despite trying his utmost to escape them all Everyone needs to read at least one FLASHMAN is my recommendation for a single dip into the papers But it s one long, riotous, bawdy, exciting and deeply educational novel Trying to keep track of the Chinese geography that s covered here makes one s head spin and costs it a star Fraser almost NEVER lets plotting get in the way of the fun Stillit s wonderful like the rest This is the eighth of the twelve books about mid nineteenth century British military conquests Many of the historically important events and battles that helped form the British empire are recounted throughout the series by their principal character, Harry Flashman, who was present at them all So, for example, if you ve always wanted to know what the charge of the light brigade refers to, just find the correct volume and have a good read It s number 4 in the series The plots are too silly t This is the eighth of the twelve books about mid nineteenth century British military conquests Many of the historically important events and battles that helped form the British empire are recounted throughout the series by their principal character, Harry Flashman, who was present at them all So, for example, if you ve always wanted to know what the charge of the light brigade refers to, just find the correct volume and have a good read It s number 4 in the series The plots are too silly to describe, although they may make you laugh out loud The sugar that makes the historical medicine so easy to take is the arrested development of Flashman as a character His military honors, won with each passing campaign, are completely misplaced For he is a coward and a womanizer, running from various villains as he turns up in unlikely places, rogering the ladies and reluctantly pretending to be a hero He always ends up with some credit, and a ticket back home He is pre politically correct In fact, it never crosses, his mind or the author s to re position his recounting of the tales for modern sensibilities, one of the joys of the series Both his fellow British soldiers and the cultures they conquer are rife with prejudices, brutality and nastiness The women may be even worse But Flashman is aware of all that, and self aware as he describes his own interests He only wants to save his skin and share it with every woman who will have him.The conceit of the books are that Flashman s papers have been found in 1966, and lightly edited to correct spelling mistakes and add footnotes before publication These footnotes compare various historical sources to Flashman s descriptions of events, which are, for the most part, not surprisingly, historically accurate Flashman, who has a gift for languages, among other things, manages to get himself into the thick of the non stop action Spend a Sunday afternoon reading one of these and you will not only laugh, you will be unable to put it down as you learn quite a bit of history, too.The eighth volume takes place in China and covers the Taiping Rebellion and Pekin Expedition of 1860, which was the beginning of the end for the Mandarin Empire We meet Lord Elgin, son of the one who took the marbles from Greece, as he leads an allied expedition of European powers to treaty with the Chinese and open up China to trade The climax of this volume as a story there are lots of others, but never mind is Elgin s decision to burn the Summer Palace of the Emperor as revenge for torturing several British soldiers to death In those days of absolute, autocratic, divine rulers, the Summer Palace occupied an area of eight miles by ten miles, or about 50,000 acres, every square inch of which was architected and groomed to perfection Over 200 buildings and priceless works of art were destroyed, along with gardens and forests His contemporaries accused Elgin of barbarism and worse, but this story puts all that in context Some of the action of the novel occurs in the Summer Palace, as well as in the Forbidden City itself We have first hand accounts of what life was like as Imperial China went into eclipse Oh dear, this is one of those books I could easily write five, six, seven pages on Flashman , the first book in the series, is on a Top 1,000 Books list, but the library didn t have it, so I gave Flashman and the Dragon a chance, and, after finishing it, have gone on to find and Flashman , book one, so this review will discuss a little about both books.First off, I didn t know anything about the book or author prior to reading this book, and had no expectations I do like the historical bac Oh dear, this is one of those books I could easily write five, six, seven pages on Flashman , the first book in the series, is on a Top 1,000 Books list, but the library didn t have it, so I gave Flashman and the Dragon a chance, and, after finishing it, have gone on to find and Flashman , book one, so this review will discuss a little about both books.First off, I didn t know anything about the book or author prior to reading this book, and had no expectations I do like the historical backdrop for the book s I like plugging a character into historical events and playing around with it.Now,specifically about Flashman I love, love, love that he is this legendary military officer, but the truth is he is an absolute coward, who at any possible opportunity flees from danger, yet somehow he gets thrust into said danger, and one way or another stumbles his way to the end, where his legend only grows That s a great, how do you say, sketch for a character.Next, the humor Parts of the book I thought were really funny, I got the humor and greatly enjoyed it Much of the humor relies on political incorrectness, and I m about as much a fan of political incorrectness think South Park as anyone.But this is also where the book begins to lose me, and it does so in a big way Flashman doesn t just occasionally sprout a racist remark his entire world view is drowned in racism A few times in a book, seeing someone say or do something extremely politically incorrect, I can tolerate But page after page of racism quickly loses its appeal And I know many people will wonder how any bit of racism can have appeal, and to that I can just say, well, nothing this is why I say I can understand the humor and political incorrectness of it I have a strong stomach for it But relentless racism, when everything is coated in racism, without shame, and without the author showing any apparent check on this racism letting us know that it s just Flashman who is a racist, not the writer, living vicariously through his protagonist The book very well nearly lost me I m not sure at what point maybe page thirty or so Flashman s initial racism I was like haha, this isn t bad, I m glad to read something like this Then, over the next two hundred pages, I was extremely leery, unhappy with it, found little humor in it At numerous points I was near ready to give up on the book for this reason, but I soldiered through, because there were parts, especially early on when I wasn t yet tired of the racism, that I greatly enjoyed And I ve got to say, I am glad I read the whole book The final act definitely got back to some of the good parts, the humor, and that redeemed much of the book It redeemed it enough that I gave Flashman , the first book in the series, a try.You can read my review of Flashman for the full story on it, but the short of it is, Flashman turned the protagonist into SUCH an unlikable guy, a slaver and a rapist, that I no longer care how funny any of the books are The racism also becomesinexcusable.The thing is, the series is close to being really good I almost like Flashman, despite all his flaws However, being a slaver, a rapist, and so vehemently racist, all without any character growth throughout the series he never learns to respect the people he meets, he always preserves his racism , and because the author never gives any clue that Flashman is a truly reprehensible man, I can only sort of feel that Flashman isn t just a character the writer created, but is something of the manifestation of the author s own racism and prejudice This may be unfair, but to so continually have derogatory remarks to all these different cultures, with seemingly no respect or admiration for those cultures, the author loses me I think a big part of what makes political incorrectness work is that, at the end of the day, the humor is meant to sort of bridge what are some real things people think It helps us laugh at ourselves, and see our own flaws I don t know if that makes sense, and if it doesn t, oh well, I m not going to waste time on it Suffice it to say, I don t like it Good satire lets you know the writer is just having fun, and hopefully makes you think about how you view the world Bad satire is just a writer who is a racist a hole throwing stones at people.Hmm anything else Yes I touch on it in my review for Flashman I understand that Flashman is meant to be an anti hero he s meant to be deplorable Great Mission achieved But anti heroes really I think do need to be at least a bit likable What Fraser has done is he has made a character so deplorable that I don t want to read anything from him Much the same reason why Ian Fleming made James Bond a purely unlikable guy You make a bad character anti hero so bad that I don t like them, that I don t want to read the books That is, in point of fact, bad writing A good anti hero would make me see all the flaws in a character, but still like them, still root for them I think the perfect representation of a good anti hero is Loki, from the Marvel films Loki is a great character because he is a villain, but we like him I think , and what makes him so good, in his particular case, is he is always so close to being the hero, but 99% of the time he doesn t quite make that jump He s so close to redemption, yet chooses to remain a villain That s what makes him such a great character With these other anti heroes, like Bond and Flashman, they are just deplorable characters that the books themselves become deplorable Part of it too is that the writers don t balance out their anti hero s flaws While we see Flashman being a racist prick, we don t see the beauty of the people he looks down on While Bond mistreats women, we don t really see anyone treating them right exception in Thunderball, where Bond s flaws are precisely mirrored by Specter choosing to not tolerate those same flaws In the end, what all this does is it just makes Flashman an unlikable character, and because of that, it sort of makes Fraser himself unlikable.So anyway Star rating Ugh This may not make any sense after this review, but I m going to go with four stars for Flashman and the Dragon It did make me laugh several times, I really liked Flashman s notorious cowardice, and some of the political incorrectness was funny Mmmm No Three stars Gets docked a star for being extremely hard to get through from like 15% to 65% of the story So if you have a strong stomach for political incorrectness, I would go ahead and recommend giving Flashman and the Dragon a try I would only recommend this book, because if you start with Book 1, I think you may want to give up on it altogether Just read this book, or at least start with this one And I d say don t read Flashman under any circumstances Maybe the other books aren t AS bad as book one I know the racism would all be there, but maybe not the slaving, abusing and raping Flashman does, which are all completely unacceptable to me Being a racist I can tolerate Actually abusing and raping people, no F that guy I don t want anything to do with him