Thursday, January 3, 2008

Another good man leaves us

I'm sorry to have to report that George McDonald Fraser, famed author of the 'Flashman' novels and many other books, has died.

Fraser was a truly superb raconteur, skilled with language and vocabulary to paint a picture in words that was almost unsurpassed by contemporary authors. I'm sad to think that we'll hear no more of Harry Flashman, rogue, bully, cheat and all-round poltroon - but a hero nonetheless.

What's more, Fraser was a veteran of World War II. His memoir 'Quartered Safe Out Here' is certainly on my list of the top ten veteran autobiographies to come out of World War II. After the war he became an officer in a Scottish regiment, and wrote three (hysterically funny) books of short stories about his experiences: 'The General Danced At Dawn', 'McAuslan In The Rough' and 'The Sheik And The Dustbin'. Regrettably some of the latter are now out of print, but they're available from used book outlets. All four books are highly recommended, as is the entire Flashman series.

Fraser was also active in the movie industry. He authored 'The Hollywood History Of The World' (which was screamingly funny in parts) and wrote the script for the James Bond film 'Octopussy'.

Rest in peace, Mr. Fraser, and thank you for the immense pleasure you gave to me and so many others through your work.



JPG said...

A great loss. Like so many other Americans, I was introduced to GMcDF by reading the serializatiions in Playboy magazine. I later sought out his books in the local public libraries, and found I was even more fascinated by the non-Flashman books. The General Danced at Dawn was probably my favorite. I must look for Quartered Safe Out Here.

R.I.P., Mr. Fraser

Anonymous said...

And I would add a recommendation for, if you can find it, The Steel Bonnets.

This is the story of the Border Reivers (pronounced reevers), who reduced the border between Scotland and England to anarchy over 200 years or so.

The conditions there were reminiscent of the Wild West - not surprising since some of the chief Western troublemakers were, or were the descendants of, the Reivers. At one point, when the Crown really got rough, the choice was between the rope and emigration.

Essential reading if you want to understand Afghanistan and the border there with Pakistan. And written with all of George Fraser's usual verve.