Sword of Honor Book Review

WWII Greece 211_Squadron_RAF_Blenheim_landing_Greece_WWII_IWM_CM_290
This photo shows an RAF plane landing on a beach in Greece during WWII c. 1941.  In “Sword of Honor”, some of the grimmest scenes occurred during the Allied campaign in Greece. Photo credit: Mr. H. Hensser, Royal Air Force photographer.  From the Imperial War Museum Collection. Public Domain.
By Evelyn Waugh

 

Sword of Honor is a war novel unlike any I’ve read. Although the book is populated by many characters, the action centers around one–Guy Crouchback. We meet Crouchback as WWII is about to be declared. The prospect of war does not fill Waugh’s protagonist with dread, or fear; it does not inspire him to be heroic. What he hopes to find in the coming war is an opportunity, perhaps his last, to become part of an idea.

It is said that some parts of this book were lifted entirely from Waugh’s personal experience as a soldier in WWII. If that is so, then it would seem that the Allies stumbled to victory through anarchic mismanagement rather than strategic planning.

No Band of Brothers, this book.

By any standard, Sword of Honor is a masterpiece. Waugh’s use of language is masterful, his delineation of character–so many of them–artful. His social critique is biting and insightful.

I took my time reading this book and as the end approached slowed the pace further because I literally did not want to put the book down. Upon finishing the last page, I did something I’d never done before. I began the book anew.

Read Sword of Honor if you love good writing. Read it if you enjoy an entertaining story. Read it if you are interested in history, and the psychology of war. For whatever reason, do yourself a solid and read this book.

 

A. G. Moore

 

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