A game of cards leads Flashman from the jungle death-house of Dahomey to the slave state of Mississippi as he dabbles in the slave trade in Volume III of the Flashman Papers. When Flashman was inveigled into a game of pontoon with Disraeli and Lord George Bentinck, he was making an unconscious choice about his own future - would it lie in the House of Commons or the West African slave trade? Was there, for that matter, very much difference? Once again Flashman's charm, cowardice, treachery, lechery, and fleetness of foot see the lovable rogue triumph by the skin of his chattering teeth.
©1971 George MacDonald Fraser (P)2012 Random House Audio
I have tried to catch George MacDonald Fraser out in an historical error, but have yet to succeed. As always, the story is historically accurate (except where noted by the author). Flashie, poltroon and scalawag, lies and cheats his way through the American South 20 years or so prior to the Civil War. Along the way, he inadvertently rescues a slave woman from bondage, but it wasn't really his fault--he'd have left her there if he could have. While Flashman himself couldn't care less about the fate of the slaves, it is a chilling portrait of slavers, slave owners and the entire slave/plantation system. Like "Huckleberry Finn," the story indicts without preaching.
And the narration couldn't be more perfect. David Case IS Flashman.
A splendid story and David Case's reading captures the sardonic nature of Harry Flashman's character perfectly.
Choose your audiobook by the narrator with best being Guidall, Tull, Case/Davidson, Muller, Lee, Franklyn-Robbins, Dotrice, (no Brick)
As enjoyable as the Flashman books may be and as accurate as David Case's narrative style and Flashman's honest admission of his own shortcomings may be, it is never wholly clear whether the author intends to offend the reader with the near gratuitous use of racial slurs, or to simply relay the attitude of the time, which Flashman inhabits. On the contrary from interviews with Fraser about the "good ole days" it is clear that Fraser recalls "days" that never were all that "good" in the first place for most people simply because he fears being condemned in the "good new days."
Indeed it is unlikely that Flashman's excessive use of that ever-dreaded & all too reminiscent "N-word" has anything to do with historical accuracy or even with the illustration of Flashman's low character. Instead it seems that Fraser is infusing his own racial prejudices into the book. Africans, Indians, Arabs, etc. all have their good qualities for their own kind, but their "kind" remains a step below their Caucasian counterpart no matter how hard the former try to be like the latter. Fraser seems to have an inherent and embedded belief that the closer a culture or race is to his own race, no matter how sarcastic Flashman's ridicule may be of "his" race, the better and more civilized that other race is.
In short the plot and the humor are severely undercut in this book by the overuse of offensive and unnecessary prose. If intended at all, Fraser certainly fails to redeem his main character's racial prejudice and this weakens the book tremendously. It's as if Fraser is attempting to toughen what he believes to be the universally metro-sexual reader of today by overdoing the worse parts about the past. Being offensive is no real defense against fear no matter how much Fraser seems to believe this to be the case.
Were he still alive I would love to see Fraser read this book aloud in front of a contemporary, though uneducated, racially diverse group. I doubt he'd agree to do it and more to the point I doubt he would be allowed to complete a paragraph.
For a book written in the 20th century, the author is clueless about the "humor" he finds in racist jokes, stereotypes and terms.
The constant use of the "n-word" was overwhelming, unnecessary and not funny.
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