Would it be appropriate to send the Flashman books to a soldier in Afghanistan?

My brother in the Army is going to be shipping out to Afghanistan in a couple weeks. I’ve been thinking of sending him the first book in the Flashman series, which deals with the adventures of the hero in the First Anglo-Afghan War.

I haven’t read any of the Flashman books, but I’ve always heard great things about them, and I know they’re supposed to be funny. So here’s my question: given the disastrous way the war ended for the British (full scale massacre and retreat, with only one survivor), would the book be a major downer for a soldier getting ready to go to Afghanistan, or do the comedic/heroic aspects of the story make up for it? My brother already knows a bit about the war and how it ended, but I don’t know that I want to send him a piece of fiction in which every character is slaughtered – wouldn’t want to lower morale. Any thoughts?

In the Flashman books, the heroes usually die horribly and graphically in battle, while the cowardly and morally bankrupt Flashy gets all the credit that should be due them. It’s funny, but darkly funny. It could be a bit of a downer for a soldier in a war zone. I’d send some Discworld instead.

I guess it really depends on what sort of sense of humor your brother has. The premise behind the Flashman series is that he’s just about the worst human being you can imagine: cruel, cowardly, rapacious, murderous, lying, traitorous, &c. But no one ever figures this out about him (and lives to tell anyone else, at any rate) and he rises to the heights of his career and society. His Afghanistan adventure is full of genuinly selfless heroes who die trying to do the right thing, while Flashman serves only his own self interest, and not only survives, but is hailed as a great hero.

Is your brother the sort of person who would find that sort of black, bleak humor amusing, or would it just depress the hell out of him? You’ll know that better than any of us.

BTW, good luck to him. Hope he comes back safe, and soon.

I’m going to be stationed in Afghanistan in August/September and I’m taking my Flashman books. I like the series, the author has a great ear for dialogue and it’s one of the most interesting (IMHO) characters ever written. Fraser manages to research his subjects very well, so there’s some good history to be had. I’d say go ahead and send it, but I have a very dark sense of humour.

Thanks for the info guys. He called between the time I posted the question and the time I read your responses, and in an unthinking optimistic moment I mentioned I was going to send him the book. :smack: I think he does like dark humor, but maybe not quite so dark as it would seem considering where he’ll be when he reads the thing. So I’ll either have to send him something else and plead ignorance if he asks why I didn’t send the book I said I’d send, or else send it along with a bunch of happy, escapist stuff. Decisions, decisions.


Water it out with some NightWatch books from Prattchett :slight_smile:

Skip Flashman and send him Royal Flash, Flash For Freedom!, or *Flashman and the Redskins * instead.

Or send him the Army@Love comic series instead. :smiley: