|(Photo by your humble blog keeper.)|
Families gather over frugal meals to debate the legacy of the Federalist Papers, and when darkness falls, the populace comes together to discuss such topics as French influence on the doctrine of the separation of powers and to sit in rapt awe at the number of vowels in Montesquieu's name.
Independence Day is wrapping up here in America, and that may be why some passages in Flashman on the March, set though the book is in Abyssinia in the nineteenth century, resonate in the United States of America in the twenty-first:
"I've a sight more use for him and his like than for the psalm-smiting Holy Joes who pay lip-service to delivering the heathen from error's chain by preaching and giving their ha'pence to the Anti-Slavery Society, but spare never a thought for young Ballantyne holding the sea-lanes for civilization and Jack Legerwood dying the kind of death you wouldn't wish for your worst enemy."That's as least as fine a burst of rhetoric as "Support the troops."
Flashman's misgivings about "a campaign which, to judge from the gloom at tiffin, promised to be the biggest catastrophe since the Kabul retreat" might provoke a shock of recognition, as will this exchange, about a leader known for his massacres of thousands:
"This makes it simple; the bastard'll have to go."If Larry Gonick, who writes and draws The Cartoon History of the Universe, is the new Herodotus, then Flashman's creator, George MacDonald Fraser, was the new Thucydides. And each is probably funnier than the original.
"You will try him, in a court, and put him to death?"
"Oh, I doubt that. ... "
"But you said of Theodore, `he will have to go'!"
"So he will, one way or t'other. Bullet in the back o' the head, shot trying to escape, dead of a surfeit of lampreys, who knows?"
© Peter Rozovsky 2011