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A Splendid Little War

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Genre Prose

Selection R.F.C.

Year 2018

ISBN: 978-0-85705-229-2

Volume book: Full version

The war to end all wars, people said in 1918. Not for long. By 1919, White Russians were fighting the Bolsheviks (Reds) for control of their country, and Winston Churchill (then Minister for War) wanted to see Communism ‘strangled in its cradle’. So a volunteer R.A.F. squadron, flying Sopwith Camels and DH9 bombers, went there to duff up the Reds. ‘There’s a splendid little war going on,’ a British staff officer told them. ‘You’ll like it.’ Looked like fun. But the war was neither splendid nor little. It was big and it was brutal, a grim conflict of attrition, marked by cruelty, betrayal and corruption. Before it ended, the squadron wished that both sides would lose. If that was a joke, nobody was laughing. “A Splendid Little War” tests the pilots’ gallows humour in a world of armoured trains and elegant barons, gruesome religious sects and anarchist guerrillas, unreliable allies and pitiless enemies. The comedy of this war, if it exists, is very bleak. Derek Robinson is at once our finest living comic novelist and a master of military fiction. Biggles was never like this.

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