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The Complete McAuslan by George MacDonald…
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The Complete McAuslan

by George MacDonald Fraser

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The author of this work is one of my favorites, having read most of his Flashman novels of historical fiction. I read his non-fiction work on the English/Scottish border wars, The Steel Bonnets, and found it virtually unreadable. While these works of fiction are a vast improvement over The Steel Bonnets, they suffer from some of the same drawbacks.

The books in the Flashman series are uproariously funny, in addition to being historically accurate (in most cases not involving the title character) and highly educational. Adding to the experience is the historically accurate language, references and customs. This accuracy, a strength in the case of Flashman, actually detracts from the reader’s enjoyment in this collection of stories. For you see, while I am perfectly capable of deciphering the King’s English and have some understanding of English culture, the same cannot be said for heavy Scottish dialect and unfamiliar Scottish terms and/or customs. Added to this is the military milieu in which these stories are set. Frequent, arcane military references are made which quite simply mean nothing to me.

Now, it is possible to simply skim over some of the language and military jargon and still enjoy the underlying humor of the stories, because like Flashman, there is real humor here, but only taking in 80% of the writing necessarily detracts from the experience. I would think that if you were a Scottish member of the military, you would find this collection absolutely first rate.

This is a collection of three previously published works, each having as its narrator a young Subaltern (First Lieutenant?) named McNeil, who has a filthy, bumbling idiot named McAuslan in his regiment. Each work is broken into several amusing short stories, in which McAuslan plays a minor, peripheral role. Moderately amusing, but in light of the drawbacks noted above, not up to Flashman standards. ( )
  santhony | Sep 4, 2012 |
Quite by accident while searching for George Frazier McDonald books, I came across The Complete McAuslan. This is a collection of three complete novels packaged in a single book.
I downloaded it and started reading it immediately. I found it amusing, entertaining and punctuated with laugh-out-loud scenes. The title character, Private McAuslan, is the dirtiest soldier in the Scottish Highland regiment and in the entire army. Whenever the regiment has an important inspection by the higher command, McAulsan is given liberty so he won't be around for it. Unfortunately, McAuslan always shows up, out of uniform (i.e.without his kilt), drunk and escorted by several MP's.
Each novel consists of a series of short stories, all told by a young subaltern, MacNeill, who joins the regiment in North Africa at the conclusion of World War II. MacNeill is in charge of McAuslan's platoon. The stories are spread around North Africa and many are set in Scotland after the regiment is returned to its home turf.
I give this one the maximum number of stars allowed. I think it is one of McDonald's best and I've read most of his Flashman books.
  hanque | Dec 17, 2010 |
Having worked alongside quite a few different Scottish regiments, I can vouch for the honesty of this book.
What I cannot convey is the humour. It is one of the very few “laugh out loud” book that I have ever read. ( )
  liits | Jun 16, 2009 |
It is time that you hear "the sub-muckin', the whole cheese, the hail clanjamfry, the lot' about the Scottish Highland Regiment that served in Africa after World War II.

George MacDonald Fraser has written the stories of this regiment and its most infamous soldier, Private McAuslan, in three collections: "The General Danced at Dawn", "McAuslan in the Rough", and "The Sheikh and the Dustbin".

Through the narration by platoon commander Dand McNeil, McAuslan comes alive as the dirtiest soldier in the world, "wan o' nature's blunders; he cannae help bein' horrible. It's a gift."

Yet McAuslan is one of the most loveable creatures in all of literature. He may be grungy, filthy, clumsy, and disreputable, but he tries to do his best. Through his many misadventures, McAuslan marches into the heart of the reader, right leg and right arm swinging in unison, of course.

McAuslan, outcast that he is, experiences some infamous moments in his career: court martial defendant, ghost-catcher, star-crossed lover, golf caddie, expert map reader, and champion of the regimental quiz game (!). His tales, and the tales of his comrades-in-arms, are poignant at times, hilarious at others. These tales are so memorable because they are based on true stories.

The reader basks in all things Scottish in the stories. The language of the soldiers is written in Scottish brogue, although Fraser says in his introduction, "Incidentally, most of this volume is, I hope, written in English." Don't fret - a glossary is provided. (Reading the glossary alone causes some serious belly laughs.

If you read only one book this year, read this one. It's a volume that the reader will not soon forget. ( )
  juliebean | Apr 26, 2007 |
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From the author of the international bestselling Flashman series, George MacDonald Fraser, come the hilarious stories of the most disastrous soldier in the British Army. Here are the tales of Private McAuslan, J., the Dirtiest Soldier in the World (alias the Tartan Caliban, or the Highland Division's answer to the Pekin Man). Fraser first demonstrated McAuslan's unfitness for service in The General Danced at Dawn. McAuslan continued his disorderly advance through the pages of McAuslan in the Rough. The final volume, The Sheikh and the Dustbin, pursues the career of the great incompetent as he shambles across North Africa and Scotland, swinging his right arm in time with his right leg and tripping over his untied laces. Whether map-reading his erratic way through the Sahara by night or confronting Arab rioters, McAuslan's talent for catastrophe is guaranteed. Fraser's talent for entertainment and satire are just as certain.… (more)

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