Waugh’s Sword of Honour Trilogy was listed by the Daily Telegraph earlier this year among “Best War and History Books of All Time.” The list consisted of 35 books, including both fiction and history in English and translation. Here is the entry for Sword of Honour:
Loosely autobiographical, this three-part meandering, tragic-comic farce paints a convincingly chaotic picture of the British muddling their way to winning the war. It is beautifully world weary and cynical, as the hapless hero is buffeted by the forces of class, waste, spite, cowardice and inefficiency.
The Telegraph offers no criteria for how or by whom selections were made. Other listed WWII novels written in English include Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (which Waugh dismissed–Letters, 571–as indelicate, prolix, repetitious and totally without structure, although he found much of the dialogue to be funny), Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, and Louis de Bernieres’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Also listed is the translated novel Legion of the Damned by the enigmatic Danish writer Sven Hassel. The list was first published on May 4, 2014 and now appears on the Telegraph’s website under a “Books to Read” collection.