I had never heard of George MacDonald Fraser before Jerome’s post. But the Flashman novels play a small role in Charlie Wilson’s War, which I just finished reading last night.
For those unfamiliar with the book/movie: While representing East Texas in Congress – and partying and junketing non-stop -Wilson and key partners whipped up the largest covert operation in US history, supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan in their war against the Soviet Union. Or at least, that’s author George Criles’ take. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book’s incredibly entertaining and surreal.
Anyway.. political rival Steve Solarz once compared Wilson to Flashman. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. Author Crile called the character of Colonel Harry Flashman a cad who owes his good fortune to luck, coincidence and occasionally, talent.
But Wilson, whose improbable efforts had begun succeeding, embraced the analogy, creating his own elite “Flashman’s Raiders” club and giving initiates, including friends at the CIA, copies of the novels and leather jackets with the club’s name on the back.
Why? Crile speculates on the jump….
“It may be that [Wilson] liked the cover; Flashman was after all, a man caught up in great historical dramas. Even if he were a lout at heart, he did come through in the pinch, and Charlie found it easier to make this identification with his Afghan role than he did trying to define himeself in a serious vein. He was just not able to dwell on himself as a hero without first loudly proclaiming that it was a lie.”