It follows the story of mistaken identity of one gentleman writer “Boot”. The editor of the paper means to enlist John Boot a writer whom the Prime Minister himself admires; his Foreign editor mistakes this writer “Boot” with the current nature writer William Boot and thus begins a whirlwind of adventure for William.
He is sent to Ishmaelia [a fictional African state] to be a war correspondent for The Daily Beast, a newspaper in London. Unaware of the politics behind war correspondence, William is quite a flop until he happens upon a quiet civil war in Ishmaelia whilst his fellow reporters are gallavanting across the country.
This novel mimics Waugh’s own experience as a war correspondent in Abyssinia in 1935. It’s incredible focus on details may be attributed to the real life parallels between the novel and Waugh’s own adventures in reporting.
A slow start, but once you get involved and on your way, the journey is riveting and funny in all the right places. Definitely one of the lighter novels in the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of All Time list.