Upper-class scoundrel Basil Seal, mad, bad, and dangerous to know, creates havoc wherever he goes, much to the despair of the three women in his life-his sister, his mother, and his mistress. When Neville Chamberlain declares war on Germany, it seems the perfect opportunity for more action and adventure. So Basil follows the call to arms and sets forth to enjoy his finest hour-as a war hero. Basil’s instincts for self-preservation come to the fore as he insinuates himself into the Ministry of Information and a little-known section of Military Security. With Europe frozen in the “phoney war,” when will Basil’s big chance to fight finally arrive?
"Waugh's particular genius at its best....His most important book....He constructs not only the funniest but also the most cruelly searching image to date of England in her last fateful moment of history."—TIME
"Extremely amusing....It starts out as a wicked satire in the well-known Waugh manner and ends up as a morality play."—John Chamberlain, New York Times
"Very witty....An exceptional novel."—Boston Globe
"Triumphant....The greatest of Evelyn Waugh's great novels. As such it deserves to be revived and reread as long as we read English."—E. Sissman, Atlantic Monthly