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Evelyn Waugh: Scoop

Waugh subtitled this novel A novel about journalists and it is based in part on his experiences as a correspondent for the Daily Mail in Abyssinia. Waugh has a wonderful time skewering the journalists as immoral, cynical, drunken crooks. The hero is William Boot, the rural correspondent for the Daily Beast, inadvertently sent to cover the civil war in the African country of Ishmaelia. In fact, Lord Cooper, the megalomaniac proprietor of the Daily Beast, had intended to hire John Boot, on the advice of the wife of a cabinet minister. John Boot was a successful novelist who had become a foreign correspondent to escape from an unhappy affair. However, Salter, the foreign editor, gets his Boots mixed up and sends William to Ishmaelia.

William, who knows little about being a foreign correspondent, is educated by the devious Corker and endeavours to follow Sir Jocelyn Hitchcock, his predecessor but now working for the Beast‘s rival, the Daily Brute,as Sir Jocelyn is usually the man to get the scoop. William falls in love and associates with a variety of colourful and unscrupulous journalists. However, he does get the scoop. A Communist coup overthrows the government but the Communists are, in turn overthrown and William gets the scoop on that story and also manages to secure the mineral rights for Britain. He returns home a hero but, of course, the knighthood is erroneously given to John Boot, while William ends up writing a newspaper column. If, like many people, you believe journalists are the scum of the earth, then you will certainly enjoy this romp with the world’s foreign correspondents.

Publishing history

First published 1938 by Chapman & Hall