How to make friends and oppress people: a quick review

I recently read How to make friends and oppress people, a very funny travel advice book which collects advice from Edwardian and Victorian era British travel guides, interspersed with satirical advice from “Vic Darkwood,” a gentleman traveler.  The original sources are pretty amusing in their own right, but Darkwood’s commentary and the illustrations (which are cleverly derived from period sources but usually manipulated for effect) make this laugh-out-loud funny.  At least to me. A random example from p. 100:

If you are continuing your travels by river, for example, there is no need to assume that a boat is intrinsically different in principle from the snug bar at the Olde Cheshire Cheese, and with a bit of panache it can be made every bit as comfortable:

Fireplaces in boats — In boating excursions, daub a lump of clay on the bottom of the boat, beneath the fireplace — it will secure the timbers from fire. — The art of travel, Francis Galton, 1872.

This passage is accompanied by a picture of two chaps in evening dress sitting in front of an iron fireplace on a small boat, obviously assembled from three different period illustrations.

The humor is pretty dry at times, but some of the original sources are so outrageous it hardly needs Darkwood’s commentary. There are sections such divers topics as:

  • Using anthills as ovens
  • Hunting elephants and hippos with a javelin
  • Sleeping on a billiard table as a means of avoiding vermin
  • Digging a well with a pointy stick
  • The practical theory of tea-making
  • Modes of salutation
  • How to treat banditti
  • Engaging in gun battles
  • Ballooning as a sport
  • Revolting food that may save the lives of starving men
  • Employing a burly henchman

and so on, all pretty funny in their own right but with Darkwood’s running commentary, it can be hard to put this one down.

Can you use this for gaming? Probably. On the one hand it may provide some inspiration for your own campaign’s travelogues, but if you are running something set in the real world, from about 1800 to 1930, you could incorporate some of the anecdotes, advice, and illustrations into your players’ handouts to inject some humor, whether you are doing steampunk, Call of Cthulhu, a safari, or plain old pulp adventure.  The author (Victor Darkwood) assumes a fairly hilarious persona as “Vic Darkwood,” an oblivious and arrogant English gentleman adventurer, and he’d make a great NPC “guide.”

A curious thing tends to happen eighteen months into an expedition. The endless routine of living under canvas; slaughtering and collecting vast quantities of the local fauna; constructing roads, mines, oil refineries and railways; acquiring lorry-loads of artworks and antiquities; introducing foreigners to the Englishman’s genteel concepts of fair play, queuing, and afternoon tea– all these will suddenly lose their shine and begin to pall. At this point the adventurer must decide if this is nature’s way of telling him that his travels are at an end, or whether it is worth forging on, despite his misgivings, in pursuit of his next goal, such as the lost temple of Phu Kham Chan or some equally enticing prospect. (p 241)

Just so.

Advertisements
Published in: on November 4, 2011 at 9:17 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://mikemonaco.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/how-to-make-friends-and-oppress-people-a-quick-review/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Alot of type-os look like I wrote this one.

    • Doh. Looks like wordpress’ spell check thing considers “si” and “orignal” to be perfectly legitimate words… I think “orignal” might be a real word in French. I fixed the ones I could find anyway.

  2. Good timing, I was just hunting for a new book. Perfect.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Fail Squad Games

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

POWER WORD KILL

Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

booksandopinions.com

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

hosercanadian

Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.

Cirsova

An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer

A collection of advice, essays, and rambling rants about tabletop gaming and other geekiness. Often updated Monday-ishly.

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

inthecitiesdotcom

Just another WordPress.com site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"

chieflyill

gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

Metropollywog

Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: