Scoop is a humorous novel about journalism. It begins with the wrong man being sent to report on a war in Africa. A socialite tries to get the job for a well-known adventurer called John Boot. The job goes to a minor journalist called William Boot, who writes a natural history column. William Boot knows nothing about foreign reporting and even less about Africa. Kitting him for the ‘expedition’ is a farce.
Most of Scoop takes place in the fictional African state of Ishmaelia. Boot arrives with a group of other journalists and finds that nothing is happening. When the rest of the journalists go to the nonexistent area of Laku (Yes, a place that doesn’t exist in a fictional African state!), Boot stays behind. This leads to him getting the only story in the whole of the phony war, the scoop of the title. The problems of identity continue when he gets home.
Scoop is a modern classic. The depiction of Ishmaelia and its natives may seem a bit stereotyped, but the novel was written 1938 so that’s only to be expected. The humour is gentle, in the same vein as P. G. Wodehouse. There’s a bit of romance for the hero and almost everyone gets what they want in the end. A nice quiet read.