- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Sutton Publishing (September 25, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0750921099
- ISBN-13: 978-0750921091
- Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.9 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 48 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,933,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower Paperback – Import, September 25, 1998
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Because otherwise this is a 300 pages spoil alert . Frankly I found it duller than the novels. I had read the midshipmen novel so I stopped reading this at page 50 when I read the book's treatment of that time in HH's life... and reached for a Forester book in the series I had not read. May return after finishing all of Forester.'s work.
Parkinson created this biography by placing the Forester novels in chronological order, and then adding in details to explain Hornblower's early life, his family, and his years in retirement. It is so well written it is difficult to classify the book as fiction. The recent made-for-TV motion pictures on Hornblower have changed the details of the stories to a significant degree, but are generally following Hornblower's career (there was no Court Martial in Jamaica, only an inquiry, with the blame for Sawyer's death laid on the escaped Spanish prisoners, and no charge of anyone pushing him into the ship's hold).
Parkinson himself is an exceptionally good author of novels covering the Royal Navy of that time period. I am pleased to see that those novels are now being reprinted.
For instance, the attack on the fort in Lieutenant Hornblower. The diagram shows where Bush, Hornblower and the marines made their attacks. Another diagram depicts the coastline, the batteries and enemy ships. Best of all, there's a schematic of the Renown showing were Sawyer did his header, and the paths each of the lieutenants took when they made their escape. I think the best use of this book is to refer to it while reading the novels for the clarity it provides.
Personally, I was very satisfied with the explanation of Sawyer's fate. It made perfect sense, and there was a feeling of closure that Wellard got to finish him off. Well done!
Does that detract from Hornblower's moral stature? Not at all. We shouldn't judge people by modern-day standards. Caesar and Alexander committed what we would now judge to be atrocities. Hornblower's career and life were at stake, he did what was best for the service, and everyone in the court of inquiry knew it. If you liked the Hornblower books, this book is well worth reading.
My only complaint was that I thought more attention should have been devoted to Maria, his first wife, though I know the author only wrote her in as a sort of afterthought. The ironical thing is that I always have found her - meant to be less interesting than Lady Barbara - far more of a rounded and sympathetic character (I so felt for her when their children die of smallpox).
Generally very good.
From the perspective of an American, Parkinson's account worked much better on the second read.
There is a British element here that is worth noting, if not sincerely appreciating. And I'm not sure whether that's from an historic perspective ... or a personal one.
C. Northcot Parkinson ... and those of his family who might still read this caption ... Thank You.