From Publishers Weekly
An insightful introduction by the author's great-grandson distinguishes this reissue of a seminal work of spy fiction first published in 1903. At the dawn of the 20th century, Carruthers, a young Foreign Office functionary, is lamenting being stuck in London with little to do when he receives a surprising communiqué from Oxford classmate Arthur Davies. Davies's request to join him on a yacht in Schleswig-Holstein includes an eccentric laundry-list of items that Davies wants his friend to bring. With nothing else on his horizon, Carruthers accepts, and ends up enmeshed in intrigue centering on Davies's concern that Germany's growing sea-power poses a threat to England. Childers (1870-1922) couples his patiently developed plot with richly imagined lead characters. Davies himself is the standout, rounded out by numerous quirks, including a craving for throwing items overboard from his small vessel. Eric Ambler fans will find this a fascinating antecedent.
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First published in 1903, Childers� novel caused a sensation in Britain. It is a vivid account of German preparations to invade England, released at a time when tensions between the countries were rising. Carruthers, a young staff member in the foreign office, is invited by Davies, a Cambridge friend, on a yachting holiday in the Frisian Islands along Germany�s north coast. Carruthers is appalled. The �yacht,� Dulcibella, is a spartan 30-footer, and the poorly charted sea is a maze of shifting sands, conflicting currents, and volatile weather. The two men soon come to believe that the German government is planning war, and they set out to gather proof. Named by The Guardian as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time, The Riddle of the Sands has delighted generations of sailing aficionados and thriller readers with its nautical and political verisimilitude. That said, it is also a Victorian-era tale that challenges contemporary readers with its dense and detailed expository writing about sailing and the machinations of the Germans. One of the 100 best books ever? Probably not, but lovers of the sea, espionage thrillers, and European history will continue to embrace it in this welcome new edition. --Thomas Gaughan