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The Riddle of the Sands (Macmillan Collector's Library) Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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About the Author
Robert Erskine Childers was born in London in 1870. His parents both died from tuberculosis when he was a child, and he was brought up at his mother's family home in Ireland. He attended Trinity College Cambridge, then went into the Civil Service as a House of Commons clerk, pursuing his passion for sailing in his spare time. In 1899 he volunteered for service in the Boer War and wrote a popular account of his experiences, following this up in 1903 with The Riddle of the Sands. A passionate advocate of Irish Home Rule, he moved with his family to Ireland after the First World War and was elected to the Irish parliament where he was a delegate in the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1922. When the terms fell short of his hopes of full independence, Childers joined the Republicans in the ensuing Civil War. He was arrested by the Free State government, court-martialled, and executed by firing squad on 24 November 1922.
Top customer reviews
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It is the story of two young Englishmen, only one of them a skilled yachtsman (much like the author), who set out to spy on the Germans. The fear is that the Kaiser is planning an attack on England's East Coast, for which the British are not prepared. Can the two young men figure out what the Germans are doing on their North Sea coast?
The story was written in 1903, well before the onset of The Great War.This prescience on the part of the author lends much to the power of the tale. However, some of the exploits late in the book strain even the most generous readers' credibility. A little like the Hardy Boys, but for adults. But, to be sure, the author's style of precise narration keeps the reader's attention. It is clear he is limited in his descriptions by Victorian constraints; Most adult readers will be amused by this propriety.There is no mention at all of even the purest of romance, nothing of even the most basic of scatological content (Is there even a marine head on the little yacht?), and, of course, no profanity whatsoever.
A warning: detailed maps of the region are essential if you are to really follow the meandering that takes place. However, the 'charts' supplied in the Kindle version are useless in this regard. You must be able to see the various channels, inlets and canals if you are to make any sense of things. The author's constant pleas to "See Chart A" or "See Chart B" attest to this necessity. You will learn a lot about Schleswig-Holstien by the time you are finished, even if you've never heard of the region before. And an awful lot about tides and sand bars.
In sum, it is a gripping yarn, certain to please all sailors, amateur or not.
The novel is a hard assignment for a landlubber! I struggled to keep reading the nautically influenced prose which I found hard to understand. The novel is narrated by Carruthers a Civil Service employee who goes on a mission of discovery with his old school chum Daviess. The latter is an expert yachtsman. Much of the book deals with the details of their voyage. The bottom line is their discovery of a traitor Englishman named Dollmann who is helping the Germans prepare for a British invasion. I found the love interest Clara Dollmann to be flat. There is not much of a plot other than the discovery of the covert plan to wage war against England by the German plotters.
Childers has a style that is hard to follow and much of the book was a boring exercise for this reviewer. I give the novel four stars due to its historical importance as a warning sing of impending German hostility towards Great Britain which came real in August 1914.
Most recent customer reviews
orite book, well written and the author's history makes a compelling spy novel.