12 October 2008

Erskine Childers' Riddle of the Sands - Review

The Riddle of the Sands (Modern Library Classics) The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not sailor, though my best friend who gifted this book to me is. I admit to being a little lost at times in the sailing terminology and minutiae. I also wish my Penguin edition had better maps and charts...the text often refers back to the 4 maps at the beginning of he story, but the size and quality is so small at to be nearly useless. Maybe these are the maps included with the original texts, but a clearer (hell I'll take color) version would be appreciated.

As for the story, I knew where it was going before I even picked-up the book. This meant I kept on waiting for the main characters to 'get it.' Realization and suspenseful action doesn't come until late in the book (even then it is much more sedate than what we've come to expect in the intervening 100+ years since this was written).

I do find Childers' concept interesting. Nobody is ever going to know if Imperial Germany could have launched an invasion of Britain with a fleet of tugs and barges. Perhaps Childers' book ensured it would never happen. As to how plausible it was, the German High Command was using basically the same idea for Operation Sealion for a cross-channel invasion in WWII - almost forty years later. Personally I think both plans would have been a slaughter, but it was a less absurd plan than many others proposed (and executed) in the history of war.

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