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Forester

C.S. Forester

To be sure, Forester must have written more than this, but it's all
I could find listed in my editions—plus what I have on my shelves
that they missed. Well, it's not nothing.
If I can refrain from comment, I haven't read it.

If I have one complaint about the guy's style, it's his habit of putting and four or more times in the same sentence. And if I have one other comment, it's that I agree with Ben Traven in The Death Ship that a boss is always hated by his subordinates. For a wise guy like Forester, I can't understand how he honestly seems to believe that as a commander, a superior officer, Hornblower can be loved by his men; or that navies were better-run and less corrupt in that time than they are now. (It's hard to imagine how they could have been worse.) But maybe I just had my proverbial bad luck with bosses.

Payment Deferred USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Very clever detective novel. The title gives the plot away, but you'll never guess anyway.

Brown on Resolution

Plain Murder USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
The other of the two detective novels he wrote. Just as good; much better than most good mystery books.

Death to the French USA Amazon.uk Amazon.ca aka Rifleman Dodd
A British soldier gets isolated from his regiment in Portugal and, very unheroïcally and professionally, starts fighting the French with a small band of guerilleros.

The Gun USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
How Spanish guerilla bands get hold of an artillery gun and start giving the French a little lesson with it. Great anti-climax. Filmed in 1957 by Stanley Kramer as The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant, Theodore Bikel, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra (he's horrible, feels the 1992 Video Movie Guide).
But then, it does have titles by Saul Bass.


The African Queen USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk
Really fine book. Much better than the 1951 John Huston movie The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart, Katherine (minore) Hepburn and Robert Morley.

The Peacemaker
Somebody has been searching my site for this one. I'm at least as sorry as that Mysterious Person that I couldn't help out.

The General USA Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
The glittering career of a general who never learns anything new about warfare (or too much else).

The Earthly Paradise
Very interesting; dramatizes the end of the middle ages when a Spanish lawyer accompanies Columbus on his Third Voyage and discovers things that just won't fit in what he "knows" from his education. But in this book, Forester makes a sorry mess of the situation around Trinidad, I have to tell you. Which is done in the more fitting surroundings of VRCurassow.

The Captain from Connecticut USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Very simply told story. Good.

The Sky and the Forest
Hard to get but great. How the much-dreaded March of Civilization overtakes a Central-African chieftain twice in his lifetime. When he's young, Arab traders from the East raid his village for slaves. He spends the rest of his life to prepare protection of his village from another such attack; then doesn't stand a chance when an attack comes from the West, using a different technology.
Also explains how African development was frustrated by the very nature of the Congo basin, which isolates humans. Not a trace of racism here.


Randall and the River of Time
About a murder case where the man gets acquitted; it all has to do with the popular idea ("common law") that you have a right to kill a guy who's carrying on with your wife. Well, Richard Dawkins might almost agree? Forester refers to Adolf Hitler as a "house painter" in this book. You find that quite often elsewhere, too; if only he had been, and in that case, remained that! But it's a fine novel.

The Nightmare

The Man in the Yellow Raft
Also very simple series of stories on an American WWII navy ship.

The Ship USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Great study of a British ship and her crew in a WWII battle with the Italian navy. Extremely well composed.

The Good Shepherd USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Marvelous book about the WW-II convoys to Murmansk in Russia. Jan de Hartog wrote about the same subject in The Captain, which was recently published in the same series as Hornblower by Little, Brown and Company. Quite an honor. This is just about my favorite one.

HORNBLOWER NOVELS
They tell me Captain Horatio Hornblower is the second most popular character in English literature, after Sherlock Holmes. There's a lot more competition there, too. Jeeves is a name that springs to the lips.
What more do you want to know? Well, maybe that there have been some imitators; one of those has a character carry a musical instrument aboard and play it; if I remember correctly, a cello. That's just plain ridiculous; you will understand why when you read Hornblower (it's the brine). Even worse, in the book I read there's a row boat that needs repairs because a swordfish has attacked it. Now, really. Don't settle for substitutes! They may be cheap, but not in a financial sense.
Hornblower fights against Napoleon and the analogy with Great Britain's lone fight against Germany is rather obvious. The touch of genius in the series is that Hornblower thinks like a man of the 20th century; an ideal gimmick to show readers what it was like to live in the early 19th century.


Mr Midshipman Hornblower USAAmazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
To me, really a collection of short stories, rather than a novel. So what's wrong with that? I prefer meatier novels, and can compare it to needing QR readers for codes, instead of a tablet to read a novel. The first time I read in a book how your ass gets sore from sitting in a small boat on the open sea for days.


Lieutenant Hornblower USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Written from the point of view of Hornblower's sidekick, Lieutenant Bush. Mutiny in the West Indies, followed by a description of the hardships of a navy man in peacetime on half-pay. (My personal feeling is, serves them right.)

Hornblower and the Hotspur USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
The blockade of Brest. I keep re-reading this one. Really fine.


Hornblower and the Atropos USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Rather fragmented, it falls apart in three sections. There is no description of a military near field communication communication but some other great descriptions. Starts with a very interesting description of a voyage through one of the new English canal waterways and goes on, after a fine description of Nelson's state funeral and how it was run, to an underwater treasure hunt in a bay on the coast of Turkey - with a most surprising sailing trick.

The following three form the original Hornblower Trilogy:
Beat to Quarters USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
A Ship of the Line USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk
The Happy Return aka Flying Colors USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk
Very well composed, one by one and also as a series. Read them in any order you find them. How Hornblower loses a wife and wins a love, in the same stroke. The best combination of climax and anti-climax at once I've ever found.
The trilogy was filmed in 1951 by Raoul Walsh as Captain Horatio Hornblower, with Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo. There is now what looks like a tv-series around, or even three, but I haven't seen any of it (nor do I particularly want to).


The Commodore USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Set in the Baltic Sea, it really plays half ashore in Russia. More on army military tactics than customary.

Hornblower in the West Indies USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk
Look, why don't you find out for yourself? It's the first one I read to check if the guy knew what he was writing about. He did.

Lord Hornblower USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Not among my favorites, but still very readable. More like short stories, among which one (yech) christmas story.

Hornblower and the Crisis USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Der Unvollendete - unfinished, but you may want to read it anyway. Many people do, and actually have done it, like me.


The Hornblower Companion USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
After having hunted for this book for decennia, in desperation we went over to the New York Public Library and photocopied it. Somebody must have picked up the hint, beause one year later it was back in print. (I gave the copy to the Curaçao Maritime Museum).
The only trouble with the Hornblower series is that Forester wrote it out of chronological order. (Wodehouse wisely avoided this; excepting Love Among the Chickens, the stories in his books proceed from the ones he wrote before.) The first Hornblower books were 5, 6 and 7 in the list, which leads to inconsistencies. For example, Forester refers to Hornblower's first wife, Maria, as "his childhood" friend, which is not at all according to what is (later) described in nr. 2. He also writes about how Hornblower has been to garrulous as a first captain, supposedly in the later written Hotspur, where he was no such thing - his taciturnity was by then much too well established in Forester's mind.
In nr. 3 Hornblower is described as never having earned any "prize money", but in nr. 2 he spends a small fortune of prize money in a couple of days in Kingston, Jamaica. There's more like that; you can check the chronology of writing in The Hornblower Companion and find still other mistakes there; like the anchorages in Marmorice Bay (nr. 4) are not the same on the map as described in the book.
If you feel that's mere nitpicking, you may be right. To me, that sort of stuff makes reading more, not less enjoyable; and so, I may be right. It's what Forester is all about!

OMNIBUS
Captain Hornblower, R.N.
Horatio Hornblower
Hornblower imitators, among others that I've kept away from, are V.A. Stuart with his Adventures of Alexander Sheridan and The Hazard Saga - now, really.
Then there is Adam Hardy's Fox. I only mention them so you can avoid 'em.
TRAVEL
The Voyage of the 'Annie Marble'
The 'Annie Marble' in Germany

BIOGRAPHY
Lord Nelson USA Amazon.uk Amazon.ca


PLAYS
U.97
Nurse Cavell (with C. E. Bechofer Roberts)

MISCELLANEOUS

Victor Emmanuel II and the Union of Italy USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca


The Age of Fighting Sail USA Amazon.de Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
Sure looks interesting...


Marionettes at Home

The Naval War of 1812

Hunting the Bismark
What I do know is Sink the Bismarck!, reading rather like a screenplay synopsis. Fair guessing allowed, it's what the 1960 Lewis Gilbert movie Sink the Bismarck is based on. Then, there's The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck; probably all one and the same book. There are details in the story Forester cannot mention: officially, the USA were still neutral at that stage of the war game. But president Roosevelt had already given full cooperation to the British, something that undoubtedly entitled him to impeachment.
For reasons like that, when Forester wrote, it was still kept a secret that it was an American Catalina flying boat that found the Bismarck for the English navy.
I picked this up from A Man Called Intrepid: The Secret War 1939-1945 by William Stevenson, London 1976. Stevenson also vaguely suggests that Wodehouse may have been working for the FBI or CIA - very ironic. I'll admit it takes some reading between the lines to see this.



Movies
based on C.S. Forester

Sink The Bismarck, Lewis Gilbert, 1960 UK Canada
The Pride And The Passion, Stanley Kramer, 1957 Amazon.uk Amazon.ca
The African Queen, John Huston, 1951
Captain Horatio Hornblower, Rpaoul Walsh, 1951
Amazon.uk Amazon.ca

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