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Sun, Jul. 27th, 2014, 05:37 pm
Continuing with the Reviews

It's been a few days since I've posted any reviews of the Hornblower books, so I suppose it is about time I did so.  Here is my take on the first Hornblower book written and published.
Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            In the early nineteenth century, Captain Horatio Hornblower voyages from England, avoiding all contact with land or other ships, and makes a perfect landfall along the Pacific coast of Central America.  His secret mission is to support a rebellion against Spain and further England’s efforts against France’s ally.  But when he arrives, he finds the rebel leader mad, and that Spain has changed sides.  These events counter the original intent of Hornblower’s orders.  Having already captured a ship larger than his thirty-six gun frigate, Lydia, he is now forced to pursue and defeat Natividad again.  His life is further complicated by the presence of Lady Barbara Wellesley and the cavalier attitude of Spanish authorities in Panama.
            This story takes place a good way into Hornblower’s career, but it was the first of the series written by Forester.  Many back story details do not match those in later books covering the earlier portions of Hornblower’s life.  Beat to Quarters reads as if William Bush is serving with Hornblower for the first time.  No mention is made of them having been lieutenants in Renown, or captain and first lieutenant aboard Hotspur.  In this accounting, Hornblower had been a lieutenant, rather than a post captain during the capture of the Castilla, as later described in Hornblower and the Atropos.
            Hornblower’s age does not add up either.  He is mentioned as being thirty-seven years old, and if he was indeed born on July 4, 1776, this story would have taken place in 1813.  Yet C. S. Forester’s Hornblower Companion shows the majority of this adventure occurring in July of 1808.  This book mentions six years have passed since capturing Castilla, while more recent writings suggest that Hornblower went directly from commanding Atropos to captaining Lydia.
            These discrepancies can be attributed to Forester writing the Hornblower books in non chronological order.  They were not written in order of his career, but were penned at various times to fill gaps existing in the over all story.  The author appears to have been developing the story over the entire time it was being written.
            These are minor complaints regarding an excellent story.  As always, Forester’s writing is clear, precise, and a pleasure to read.  Written in the 1930s, it reflects the style and sentiment of an earlier time.  Profanity and graphic detail are nearly non-existent, and much of the narration is from a greater distance than is currently acceptable.  While some readers might be offended by national and racial stereotyping, it is relatively mild and simply reflects the time in which the story was written.  Perhaps it also is indicative of the time in which it is set.
            It is the creation of the complex character known as Horatio Hornblower in which Forester excels.  Here is an individual who comes across, not as a hero, sure of his abilities, but as one with perhaps more than his share of human frailties.  Despite his intelligence and bravery, Hornblower cannot see himself as others do.  It is his fear of failure, his feeling that he is unworthy, that drives him to achieve the impossible.  Even then, success is not a mark of accomplishment, but a sign of survival.  Hornblower’s inability to see his true worth makes him that much more human.  Therefore he does not come across as a larger than life character, but as one whom nearly everyone can identify with.
            Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return is the first part of a three part series, usually referred to as Captain Horatio Hornblower.  It was soon followed by Ship of the Line and Flying Colours.  Those three stories were combined in the early 1950s movie Captain Horatio Hornblower, starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.  As it usually happens, many details of the story were changed in producing the movie.  A few characters exist in the film that did not appear in print, even though scenes can often be identified and crossed from one version to the next.  A notable characteristic of the film is that about three-quarters of it deal with events from the first of the three books.  These events are covered in great if not always exacting detail.  The last portion of the movie basically provides a visual synopsis of the remainder of the overall story.  Ship of the Line and Flying Colours are pretty much glossed over as the film winds its way to a conclusion.
            Unlike past reviews of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower books, this reviewer did not note any technical problems regarding the author’s descriptions of vessels or weaponry.  If any existed, it may have escaped attention due to a more concentrated search for inconsistencies between this and other stories of the Hornblower saga.
            As the United States of America prepares to celebrate its 235th Anniversary, let all those who appreciate the character of Horatio Hornblower prepare to celebrate his Birthday as well.  We might all wonder at C. S. Forester’s motivation in designating July 4, 1776 as the date of birth for his most famous character, but regardless of his reasons, Happy Birthday USA, and Happy Birthday Horatio Hornblower!
           This reviewer considers himself to be quite fortunate in having copies of the three earliest Hornblower books dating from the time of first publication.  They can not with certainty be said to be first editions, and their physical condition is such that they are probably not of any great value.  Yet they are old enough to give Copyright dates of 1938 and 1939.  Nor do they list any ISBN or Library of Congress information.
(Note: This review was originally written just before Independence Day (US) a couple of years ago.)

FYI...finished reading Sue Eller's Meadowlark Madness last week.  Now reading (again) Patrick O'Brian's The Ionian Mission.

Sun, Jul. 20th, 2014, 07:59 am
Signing Success!

Held the first of several book signings yesterday at a local Hastings Entertainment store.  And I do mean local.  It's within (long) walking distance of home.  I was glad that our weather had cooled off a bit as the building's air conditioning system had gone out.  Inside it was at the edge of being uncomfortably warm, and I was anxious to finish up and get into the new vehicle and crank up the air!

I spent the first half of my stint watching people walk in and for the most part, head to the video section of the store.  A few would nod or say, "hi." and that was about it.   One lady took note of and comment favorably regarding the two original paintings on display... the original cover art for both books.  Then another woman stopped by, asked some questions and borrowed a copy of Beyond the Ocean's Edge to show to a relative elsewhere in the store.  She returned a few minutes later and had me sign it.  Success!  Here one concern seemed to be finding a book that was relatively "clean" in terms of language and themes.  I told her it did contain certain elements and a few words that some might find objectionable, but that it certainly wasn't loaded with them, and that I wouldn't have been able to tell the story I wanted to tell without delving into those themes or using the words in question.

After another spell of people watching, a gentleman came by and purchased a copy of Beyond the Ocean's Edge as well.  He had stopped by earlier to ask what I was doing there, evidently unfamiliar with the idea of an author being in the store to sign copies of his books.  By then my usual stay was about up but I decided to remain for an extra half hour.  That nearly passed before another individual came by and had me sign copies of both books.  Turned out that he is a big Hornblower and Master and Commander fan.  That should certainly put him in the group of folks that my work is intended for.

Signing and selling four books may not seem like a big deal to some, especially when we hear of authors with lines formed so people can buy and have copies signed... when we hear of the entire on hand stock being sold out in a matter of minutes.  But for me, four books is a personal best, and for this particular signing I had not done much in the way of publicity or advertising.  I think I'd mentioned it here a couple days ago, and I did put it on Facebook and directly on Twitter.  Locally the most I'd done was to make up flyers that the store in question posted and that I posted at work.  For the next events I'll have to see about getting them listed in the local paper and other event listings.  It does seem that doing so doesn't always make that big a difference.  I've done it before and on one or two occasions had absolutely no success.  My thought is that it really depends on who happens to come it the store while one is there doing a signing, more so than it does on how much publicity is generated for the event.

There is also the possibility that an event like I had yesterday will generate sales in other areas... passing out business cards with a link to my web-site might get someone to by on Kindle or Nook.

Anyway, after sitting in the hot and stuffy store for two and a half hours, I packed up and went home, having first brought in replacement copies for those that had sold, and having collected the payout for those that did.  All in all a profitable two and a half hours.

P. S. Finished reading Sue Eller's Meadowlark Madness last week. It's a really neat book, combining elements of "who done it" with science fiction, and a very unique and easy to read voice.  Sue is a local Spokane author and fellow member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.  The book is available on Amazon if anyone is interested or curious about it.  Hopefully I'll get a review written and posted one of these days... but I say that about a number of books I've read recently, and it seems I just don't get to that point.

Wed, Jul. 16th, 2014, 03:04 pm
Book Signing Schedule

Hey, it looks like I'm back on track with book signings at some of the local bookstores.  My first is this Saturday, the 19th.  I'll be at the Shadle Hastings on Wellesley, here in Spokane, beginning at 3 pm.  Come August 2 I'll be at the Hastings in Veradale, also at 3.  On August 23rd, beginning at 1 pm I'll go over to the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Hastings, and finally on August 30th at the Spokane South Hill Hastings.  Again at 3 pm.  I'm also working on something at Auntie's Bookstore in downtown Spokane for the middle of August.

So, if anyone happens to be in the Pacific Northwest, Eastern Washington, or North Idaho on those dates, stop by and see me.  If you like Age of Sail/Naval Adventure stories, consider buying a signed copy of one or both of mine... or if you know someone else that likes that sort of thing, a book makes a great gift.


Wed, Jul. 16th, 2014, 02:54 pm
Posting Milestone

Hey, I just discovered that my last post on here was number 500! Of course, that makes this number 501.  I first got the account so I could comment on one that restricted anonymous commenting.  Never figured I'd end up using it as much as I have.

Also want to say hello and thank you to those who have "friended" me over the years.

P. S.  Using my original icon for this post.

Sun, Jul. 13th, 2014, 12:19 pm
Another Review

Here is another review of the Hornblower books by C. S. Forester.  Up today, Hornblower and the Atropos.
Hornblower and the Atropos
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            After reading Hornblower during the Crisis, a work which felt unrefined and not quite ready for publication, it was a joy to begin Hornblower and the Atropos.  This book follows the former in terms of Hornblower’s life and career, but it was written at an earlier time.
            The beginning presents a rare view of Hornblower as husband and father.  He is accompanied by Maria, expecting their second child, and little Horatio as he journeys via canal to London.  There Hornblower is to take up his first command as a post captain in the Royal Navy.  Despite his sometimes callous treatment, it is apparent that Hornblower has grown quite attached and protective of Maria.  While he seems to relish domestic life, it is clear that the Navy and devotion to duty are at the forefront of his priorities.
            Once in London, finally in command of HMS Atropos, and facing the eminent birth of his second child, Hornblower is detailed to organize the water-borne portion of Lord Nelson’s funeral ceremony.  History does not readily provide the name of the individual who actually orchestrated this event, but Forester does well to give the responsibility to Hornblower.  With attention to detail and a sharp fear of failure, the relatively junior post captain succeeds, even when faced with the near sinking of the barge carrying Nelson’s remains.  While quite hilarious in some ways, this incident is another challenge for Hornblower to overcome.
            Further endeavors include the capture of a French privateer masquerading as a British trawler, the recovery of treasure from under the noses of the Turkish authorities, and the capture of a large Spanish frigate.  Further complicating Hornblower’s life is the presence of a German prince, a relative of King George III, his Secretary of State, three divers from Ceylon, and a rather unpleasant salvage master.
            Hornblower and the Atropos is one of the better books in the saga.  He comes across as a likable and real individual, carrying for his wife and family, dedicated to his duty, and all the while, unsure of his abilities.  As always, Hornblower cannot realize that others, his superiors, see and appreciate those skills.
            This book is Forester at his best.  Even so, as with nearly all of the series, certain technical questions arise.  Once again there is the title vessel’s classification.  Quite often Atropos is referred to as a sloop, even though rated at twenty-two guns.  Normally a sloop-of-war carried fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen guns and was captained by a master and commander.  Being a vessel of twenty guns or more, Atropos would have rated a post captain in command and would have been referred to as a “post ship” or a “sixth-rate.”  When Atropos faces Castilla, the latter is described as carrying forty-four eighteen pounder guns.  A typical forty-four gun frigate would have carried that many guns or more, but not all would have fired the same weight of shot.  Twenty-eight or thirty guns firing the nominal weight of shot would have equipped the gun deck.  Weapons mounted on the forecastle and quarterdeck would have been of lighter weight, nine pounders, perhaps, if they were traditional naval guns.  Carronades may well have fired shot heavier than those on the gun deck.
            The copy of Hornblower and the Atropos read for this review was published by Back Bay Books in 1999.  ISBN is 0-316-28929-9.  Cover price was at the time of printing, $13.95 US.

Fri, Jul. 11th, 2014, 02:39 pm
Birthday Wishes

Before I forget, a little post to wish anteros_lmc a Happy Birthday!  Tomorrow, I believe, but because of time zone differences between here and there, the day is closer than I think.  Hope you have a great day!

Tue, Jul. 8th, 2014, 03:39 pm
A review of Hornblower During the Crisis

Next up for review as I post (re-post) those I wrote for the Hornblower books by C. S. Forester.
Hornblower during the Crisis
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            Spring 1805 and Hornblower has been promised his post-captaincy by Admiral William Cornwallis.  He turns over command of Hotspur and takes passage to England in the water hoy Princess.  When menaced by an approaching French brig, Hornblower leads the hoy’s crew and embarked passengers in boarding and capturing it.  On board he finds a pack of official papers and upon landing at Plymouth, spirits them to the Admiralty in London.  Because of the nature of those papers, a plan develops, one that may help lead to Nelson’s great victory at Trafalgar later in the year.
            Hornblower during the Crisis is the last Hornblower work written by C. S. Forester.  It is approximately one third finished, the author passing away before completing the story.  A single page, based on the author’s notes, describes how the tale was to have concluded.  Of the portion written, it appears to be work in progress, something that would be refined and polished a bit more had time been available.  Hornblower during the Crisis reads as if the author was writing quickly.  Perhaps he was aware of his upcoming demise and desirous of getting a much of the story on paper as possible.  While lacking in length and other qualities readers expect from Forester and the Hornblower tales, this story does fill in a small gap in Hornblower’s career.  It is definitely a “must read” for those looking to understand Hornblower’s life and career to the fullest.
            Included within the volume are two short stories.  “Hornblower’s Temptation” takes place aboard HMS Renown, prior to the voyage to the West Indies recounted in Lieutenant Hornblower.  “The Last Encounter” takes place at the twilight of Hornblower’s career.  If one is reading in order of life and career, the first story should be read upon completing Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.  The last should be read after completing every other Hornblower book or story, as it is the final tale.  Both short stories present the more polished work that a reader expects from Forester.  Perhaps the quality stands out a bit more when compared to the rougher aspects of the unfinished work printed in the same volume.
            The copy read for this review, ISBN 0-316-28944-2 was published by Back Bay Books of Little, Brown and Company.  It carries a cover price of $13.00 US.


Sun, Jul. 6th, 2014, 08:17 am
Hornblower And The Hotspur: A Review

Well, in the immediate aftermath of the Fourth of July and Horatio Hornblower's Birthday, here is another review of one of C. S. Forester's Hornblower books.  I may have mentioned at one time or another that I originally intended to include Horatio Hornblower as a minor character in my Stone Island Sea Stories.  Thus I tried to arrange some of the timing of my stories to match events in the Hornblower saga.  Alas, I was not able to obtain permission to include HH.  I did a bit of revising and rewriting.  For those who have read Beyond the Ocean's Edge and recall Pierce meeting a Lt. Rowley, Rowley fills the spot originally intended for Hornblower.  Besides creating a character with a different name, I thought it best to embellish him with some different characteristics and circumstances. I envision Rowley as being shorter, stouter, and a good deal more gregarious than Hornblower.

Hope you enjoy the review.

Hornblower and the Hotspur
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            As the Peace of Amiens draws to a close, so does Hornblower’s time as an impoverished half-pay lieutenant.  Promoted and confirmed this time as a master and commander, he is given command of the ship-sloop Hotspur.  Leaving England and his new bride in advance of the rapidly rebuilding Channel Fleet, Hornblower is soon on station off Brest.  When his small vessel is pursued by the frigate Loire, a vessel with which the Hotspur has recently exchanged passing honors, Hornblower knows war has resumed.
            Aside from keeping a close eye on the enemy fleet, Hornblower devises and carries out daring raids to deny the enemy communication, supplies, and a route to the open sea.  He is directly responsible for the destruction of a signal tower, a gun battery, and four frigates armed en-flute, trying to leave Brest for Ireland during a winter storm.  Superb navigation and seamanship enable him to prowl the rock and shoal infested approaches to Brest, and during a winter gale to make a run before the wind to shelter at Tor Bay.  Sent as the fifth ship sent to detain the expected Spanish treasure flota, Hornblower and Hotspur miss the capture due to a running battle with the French frigate Félicité, dispatched to aid the Spanish.
            Throughout this adventurous tale Hornblower tried to maintain his composure, dignity, and honor as a Royal Naval Officer.  Yet a more human and tender side emerges, even though he would prefer it not to.  Having married Maria for reasons he cannot adequately fathom, he is nevertheless tender and caring in those few opportunities he has to spend time with her, and later with their newborn son.  His humanity also has the upper hand when he allows his steward, charged with assault, to escape to the American frigate Constitution while anchored at Cadiz.
            Once again, C. S. Forester has written an exciting and very readable book, detailing the adventures of his fictional naval hero.  However, as in many of his naval stories, certain details are questionable if not in error.  In describing the French frigate Loire, mention is made of “her painted ports, twenty of them per side, besides the guns on quarterdeck and forecastle.”  A typical frigate of the time would more than likely have had fourteen, fifteen, or on rather occasion, as many as sixteen ports along the gun deck.
            There is also some confusion regarding Hotspur.  She is said to carry twenty nine-pounders that give her her “rate.”  Twenty guns would normally classify her as a sixth rate post ship, one commanded by a post captain.  If indeed such a vessel was under the command of a master and commander, she would be referred to as a sloop-of-war in spite of carrying more that the usual fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen guns normally allotted to a sloop.  And yet when Hornblower is finally promoted, he realizes he will have to leave Hotspur, as it is too small to be commanded by a post captain?

            Hornblower’s exploits as captain of the Hotspur are covered in the made for TV films Duty and Loyalty.  Yet as is common with many screen adaptations, the basic story does not translate from book to film in an exact manner.  While Sir Edward Pellew does have command of the Inshore Squadron for a time, it is, according to the book, Admiral Cornwallis and not Pellew who toasts the newly wed couple, gives Hornblower permission to sleep ashore on his wedding night, and ultimately upon retirement selects Hornblower as the master and commander to be promoted to post captain.  While William Bush is aboard Hotspur as first lieutenant, Styles and Mathews are not.  According to the written accounts of Hornblower’s career, they have not been with him since his days as a midshipman.
            Côtard was not an army major but a navy lieutenant and Guernseyman serving in HMS Marlborough, who is detached to Hornblower’s command for a single operation.  Hammond is not a part of the Inshore Squadron, but rather in the book and in history, captain of Lively, one of the vessels sent to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, an episode of the book not covered in the films.  Lastly the film version deals extensively with the presence of Napoleon’s brother and American wife aboard Hornblower’s ship.  The book devotes one entire sentence to Bonaparte’s brother and wife attempting to get ashore in France, and that is at a point where the author is attempting to provide the reader with a wider overview of historical events.
            Despite quibbles with technical details, this is a book this reviewer has read and enjoyed several times over the decades.  This latest read of Hornblower and the Hotspur will not be the last, as it is, overall, a very well-written and exciting story.
           Hornblower and the Hotspur was originally published by Little, Brown and Company.  The edition read for this review is a 1998 paperback reissue by Back Bay Books.  ISBN 0-316-29046-7 carried at the time of purchase, a cover price of $13.95

Mon, Jun. 30th, 2014, 02:56 pm
Lieutenant Hornblower: A Review

Here's my review (again) of the second book in the Hornblower saga.

P. S. It was the Hornblower books that inspired me to start writing and to come up with what are now the Stone Island Sea Stories.
Lieutenant Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
           A Royal Navy ship-of-the-line bound for the West Indies, captained by a man believing his lieutenants conspire against him, provides the setting for the second tale of Horatio Hornblower.  While the junior most commissioned officer aboard, fifth lieutenant to be precise, Hornblower’s exemplary performance saves the day for HMS Renown and her crew.
            Insisting mutiny is afoot; Captain Sawyer searches for his lieutenants, hoping to catch them in an incriminating situation.  In fact, they are meeting to deal with the captain’s increasing paranoia.  Warned, they scatter, and in his haste to arrest them, Sawyer falls down an open hatchway.  How he fell is never fully addressed, and Hornblower will only say that “he fell.”
            With the captain injured, incapacitated, and now completely insane, Buckland the first lieutenant takes command.  Urged by Hornblower and the other lieutenants, he reads the captain’s secret orders and sets about completing the seventy-four gun warship’s mission.  When a first attempt results in failure, Hornblower suggests immediate follow-up action, surmising the enemy would not be expecting it.  In fact, throughout the book, it is Hornblower’s tactful suggestions to his superiors that enable them and Renown to have any measure of success.
            This book is unique amongst the eleven Hornblower novels, with Lieutenant William Bush being the focal character of the story, and we witness Hornblower’s feats through his eyes.  We also see Bush’s opinion of Hornblower grow until he holds his junior in highest esteem.          As great a story teller as he is, Forester sometimes misses the mark regarding technical issues.  In describing the lower gun deck of HMS Renown, he mentions seventeen thirty-two pound guns per side.  A British third rate of the time would have had fourteen or perhaps fifteen guns per side on that deck.  There is also some confusion as to which cabin was the captain’s, and subsequently the location of the wardroom.
            Today it is natural to compare the book with Mutiny and Retribution, the two made-for-TV movies based on this novel.  The films remarkably convey the tale to the screen in spite of many changes.  Most noticeable is the appearance of characters from the earlier Hornblower movies, and in particular, the presence of Lieutenant Archie Kennedy.  Neither he, Sir Edward Pellew, nor any of the hands from Mr. Midshipman Hornblower are present in the written version.  The movies also dwell more on Sawyer’s medical condition, potential recovery, and desire for vengeance after his injury.
            Unlike the book in which a simple court of inquiry investigates the Captain Sawyer’s death, the films present a full-fledged courts martial, complete with confession as to who apparently pushed  the captain into the hold.  The film ends with this admission, Hornblower’s loss of a close friend, and his promotion to Master and Commander, captaining Retribution.  The book, however, continues with Bush’s and Hornblower’s eventual reunion in England during the Peace of Amiens.  Still seen through Bush’s eyes, the reader becomes aware of Hornblower’s poverty, lack of influence, and bad luck in not having his promotion confirmed.  Bush also becomes privy to Hornblower’s beginning domestic life.
            In Lieutenant Hornblower, C. S. Forester has once again told a complex story in a compelling, simple, and straight forward manor, making it a tale very much worth reading.
           Lieutenant Hornblower was originally published in the early 1950s.  The copy reviewed, [ISBN 0-316-29063-7 (PB)] was a paperback reissue from Back Bay Books in 1998, priced at $13.00 US.

Sun, Jun. 29th, 2014, 07:38 am
A Review of Midshipman Hornblower

As America's Independence Day and Horatio Hornblower's Birthday approach, I thought I would post (repost) the reviews I have written of C. S. Forester's Hornblower books.  First up, the story at the beginning of the saga.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            While not the first book C. S. Forester wrote about Horatio Hornblower, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower details the beginnings of this famous fictional character’s career in the Royal Navy.  Beginning with his seasick arrival aboard HMS Justinian and a duel with an overbearing senior midshipman, it ends with his commission as a lieutenant and subsequent release by Spanish captors.  Along the way he transfers to HMS Indefatigable, a prize vessel sinks beneath him, he overcomes a fear of heights on a cutting out expedition, is involved in a disastrous attempt to invade France, and in a fog sails his vessel into the midst of the Spanish fleet.  He progresses from an inexperienced and melancholy lad to a young man capable of meeting any challenge and overcoming all obstacles placed in his path.  Yet Hornblower constantly exhibits that most basic of human frailties, a lack of confidence in his own abilities.  Throughout the book he struggles to overcome his perceived failings and do what he sees as his duty.  Along the way he develops and hones his abilities as a leader of men, gains an understanding of naval tactics and strategy, and furthers his analytical skills.
            The tale of Hornblower’s time as a midshipman is told in ten distinct, nearly stand-alone short story like chapters.  While a continuous story line progresses through the book, each tale is complete within itself.  It is possible to read them in nearly any order and not be extraordinarily confused.  References from one story to another are minimal and self-explanatory.
            As he usually does, C. S. Forester writes with a clarity that allows the reader to grasp the situation and follow the plot without difficulty.  However, students of naval history might catch a few technical errors.  In An Even Chance (The Duel), a Lieutenant Chalk is said to sport the single epaulette of a lieutenant, although this tale supposedly takes place when no officer in the Royal Navy was authorized such accouterments.  Later, when Hornblower goes before the examining board, someone remarks about midshipmen desiring a lieutenant’s commission and an epaulette.  By this time it is possible that Master and Commanders and above have been authorized wear of these devices, but it will be another decade or more before they are authorized for lieutenants.
            This book is the basis for the first four A & E made for television Horatio Hornblower movies, although several details are changed in making the films.  Some of the tales are combined, one or two are not related, and at other times the order in which they occur differs.  The Wrong War (the Frogs and the Lobsters) is the final story of the four movies, and Hornblower is finally a lieutenant.  In written form this action occurs near the beginning of his career, while he is still very much a junior midshipman.  The book ends with the story entitled The Duchess and the Devil, and Hornblower’s time is captivity is much longer than indicated on screen.
            In addition, many of the characters that repeatedly show up in the movies appear only briefly upon the written page, nor are they as prominent in the overall story as would be indicated on screen.  Nonetheless, many bits of dialogue are recognizable from one format to the other, even if at times they are spoken by different characters.  Having watched the films it is possible to picture the screen characters carrying out the action described in the book.  After reading the book, it is easy to recognize many of the scenes as presented in the movies.  This pleasant correlation might be attributed to the writing ability of C. S. Forester as well as the skill of those who developed his stories for the screen.
            No collection of the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester is complete without a copy of this book.  It is elementary in understanding the complexities of this unique individual as brought to life by Mr. Forester.
            Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was originally written in the late 1940s and published by Little, Brown and Company.  Back Bay books reissued it in paperback form in 1998, and at that time ISBN 0-316-28912-4 had a cover price of $13.00 (US).

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