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The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Riddle of the Sands (1903)

by Erskine Childers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,976525,081 (3.6)212
  1. 60
    The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (simon_carr)
    simon_carr: Similar in many ways: plucky Englishman chances upon a dastardly German plot. Thoroughly enjoyable.
  2. 40
    Thirst for the Sea: The Sailing Adventures of Erskine Childers by Erskine Childers (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The actual sailing logs and articles of Childer's real cruises, and smuggling!
  3. 10
    The riddle of Erskine Childers by Andrew Boyle (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: To know the man even better, read his now famous novel - the other riddle.
  4. 00
    The Falcon on the Baltic by E. F. Knight (Cynfelyn)
    Cynfelyn: The Dulcibella sails the same waters the Falcon had sailed less than twenty years earlier. Some things have changed, for example the Kiel Canal has replaced the Eider Canal, but the weather, the sailing and the sense of place are the same.
  5. 11
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: More spying and skulduggery
  6. 01
    The Zeal of the Convert by J. Burke Wilkinson (John_Vaughan)
  7. 02
    The English Channel by Nigel Calder (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Cruises in the same water
  8. 02
    Biggles and the Black Peril by W. E. Johns (simon_carr)
    simon_carr: Espionage and dastardly Germans aplenty in both.

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» See also 212 mentions

English (50)  German (2)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Carruthers, a young fop in the employ of the British Foreign Office, is feeling very sorry for himself, since he's missed the holidays by reason of being stuck at work. Suddenly, though, a friend from university invites him for a yachting cruise off the Frisian islands of Holland and Germany. After some comic misadventures in learning how to really work a boat, Carruthers and his friend Davies start to stumble upon a secret -- the Germans are up to no good in the fog-bound, sandy, shallow waters of the North Sea. But what? This very early, and highly successful, effort at thriller/espionage fiction rolls along quite briskly, and even the minutiae of sailing passes over quickly -- a lesson that probably could have been imparted to the late Tom Clancy and his ilk. There is a definite sense of time and place in the book; the only complaint I have is that Childers constantly sends the reader back to the maps at the front of the book, which in some cases aren't terribly helpful. The only minor point that prevents this from being a five-star recommendation. ( )
  EricCostello | Jan 4, 2019 |
Given by David Kroenke
  pheditor | Apr 30, 2017 |
I remember the story seemed slow without a lot of action, but significant. The foreword about Erskine Childers' life and death was more interesting: Childers was an Englishman who supported independence for Ireland and was executed by the Irish.

A quote:
"But I did know something of Germany... I described her marvellous awakening in the last generation under the strength and wisdom of her rulers; her intense patriotic ardour; her seething industrial activity, and, most potent of all, the forces that are moulding modern Europe, her dream of a colonial empire, entailing her transformation from a land-power to a sea-power." ( )
  raizel | Mar 17, 2017 |
I read this book while travelling to the Eaton Collection to read science fiction from 1890-1910 during with future war/revolution. This turned out to be something of a coincidence, as The Riddle of the Sands is pretty much a member of the same genre-- except that it's not science fiction. It's about a planned German invasion of Britain, but the invasion is thwarted during the trial stages, meaning there's no counterfactual or future history proposed. Yet the book is clearly responding to the same concerns that drive contemporary science fiction novels like The Three Days' Terror and The Stolen Submarine: Britain's supremacy is under threat, but Your Humble Author knows how to rectify that, both in reality (some policy changes) and in fiction (plucky amateurism, which is the supreme skill of the fin-de-siècle Englishman).

If ever you wanted to know how difficult yachting in sandy waters was, this is the book for you. I mean that both facetiously and seriously: I never even thought about it before, but Childers really makes you the reader feel as though you're lost in an unnavigable fog. Hard going sometimes, but fun, and worth it. (The film adaptation is decent, too, though I think my wife mostly liked it for Michael York in tight trousers.)
  Stevil2001 | Jan 29, 2017 |
If this book is mainly interesting because of the time capsule it represents, it is also a reasonably absorbing tale in its own right. Even the technical sailing aspects are not so complicated that one can't work through them and they help to establish the atmosphere of the book. The setting is also quite fascinating. There is an absence of the high drama and tension of a modern thriller although for me that is welcome. But ultimately the appeal rests on its reflection of attitudes and values of "the establishment" in a pre-world wars Britain (and to a lesser extent Germany). 6 October 2016 ( )
  alanca | Oct 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Forfatter: Erskine Childers

Boken beskriver to engelskmenns seilas i en knøttliten båt for vel 100 år siden. Området de seiler i er grunt og fullt av sandbanker, og to ganger i døgnet fylles og tømmes det av tidevannet. De gjør noen spennende oppdagelser om mulig invasjon av England... Boken har vært utgitt utallige ganger verden over og er også blitt filmatisert to ganger. På tross av at den ble skrevet for over hundre år siden, kan den leses som en moderne spenningsroman. Forfatteren og boken representerer hver for seg to meget interessante historier. Childers var ire, men kjempet for engelskmennene under Boerkrigen. Deretter ble han engasjert i IRA, der han drev med våpensmugling med sin 60 fot Colin Archer. Under første verdenskrig var han igjen å finne på britisk side. Boken fikk stor betydning for britenes forsvarstenkning.
Denne utgaven inneholder en epilog av forfatteren som ikke har vært publisert på norsk tidligere. Boken er glimrende oversatt av Jon Winge.
added by KystbiblioteketOslo | editFlyt Forlag, Anne Nygren
Apart from the political significance of the book, "The Riddle of the Sands" is fiction of a high quality. Its style and its permeating atmosphere of the sea suggest Conrad; and, like Conrad, the author takes us so thoroughly with him that our hearts beat with those of the perplexed voyagers, and we even share the smells and flavors of their cramped little yacht.

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erskine Childersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Childers, Erskine C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donaldson, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drummond, MaldwinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whistler, DanielIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have read of men who, when forced by their calling to live for long periods in utter solitude - save for a few black faces - have made it a rule to dress regularly for dinner in order to maintain their self-respect and prevent a relapse into barbarism. It was in some such spirit, with an added touch of self-consciousness, that, at seven o'clock in the evening of 23rd September in a recent year, I was making my evening toilet in my chambers in Pall Mall.
But I did know something of Germany... I described her marvellous awakening in the last generation under the strength and wisdom of her rulers; her intense patriotic ardour; her seething industrial activity, and, most potent of all, the forces that are moulding modern Europe, her dream of a colonial empire, entailing her transformation from a land-power to a sea-power.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140621431, Paperback)

Childers' lone masterpiece, "The Riddle of the Sands", considered the first modern spy thriller, is recognizable as the brilliant forerunner of the realism of Graham Greene and John le Carre. Its unique flavor comes from its fine characterization, richly authentic background of inshore sailing and vivid evocation of the late 1890s - an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and intrigue that was soon to lead to war.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:33 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The Riddle of the Sands is set during the long suspicious years leading up to the First World War and is a classic of spy fiction.

» see all 22 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141031271, 0143106325

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