The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the SandsWhile On A Sailing Trip In The Baltic Sea, Two Young Adventurers Turned Spies Uncover A Secret German Plot To Invade England Written By Childers Who Served In The Royal Navy During World War I As A Wake Up Call To The British Government To Attend To Its North Sea Defenses, The Riddle Of The Sands Accomplished That Task And Has Been Considered A Classic Of Espionage Literature Ever Since, Praised As Much For Its Nautical Action As For Its Suspenseful Spycraft

Robert Erskine Childers DSC, universally known as Erskine Childers, was the author of the influential novel The Riddle of the Sands and an Irish nationalist who smuggled guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard He was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War in 1922 He was the son of British Orientalist scholar Robert Caesar Childers the cousin o

➸ [Reading] ➺ The Riddle of the Sands By Erskine Childers ➭ – Ultimatetrout.info
  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Riddle of the Sands
  • Erskine Childers
  • English
  • 16 May 2019
  • 9780812966145

10 thoughts on “The Riddle of the Sands

  1. says:

    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 September 23 in recent years, I was making my evening toilet in my chambers in Pall Mall I thought the date and the placed justified the parallel to my advantage even for the obscure Burmese administrator might well be a man of blunted sensibilities and course fibre, and at least he is alone with nature, while I well, a young man of condition and fashion, who knows the right people, belongs to the right clubs, has a safe, possibly a brilliant future in the foreign Office, may be excused for a sense of complacent martyrdom, when, with his keen appreciation of the social calendar, he is doomed to the outer solitude of London in September DulcibellaCarruthers is bored He is afraid that he will become even bored Despite his self professing connections with all the right people he has hit a snag for plans to relieve the dullness of his carefully controlled existence Out of the blue, almost as if summoned by his stimulus deprived mind, a letter arrives from a University acquaintance inviting him for a bit of yachting in the Baltic, and a bit of sport shooting ducks He doesn t know Davies very well In fact, he thought he was a rather odd solitary fellow in school, but weighing the embarrassment of a lack of plans, and the potential awkwardness of spending too much time with a man he might start to find annoying he decides the embarrassment is alarming than the potential awkwardness He give Davies a go When he arrives in Holland Carrutherswellis underwhelmed by the Dulcibella a reference to Erskine Childers s sister of the same name Visions of a crewed yacht with a cook, and staff to pamper him evaporate when he sees the cramped conditions of the boat The crew Well Davies forgot to mention that he might need Carruthers to lend a hand with the sailing Carruthers has spent many hours, many days in fact on boats, but he doesn t know the first bowline about sailing He will learn It is quickly apparent that Childers s had a deep and abiding interest in sailing For those that love sailing, this book will give you goosebumps over the details that Childers shares about how to sail a boat Whilst Davies, taming the ropes the while, shouted into my ear the subtle mysteries of the art that fidgeting ripple in the luff of the mainsail and the distant tattle from the hungry jib signs that they are starved of wind and must be given the heavy list and wallow of the hull, the feel of the wind on your cheek instead of your nose, the broader angle of the bungee at the masthead signs that they have too much, and that she is sagging recreantly to leeward instead of fighting to windward He taught me the tactics for meeting squalls, and the way to press your advantage when they are defeated the iron hand in the velvet glove that the wilful tiller needs if you are to gain your ends, with it, the exact set of the sheets necessary to get the easiest and swiftest play of the hull all those things and many I struggled to comprehend I felt like I had an anchor hitch around my ankles and was being dragged behind the boat after pages and pages of detailed yachting terminology started to turn my brain into a puddle on the foredeck The book is set in 1901 and was published in 1903 It was interesting to hear these young British men speaking so highly of the progressiveness and aggressiveness of Germany They were a decade away from WWI, but were already expressing fears that England was falling behind if ever there was a tussle with that thundering great nation.It doesn t take Carruthers long to determine that he was not asked on this trip to shoot ducks Davies had a run in with an Englishman named Dollmann and his lovely daughter Clara In the process Davies was nearly run aground, and his heart has a new pitter patter whenever he has a thought for a certain sweet face There is a lot of Germanic activity in the German Frisian Islands and the fear is that an invasion of England may be the end game of the rogue Dollmann and his German allies Davies is torn between loyalty to his country and his growing love for Miss Dollmann This is a very early thriller and certainly influenced the genre It even changed British policy In the years leading up to the First World War, the book s influence was far reaching It actually alerted British naval intelligence to its own shortcomings and to the reality of the German threat, and Winston Churchill later credited it as a major reason that the Admiralty decided to establish naval bases at Invergordon, Rosyth on the Firth of Forth and Scapa Flow in Orkney Childers became involved in Irish politics before and during the war He switched from being a loyal supporter of the British empire to an extreme Irish nationalist He became great friends with Michael Collins As what was suppose to be a symbolic gesture, Childers used his yacht to bring arms, and ammunition to the Irish Volunteers Those weapons were later used in the Easter Rising in 1916 Childers was playing a very dangerous game During the Anglo Irish Treaty Childers became vehemently opposed to the treaty The treaty divided the Irish Before too long Childers finds himself the man without a country, and hunted by the Irish and the English He was arrested by The Free State forces for carrying a firearm, a gun that was ironically a gift from Michael Collins He was brought before a court and sentence to death Childers had reached a point where the Irish who kept referring to him as that bloody Englishman and the British both wanted him out of the picture Childers shook hands with each member of the firing squad He even joked with them Take a step or two forward, lads It will be easier that way He instructed his son to shake hands with each of the men that signed his death warrant He made it clear to his son that his place was in Irish politics In 1973 Erskine Hamilton Childers Jr was elected the fourth president of Ireland Winston Churchill obviously shaken by Childers fierce support of the Irish cause and in support of his execution made the following statement No man has done harm or done genuine malice or endeavoured to bring a greater curse upon the common people of Ireland than this strange being, actuated by a deadly and malignant hatred for the land of his birth Erskine ChildersOn November 24th, 1922 Erskine Childers was executed.If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. says:

    2.5 stars rounded upThis novel is quite an oddity a very early example of the spy genre and very influential amongst later writers like Le Carre, Follett and Fleming and comparable to Haggard and Buchan Its author a traditional example of the stuff that made the Empire Of course, nothing is that simple and Childers went from being an ardent supporter of the British Empire, serving in the Boer War and being decorated in the First World War to being an ardent supporter of Irish independence and member of the IRA and was shot by the British in 1922 This novel was written in 1903 when Childers was still in his Imperial phase and at the very start of the novel there are a couple of instances of the contempt for other races displayed by imperialists of a certain type it reminded me of Kiernan s arguments in The Lords of Human Kind The plot is fairly straightforward Carruthers is a minor official working for the foreign office stuck in London when everyone else is away He gets an invite to go sailing on the German coast by an acquaintance called Davies When he arrives Davies has a tale to tell he suspects the Germans are planning something shady in the area This was in 1903 when war with Germany seemed unimaginable and the thought of invasion preposterous Childers constructs a story to show it was possible and how it was possible If you re looking for an action packed spy thriller this is not it If you enjoy sailing and its technicalities I don t then there is plenty of that The relationship between the two men is developed quite well and Childers does build some tension quite effectively The novel was very influential after its publication and had an effect on British naval policy and the decision to build new naval bases, including the one at Scapa Flow I must admit I was interested in Childers own story and his move from supporting the establishment to being a member of the IRA There is a lot of sand, water, mud, cramped living conditions on small boats and descriptions of tides you have been warned.

  3. says:

    Erskine Childers was shot by firing squad during the Irish civil war in 1922 According to Wikipedia, his last words were a joke at the expense of his executioners Take a step or two forward, lads It will be easier that way His son was subsequently elected fourth president of Ireland in an upset election in the 1970 s, sadly to die in office a year or so later Whatever the circumstances of his life and death, this story is a cracking good read , one of the earliest novels in the genre of spy fiction Don t be put off by the various maps and charts at the beginning of the book it is entirely possible to enjoy the story without knowing anything about sailing though presumably the fun of the story will be heightened for those who do have some knowledge of sailing and maritime affairs The voice of the narrator is irresistibly charming, the story is an excellent one, tautly told I feel almost ashamed to be discovering this story as late in life as I am But better late than never I highly recommend this book I remain infinitely grateful to the Penguin Classics series, available in Spain here for a mere 2.50 a book They are shooting to pieces my resolution to stop buying books, which I then end up carrying around like a pack animal But my rationalization is that I can ship them all home to the U.S before leaving Salamanca Next up The 39 Steps , The Railway Children , and Greyfriars Bobby

  4. says:

    The short book is usually considered the first, if not one of the first, spy thrillers That is not usually my genre but it always appears on the lists of great mystery books, so I thought I should give it a try Written in 1903, it tells a story which is a precursor to WWI in which German agents are attempting to learn the military secrets of Britain Carruthers, a lower level clerk in the Foreign Office is invited on a sailing cruise by a friend and the first part of the story is dedicated to that cruise The reader begins to wonder exactly where the story is going when the friend shares with Carruthers that he is searching for an Englishman with German friends who nearly killed him and who he believes is a traitor.Thus begins the search and the adventure which takes us through the Fresian Islands to solve the riddle of the elusive traitor The writing is excellent but some readers may be put off by the plethora of nautical terms..if you can get past that weakness if it is a weakness , you will find an enthralling spy thriller which set the model for that genre.it is ironic to note that the author, Erskine Childers was executed by the British in 1922 as a traitor when he took up the cause of Irish freedom.

  5. says:

    It s often credited with being the first spy novel, but The Riddle of the Sands was a rather dull affair We follow two Englishmen in 1901 as they sail around Germany and stumble into a German plot The book had a very strong focus on sailing and a lot of text was spent describing yachting It seemed like the action didn t kick off until 2 3s of the way through the book and when it did,we were faced with walls and walls of text I managed to stumble through to the end but this book really wasn t for me.

  6. says:

    As for the other two, the girl when I saw her next, in her short boating skirt and tam o shanter, was a miracle of coolness and pluck But for her I should never have got him away And ah how good it was to be out in the wholesome rain again, hurrying to the harbour with my two charges, hurrying them down the greasy ladder to that frail atom of English soil, their first guerdon of home and safety.The Riddle of the Sands is often hailed as the original spy novel that laid the groundwork for the famous adventures of later characters such as James Bond Except, of course, that Childers tale of two young men going off on a sailing trip and inadvertently stopping an invasion is nothing but a boys own adventure story.Granted, most James Bond novels are adult versions of simple adventure stories, but at least Fleming added some style, some character development, social criticism, and reflections on the complexities of human nature to his stories As many of you know, and as those long suffering buddies who have read a Bond novel with me can attest to, I have some problems with some of the attitudes displayed in Fleming s books Yet, I d prefer the worst of his writing to the Childers exploits in the spy genre Not only lacked the story anything memorable other than the proposed invasion , the proposed politics or assumed strategy in the book seemed quite illogical and just wrong as would be proven during the First World War The book is also pretty boring Well, at least for someone who is not interested in the finer details of sailing The aspect that unnerved me most about the book, however, is that it s story of a planned invasion of Britain by Germany fed into a general paranoia held by society at the time, that it took advantage of a fear of being attacked, that it glorified that naive sense of nationalism that would lead so many into the juggernaut that was WWI, and that its publication actually led to Britain building additional naval bases and increase its efforts in the arms race Is it not becoming patent that the time has come for training all Englishmen systematically either for the sea or for the rifle

  7. says:

    A bit misleading, the cover of this historical thriller Initially thought that this novel was set in Egypt instead of the German Coast pre WW1 Found this to be a slow read indeed, had a boys own adventure feel to it.A bit of a slow burner for sure but some wonderful atmosphere and dialogue A lot of nautical terms which I wasn t familiar with but I do enjoy novels where the underdog triumphs against all odds.A seafaring adventure but takes some patience to get through with an abrupt ending.

  8. says:

    This book and the movie adaptation was much loved in my family home Childers wrote it pre WWI and it s based on a sailing trip he took around the Frisian sands.The book is told from Carruther s perspective He is wasting away summer in London s Foreign Office when he receives a missive from an old university friend, Davies, who is sailing in the Baltic Sea and is in desperate need of supplies Cheered up with the thought of spending a few weeks pleasure cruising, Carruthers packs his trunks to join him.Unfortunately for him, Carruthers finds that Davies is sailing a converted lifeboat, charmingly named the Dulcibella, and has no crew and very little room He grumbles and moans but is soon distracted by the machinations of Hans Dollman, who appears to be determined to stop Davies exploratory charting of the Sands To complicated matters further, Davies has fallen in love with Dollman s daughter Clara Whatever Dollman hiding, he is prepared to kill to keep it secret.The movie version Michael York as Carruthers, the late Simon MacCorkindale as Davies, and the lovely Jenny Agutter as Clara is screaming out for a remake, hopefully one that details the nail biting conclusion of the book.

  9. says:

    I read this book because I totally thought it was about something else This is what happens when you see a book on a list, in this case the 1001 books to read before you die list, and run off at a tangent because it has the word sand in the title Did I pause to read the 1001BTRBYD entry concerning this book Nope I bought it in a second hand store, motored home and curled up on the sofa with the vague and woolly notion of getting some sort of desert based mystery, possibly with an archaeological flavour.WRONG WRONG WRONG stupid shovelmonkey1 In fact the story is as far from desert as it is possible to get because it is largely set aboard a boat in the Baltic Sea, therefore, in terms of environment it is the exact opposite of what I d hoped for Once I d gotten over the hurdle of that minor, self imposed disappointment it is actually a decent read One of the early spy novels written in 1903 , it went on to inspire and inform Le Carre, Buchan, Fleming and probably anyone else who ever wrote a tightly scripted spy thriller This book has Brits spying on the Germans a good ten years before World War I kicked off, proving that the British were always insanely suspicious careful although some elements of modern history suggests that they had pretty good reason to be.It largely concerns the oober Britishly named Carruthers and chum Davies as they negotiate treacherous sandbanks while tracking sinister and tricksy European types who are probably, maybe without a shadow of a doubt, up to no good in the murky mists off the German Frisian Islands As usual it s all about Queen and country and not getting got by the damnable Gerrys It is difficult to imagine how exciting a spy novel can be when it is predominantly populated only by two men on a boat, bobbing about near some islands which no one has ever heard of apologies if you live on the Frisian Islands , but it managed to hold my notoriously short attention span and was a pleasant and diverting way to tick another book off the 1001 books list.

  10. says:

    Published in 1903, this is both an old fashioned in a good way adventure and a warning to England s government of the dangers of Germany s naval plans in the event of war against England It captures a historical moment marvellously when young men with no training or formal status could turn into spies and foil a dastardly plan during their summer holiday While noted as an early espionage thriller, this is markedly better written than many in the genre honourable exclusions, of course, to writers like le Carr and Mick Herron and the characterisation is especially interesting when it comes to Davies a maverick and marginalised man who was rejected from the Navy and now spends his time sailing in a broken down boat and who knows the coastline like the proverbial back of his hand The clash between him and the narrator, Carruthers, a Foreign Office man with fluent German handy, that animates the first half of the book until Carruthers sulky discontent turns to respect and excitement.The nautical stuff is very detailed hence the so so rating, as there s much guff about tides and sand banks and winds All the same, an interesting portrait of a simpler time when patriotism and imperial ideology were unquestioned and unequivocably a good thing.

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