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I don't know if there are many of you out there that are familiar with the series of novels about Horatio Hornblower. These were of a genre known as boys adventure stories. Naval stories set in the times of Napoleonic wars. A sort of sea-going sharpe. Anyway, with my thumb injured and building temporarily restricted, I rediscovered an unread book on my shelf-"The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower" by C. Northcote Parkinson. A biography of the eponymous hero, refreshing my memory of all his adventures without having to read all the books yet again. Patrick O'Brian and Alexander Kent can't touch these for variety and fun. Nostalgia adds extra spice. Only the Sharpe series (soldier) comes near it. Try the out-maybe audio books to listen while you work   

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5 minutes ago, stuglo said:

I rediscovered an unread book on my shelf-"The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower" by C. Northcote Parkinson.

I think you will really like 'The Real Hornblower: the Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB' by Bryan Perrett (1997). 

 

It's a good read and didn't hurt my thumbs at all.

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I have read the entire Hornblower series several times beginning as a teenager.  In my opinion, C.S. Forester is a master of naval history fiction.  While the Hornblower books are certainly great adventure yarns, careful reading reveals that Forester carefully researched geography, history, and square rigged seamanship.

 

Three examples, I don’t exactly remember which books:  His description of Hornblower’s close blockade of the French port of Brest as a young commander in a sloop of war masterfully describes the port’s hazardous, complex geography;  In a later book, his narrative of Hornblower’s navigation, political as well as naval along the Pacific Central American Coast wonderfully illustrates this obscure area’s complex history; and finally his description of navigation in and out of the tiny Mediterranean harbors puts you right along side Hornblower on the quarterdeck.

 

Interestingly at least one of his books, The Commodore was controversial when published due to his very tame, by today’s standards, mention  of Hornblower’s adultery with a Russian Countess.  Readers will, however, note that Forester passes judgement on Hornblower’s dalliance;  He winds up with Typhus.

 

Roger

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On 11/15/2020 at 6:19 AM, Roger Pellett said:

Interestingly at least one of his books, The Commodore was controversial when published due to his very tame, by today’s standards, mention  of Hornblower’s adultery with a Russian Countess.  Readers will, however, note that Forester passes judgement on Hornblower’s dalliance;  He winds up with Typhus.

Yes, but not directly caused by his dalliance. And that wasn't his only dalliance, either. A bit of a naughty boy, Horatio.

 

The only thing about the Parkinson book I didn't like is his taking it upon himself to  "let the cat out of the bag" about the accident that occurred to the Captain of the Renown when Hornblower was a lieutenant . . . those who've read Lieutenant Hornblower will know what I mean.

 

Oh, and C. Northcote Parkinson is the same man who discovered Parkinson's Law: "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"

 

It started as a satire, but its truth was very soon universally acknowledged.

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I have been listening to the Hornblower audio books when at work, they are certainly more fast paced than the Aubrey books (some of the latter can get a little exasperating, for example, a very long winded chapter dedicated to land enclosures). But I do like the fact that the Aubrey novels use real ships names and the historical side is spot on.

 

One thing that grated slightly when listening to 'Lord Hornblower' last night, is when Hornblower is chatting to this old sailor and they're reminiscing about the days on the old Indefatigable with Pellew in 1792 or 1793, when it wasn't commissioned as a razee frigate until December 1794. But that's nit picking, the stories are great, and on the whole, pretty fast paced.

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Seriously guys, it's all in this book. The simple story of how Forester was at sea and had the idea that became 'Hornblower' is worthy of a TV documentary all by itself.

 

On 11/14/2020 at 5:10 PM, bruce d said:

I think you will really like 'The Real Hornblower: the Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB' by Bryan Perrett (1997).

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Hi  all   i have the box set of hornblower the tv series  and have watched it several times over the years  its very enjoyable   ,i also have the full set of obrieins books  which i have read twice so far   ,the books were a hard read at first until you get into patricks style of writing . Ocasionally you have to go back over a sentance (or two)  to understand whats going on     ,but the second read was a lot better   ,think i will try forresters books  just because i need to have something to read at night     if i dont read  i dont sleep well         cheers   sticker

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7 hours ago, sticker said:

Hi  all   i have the box set of hornblower the tv series  and have watched it several times over the years  its very enjoyable   ,i also have the full set of obrieins books  which i have read twice so far   ,the books were a hard read at first until you get into patricks style of writing . Ocasionally you have to go back over a sentance (or two)  to understand whats going on     ,but the second read was a lot better   ,think i will try forresters books  just because i need to have something to read at night     if i dont read  i dont sleep well         cheers   sticker

I don't know if you've already read these but Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho series are a pretty good read, and the books written under his own name Douglas Reeman 

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12 hours ago, glbarlow said:

I have both sets of books on the shelf in my workshop. 

 

Me too - except that I'm missing "Hornblower and the Hotspur". Need to get it one day. I've just been going through O'Brian again - I'm up to "Treason's Harbour". I do love the O'Brian books - even better now than Forester, though it took a while to come to terms with after being used to Hornblower. I love the relationship of the two main characters - somewhat like an old married couple. Each with his faults and annoying habits - (a doctor who doesn't see the importance of washing, a sailor who's an expert at sea but a total klutz on land.)

 

8 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

Hornblower’s Typhus probably was caused by his dalliance with the Countess.  Typhus is transmitted by lice supposedly living in her hairdo.  At least that’s what the review that I read said.

 

Can't be. I just checked - typhus has an incubation period of ten to 14 days. Hornblower doesn't come down with it until 5 or 6 months after his encounter with the countess. On the other hand, it could be thought of as karma, or poetic justice, a little delayed.

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Thanks for the reminders guys! All of these novels got me through many tough times and hold a very real place in my heart. The latest series I've embarked on are the Naval Adventures of Alan Lewrie by Dewey Lambdin. It's a long series but never once had me bored. A morally questionable young

buck with a suitable allowance finds himself drunk and pressed only to end up thriving in his new life. A great story of coming up from the lower deck to command over the years, fighting the king's enemies. 

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17 hours ago, Ron Burns said:

A morally questionable young

buck with a suitable allowance finds himself drunk and pressed only to end up thriving in his new life. A great story of coming up from the lower deck to command over the years, fighting the king's enemies. 

I've been binge reading recently, finished the Aubrey-Maturin series and up to Jesters Fortune (book 8.) in the Alan Lewrie series.

 

Alan Lewrie was basically blackmailed by his father into signing on as a midshipman, he never dropped below that rank. Aubrey however signed on as a mid but was 'set before the mast' for a time for smuggling a girl on board.

 

It was a morally questionable period of time. I mean, you could kill someone 'defending your honour' even if you didn't have any.

Edited by iMustBeCrazy
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There has been a lot of comparison between the Aubrey and the Hornblower series. To me, being a Aubrey fan, it has to do a lot with what one happened to read first. Both are prime examples of literature and have a very immersive atmosphere, to the point that one feels a kind of sadness when they find out they've read the entire series and there is nothing more to read.

 

I feel that most people discover Aubrey or Hornblower during this bittersweet aftertaste period shortly after finishing the other one, while looking for something similar to read, and thus judge it unfavorably due the two writers' very different styles, which is, of course, unfair.

 

In any case, I agree with Steven that the Hornblower series, while enjoyable, fell very short of the books. Same goes for the Master and Commander movie which oversimplified the plot (especially Maturin's very interesting and complex character).

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56 minutes ago, Louie da fly said:

I didn't like the Hornblower TV series. I felt they took too many liberties with Forester's stories.

I didn't mind it except they never had enough extras. Hornblower never seemed to have more than a dozen crew no matter what sized ship he had and 20-30 'Lobsters' marching off to invade France wasn't very convincing.

Edited by iMustBeCrazy
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OK Steven, I’ll Yield to your research vs my off the cuff impressions.  Besides I can’t check out the story anymore.  I gave the books to a friend who in his mid 90’s was confined to an assisted living facility and wanted books to read.  He died days short of his 100th birthday.  I hope that he enjoyed the stories as much as I did.

 

Roger

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Roger, I'd (re-)read The Commodore not all that long ago and from it I had the impression that it was a long time (long enough for the French to besiege the town and almost capture it) between Hornblower's "incident" with the Countess and his coming down with typhus. All I did was get the book out again and work out that his time with her was the end of May and he got typhus as winter was starting.

 

I'm glad your books went to such a good cause, and I echo your hope that he enjoyed the stories.

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Given the modelling aspect of this site, there might be some interest in Martin Saville's "Hornblower's Ships their history & their models" published 2000 by Conway.  It mainly covers the making of fairly large scale models for the TV series in Russia and a bit on the full size ships alsoo used for filming.  There are a number of drawings from a variety of sources of the basis for the models.

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Steven,  My friend and neighbor was an interesting guy.  As a young Doctor he served as medical officer on a US Navy Destroyer in the Pacific during World War II.  The only thing that I know about his service is that he claimed being on a ship with a bunch of healthy guys in their 20’s there was nothing for him to do.

 

After the war he practiced Medicine here in Duluth as a Radiologist for many years and was highly regarded.

 

After retiring he enjoyed spending winters in Florida.  We visited him there once and discovered that he was completing a beautiful model of a Model Shipways kit of the Fishing Schooner “Smuggler.”  He told be that he also finished a whaling ship model for a Florida Neighbor.

 

He was able to live in his home around the corner from us until he was in is late ‘90s.

 

Roger

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  • 2 weeks later...

My elementary school library had "The Captain from Connecticut" by C.S.Forrester and it was through that book that I discovered Hornblower.  I've read it many time through, the last few times in chronological order.  My little boat of over 40 years, is named Lydia.

O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series was good, but never grabbed me the same way.

I hated Bolitho who just happened to be at every major naval engagement in history in a pivotal role, even if they were a thousand miles apart on the same day, except maybe Salamis or Midway.

Another series I found by chance at a yard sale, and recommend is the Nathanial Drinkwater series by Richard Woodman.

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