The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the Sands
A Record of Secret Service Recently Achieved


(6 Reviews)
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers







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The Riddle of the Sands
A Record of Secret Service Recently Achieved


(6 Reviews)
Two young Englishmen, messing about in boats, notice some suspicious German naval activities -- and are drawn into a world of intrigue and excitement!

Book Excerpt

perambulator and some hot and dusty children lagging fretfully behind; some rustic sightseers draining the last dregs of the daylight in an effort to make out from their guide-books which of these reverend piles was which; a policeman and a builder's cart. Of course the club was a strange one, both of my own being closed for cleaning, a coincidence expressly planned by Providence for my inconvenience. The club which you are 'permitted to make use of' on these occasions always irritates with its strangeness and discomfort. The few occupants seem odd and oddly dressed, and you wonder how they got there. The particular weekly that you want is not taken in; the dinner is execrable, and the ventilation a farce. All these evils oppressed me to-night. And yet I was puzzled to find that somewhere within me there was a faint lightening of the spirits; causeless, as far as I could discover. It could not be Davies's letter. Yachting in the Baltic at the end of September! The very idea made one shudder. Cowes, with a ple

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If you're a sailor you will appreciate the skill of sailing a sailboat with no auxiliary motor through the shifting channels of the Frisian tidal flats. Most of the canals, harbors and towns can be seen on Google Earth and much is the same after more than a century.
This was a surprisingly worthwhile read. If you do read this one, do yourself a favor and read it with Google Maps open constantly. Also, the Wikipedia page about the author will give you a greater appreciation of the historical significance of the story. The charts that were originally in the story have been omitted from the electronic version, but they can be found pretty easily with an internet search. They're pretty necessary for understanding the complexities of navigation around the German coastline.

It was a very interesting story, over-all, though I think the main characters seemed intensely interested in investigating a tenuous thread that I probably would have ignored from the outset if I had been in their shoes. A man goes for a recreational ride in a yacht, and his pilot tries to get him killed on the sandy shoals. He spends the rest of the book trying to find out why.
I stopped reading at one third of the book. It was quite boring for me. And strange writing for me as a non-English reader.
That book is fascinating: the premonition the author had of the coming world war; the description of sailing in that very difficult region and sea. Each detail is true and for people who love the sea it is a book worth to be read. After reading this book I wanted to see the land where the action is supposed to take place. So I spent 3 days in Nordeich last early summer and took the ferry to Norderney through the same channel and the sands which are called "Watt" in German. It was great!
This is a superb book if you like esoteric detail - about boats, channels, sandbanks, marshes, and the political situation before WWI. I loved it, and I would also recommend the very worthy film adaptation with michael York.

It is fascinating that Childers wrote this as a patriotic attempt to warn the British establishment about Germany's warlike intent - yet he was later executed as a traitor because of his involvement in the Irish struggle for independence. What a rich irony.

But read the book - it is a superb period piece and a well-paced thriller.
A fabulous read, and an insightful character study as well. Two young men take a boat trip that ends in a tense battle of wits against the Germans.