Monday, 23 January 2017



This was another book that went on my list as a result of Andrew Marr's Paperback Heroes series; I thought it sounded intriguing. It was serialised as a very successful bit of Daily Mail scare-mongering in 1906. (Clearly nothing changes!) News vendors were kitted out in Prussian greatcoats and spiky helmets and every edition carried an update of the parts of the country that were now at imminent risk of German invasion ... and, of course, the readers lapped it up and circulation increased by 80,000 copies a day.
(Actually, I do love a good newspaper stunt!) The Government of the day tried to suppress it as dangerous for national morale.

Sounds exciting? Well, the trouble is, it's rather a dull read. There's no characters to bring it to life. It's just a list of military manoeuvres as the Germans invade in a shock attack on the east coast and go on to take London. I don't normally hold with the idea of separate genres for men/women ... but this is a boys' book. The Riddle of the Sands is a far better read.

4 comments:

callmemadam said...

When Andrew Marr talked about the earliest spy story, I was expecting him to cite The Riddle of the Sands but no, he picked Le Queux, whom I'd never heard of.
What you say doesn't encourage me to read him!

As a result of watching the programme I have read my first Eric Ambler, which was quite good.

Mary said...

I'd vaguely heard of him, Callmemadam, but if this was his best-seller, I'm through - it's only worth reading out of historical curiosity. I read my first Eric Ambler, too. I have a feeling I scribbled down a few more from the series but I seem to have lost my list - or it's buried on my desk.

Veronica Cooke said...


I did enjoy that series, Mary. It's a shame the book was so dull; I'm afraid I find most military history stuff pretty dull but my best friend loves it and doesn't really do novels...there's no accounting for taste!

Mary said...

Your friend might like this, Veronica - it's definitely a blow by blow account. I did better once they reached London and at least there was the interest of knowing the geography.