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What starts out as a few days quiet sailing, though, quickly turns into something rather more frightening, with the children suddenly drawn into a terrifying and completely unexpected adventure, when they find themselves and their (borrowed) boat being swept out to sea by a fierce tide. For once, the Swallows face a very real and serious danger that is to test their combined courage, fortitude and seamanship to the utmost. It is fascinating (for grown-up readers, at least) to see each of the children's highly individual (and completely characteristic) reactions to their predicament. Younger readers, of course, are more likely just to be carried away by the pure nail-biting suspense of it all!
While this is a gripping and enthralling tale throughout, the tensions (arising from the danger and the worries of the older children) are lightened for the reader by the pure infectious glee of the younger pair. They, of course, are less aware of the seriousness of their predicament - especially Roger, who, as usual, is perfectly content so long as there is plenty of food around - and rather enjoy themselves!
As in all of the "Swallows and Amazons" books, Ransome's story-telling abilities are second to none, here. The narrative is at all times feasible and this book is a completely absorbing read for young and old alike. This is an inspired and an inspiring tale. Readers who have worked their way through the earlier volumes will also not be disappointed when they finally do get to meet Daddy in this volume!
Visiting aboard the "Goblin", the yacht of a young man they had recently met, they find themselves adrift in a fog, swept helplessly out into the North Sea as they drag (and lose) anchor, and then running before a full North Sea gale, with no idea where they are or where they are headed, and no certainty that they will not find themselves sinking on shoals or run down by much larger ships (In a particularly tense and thrilling sequence, just that almost happens, averted at the last instant by ingenuity and level-headedness on the part of Captain John.).
Facing the dangers they discover, drawing on their experience in sailing much smaller boats and on their own courage and common sense, they succeed in keeping themselves and the "Goblin" from harm, and even succeed in a mid-sea "rescue".
And, in the course of the adventure, John Walker (somewhere in his late teens, if i calculate aright) makes a major part of the step from boy to young man, learning valuable lessons about himself and what he is capable of, and keeping himself and his sisters and brother safe through the long, stormy night.
This is children's adventure at its best, with action, comedy, thrills and danger enough to satisfy almost any taste, but no violence, gratutitous or otherwise.
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The book touches on several aspects of U.S. history. In reading the story of the General's father, Arthur MacArthur, Sr., the reader gets a peak into the 19th century politics of Wisconsin in particular and the U.S. in general.
As a young man MacArthur joined the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry as an adjutant, a position for which his youth initially proved a distinct disadvantage. MacArthur's first glory came with the assault on Missionary Ridge south of Chattanooga on November 25, 1863. After taking the first level of Confederate rifle pits, which was the objective of the charge, MacArthur led his men on an unordered charge up to the top of the hill, gaining the admiration of all who observed him, from Generals Grant and Sherman on down.
In the post war army, MacArthur made two significant contributions. While commanding at Fort Selden, New Mexico, MacArthur compensated for the absence of a suttler by establishing an enlisted men's canteen, which became the forerunner of the PX system. As a staff officer, he later obtained a change in Army policy which permitted the award of medals to officers. This change in policy resulted in MacArthur being awarded the Medal of Honor.
MacArthur's moment in the sun came with the advent of the Spanish American War. Surprised by his assignment to the Philippines, MacArthur made the most of the transfer to Asia. Over a three year period, MacArthur played a major role in the conquest of the Philippines which had begun with the destruction of the Spanish fleet by Adm. Dewey. The battle began with an defeat of the Spanish troops followed by a long war, first conventional and then guerrilla, against the Philippine Republican troops.
After his appointment as Military Governor of the Philippines, MacArthur began to experience difficulties with the civilian officials sent to rule the Islands, primarily William Howard Taft. The dispute with Taft eventually led to MacArthur's dismissal as Military Governor and his retirement from the army.
In telling this story the reader is introduced into the many stages on which the war was played out. The effect on the political situation in the United States is well developed. The foreign policy debates incited by the conquest of the Islands are explained. The war on the ground bears an uncanny resemblance to the situation which later Americans found in Vietnam.
The introduction of the MacArthur family to Asia is well covered. The initiation starting with the war in the Philippines continues with the Grand Tour of Asia and is capped during MacArthur's role as military observer to the Russo-Japanese War.
This book sheds much light on the development of Arthur's son, Douglas. In it we read of the desolate western outposts in which Douglas spent his youth, the society into which he was introduced and the role his mother played in his development. It was on the Grand Tour of Asia that Douglas claimed to have learned to understand the Asian mind. Douglas' familiarity with Asia would come to play a role in his influential involvement in American policy toward Asia in the middle of the 20th Century. The similarities in the careers of both Arthur and Douglas are laid before the reader. At the time of the writing of the book, the only Father-Son Medal of Honor winners, both would have their careers marred by major conflicts with civilian superiors and would end their days in virtual exile from the services to which they had devoted most of their lives.
The General's General is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the story of this remarkable man and in the Army's role in U.S. history the Civil War through the period before World War I.
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Anyone who can expertly discuss both helicopters and consciousness deserves a read!
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Artos is a young orphan in Sir Ector's castle, whose only playmates are the sons of Sir Ector, who often look down on him. One day, as he chases the dog Boadie into the woods, he comes across a cave that appears to have a massive dragon inside it. Though Artos is initially afraid, he befriends the ancient dragon. The dragon, in exchange for foodstuffs from the kitchen, will teach Artos wisdom.
The teachings that the dragon give Artos unconsciously change his outlook and his treatment of other people - even those below him. But after a strange incident in which the dragon temporarily vanishes, Artos discovers the truth about his friend.
Aside from the works of Gerald Morris, I don't think I've found a more likeable version of King Arthur than Artos. The lessons that he is taught are mild but creep into the mind and take root, transforming him effectively from a "bulky, unruly, illiterate boy" to a thoughtful and compassionate soul (he isn't perfect, but who is?)
The supporting cast is sparkling, from "Garlic" Meg the kitchen maid, ancient Druid wiseman Linn, and the cheerful smith who provides Artos with his first sword. The writing style is admittedly a bit bare at times, but not so much that it is difficult to read. The dialogue and visualization of the final chapter are perhaps the best part, almost mystical.
A small note to those reading this book for the first time: Read carefully what the supporting characters say, and you might just guess ahead of time what is up with the dragon.
A magical tale without real magic, this is an enjoyable tale for lovers of a darn good story and a must-see for Arthuriana nuts!
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Like all of the other Three Investigator books that I have read, The Secret of Terror Castle is just wonderful. It is suspensful and interesting throughout the whole book. Be aware of reading it because it will get you hooked and you will have to buy all the books in the series.
I hope the whole series comes out again, because I have not read about 15 of them. My fondest memories of the books I have are the Three Investigators hideout or clubhouse. They made it out of a junk pile and it has different passage ways. I dreamed of having a clubhouse while reading the books. Get out there and buy these books. I'm sure that you will be glad you did.
For far too long these books have been out of print, though I understand they're still being published in Europe. With their return, a whole new generation of readers can thrill to the adventures of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews.
In "The Secret of Terror Castle", Jupe, Pete and Bob, whose motto is "We Investigate Anything", investigate an allegedly haunted house in order to prove their mettle. Author Robert Arthur not only gives the boys distinct personalities, rather than making them "types", he also has them conduct their investigation in a logical, methodical fashion, even as they deal with a trouble maki! ng rival. He also plants clues throughout the text to give the reader a sporting chance to solve the mystery.
Arthur and his successors further respected their readers' intelligence by making the endings of the books logical developments of the stories, rather than coming up with a contrived solution. Granted, the means by which Jupe, Pete and Bob become involved in "The Mystery of the Silver Spider", a later book in the series, is a bit contrived. However, that story is also good, and throughout the series as a whole, the writers don't talk down to their readers.
Readers of the original hardcover editions may remember an illustration on the endpapers that depicted Hitchcock in profile behind a spider web on one page, while the facing page showed Jupe, with magnifying glass, Pete, with tape recorder, and Bob, with a home made walkie-talkie, making their way through a cemetery at night. That drawing exuded an atmosphere of mystery, and Random House might want to! consider duplicating it, sans Hitchcock, of course, in the! current paperback reissues.
In fact, Hitchcock's absense is the only negative aspect of the revised version. He added a touch of realism, because he was a real person. Now, he has been replaced by the fictional characters of Reginald Clarke and Hector Sebastian, and the illusion that Jupe, Pete and Bob might have been real people is gone. This is a minor point, of course, and doesn't affect the stories themselves.
At least not until the series gets to #31, "The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar", the first post-Hitchcock volume. Jupe, Pete and Bob meet Hector Sebastian for the first time in that story-- a meeting which is central to the plot. I hope the series will continue to sell, so we'll see how that problem will be addressed.
Better still, I hope Random House publishes new adventures after the old ones have been reprinted.
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Here, within the covers of a very well-written book, you'll find a group of charming children and a few adults, spanning a wide range of ages and character types. Swallowdale is by turns funny, thoughtful, insightful and so well written it is a distinct pleasure for readers of any age.
Did I mention the writing? It's better written than most current novels.
The book has all of the fine qualities that make its predecessor such an excellent read for children (and adults) of all ages. Ransome's prose is a delight throughout, his characters engaging and the events that befall the children entirely believable. As in all of the other books of this series, simple pen and ink drawings by the author add considerably to the enjoyment. If only the world (and the Lake District!) was still like this!
Incidentally, although this was the second of Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazon" books to be published, it is best read after the third volume, "Peter Duck", because it is set chronologically after the events of that book, and makes occasional back reference to it. You will enjoy "Peter Duck" much more if you read it BEFORE you read "Swallowdale". And if you enjoyed "Swallows and Amazons" you will certainly enjoy this.