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Book Note: C. Northcote Parkinson, Touch and Go

I read this book about 2010-07-31. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1977. This note was last modified Tuesday, 06-May-2014 15:36:15 PDT.

This is book 4 of the "Richard Delancey" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


I have perhaps not paid sufficient attention to Parkinson in my reading of Napoleonic War Naval stories. I stumbled across this one at Uncle Edgar's a while back, and am just getting around to reading it. It's the fourth volume of the series; I should probably find the rest, and read them in order. (I know we've got Devil to Pay in the house.)

Parkinson was a Naval historian, publishing back into the 30s and 40s. He's perhaps most famous for "Parkinson's Law", which he published in 1957. But he didn't come to Naval fiction until 1973, which means he's following in the footsteps of O'Brian as well as Forester's (Forester started publishing Hornblower novels in 1937).

Reading it in the middle of O'Brian's great series is perhaps an especially weird choice, but it was sitting here on my desk while the next O'Brian book was up two flights of stairs.

Richard Delancey seems to be in his first real command in this one (sounds like he briefly commanded a fireship in the previous volume). His observations on the officers and men under him seem quite practiced, though.

We've got Lord Cochrane as an on-stage character! Delancey doesn't think too highly of him. He says he's too interested in money (he does ackgnowledge that Cochrane needs money), and not attentive enough to his duty.

Heneage Dundas (a good friend of Jack Aubrey's) has just shown up. However, he's a historic character, so that's as likely to be the two authors drawing from the same history as any evidence that Parkinson was aware of O'Brian. (I'm used to the SF field, where authors are quite aware of each other generally, especially back in the early days; but I have no reason to think the Fighting Sail authors were like that.) (Dundas, and the Calpe, were present at the Battle of Algeciras Bay).

The book ends with a tense scene with a French captain willing to blow up himself and his ship. He's talked out of it with the peace having been made.

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