This is the text of a book review I originally posted on the Paul Revere Network on January 28, 1997.
I just finished reading the novel "Brown on Resolution," by C.S. Forester. This is a great book worth reading by anyone with an interest in the value of individual marksmanship on the battlefield.
For those who don't recognize Forester's name, he also wrote "The African Queen" and the "Hornblower" series (which I've read two or three times and heartily recommend). His books all seem to have nautical themes.
Anyway, this novel which first came out in 1929, is a story about Leading Seaman Albert Brown, a sailor in the Royal Navy during World War One. It's not long (192 pp.), with the first half devoted mostly to AB's upbringing. It really gets moving in the second half, after AB joins the British Navy and the crew of H.M.S. Charybdis, an "armored cruiser." For those unfamiliar with this type of ship, it was developed in the latter decades of the 19th century and the name is something of a misnomer. Armor was minimal,isnomer. Armor was minimal, and the ship was badly outclassed before WWI even started. The Charybdis gets into a fightt with the S.M.S. Ziethen, a German Battlecruiser, and is sunk. Brown and two other sailors, the sole survivors, are plucked from the Pacific by the Germans.
However, the Brits did inflict serious damage on the Ziethen, which has to find somewhere to hide while her hull is patched. The captain selects Resolution Island in the Galapagos Archipelego.
After reaching Resolution Island, AB escapes with a Mauser rifle, determined to delay the repair of the Ziethen, in the hopes that she will be found and sunk. One man against a battlecruiser may seem like long odds, and they are, but he is able to disrupt repairs for 48 hours by sniping (in the technical sense, even sans optics) at the crew of the ship from the inhospitable island. This delay later proves fatal to the Ziethen, which is discovered and destroyed by vessels of the Royal Navy.
What made me want to read this book was the following quote, which I read in something by Jeff Cooper:
"But Brown was only powerful in consequence of his rifle, the handiest, neatest, most efficient piece of machinery ever devised by man. Not for the first time was the rifle altering the course of history."
From a technical standpoint, Forester understates the difficulty of long-rangelty of long-range marksmanship (especially with a rifle that the shooter has never used before), but not its potential impact. He also makes a minor error in referring to Brown's use of a pull-through taken from the butt of the Mauser to clean the bore. While the British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield did carry an oil bottle and pull-through in the butt, the Mauser didn't. However, these technical bobbles don't otherwise detract from the story.
I'd kept an eye out for several years for this book, but never saw it in a store. I finally found it at Amazon.com, an online bookstore. On a lark, I did a search by author's name, and "Brown On Resolution" came up. I instantly grabbed my VISA card and ordered it. The book came two or three days later via Priority Mail. (Btw, Amazon.com uses secure sockets, which encrypts your credit card number. You can also pay by check, but it's slower.)
Once I got the book, I discovered that the reason I hadn't been able to find it was that this is a limited edition reprint of only 350 copies. So, if you're interested in reading it, go to the URL http://www.amazon.com. They have it for $18.95 + $3.95 S&H, or contact the publisher, American Reprint Co./Rivercity Press, P.O. Box 1200, Mattituck, NY 11952., NY 11952.
SLMR 2.1a * If not for politicians, we wouldn't NEED assault rifles.
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