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Great Naval Fiction
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Great Naval Fiction

For me, one of the true pleasures of life is reading a great book, and of course with my interest in all things maritime, I have special love for tales set on the sea.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Hornblower Series, by CS Forester -  follows the life of Horatio Hornblower from midshipman to Admiral.  The classic series of a clever, but flawed hero who overcomes his deficiencies and helps England survive the Napoleonic Wars.

Mr Midshipman Hornblower - the logical starting place for those new to the series, when young Horatio first leaves home and joins the Fleet.  From there, I would suggest reading the other books in chronological order:

Lieutenant Hornblower
Hornblower and the Hotspur - He gets his first command
Hornblower During the Crisis - this story was unfinished by Forester, who died before it's completion, but he did leave notes on it's conclusion.
Hornblower and the Atropos - Hornblower overseas Nelson's funeral procession, and then goes on to take command of a sloop on a treasure hunt in exotic waters.
Beat to Quarters
- our hero has been given a Frigate, the Lydia, and sent on a mission to the west coast of South America.
Ship of the Line - Now in command of a ship of the line, and off the coast to France to blockade.  But you just know he will not be content to cruise idly without a bit of adventure.
Hornblower:Flying Colours - Hornblower has been captured by the French, and is on his way to his execution at the start of this exciting novel
Commodore Hornblower - Hornblower, married and now a country squire, is given a command of a squadron of ships faced with a touchy diplomatic situation in the midst of Napoleon's invasion of Russia.  One of my favorites in the series.
Lord Hornblower - Horatio quells a mutiny, and then is caught in the 100 days of Napoleon's return to France
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies - Now in the America's again, facing Pirates, storms and more.

During your reading of these books, you might find the following volume of use:

The Hornblower Companion by C. S. Forester, Samuel H. Bryant (Illustrator) Maps, comments and notes to increase your enjoyment of the series.

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat - the classic story of a Corvette against the North Sea and the enemy.
Good Shepherd by Cecil Scott Forester - the story of a Convoy across the Atlantic
The Grey Seas Under  by Farley Mowat - The Salvage Tug Foundation Franklin and the crew that served her in War and Peace.  One of the best sea novels of all time, and an inspiration for modelers for generations who just have to build a model of that proud ship.  Highly recommended.
The Admiral by Martin Dibner - you don't see this novel very often, but it is quite good.  Covers the story of a cruiser captain who, through skill and luck, survives the loss of his ship and gets command of a carrier.  Worth hunting for.
Run Silent Run Deep by Edward Beach
The Circle - by David Poyer.  What a great book, covering the US Navy of the 1970's.  The author, a former naval officer, captures the details of day to day life on board a destroyer.  It just rings true.  Also check out The Med, by the same writer.

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Novels

The Hunt for Red October - the classic first book from Tom Clancy, and one of the great sea chases. One of the best naval books of all time.

Other Jack Ryan novels in chronological order...

Without Remorse - the start of the series, introducing many of the characters found in the Jack Ryan universe.  Mr Clark goes hunting, both in Vietnam and on the streets of Baltimore. A great read.
Patriot Games - Jack Ryan breaks up an attack on the Royal Family, unleashing the fury of IRA terrorists on his own.
Red Rabbit - the latest book by Clancy, but just before Hunt for Red October on the timeline, covers the attempted assassination of the Pope in 1981. Not the strongest Tom Clancy Novel.
The Cardinal of the Kremlin - The CIA's mole in the Kremlin may be exposed, and Ryan must find a way to protect him.
Clear and Present Danger - A close friend of the president is killed by drug lords, and he decides to Do Something About Drugs.  Some interesting ideas in this one.
The Sum of All Fears - terrorists in the middle east plan a nuclear attack on the United States in this book, which is almost completely unconnected to the movie of the same name.  Some very tedious passages on making the bomb, but overall still enjoyable.
Debt of Honor
- this time set in the Pacific, with an interesting Indian component.  A Japanese industrialist decides to take revenge for his family's suffering during World War II.
Executive Orders - Bio-terrorism is the theme of this chiller, with Ryan in charge now.  
Rainbow Six - dealing with Eco-terrorism, this is probably my least favorite novel set in the Ryan universe.
The Bear and the Dragon - covering a conflict between Russia and China, this novel harks back to the great Clancy novels of the 80's.

Not a Ryan Novel, but excellent is....

Red Storm Rising - my favorite Tom Clancy novel of all time, which covers a conventional war between NATO and Russia in the 1980's.  Sweeping in scope, and meticulous in detail, this novel is a wonderful read.

Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute - from the author of On the Beach, comes a decidely more upbeat tale of a model engineer who finds he must leave his comfortable life (and workshop) and go on an adventure of a lifetime.  Along the way, he discovers a network of model makers willing to help him.  You will enjoy this book, if you can find a copy for a reasonable price.

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Version 1.1  06/17