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The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower [Hardcover]

C. Northcote Parkinson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Jan 1997
The fictional biography of the famous naval hero, Horatio Hornblower, central character in C. S. Forester's series of 12 celebrated novels.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; New ed. edition (16 Jan 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750912235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750912235
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,826,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A must" for avid Hornblower fans - 11 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
4 Crowns - but only if you are a total Hornblower junkie. It has been a few years since I read this book but from memory the book is a biography of H. Hornblower - it follows his life from lowly birth to hero of the nation. (I am not sure how one would classify a fictional account of the fictional life of a fictional character - virtual biog?) The author uses interviews, admiralty records, detailed maps, contempory newspaper reports and personal investigations to answer many questions which have intrigued historians and fans alike - just why was HH so very sick at Spithead? How did he come to join the Navy, what circumstances led to his first marriage, a controversial account of his unusually close relationship with a series of "cabin" boys (Note - I made that last bit up - it would have been funny though) The writing style sticks strictly to that of serious but popular historical biography - a dead pan approach makes it highly entertaining I understand that C Northcote Parkinson was (is?)a noted newspaper columnist of the 50's and 60's
Anyway - I enjoyed reading it and if I can find my copy I probably will again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting biography of a great fictional hero 22 May 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Obviously this isn't as excellent as the actual Hornblower novels. The writing style might seem a little dry to some readers and the author sometimes pins down matters that were best left vague. Read it only after you've read the novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 12 Nov 2013
By JJ1972
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sometimes only a classic will do and this tale of daring and intrigue will set every overgrown school childs heart racing with excitement.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seems genuine 15 May 2010
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent review of the career of Hornblower, and I would have no reason to think it spurious - to be expected from the author of "Parkinson's Law".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Must" reading for Hornblower fans 18 April 2000
By Bernhard W. Hoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Of all the fictional characters in literature, only a handful have been compelling enough to be appropriated directly into stories by writers other than their original creators. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is one such character. C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower is another. This work by C. Northcote Parkinson is just such a continuation story, but with a twist. Instead of an historical novel, Parkinson writes the book as if it were an actual biography complete with illustrated plates, footnote citations to other (probably fictional) sources, and extended quotes from letters supposedly written by the characters. The Hornblower enthusiast will appreciate the few extra episodes wedged into the chronology created by the original author, as well as a detailed account of Hornblower's ancestry, boyhood, and forty years of life after the period of active service originally chronicled by Forester. But the purist might take exception to one or two new characters that Parkinson takes the liberty of introducing. Parkinson is also quite knowledgeable about the period, and does an excellent job of framing a life such as Hornblower's within the society (both civilian and naval) in which the character is supposed to have lived.
Although written as a serious biography, the author is clearly a Hornblower fan having a bit of fun as his retirement project. Parkinson is best known as the originator of "Parkinson's Law" (work expands to occupy available time) and the author of a popular series of humorous but pointed commentaries on management practices written in the 1950's and 1960's. In these books, he often feigns being a sociologist discovering universal principles of human behavior. So it is no surprise that he should follow up with this story in which he pretends to be an historian researching an actual person. The same tongue in cheek humor is at work.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filling In The Gaps 14 Oct 2000
By Terence Chua - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have this thing for biographies of fictional people - on my shelf I have Phillip Jose Farmer's excellent biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage and I'm still trying to track down my own copy of James Bond's and W.S. Baring-Gould's Sherlock Holmes bio.
Parkinson's biography of the life and times of C.S. Forester's great naval hero Horatio Hornblower joins the others in a place of honour. Impeccably researched and serving to correct some of the inherent contradictions in Forester's novels with real history, Northcote creates a stirring complement to the books. In biographies like these there is often a temptation to either simply sypnosize the books or go off and create whole reams of "untold" adventures. Thankfully, Parkinson does neither. What he does try to do is fill in the gaps between what we've read and what is left unsaid - most of them through the clever device of letters written by our beloved Hornblower himself. What did exactly happen that fateful night on the HMS Renown when Captain Sawyer fell down that hatchway? After all these years, the truth is finally revealed.
Parkinson also goes on to tell the remainder of Hornblower's life where the novels stopped. Always reverent, and with a completely straight approach, this is one of those that people will find centuries from now and use as evidence that Hornblower, like Sherlock Holmes, was indeed a historical character. And well he should be.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling in the Blanks 26 Oct 1999
By Fred Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Want to know what really happened to the captain of the "Renown"? Accident or assassination? How about Hornblower's life after the Navy? What happened to his son and Lady Barbara? Forester left many gaps in Hornblower's career to be filled in. Parkinson rises to the occasion presenting a complete fictionalized biography of Forester's great naval hero. Filled with the same wonderfully authentic details that enlivened Forester's stories, this book evokes life at sea in a British man o' war during the incomparable Age of Fighting Sail. A must for any Hornblower fan!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Hornblower Fans 19 April 2001
By Fred Camfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a reprint of the author's 1970 fictional biography of Horatio Hornblower. C. S. Forester wrote the first five Hornblower novels in chronological order, starting with Hornblower's service as a Royal Navy captain in 1807 and continuing to 1815 when the war ended and most of the Royal Navy was laid up. In the sixth book, he skipped back to cover the beginnings of Hornblower's career as a midshipman. That point seems to have been lost to later authors like O'Brien (who invented ways to keep Aubrey at sea, rather than dropping back to cover his early beginnings).
Parkinson created this biography by placing the Forester novels in chronological order, and then adding in details to explain Hornblower's early life, his family, and his years in retirement. It is so well written it is difficult to classify the book as fiction. The recent made-for-TV motion pictures on Hornblower have changed the details of the stories to a significant degree, but are generally following Hornblower's career (there was no Court Martial in Jamaica, only an inquiry, with the blame for Sawyer's death laid on the escaped Spanish prisoners, and no charge of anyone pushing him into the ship's hold).
Parkinson himself is an exceptionally good author of novels covering the Royal Navy of that time period. I am pleased to see that those novels are now being reprinted.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parkinson's "biography" of H. Hornblower a Real Pleasur 8 Sep 2002
By Charles M. Proctor, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am an old hand at reading the Hornblower Series, having received the Book-of-the-Month Club offering of the first three novels back before WWII. Since then I have acquired all of the rest and have read them many times. Parkinson's fictional biography, which I acquired in 1972, is so well, and meticulously,written that it's difficult to believe Hornblower is fictional. However, this is a book for the devotee of the novels. It does "fill in the gaps" in the hero's life as well as providing the social and political setting in which the actions occur. It does not give the full details about HH's character, method of approaching and solving problems, or other essentials of his character as do the novels themselves. I recommend anyone new to HH, read the novels first before reading this book.
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