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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Flying Colours is the most introspective of the Hornblower novels. For those who want to understand who Hornblower really is, this book is probably the most revealing in the Hornblower series. Unlike the other stories which contain lots of naval action at sea, this book occurs mostly on the land of Spain and France, and the rivers of France. As a result, those who like the Hornblower novels for their battles and action will find this book to be one of the least satisfying in the series.
We all know ourselves best when we face problems. After the many successes in his career, Captain Hornblower ended up in Ship of the Line fighting an impossible battle between his ship, the Sutherland, and four French vessels. Taking horrible casualties, Hornblower struck his colours and surrendered at the end of that book. Flying Colours opens with Hornblower in a Spanish prison, with the expectation that he will be tried and executed for having flown French colours as camouflage to aid an attack. His wife, Maria, is pregnant in England. Hornblower also yearns for Lady Barbara Leighton, the wife of his admiral, whom readers met in Beat to Quarters and saw again in the beginning of Ship of the Line. Hornblower is in despair as he visits the dying and imprisoned sailors who are in the same garrison.
Many troubling questions go through Hornblower's mind. How well will he face death before a firing squad? Will his weak body betray him?
His first lieutenant, William Bush, is also to be tried. At the end of Ship of the Line, Bush lost the lower part of one leg. Will Bush survive the injury and trial?
What will happen to his wife and unborn child after he is dead?
Can he resist sweet temptation, when it is offered?
Can he escape death by firing squad?
Even if he escapes, how can he hope to be exonerated in a court martial for losing the Sutherland? Captains aren't supposed to surrender their vessels, no matter how badly damaged.
If he escapes the court martial, how will he handle being in love with Lady Barbara while being an unhappily married man with a new baby?
Will he ever have a chance to command a vessel again?
Anyone who has ever known self-doubt will find Hornblower's trauma realistic and refreshing. He becomes more like an ordinary person with normal feelings in this book. As a result, I found Hornblower to be much more appealing here than when his brilliant intellect guided him to smooth success in the earlier books.
Eventually, Hornblower finds himself wanting in many of these regards . . . but moves on. Ultimately, he faces new satisfactions and disappointments that indicate to him that his idealistic, perfectionist view of the world is a flawed one. Everyone else is merely human as well. Hornblower is deeply disappointed.
Forester raises an interesting point in the novel. There are real heroes in the book. These people are true to themselves and have total integrity. Public adulation will never be theirs, however. On the other hand, the world needs heroes . . . and new ones will be created, whether or not they deserve the honor. The possibility of remaining a real hero is improved by not having to deal with the issues that can tempt one away from heroism and integrity. So Bush is shown to be a real hero, while Hornblower is simply a self-doubting actor who is extraordinarily capable of creating great results.
The book does a magnificent job of using the title theme throughout. Having struck his colours on the Sutherland, Hornblower now flies his colours again in this book in every sense of that phrase. Watch for the subtleties of how this is done as you read the book.
If you know French, you will enjoy the challenge of imagining how Hornblower manufacturers phrases from his limited command of the language to accomplish what needs to be done. As I read the book, I mentally made the necessary translations.
The book is also interesting for displaying the consequences for the French of being under Napoleon's rule. Hornblower excoriates the Corsican tyrant in the earlier novels, but here we see that others are being squashed underneath authority's boot as well. Many of the social observations about the French people in 1811 are very nicely done in this book.
What is more important: Being fearless or overcoming your weaknesses? What can you do today to overcome your weaknesses and help others to do the same?
May you enjoy the peace that comes with living a life of integrity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2010
Book seven of the Hornblower saga!

This is a truly excellent book with far-reaching consequences for both Lieutenant Bush and Captain Hornblower. If you are reading this review then you have either stumbled across the Hornblower books or are a Hornblower fan who has not yet read book seven. If you have stumbled across this review, start with `Mr. Midshipman Hornblower', the first book in the series which follows the early humble beginnings of Hornblower as a young man.

What should seasoned fans expect with this book?

Well, the human side to Hornblower which we saw developing in the sixth book `A Ship of the Line' has truly come to the fore in book seven. Hornblower is portrayed as a flawed individual instead of the usual isolated automaton. Human emotions such as regret, envy, anxiety and helplessness feature strongly as part of Hornblower's personality, as the epic events begin to take their toll on the Captain.

I was particularly pleased when Hornblower finally realised the true meaning of friendship with Bush and Brown as their adventures progressed. C. S. Forester was an exceptional writer and he certainly ensured the reader experienced a close affinity and connection with the main protagonist. This is felt most keenly in book seven, as you certainly care for the Captain and his small crew.

Fans will not be disappointed with book seven.

Book seven is written from a different angle than the previous six books, but this helps to keep the reader interested as their beloved character strays away from his usual environment and is thrown into a hopeless situation.

Will Hornblower and Bush make it this time?

I'm not telling!
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This is a review of the Penguin 2006 edition with a short but perceptive four-page introduction by Bernard Cornwell. Written in 1937-38, this was only the third in the series, though it is the seventh in chronological order of Hornblower's life. It was also written at a time when much of his audience would also know their Latin, and when the code of a gentleman still held some sway, but would soon be blasted away by the Second World War.

We turn our back against the sea for much of the book, whose journey this time takes us across the heart of France. But the opening sees Hornblower in captured French hands: "It was torture now to be a prisoner ... A caged lion must fret behind his bars in the same way as Hornblower fretted against his confinement." But Forester allows his hero a heavy dose of sinful humanity, with Hornblower contemplating in his cell not only the fate of his pregnant wife back home, but also that of his mistress, Lady Barbara. The title of the book refers to the captain's hope to meet his expected execution in Paris with equanimity: "He hoped he would meet it bravely, go down with colours flying ..."

Forester has a keen insight into the British character, remarking, for example, how, "The British genius for invective and propaganda had long discovered that it paid better to exploit trivialities rather than inveigh broadly against policies and principles..." The Daily Express and Daily Mail of the 1930s was much like The Sun of today! Forester also has a psychological insight into those for whom thinking independently is not a valid option; rather, they are happy being led like sheep, those who know their place and are happy to know it: "For a moment Hornblower felt a little twinge of envy of brown, who would never know the misery of helplessness, or the indignity of indecision", but might know "flogging, peril, sickness, death; certainly hardship and probably hunger" in King George's Royal Navy. Some would call this patronising, others realism.

There is an argument to be had whether Forester's Hornblower novels glorify war. But a strong riposte can be had to this argument too. Deep in the heart of France and deep in the heart of the daughter of the man who is willing to hide him from French patrols, Hornblower muses that, "These kisses he was giving her meant nothing to him compared with the business of life, which was war - the same war which had killed her young husband, the wasteful, prodigal, beastly business which had peopled Europe with widows and disfigured it with wasted fields and burned villages."

Of course, our hero in this story wins the day and lives to fight the frogs again. The story is well-written and perhaps psychologically deeper than the other books, but there is still of course action aplenty. The yarn is quite believable, although credulity is stretched to near breaking-point that Hornblower's journey down the Loire for two hundred miles without trouble from the locals or the authorities is so trouble-free, especially when he has to navigate around such cities as Orleans and Tours. Certainly the political machinations and the informality of the princes sound real. And more especially Hornblower's character is true enough. Despite the glory in the happy ending, and the granting of a knighthood, Sir Horatio "never could contrive to feel proud of himself." Yes, he was happy, but only for about thirty seconds.
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Flying Colors is the most introspective of the Hornblower novels. For those who want to understand who Hornblower really is, this book is probably the most revealing in the Hornblower series. Unlike the other stories which contain lots of naval action at sea, this book occurs mostly on the land of Spain and France, and the rivers of France. As a result, those who like the Hornblower novels for their battles and action will find this book to be one of the least satisfying in the series.
We all know ourselves best when we face problems. After the many successes in his career, Captain Hornblower ended up in Ship of the Line fighting an impossible battle between his ship, the Sutherland, and four French vessels. Taking horrible casualties, Hornblower struck his colors and surrendered at the end of that book. Flying Colors opens with Hornblower in a Spanish prison, with the expectation that he will be tried and executed for having flown French colors as camouflage to aid an attack. His wife, Maria, is pregnant in England. Hornblower also yearns for Lady Barbara Leighton, the wife of his admiral, whom readers met in Beat to Quarters and saw again in the beginning of Ship of the Line. Hornblower is in despair as he visits the dying and imprisoned sailors who are in the same garrison.
Many troubling questions go through Hornblower's mind. How well will he face death before a firing squad? Will his weak body betray him?
His first lieutenant, William Bush, is also to be tried. At the end of Ship of the Line, Bush lost the lower part of one leg. Will Bush survive the injury and trial?
What will happen to his wife and unborn child after he is dead?
Can he resist sweet temptation, when it is offered?
Can he escape death by firing squad?
Even if he escapes, how can he hope to be exonerated in a court martial for losing the Sutherland? Captains aren't supposed to surrender their vessels, no matter how badly damaged.
If he escapes the court martial, how will he handle being in love with Lady Barbara while being an unhappily married man with a new baby?
Will he ever have a chance to command a vessel again?
Anyone who has ever known self-doubt will find Hornblower's trauma realistic and refreshing. He becomes more like an ordinary person with normal feelings in this book. As a result, I found Hornblower to be much more appealing here than when his brilliant intellect guided him to smooth success in the earlier books.
Eventually, Hornblower finds himself wanting in many of these regards . . . but moves on. Ultimately, he faces new satisfactions and disappointments that indicate to him that his idealistic, perfectionist view of the world is a flawed one. Everyone else is merely human as well. Hornblower is deeply disappointed.
Forester raises an interesting point in the novel. There are real heroes in the book. These people are true to themselves and have total integrity. Public adulation will never be theirs, however. On the other hand, the world needs heroes . . . and new ones will be created, whether or not they deserve the honor. The possibility of remaining a real hero is improved by not having to deal with the issues that can tempt one away from heroism and integrity. So Bush is shown to be a real hero, while Hornblower is simply a self-doubting actor who is extraordinarily capable of creating great results.
The book does a magnificent job of using the title theme throughout. Having struck his colors on the Sutherland, Hornblower now flies his colors again in this book in every sense of that phrase. Watch for the subtleties of how this is done as you read the book.
If you know French, you will enjoy the challenge of imagining how Hornblower manufactures phrases from his limited command of the language to accomplish what needs to be done. As I read the book, I mentally made the necessary translations.
The book is also interesting for displaying the consequences for the French of being under Napoleon's rule. Hornblower excoriates the Corsican tyrant in the earlier novels, but here we see that others are being squashed underneath authority's boot as well. Many of the social observations about the French people in 1811 are very nicely done in this book.
What is more important: Being fearless or overcoming your weaknesses? What can you do today to overcome your weaknesses and help others to do the same?
May you enjoy the peace that comes with living a life of integrity!
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Flying Colours is the most introspective of the Hornblower novels. For those who want to understand who Hornblower really is, this book is probably the most revealing in the Hornblower series. Unlike the other stories which contain lots of naval action at sea, this book occurs mostly on the land of Spain and France, and the rivers of France. As a result, those who like the Hornblower novels for their battles and action will find this book to be one of the least satisfying in the series.
We all know ourselves best when we face problems. After the many successes in his career, Captain Hornblower ended up in Ship of the Line fighting an impossible battle between his ship, the Sutherland, and four French vessels. Taking horrible casualties, Hornblower struck his colours and surrendered at the end of that book. Flying Colours opens with Hornblower in a Spanish prison, with the expectation that he will be tried and executed for having flown French colours as camouflage to aid an attack. His wife, Maria, is pregnant in England. Hornblower also yearns for Lady Barbara Leighton, the wife of his admiral, whom readers met in Beat to Quarters and saw again in the beginning of Ship of the Line. Hornblower is in despair as he visits the dying and imprisoned sailors who are in the same garrison.
Many troubling questions go through Hornblower's mind. How well will he face death before a firing squad? Will his weak body betray him?
His first lieutenant, William Bush, is also to be tried. At the end of Ship of the Line, Bush lost the lower part of one leg. Will Bush survive the injury and trial?
What will happen to his wife and unborn child after he is dead?
Can he resist sweet temptation, when it is offered?
Can he escape death by firing squad?
Even if he escapes, how can he hope to be exonerated in a court martial for losing the Sutherland? Captains aren't supposed to surrender their vessels, no matter how badly damaged.
If he escapes the court martial, how will he handle being in love with Lady Barbara while being an unhappily married man with a new baby?
Will he ever have a chance to command a vessel again?
Anyone who has ever known self-doubt will find Hornblower's trauma realistic and refreshing. He becomes more like an ordinary person with normal feelings in this book. As a result, I found Hornblower to be much more appealing here than when his brilliant intellect guided him to smooth success in the earlier books.
Eventually, Hornblower finds himself wanting in many of these regards . . . but moves on. Ultimately, he faces new satisfactions and disappointments that indicate to him that his idealistic, perfectionist view of the world is a flawed one. Everyone else is merely human as well. Hornblower is deeply disappointed.
Forester raises an interesting point in the novel. There are real heroes in the book. These people are true to themselves and have total integrity. Public adulation will never be theirs, however. On the other hand, the world needs heroes . . . and new ones will be created, whether or not they deserve the honor. The possibility of remaining a real hero is improved by not having to deal with the issues that can tempt one away from heroism and integrity. So Bush is shown to be a real hero, while Hornblower is simply a self-doubting actor who is extraordinarily capable of creating great results.
The book does a magnificent job of using the title theme throughout. Having struck his colours on the Sutherland, Hornblower now flies his colours again in this book in every sense of that phrase. Watch for the subtleties of how this is done as you read the book.
If you know French, you will enjoy the challenge of imagining how Hornblower manufacturers phrases from his limited command of the language to accomplish what needs to be done. As I read the book, I mentally made the necessary translations.
The book is also interesting for displaying the consequences for the French of being under Napoleon's rule. Hornblower excoriates the Corsican tyrant in the earlier novels, but here we see that others are being squashed underneath authority's boot as well. Many of the social observations about the French people in 1811 are very nicely done in this book.
What is more important: Being fearless or overcoming your weaknesses? What can you do today to overcome your weaknesses and help others to do the same?
May you enjoy the peace that comes with living a life of integrity.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Flying Colours is the most introspective of the Hornblower novels. For those who want to understand who Hornblower really is, this book is probably the most revealing in the Hornblower series. Unlike the other stories which contain lots of naval action at sea, this book occurs mostly on the land of Spain and France, and the rivers of France. As a result, those who like the Hornblower novels for their battles and action will find this book to be one of the least satisfying in the series.
We all know ourselves best when we face problems. After the many successes in his career, Captain Hornblower ended up in Ship of the Line fighting an impossible battle between his ship, the Sutherland, and four French vessels. Taking horrible casualties, Hornblower struck his colours and surrendered at the end of that book. Flying Colours opens with Hornblower in a Spanish prison, with the expectation that he will be tried and executed for having flown French colours as camouflage to aid an attack. His wife, Maria, is pregnant in England. Hornblower also yearns for Lady Barbara Leighton, the wife of his admiral, whom readers met in Beat to Quarters and saw again in the beginning of Ship of the Line. Hornblower is in despair as he visits the dying and imprisoned sailors who are in the same garrison.
Many troubling questions go through Hornblower's mind. How well will he face death before a firing squad? Will his weak body betray him?
His first lieutenant, William Bush, is also to be tried. At the end of Ship of the Line, Bush lost the lower part of one leg. Will Bush survive the injury and trial?
What will happen to his wife and unborn child after he is dead?
Can he resist sweet temptation, when it is offered?
Can he escape death by firing squad?
Even if he escapes, how can he hope to be exonerated in a court martial for losing the Sutherland? Captains aren't supposed to surrender their vessels, no matter how badly damaged.
If he escapes the court martial, how will he handle being in love with Lady Barbara while being an unhappily married man with a new baby?
Will he ever have a chance to command a vessel again?
Anyone who has ever known self-doubt will find Hornblower's trauma realistic and refreshing. He becomes more like an ordinary person with normal feelings in this book. As a result, I found Hornblower to be much more appealing here than when his brilliant intellect guided him to smooth success in the earlier books.
Eventually, Hornblower finds himself wanting in many of these regards . . . but moves on. Ultimately, he faces new satisfactions and disappointments that indicate to him that his idealistic, perfectionist view of the world is a flawed one. Everyone else is merely human as well. Hornblower is deeply disappointed.
Forester raises an interesting point in the novel. There are real heroes in the book. These people are true to themselves and have total integrity. Public adulation will never be theirs, however. On the other hand, the world needs heroes . . . and new ones will be created, whether or not they deserve the honor. The possibility of remaining a real hero is improved by not having to deal with the issues that can tempt one away from heroism and integrity. So Bush is shown to be a real hero, while Hornblower is simply a self-doubting actor who is extraordinarily capable of creating great results.
The book does a magnificent job of using the title theme throughout. Having struck his colours on the Sutherland, Hornblower now flies his colours again in this book in every sense of that phrase. Watch for the subtleties of how this is done as you read the book.
If you know French, you will enjoy the challenge of imagining how Hornblower manufacturers phrases from his limited command of the language to accomplish what needs to be done. As I read the book, I mentally made the necessary translations.
The book is also interesting for displaying the consequences for the French of being under Napoleon's rule. Hornblower excoriates the Corsican tyrant in the earlier novels, but here we see that others are being squashed underneath authority's boot as well. Many of the social observations about the French people in 1811 are very nicely done in this book.
What is more important: Being fearless or overcoming your weaknesses? What can you do today to overcome your weaknesses and help others to do the same?
May you enjoy the peace that comes with living a life of integrity.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Flying Colours is the most introspective of the Hornblower novels. For those who want to understand who Hornblower really is, this book is probably the most revealing in the Hornblower series. Unlike the other stories which contain lots of naval action at sea, this book occurs mostly on the land of Spain and France, and the rivers of France. As a result, those who like the Hornblower novels for their battles and action will find this book to be one of the least satisfying in the series.
We all know ourselves best when we face problems. After the many successes in his career, Captain Hornblower ended up in Ship of the Line fighting an impossible battle between his ship, the Sutherland, and four French vessels. Taking horrible casualties, Hornblower struck his colours and surrendered at the end of that book. Flying Colours opens with Hornblower in a Spanish prison, with the expectation that he will be tried and executed for having flown French colours as camouflage to aid an attack. His wife, Maria, is pregnant in England. Hornblower also yearns for Lady Barbara Leighton, the wife of his admiral, whom readers met in Beat to Quarters and saw again in the beginning of Ship of the Line. Hornblower is in despair as he visits the dying and imprisoned sailors who are in the same garrison.
Many troubling questions go through Hornblower's mind. How well will he face death before a firing squad? Will his weak body betray him?
His first lieutenant, William Bush, is also to be tried. At the end of Ship of the Line, Bush lost the lower part of one leg. Will Bush survive the injury and trial?
What will happen to his wife and unborn child after he is dead?
Can he resist sweet temptation, when it is offered?
Can he escape death by firing squad?
Even if he escapes, how can he hope to be exonerated in a court martial for losing the Sutherland? Captains aren't supposed to surrender their vessels, no matter how badly damaged.
If he escapes the court martial, how will he handle being in love with Lady Barbara while being an unhappily married man with a new baby?
Will he ever have a chance to command a vessel again?
Anyone who has ever known self-doubt will find Hornblower's trauma realistic and refreshing. He becomes more like an ordinary person with normal feelings in this book. As a result, I found Hornblower to be much more appealing here than when his brilliant intellect guided him to smooth success in the earlier books.
Eventually, Hornblower finds himself wanting in many of these regards . . . but moves on. Ultimately, he faces new satisfactions and disappointments that indicate to him that his idealistic, perfectionist view of the world is a flawed one. Everyone else is merely human as well. Hornblower is deeply disappointed.
Forester raises an interesting point in the novel. There are real heroes in the book. These people are true to themselves and have total integrity. Public adulation will never be theirs, however. On the other hand, the world needs heroes . . . and new ones will be created, whether or not they deserve the honor. The possibility of remaining a real hero is improved by not having to deal with the issues that can tempt one away from heroism and integrity. So Bush is shown to be a real hero, while Hornblower is simply a self-doubting actor who is extraordinarily capable of creating great results.
The book does a magnificent job of using the title theme throughout. Having struck his colours on the Sutherland, Hornblower now flies his colours again in this book in every sense of that phrase. Watch for the subtleties of how this is done as you read the book.
If you know French, you will enjoy the challenge of imagining how Hornblower manufacturers phrases from his limited command of the language to accomplish what needs to be done. As I read the book, I mentally made the necessary translations.
The book is also interesting for displaying the consequences for the French of being under Napoleon's rule. Hornblower excoriates the Corsican tyrant in the earlier novels, but here we see that others are being squashed underneath authority's boot as well. Many of the social observations about the French people in 1811 are very nicely done in this book.
What is more important: Being fearless or overcoming your weaknesses? What can you do today to overcome your weaknesses and help others to do the same?
May you enjoy the peace that comes with living a life of integrity.
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on 23 October 2000
Excellent characterization and a finely drawn background of France during the Naopoleonic wars enhance this exciting tale of escape from execution in Paris by Captain Hornblower and his companions. It is not necessary to have read any of the other novels in the Hornblower series to reap the full reward of this epic adventure, and it can be recommended for newcomers to C S Forester's naval hero. It is the blend of historical fact, pragmatic characterization and realistic detail which allow the reader to be drawn into the extrodinary plot without suspension of belief.
One of Forester's chief strengths is painting accurate scenery on which to superimpose his story and characters. The coach trip through France and Spain towards Paris is a fine example, with the desciptions of the countryside and wayside inns being first rate, (although not as good as the exceptional description of travelling from Oxford to London on the canal at the beginning of "Hornblower and the Atropos").
As always, Captain Hornblower's temperamental character is heavily in evidence and balanced against that of the pregmatic Lieutenant Bush. The third main character is Hornblower's coxwain, Brown and one of the chief delights of the book is the lightness of touch Forester displays when developing the relationship between the three. The Huge gap between a Captain of the Royal Navy and his Crew, the bond that develops between the three in adversity and the complimentary skills and characters are all set out with sensitivity but never sentimentality.
The supplementary characters are also well observed and integral to the plot. At under two hundred pages, Forester has not allowed himself space for any superfluous material. All Hornblower stories are fast paced and gripping,"Flying Colours" perhaps even more so than usual. Forester again displays lightness of touch when dealing with the grim realities of war which are never avoided, but neither used for the titillation of the reader.
Overall I thought this to be an intelligently written and thoroughly enjoyable historical novel.
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on 30 September 2012
I very much wanted to read these stories is sequence and had great difficulty working out in which order they came so I have added the list here.

I have now read them all and thoroughly enjoyed each one.

I started with 'The young Hornblower Omnibus', this contains 'Mr Midshipman Hornblower' 'Lieutenant Hornblower' and 'Hornblower and the Hotspur'.

'Captain Hornblower' follows on and again has three stories in sequence - 'Hornblower and the Antropos', The Happy return' and 'A Ship of the line'.

'Flying Colours' is next and is one book followed in order by 'The Commodore' and 'Lord Hornblower'.

'Hornblower in the West Indies' is next and again is a collection of stories which fit so well together that they read like one book.

The last is 'Hornblower and the Crisis and consists of three stories, each one highly entertaining, and ending in a rather satisfacory way. The first entitled 'The Crisis' is actually unfinished as the author died while writing it but there is enough to enable the reader to see where it was going.

The whole series is a joy from beginning to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2011
This is why people read CS Forester. Hornblower is on top form here, and we get the chance to see a quick glimpse of his humanity as just for a change he cares for Bush, who has been his staunch ally and friend for so many years. Hornblower the wild romantic, Hornblower the strategist, Hornblower the wily and courageous Captain - this one has it all.
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