Not all effects of social isolation in the time of COVID are bad. Motivated by ennui and inspired by the news of a new film starring Tom Hanks, courtesy of an article in Military Officer journal, I am halfway through the book on which the film is based, The Good Shepard by C. S. Forester.
As a teenager, I was an avid fan of Forester’s extensive Horatio Hornblower series but I missed this book. Perhaps it’s just as well because familiarity with naval customs, procedures and technology is needed to fully appreciate this story and its gripping depiction of the stresses and peculiar challenges of commanding a ship and a convoy while fighting U-boats in the Atlantic during World War II.
As in his Hornblower series, the protagonist here is both admirable and all too human. With the benefit of having been on the bridges of both surface ships and submarines, I am finding it very easy to visualize the action. I just hope the movie lives up to the promise of the book. Seems to me that Hanks should be perfect for the part. It was previously scheduled to be released in June but has now been postponed pending resolution of the theater business.
I was intrigued by the ability of Forester to so realistically depict this naval yarn because there is no indication in the Amazon book summary or in his Wikipedia page of any naval service in his background. He was an unusual man, one of deserved fame but also controversial. His son wrote an uneven self-published biography of his father depicting him as a “complete liar”. There seems to be no reliable biography extant but I found some satisfying answers in this article from Encyclopedia.com.
Many of my favorite fiction authors have passed on. Is it just me, or has fiction declined in overall quality? In any case I’m now thinking of revisiting Forester’s Hornblower books and some others of his I previously missed. If you, dear reader, have other fictive suggestions, lay ‘em on us.