As the child of a librarian, books were always going to be a big part of my life and I’ve delved far into the literary undergrowth over the years. To this day, I have never met anyone else who has read, and loved, Samuel Richardson’s tour de force, Clarissa (if you have, drop me a line, I’d love to discuss) or Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game (don’t contact me about this one … even his mother must have said, “Hermy, it’s too long, man, too wordy … “).
Therefore, a book review seemed in order and I’ve chosen … Bulldog Drummond. Now, if you like Humphry Clinker and you regularly re-read Surtees, why pick a book written by a British ex-Army officer with somewhat dubious views about other nations?
Simple – it’s entertaining. The stories are page-turning yarns, perfect for a wet afternoon’s reading. Drummond is Sapper’s ideal bloke. An action orientated leader of men, who’s an all round good egg. He has the strength of an ox and likes the odd cigarette (‘Turkish on this side – Virginian on that’). Always ready to do battle with his arch enemy, Carl Peterson, as the latter attempts world domination. Not averse to shooting anyone who gets in his way. Sound familiar? Ian Fleming was a great admirer of the series and Drummond is almost certainly lurking in Bond’s DNA.
The thing about books like Bulldog Drummond, is to remember that they are what they are: A reflection of the norms and culture of the time they were written. Reading them allows us to sample that culture in a tiny way and this in turn aids reflection on historical events and the individual motivations of people caught up in those events. So, don’t disregard Bulldog and his RAF counterpart, Biggles.
Whilst some of their views might be unfashionable now, fun never is.
Want to find out more?
Bulldog Drummond (Sapper)
Biggles in the Orient (Captain W. E. Johns)
Humphry Clinker (Tobias Smollett)
Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady (Samuel Richardson)
The Glass Bead Game (Hermann Hesse)
Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour (R. S. Surtees)