Thursday, June 3, 2010

More Manly books

I finished in rapid order (thanks to a transatlantic round-trip plane flight for work) two books. Robert Parker's Appaloosa and Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Siege.

Very different books, but certainly the type to appeal to guys. I've mentioned Parker before, a writer of contemporary crime fiction who decided to try his hand at a Western. I think it came off well. Tight, hard-boiled-ish, gun fights and cool no-nonsense heroes.

Sharpe's Seige on the other hand is much like the Alexander Kent book I described earlier. Rather linear, manly. Cornwell is one of the best writers of historical fiction out there, writing of the exploits of Major Richard Sharpe in the Napoleonic Wars. As Kent and others write of the British Navy, Cornwell writes of the British Army. Infantry in fact. While the majority of British Infantry was armed with the venerable 'Brown Bess', .75 caliber, smooth bore musket, Sharpe is a rifleman armed with the 'Baker Rifle', a .625 caliber rifle. (Note: a rifle is a long arm where there is 'rifling' or spiral grooves inside the barrel that cause the bullet to spin- makes them more accurate at greater ranges, but also takes longer to load).

The average sailor in the 19th century British Navy probably wasn't the most reputable person, but the Infantry soldier was down-right disreputable. Sharpe is an officer that was raised up from the ranks (prior enlisted). So he comes across as a bit of a hard-case. I like spending time with him.

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