One of the first great spy novels, "The Riddle of the Sands" is set during the long suspicious years leading up to the First World War. The story builds in excitement as two young men on a sailing holiday discover a German plot to invade England.
This book, published in 1903, was hugely popular and influential in the years prior to WWI. Winston Churchill later said that it directly influenced the Admiralty to build a number of major British naval bases. The book remains worth reading, both as an excellent spy story and also as one of the all-time great sailing novels, for its wonderful depiction of early 20th century small boat sailing, in the days when the two most important things to take along on a cruise were a compass, and a pound of your favourite pipe tobacco.
Unfortunately the author, Erskine Childers, came to a sticky end. He was heavily involved in Irish nationalism and was executed by firing squad in Dublin by the government of the Irish Free State in 1922, regarded as a traitor by all sides in the (then ongoing) Irish civil war.
I've added the maps and charts of the original book to the PG text, which (I think) makes the book tremendously better.
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