Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Charles Gidley, The Raging of the Sea.

I started reading this one while helping Lesley to do some house-sitting a few weeks back. The homeowners kindly loaned their copy to me, and I now need to return it. Next week, when I'm back in Ontario, I'll do that.

This book seemed quite promising at the beginning. It's the story of a naval career: an officer dies during World War II, and his son just barely born enters the Navy when he comes of age. The book offers an epic sweep, showing the modern navy from the early sixties through the late eighties, but it never quite delivers.

The story is that of Steven Jannaway, living a life that's defined by his career in the Royal Navy. His personal life, so bitterly personally disappointing to him seems at first eclipsed by his professional life, until that too gradually slips away from him.

The weak story lines aren't really enough to hold much of an interest for the reader, which explains why this book is out-of-print, I fear. The book is really more a meditation on why the Navy is not what it should be. It's about why and how the Navy is exploited for political purposes by the leaders of the country. Why the people with real ideas, who are willing to try new things and to learn from mistakes will never--the sort of people you want to innovate and to lead--are sidelined and ignored. Why the Navy promotes and is run by the safe, the unimaginative. Why the Falklands was profoundly wrong and wasted the lives of good sailors, as far as the main character is concerned.

This was a book that just barely held my interest enough after the first hundred pages. Not one I'd recommend that people look out for.