Best 1937 Adventures (5)

By: Joshua Glenn
May 9, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1937 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!

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C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower historical sea-going adventure The Happy Return (Beat to Quarters).

Horatio Hornblower, a junior Royal Navy captain on independent duty on a secret mission to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, attempts to aid Don Julian Alvarado, a local leader rebelling against Spanish rule. The year is 1808. Alas, Don Julian is a megalomaniac who claims to be a descendant of Moctezuma! Hornblower and his crew vanquish a more powerful Spanish ship, then rescue its officers from the murderous Don Julian. Then, learning that Spain and England have entered into an alliance against Napoleon, Hornblower must recapture the Spanish ship. Meanwhile, he meets Lady Barbara Wellesley, who fans of the Hornblower series will recognize as a long-term love interest. The action is thrilling, but where Forester excels is in depicting Hornblower’s self-doubt and questioning — his inner turmoil.

Fun fact: This is the first Hornblower book by publication date, though the sixth by internal chronology. Aficionados suggest that readers begin with this installment.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any 1937 adventures that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists. The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time. THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. The goal, eventually, is to publish a Top 10 Adventures list for every year of the 20th century.

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Adventure, Lit Lists

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