C S Forester: Death to the French

This 1932 novel tells the story of Rifleman Matthew Dodd of the 95th Regiment of Foot after he is cut off from his regiment during the retreat to the Lines of Torres Vedras during the Peninsular War. He survives for several months behind enemy lines where – with help from a number of local Portuguese peasants and villagers – he wages guerrilla warfare against the French. After frustrating French attempts to cross the River Tagus, during which the components of a pontoon bridge that is about to be built are destroyed, Dodd manages to rejoin his Regiment.


14 Comments on “C S Forester: Death to the French”

  1. A corking book!

    We actually did 'Brown on Resolution' as a set book at school. Those were the days 🙂

  2. Schogun says:

    FYI – You may also see this book simply titled “Rifleman Dodd.”

  3. Brilliant read. I came across this after a few Hornblower novels. As well written as all his other works.

  4. A great story. I suppose the Sharpe novels have rather “queered the pitch” for TV dramatisations of the period but I always thought that it would have made a great film or TV series.

  5. Kaptain Kobold,

    We did THE SHIP as a set book for O Level English. As you write, those were the days!

    All the best,


  6. Schogun,

    I think that the book was marketed as RIFLEMAN DODD outside the UK.

    All the best,


  7. Phil Broeders,

    I hope my future reviews will encourage you to read some of the other books on my list.

    All the best,


  8. David Bradley,

    I think the DEATH TO THE FRENCH could be made into a film or TV series without too much difficulty. After all, Forester was a film writer … and I think that most of his books have a filmic quality about them.

    Compared to SHARPE, Dodd is a much more believable character because he is an ordinary well-trained soldier who does heroic things.

    All the best,


  9. Coming to this late, yes great books. I had forgotten that he wtote African Queen, time to re-read it.

    I've never read The General I must rectify thst.

    it is a shame when authors become do well known for one series that the rest are forgotten. I have a 2 volume collection of AC Doyle's historical novels. Good reading.

  10. Ross Mac,

    It sounds to me as if it is about time you re-read THE AFRICAN QUEEN and tried THE GENERAL.

    I agree about the problem some authors have being only well-known for a certain series of books or a particular character. Conan Doyle is an excellent example, as is John Buchan.

    All the best,


  11. I've never really got on with Doyle as a writer of novels*. He shines as a writer of short stories though. Poe pioneered the form, but Doyle refined it to create stories with depth but that were a pleasure to read rather than a chore.

    Doyle also wrote a history of WW1 in France, which I've not read (nor, to be honest, am I likely to) and a rather smaller history of the Boer War which is really rather good (once you compensate for the bias).

    *And I include the four Holmes novels in that; I much prefer the short stories, despite The Hound containing one of literature's best cliffhanger ending lines at the end of Chapter 2 🙂

  12. Mike Taber says:

    You have done it again! I'll have to pulldown my copy and read it again – it has been too long since my last read anyhow.

    Not only that, I just pulled out my box of Scruby 45mm, 'Death to the French' inspired figures (some of Jack's best figures in my opinion). Looks like there will be some skirmish action between Lance Corporal Dodd & Sergeant La Duc in the very near future…

  13. Kaptain Kobold,

    You are right about Conan Doyle's abilities as a writer of short stories, but I have also enjoyed his novels as well … although some of them have not 'aged' very well.

    All the best,


  14. Mike Taber,

    It sounds to me as if I have helped to revive a project that needed reviving! I hope that you enjoy using your old Scruby figures in the very near future.

    All the best,


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