The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard

ISBN: 1426448244
ISBN 13: 9781426448249
By: Arthur Conan Doyle

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Reader's Thoughts

Jem Wilton

childhood favourite

Terry

What do you get if you take Flashman, remove the streak of yellow from his back and make at least some of the adventures ones entered into knowingly by the participant? Why, you get Brigadier Etienne Gerard, of course! Gerard is a creation of Arthur Conan Doyle, sadly languishing in the shadows with all of his other characters not called "Sherlock Holmes". He is a dashing hussar in Napoleon's Grande Armée who, in his old age, is recalling to the reader the adventures of his youth. The comparison to Flashman is an instructive one, especially in that while Flashman is committed to strictly telling the truth he ultimately becomes more and more a bounder and cad in our eyes, while Gerard (well I certainly won’t call him a liar, but let’s just say he has a spotty memory at best and isn’t the most observant fellow) is a somewhat less than objective reporter, and yet each tale shows him to be a goodhearted man of high ideals.These are tales filled with derring-do, close escapes and not a few romantic entanglements...I think I see where George MacDonald Fraser got at least part of his inspiration from. Gerard is a very likeable character and narrator for all that he is so full of himself that it's a wonder the hot air doesn't make him float away. His voice is urbane and charming and all of his adventures are rousing good tales. At the beginning of each adventure one almost sees the sunlit café table at which we sit and can almost taste the cognac in our coffee as we listen to the Brigadier reminisce. He really is a charming old campaigner, though not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Still, for loyalty and sheer bravado one could do worse than having a Brigadier Gerard in one’s army, for while he “has the thickest head he has also the stoutest heart” of all of Napoleon’s men.I was actually a bit surprised at the very real violence and horror of war hinted at occasionally in these stories. Despite being adventure stories of the Victorian era they don't necessarily shy away from some of the less palatable aspects of their subject matter, even if Gerard tells of them with a very wry nonchalance. I was, for example, a bit surprised by the horrific death of one of Gerard's soldiers, buried alive, as related to him by a bandit chieftain, or the recounting by Gerard of a military tribunal of French POWs who punish a traitor in their midst such that "In the morning, when [the English] came for their man with papers for his release, there was not as much of him left as you could put upon your thumb-nail."When I started this book in tandem with Doyle’s _The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes_ I was asked which I liked better. I had immediately given the nod to Sherlock Holmes, if only for his iconic and fascinating character, but now I’m not so sure. Holmes is great, but Gerard is very charming indeed and there is not a dud amongst his tales. Doyle has really impressed me with his range in these two creations alone and I look forward to the further adventures of both characters, not to mention a look at some of Doyle’s other fiction. I highly recommend the Gerard stories to anyone interested in historical fiction and adventure, especially when it is tinged with good humour.Also posted at Shelf Inflicted

Russell Phillips

I really enjoyed the Brigadier Gerard stories. The brigadier has a vastly inflated ego, but is still a character that the reader can empaphise with. The stories are ridiculous, but good fun.

Mike Marlow

A very nice adventure story, which is Doyle's strength in my opinion. I'm still not sure if it's the military that he's mocking or if it's the French; Gerard's attitude is just a little too much to not be satirical. But still a fun read overall.

Jim

I'm a huge fan of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but I almost wish he would have written some more stories of Brigadier Gerard. What a memorable character.

Russell

One of those books you've heard of but assume you'll never read. Well, try it. An amusing and inventive set of tales of derring-do told by a Frenchman who adores Napoleon. (Doyle liked to confound his readers' expectations by giving them unlikely heroes.)

Bernard

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to be known as more than just the creator of Sherlock Holmes & it's a shame that his historical fiction doesn't get more attention. His Brigadier Gerard is a cavalry officer in Napoleon's army, not very bright and inclined to pomposity in old age, he does possess physical courage and more than his share of good luck. Told by the Brigadier in his retirement, these war stories are as enjoyable for the voice of the narrator as they are for the exploits therein.A light and engaging read.

David Hartman

It can be a little wordy in some sections, but that's because it is sort of a documentary of the times. I found it curiously revealing regarding the mind set of this time in history...peoples' attitudes toward government specifically.I got this audio book free at Librivox.comA great way to pass the time, when you drive for work, as I do!

Diana Duncan

These are the fictional memoirs of a brigadier in Emperor Napoleon's service. The narrator is somewhat boastful about his misadventures, which are quite amusing. I was surprised how entertaining this book was. A quick, light read.

Bernardo Arcos

Pretty entertaining and easy- reading, full of the Conan Doyle's good humour.

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