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"A good book for the military professional. An excellent thriller for teenaged boys. An interesting sidelight for the Hornblower fan. "
Gregory Paul Adkins
"Bernard Cornwell cited this book as his inspiration for the Sharpe's Rifles series dealing with Wellington's Peninsular Campaign. In this novel, Dodd is cut off from his unit while on picket duty. Ney's army advances toward the Tagus River, behind which Wellington is prepared to make his stand until the French die through battle or starvation. Dodd finds himself on the French side of the river and continues to wreak havoc on the starving soldiers. He's not a hero, he's just an elite warrior doing what comes naturally, and he does it well."
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This is a story of the Napoleonic war in Portugal in 1812. Rifleman Dodd is a British private cut off from his regiment who only seeks to return to his regiment, behind the French lines in a hostile and destroyed countryside. He avoids the French and hooks up with Portuguese irregulars, becoming their leader due to his rifle and military training. This is not a war as described by official historians. Forester reports the incidents without romantic excuses.
What makes him convincing is his quiet manner and his systematic understatement. This is another grand development of Forester's Man Alone theme; Dodd survives, doing his duty, and though he believes his efforts at pricking the starving French army caused them to retreat, he never speaks of his actions. He was just happy to find his regiment.
The novel is a study of one man's commitment to duty taking precedence over his own personal survival. It shows how one man with ability, courage, and initiative can make a difference to the outcome of a war. Rifleman Dodd is placed at the turning of the tide.