The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview
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PREFACE TO THE PRESENT EDITION

In appealing to the wider circle of readers which this Edition may be expected to command, I venture to express the hope that nobody will read into this story of adventure any intention of provoking feelings of hostility to Germany, with whom, happily, far friendlier relations have recently been established. I think, indeed, that the disclaimer is scarcely necessary, and that any fair-minded reader will recognize that the strategical problem with which the book deals is treated practically, and not sentimentally. It is true that the fundamental purpose is to stimulate interest in a matter of vital national importance to Great Britain; but the naval progress and naval aspirations of Germany-- perhaps the most interesting phenomena in the evolution of modern Europe--receive sincere and unstinted admiration. The high problems of national defence may be studied without a particle of racial animus. They are so studied, as a matter of mere routine, by the experts; they should be so studied, to the best of his ability, by every thoughtful citizen. That is the only way of exterminating the scaremonger, who trades on public ignorance. It is the only way of creating a community sanely conscious of its own powers, limitations, and duties,

Cleansed of servile panic, slow to hate or despise, Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice.

I have left the explanatory 'Epilogue' just as I wrote it several years ago, but I cannot omit a reference to the wholesome and vigorous revolution in Admiralty policy which has been carried into effect since that time. It is no longer true that we have 'no North Sea Fleet and no North Sea Policy'. Yet I venture to think that there are many poi nts in which this book may still be instructive.

-2-

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