Conan Doyle originally published the humorous stories in this 1896 anthology in "Strand" magazine, where Sherlock Holmes had long comfortably dwelled. These are the first-person war stories of Etienne Gerard, a dandyish, opinionated, conceited, randy, dull-witted, and fearless officer in Napoleon's army. In the canon of satirical military figures Gerard stands (at attention, of course) squarely between Baron Munchausen and the Good Soldier Schweik. Militarism, English boorishness, and French arrogance get the worst from Conan Doyle here. Narrator Rupert Degas exhibits plenty of vigor but little comic finesse. He plays Gerard with a French accent and fully voices the other characters, playing the various accents convincingly while skimping on characterization.
With a horse between his thighs and a weapon in his grip, the dashing Brigadier Etienne Gerard, Colonel of the Hussars of Conflans, gallops through the Napoleonic campaigns on secret missions for his beloved Emperor and his country. He encounters danger and hair-breadth escapes but never loses his bravado, his eye for a pretty girl, his boastfulness or his enormous vanity.
Gerard is Conan Doyle’s most lovable character. At times hilarious, at times touching, these stories are amongst Conan Doyle’s most popular.
A gentler, comic, rendition of the Napoleonic Wars from the point of view of a man of those times. "Gerard is modeled on the real-life Baron Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin de Marbot, a noted French light cavalry officer during the Napoleonic Wars" (Wikipedia).
Rupert Degas does a good job of hinting at the hubris of Gerard, who is very loath to mention his qualities, unless given the chance. His accents, oral caricatures, are just right; women histrionic, heroes manly. Yet, he does so leaving dignity to them.
Writing of its time; simple, lite and enjoyable.
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