Anyone who has read P.G. Wodehouse, or watched any of the copious film and television adaptions of his works, knows that the British wit is not just hilarious—he’s delightfully frivolous.
Though his stories and novels do represent some of the best humor writing of a certain era, it’s a stretch to say that they aspire to literary aims such as critiquing society or forwarding any sort of political agenda. For the most part, Wodehouse wrote with one overarching goal in mind—to give his readers a good laugh.
You can imagine how much it dismayed me, then, to learn that for a time Wodehouse’s reputation was tainted by a very serious allegation. This master of upper-class English mirth was actually accused of turning traitor by collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.
When I picked up A Coffin for Dimitrios, I was expecting a light alternative to the nonfiction I had been plodding through.
Having seen the 1940s movie version, and being a fan of between-the-wars detective thrillers, I was all set for author Eric Ambler to sate my palate with an easily consumed tale of trench-coated protagonists tracking down international rogues and bringing them to justice.
In the campaign to ratify the U.S. Constitution, one argument advanced by proponents of the document is that it would create a stronger federal government better equipped to defend the nascent republic from foreign belligerents.
The prescience of this thesis is borne out in Ian W. Toll’s book, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Foundation of the U.S. Navy.