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The Far Side of the World
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About the Author

Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherriere's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

Reviews

O'Brian's tenth book in the Aubrey/ Maturin series (e.g., The Surgeon's Mate, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/1/94) finds Jack sadly contemplating the impending retirement of his favorite ship, Surprise, now outdated by the heavier oceangoing fighters perfected during the War of 1812. But the "dear Surprise" is saved from her fate by the need to send British shipping to "the far side of the world"-the Great South Sea-to protect English whalers from the U.S.S. Chesapeake. At the same time, Jack's friend and ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin, is slated to perform more of the intelligence work that has caused confusion among the French since the start of the war. In one of the most suspenseful episodes of the entire series, Stephen falls overboard at night, and when Jack leaps in to rescue him, the Surprise sails placidly away, leaving the two treading water in the shark-infested tropical waters-a situation for which the listener can see no possible solution. O'Brian's ability to create suspense and provide clever and plausible outcomes to this and other predicaments is a hallmark of the series. Well narrated by Patrick Tull, the complete series is highly recommended for public libraries.-Sharon Cumberland, Seattle Univ.

"I haven't read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O'Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn't stop." -- E. O. Wilson - Boston Globe
"A world of enchanting fictional surfaces." -- John Bayley - New York Review of Books
"These eccentric, improbably novels seem to have been written by Patrick O'Brian to please himself in the first instance, and thereafter to please those readers who may share his delight in precision of language, odd lands and colors, a humane respect for such old-fashioned sentiments as friendship and honor. Like Aubrey and Maturin playing Mozart duets beneath a Pacific moon, he works elegant variations on the tradition of the seafaring adventure story." -- Thomas Flanagan - New York Times Book Review

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