Subjects Freshman Year Reading African American Studies African Studies American Studies Anthropology Art, Film, Music and Architecture Asian Studies Business and Economics Criminology Education Environmental Studies Foreign Language Instructional Materials Gender Studies History Irish Studies Jewish Studies Latin American & Caribbean Studies Law and Legal Studies Literature and Drama Literature in Spanish Media Issues, Journalism and Communication Middle East Studies Native American Studies Philosophy Political Science Psychology Reference Religion Russian and Eastern European Studies Science and Mathematics Sociology Study Aids

E-Newsletters: Click here to be notified of new titles in your field
Click here to request Desk/Exam copies
Freshman Year Reading
View Our Award Winners
Click here to view our Catalogs
The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the Sands

Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!

Order Exam Copy
E-Mail this Page Print this Page
Add This - The Riddle of the Sands

Written by Erskine ChildersAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Erskine Childers
Introduction by Milton BeardenAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Milton Bearden

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 336 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library
  • On Sale: December 10, 2002
  • Price: $10.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8129-6614-5 (0-8129-6614-7)
Also available as an eBook.


1. 1. Erskine Childers wrote this novel as a warning to England to look to their North Sea defenses (and it worked, inspiring a movement in England to improve military preparedness). How do you think this book’s unique inspiration informs its character?

2. 2. The novel features much technical and nautical detail (Childers drew on his own extensive expertise and travels in writing the book); does this aspect of the work draw you in as a reader? Do you feel that the work successfully balances this kind of detail against a broader narrative?

3. 3. Compare the characters of Carruthers and Davies; how are they alike and how do they differ; how would you describe their relationship? How does their evolving rapport play into the story this novel is telling?

4. 4. Discuss the villain Dollmann, and the villains of the story generally: do you find them powerful? Menacing? Convincing? Realistic? Do you think Childers was aiming for realism?

5. 5. It is often said that the genre of the British spy novel begins with this novel. Compare it to later espionage fiction: in what ways do you think it has made its influence felt?

6. 6. What, finally, is the riddle of the sands, and how do Carruthers and Davies solve it?

7. 7. Remarking on the cultural context of The Riddle of the Sands, critic Benny Green wrote that it “was perhaps the best of those Edwardian call-to-arms thrillers which acquired their tension from the British neurosis, real or imagined, regarding the possibility of some lesser breed without the law constituting a serious threat to their world dominance.” Do this kind of critical perspective on the novel and the story’s particular “tension” enhance your reading of it?