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The Montevideo Brief

A Thomas Grey Novel

by J. H. Gelernter

The Montevideo Brief by J. H. Gelernter X
The Montevideo Brief by J. H. Gelernter
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  • Katherine P. (Post Mills, VT)
    Pirates, Spies. Exotic Locations and the Sea-Who Could Ask for Anything More?
    Loved this book especially since I read it while vacationing at the shore, where several days the weather was dirty--very atmospheric for the setting of the book. The sea, that is, not the Maine coast rather than the seas of the Southern Hemisphere. There is so much history in the book but couched in an engrossing story of seafaring men working on behalf of the Crown of England. A straightforward tale of international espionage turns into a tale of piracy, growth of a new nation, America and her navy, and the impressment of men into the British navy. There is name dropping--James Monroe is our Ambassador to the Court of St James. Napoleon is making dirty deals with Spain, supposedly neutral. Britain is trying to retain her rule of the seas. And all of the action revolves around Captain Thomas Grey, a marine in the Secret Service and his interaction with many men of various ranks and loyalties.
    The author tosses in so much of the history of the time--the Elgin Marbles of Greece, the relationship between Beethoven and Haydn, the writing of the Eroica Symphony and its premier performance, the piratic empire of Jean LaFitte, the development of Dept. of Discovery that employed Lewis and Clarke, the building of sea-faring vessels. Oh, and the rules governing the original form of tennis, court tennis, which are mind-boggling! Not to mention the finer points, no pun intended, of the art of dueling with sabers.

    There is so much interesting packed into this relatively small novel, that it is worthy of a second read to absorb it all. So much more than just a run of the mill tale of sea battles between sailing ships bearing huge, recoiling cannons, though there is a bit of that, too!

    I'm going to have to find the other two Thomas Grey novels--I hope they take place before his interesting wife, Paulette, has died.
  • Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)
    A Tall Ship Adventure
    The Montevideo Brief is a beautiful history of the days of pirates and privateers. It was a fun book to read as you followed Grey on his journey. Covering the United States, England, France and Spain and their involvement in intelligence gatherings, ship seizures and interactions on the high seas shapes outcome of today's world. The treasures of Spanish explorers being transported by ship caravan is the prize to establish country allegiances in peace and war. I would like to read more books by J.H. Gelernter.
  • Ora J. (Anacortes, WA)
    The Montevideo Brief
    To my delight, the author J.H. Gelernter opened The Montevideo Brief with a performance of Beethoven's Third Symphony. I find a seat, next to an Englishman, near the back of the Grand Festival Hall of the Palace Lobkowitz in Vienna. As the performance begins, I am guided phrase by phrase through the drama of each movement. For the next two-hundred pages I follow the Englishman, Thomas Grey, on his missions of secrecy protecting the British Empire from the advances of Spain. Off sailing the Atlantic from Britain to Brazil, with many exciting conflicts on and between shores, the adventure held me in its grip. Thanks to the author's great use of historical detail, I felt I had a taste of living in the early eighteen hundreds.
  • Catherine O. (Altavista, VA)
    Adventure with an Unstoppable Hero
    The Montevideo Brief is not my usual type of novel and I didn't really know what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised. The novel is very engaging and moves rapidly from adventure to adventure. I learned a lot about the rise of Napoleon and the efforts of other countries to thwart his plans. I wondered if joining this series at book #3 would make it difficult to follow characters, but just enough background was provided to make it understandable without bogging down the narrative. Thomas Grey is a very ingenious and compelling hero. I think that anyone who enjoys historical fiction would like this series.
  • Barb F. (Monmouth, OR)
    Montevideo Brief
    This is an historical spy novel by JH Gelernter occurring in 1804, just after the American Revolutionary War. Included in this swashbuckling series of adventures are interesting little tid bits of British culture, and European tradition of the time that I thought were especially interesting. Examples are descriptions of a Beethoven concert, and sword dueling to the death between gentlemen. These 1800s cultural practices were embedded into the main story in a very effective way. The main plot was fast paced and fun and seemed a bit like a treasure hunt at sea.

    This book is a whale of a tale. It is almost like Harry Potter for grown ups. Our hero "Mr. Grey" dashes from one super calamity to the next, whether it be a venomous snake that he takes on or the siege of a pirate's fortress, or even a full on battle at sea with cannons blazing. Of course he always comes out the other end unscathed.

    I appreciated the authors historical note at the beginning and end of the book. I would recommend this book especially to sailors and military personnel as there was extensive marine terms and language used - but that did not prevent me from enjoying the story. The plot was easy to follow even for the land lover. The ending clearly implies that there is another book coming in this series.
  • Julia E. (Atlanta, GA)
    Excellent historical spy novel
    The Montevideo Brief is the well-written, fast-paced third novel in J.H. Gelernter's series of historical spy novels featuring British international spy, Thomas Grey. Taking place in the first decades of the 19th century, the tale details Grey's adventures as he thwarts Britain's enemies both on land and sea. The influence of Patrick O'Brien's famed British navy series set in the same period, echoes strongly as Grey spends as much time at sea with His Majesty's fleet and he does on shore. O'Brien fans will especially love the book, while others will enjoy Gelernter's insight into European politics, society and culture in the early 1800's.
  • Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
    Historically Fascinating Spy Novel Set in Napoleonic Times
    In the Prologue, we learn of eight U.S. "marines" from the new U.S.A.'s tiny navy who successfully land on "the shores of Tripoli" and complete a daring raid from the U.S.S. "Constitution" led by Stephen "Decatur" to free the harbor of Barbary pirates!

    A few pages into Chapter One we are given a remarkably accurate, exquisite description of the first presentation of "Beethoven's Third Symphony", led by himself, in Vienna (our "spy" is there). I read it aloud to my classical-music-hound husband and then we played the entire symphony with the detailed description in our hands!
    And now we learn of the complicated plan to get intelligence to save Britain from a disastrous war with Spain whose neutrality in Napoleon's war on Britain is a cover for their attempt to gather a vast treasure to help them conquer Britain to split it with France!
    The story is hair-raising - and Thomas Grey, is the 007 of the 19th century!
    I am now hunting down the first two books of this series by J.H. Gelernter. This is a book that folks who love spy novels will relish.

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