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In 1929, Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), a journalist and war correspondent who was on the books of MI6, turned his hand to writing adventure stories for children. The result was Swallows and Amazons and eleven more wonderful books followed, spanning inpublication the turbulent years from 1930 to 1947. They changed the course of children's literature and have never been out of print since. In them, Ransome creates a world of escape so close to reality that it is utterly believable, a world in which things always turn out right in the end. Yet Swallows, Amazons and Coots shows that, to be properly appreciated today, the novels must be read as products of their era, inextricably bound up with Ransome's life and times as he bore witness to the end of Empire and the dark days of the Second World War. In the first critical book devoted wholly to the series, Julian Lovelock explores each novel in turn, offering an erudite assessment of Ransome's creative process and narrative technique, and highlighting his contradictory politics, his defence of rural England, and his reflections on colonialism and the place of women in society. Thus Lovelock demonstrates convincingly that, despite first appearances, the novels challenge as much as reinforce the pervading attitudes of their time.Written with a lightness of touch and enlivened by Ransome's own illustrations, Swallows, Amazons and Coots is both fresh and nostalgic. It will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed the world of Swallows and Amazons, and there is plenty here to challenge both the student and the Ransome enthusiast.