source for free and affordable eBooks


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of TOM SWIFT AND HIS GIANT CANNON by Victor Appleton


    Grosset & Dunlap, 1913

    Concerned about the defense of the Panama Canal, being built at the time of the writing of this novel, young inventor Tom Swift decides to invent a giant cannon--one so powerful no enemy would dare attempt to attack. He visits the US Army proving grounds in time to see a rival cannon explode--much to the disappointment of General Waller, its inventor. Waller resent's Tom's cockiness and, when sabotage hits Tom's efforts, he becomes a suspect. Also a suspect is a workman at the steel company where Tom's cannon is being cast. This workman, a German, seems intent on going where he isn't allowed.

    Despite attempts at sabotage, Tom eventually creates his cannon. During its testing, its vibrations hasten the destruction of a flood-damaged dam and Tom is forced to find a way to save a village threatened by floods. Finally, on site in Panama, Tom has to prove once again the power of his cannon--to a skeptical military who cannot believe a young inventor like Tom can really build a cannon capable of throwing a two-ton shell over thirty miles.

    Author Victor Appleton (see more reviews of novels by Appleton) continues his Tom Swift series with a book made interesting because it was written only shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Germany is described as friendly to the US, but the badguys in the story are Germans (on the outs with their own government). Being well-armed is thought to make violence less likely (didn't work in our history line), and a wonderful cannon essential for Panama's defense.

    Racial stereotypes abound in the Tom Swift series, with GIANT CANNON no exception. Both Eradicate and Koku call Tom 'Master,' and Eradicate refers to his cousin as a 'coon.' Both are figures of fun and simple-minded loyalty.

    I keep the Tom Swift series on my Palm because these are the kind of books that can be read for a few minutes, then set down and picked up a week or more later without having to start over. They also provide an interesting window into a world almost a century old--a world where so much of what we regard as ordinary was considered to be wonderful, impossible, or fantasy.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/19/07

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

    Check out the Alexa toolbar. It blocks pop-ups (you get to choose), it's free, and it tells you about what websites are popular and who owns them.