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The original title of the novel is Death to the French. However the novel is also known as Rifleman Dodd, after the main character of the novel.
The novel relates the adventures of Matthew Dodd, a British rifleman of the 95th Regiment of Foot, who is cut off from his regiment when the Allied army retreats behind the lines of Torres Vedras. He is forced to survive for several months in territory that has been devastated by the Allies and occupied by the French. With some help from a few local Portuguese, Dodd wages guerrilla warfare against the French. Its picture of the hero's resolution and devotion to duty in dangerous circumstances caused it to be put on the official reading list endorsed by the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
This novel provides examples of:
- The Duke of Wellington: The British general.
- Instant Death Bullet: Averted and played straight. Some characters who have taken what should be horrifically fatal wound continue on. Others are done in one shot.
- La Résistance: Portuguese Guerillas. Dodd joins up with locals to assault the French while trapped behind enemy lines.
- Napoleon Bonaparte: The leader of the French forces.
- No One Left Behind: Averted leading to Dodd's seperation from his unit and subsequent adventures that result from him trying to rejoin them.
- Silver Bullet: The French soldiers whom Dodd is facing mold silver bullets. They believe Dodd is a supernatural entity and can be defeated only with the use of silver bulelts.
- Tactical Withdrawal: The British are withdrawing to the lines of Torres Vedras. This results in Dodd being accidentally left behind to fend for himself.
- Weapon of Choice: The Baker Rifle