The story was written in 1915, and World War I, known as The Great War, was already in progress. As the story opens, Tom is explaining his newest invention to his friend, Ned Newton. Just as Tom is in the middle of explaining the problems he is having, a fire erupts in one of the sheds, where explosives are stored. After the fire has been put out, careful investigation shows that the fire was set deliberately. In preparation for presenting his new airship to the United States Government, Tom has invited a Lieutenant Marbury, from the Navy, to review his ship. Marbury informs Tom of a possible plot against Tom and his inventions, past and present. Tom scoffs at the idea, but soon finds out otherwise, as his new airship is hijacked by foreign spies with an unknown agenda.
Worth a 21st Century REading
"Victor Appleton" wasn't much of a writer -- but his Tom Swift books are a fascinating glimpse of the American mind set just before World War I. The racial attitudes here are embarrassing, but the faith in technology mirrors our own age. And in 1915, Tom Swift knew enough to not use flammable gas in his Aerial Warship -- perhaps the designers of the Hindenburg should have read this....