©2000 Alan Furst; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
I have listened to all of Furst's unabridged novels and wish there were more. All of his books are very well written, with none of idiotic, unrealistic dialogue that plagues most spy/mystery books.
If there is a better reader than George Guidall, I have not found him. One of many reasons to admire him is his ability to pronounce correctly French, Russian, Polish and other languages, instead of the Anglicized versions which are the usual and customary fare.
But most importantly, Furst affords the listener a clarifying view of one of the most shrouded and inhuman (we like to think anyway) eras in history. Europe from 1933 to 1945, described not via battles, generals or politicians, but by men and women doing what they could despite being terrified and alone. The characters are wonderful, the deviousness of the leaders horrific, and the dialogue some of the most clever, insightful, and at times funny, that I have ever read.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
There are certain historical truths that can only be teased out of the past with a fiction narrative build on the skeleton of the past. There are hidden truths that are exposed only with a story, with fiction, with literature. Alan Furst's war and pre-war espionage novels do that. His novels flesh out more about the people who fight, suffer and die in war than most straight academic histories can even hope to give to the reader.
You finish an Alan Furst novel tasting the blood and the smoke, body black with soot, blinded by the fiery lights, frozen by the cold, heart sick by all the death of war. Into this setting, Furst inserts little glimmers of caritas, humor, and love. He isn't prepared to make the entire world, even a world that is mewed in the machinery of war, devoid of humanity. There are flowers to smell, food to enjoy and even soft women to touch. It is sad but beautiful and that is sometimes just enough.
I love Alan First. But, pay close attention to the little things. As you listen there are times you want just to savour the language. For instance approx 4:30, there is a moment in the mind of a country dog as it passes a city dog and says " ...this little white fluffy thing that thinks he is a dog, the things you see when you travel...". The moment is sad , a family walking the escape the Germans and this little slice of whimsy. Furst's stories abound with these little moments that you may want to rewind. The novel is great besides, but savour the journey as well. These novels are very noir, but don't blink and miss the poetry. George Guidall gets it and will transport you in to the world of war time Europe in a way you will never forget. Enjoy.
This book is well written and well narrated. If you’ve read other Furst WWII spy novels, such as Night Soldiers, then you’ll find little well placed hints that tie the stories together. Also, the author has a bit of humor in his writing that brings a healthy smile. Highly recommended, and well enjoyed.
While telling the story of a Polish officer on assignment, the listener is treated to new insight on the struggles of a country torn apart by WWII. The historical aspect of the period makes this a thoughtful listen.
After listening to the three Furst books read by Daniel Gerrol which I really enjoyed, this was a disappointing experience. I did not enjoy Guidall's preformance.
I did not find either the story or characters as engaging as in the other Furst books I have listened to, however Guidall's preformance may have tainted my view of the book.
Guidall is apparently very popular and I find this hard to understand. There is little range in his voice and it lacks any vitality. After Gerrol, who is superb, Guidall's preformance seems dull and tiresome. He has a very grandfatherly voice.
If you like Guidall you will likely like this as well.
I will give Guidall another chance on another Furst novel, but if his preformance is as lack-luster as it is here I'll likely give up on the series. I do hope that Gerrol narrates future Furst books.
Not based upon this novel. While he tried to use the Polish officer as the tie-in to the many other vignettes, it just didnt work. Jumping to different characters without sufficient transitions was so distracting that I did the rare thing, for me, of not finishing the book. About half to 2/3rds of the way through I just gave up.
No, I have read many books of this genre; this particular book just turned me off of the author.
If you know anything of the politics of pre-WWII you can easily follow the thread of the story. While enjoyable it takes a while to immerse into the character. And the succeeding chapters jump around a bit. With easy references to other characters in previous books Furst continues his character development.
Furst tracks well with the intelligence system of pre-WWII and I thought this was going to be a more Polish military centric book. The Russian references are worthwhile but diverted me from the true threads of the book.
Maybe the evacuation of the gold from Poland.
Nope, probably the ending being unresolved.
I am skeptical of buying more in this series. None of the reviews are exactly, well, positive.
This book was a disappointment to me after Night Soldiers and Dark Star. The story, set in WWII is told in episodes, a series of stories that start and are cut off. No relationship endures; people appear and they disappear. The title, which presents the protagonist as a nameless functionary, reflects the sense of dislocation that this episodic structure creates. I suppose this is Furst's intention, to demonstrate for the reader the isolating effect of war, with constant upheaval and violence destroying every relationship and every harbor just as it materializes. I didn't really enjoy listening to it. But then, I do not think I would enjoy war, either.
Getting a real feel for the troubles of Eastern Europe during the early part of WWII. Not as familiar to Westerners as the occupation of France and the battle of Britain
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