One of those GREAT, sweeping spy epics. Furst stands right with le Carré (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Littell (the Company), and Mailer (Harlo..Show More »t's Ghost) in his ability to capture the ambiguity, color, temperature and texture of prewar Europe as well as the people and claustrophobia of War.
I'm glad I decided to crack this spy nut. While there are segments here and there I didn't think were fantastic, on the whole, the entire novel was worth the time, effort, and credit. Spy fiction doesn't get much better than this. I read/listened to an earlier novel of his a few months ago (Mission to Paris) while traveling in E. Europe and almost ended my Furst journey before it began. I'm glad I went back to the beginning. Just based on this ONE novel, I'm about ready to commit to the next three or four Night Soldier novels.
I really enjoyed this book. It?s a story of espionage set in pre -WII Europe. Although its a work of fiction, the story is filled with accurate and d..Show More »etailed historical facts. In this sense, it reminded me of a good James Michner novel.
If I could have, I would have given the story a 4.5 star rating. There are a lot of details in it and it is NOT a book you can casually listen to. What makes it more challenging is the abundance of Polish, German, and Russian names and places? I had to listen to parts of the book a couple times to make sure I of my facts.
At times, the book may seem to lack direction, but things are tied together nicely near the end. The narrator is excellent and I?ll look for more by both the author and the narrator.
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, unrealist..Show More »ic 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.
While the story was interesting enough from a historical perspective, the pacing was so slow it bordered on boring. At the end, I'm not sure there wa..Show More »s a point at all. I'm trying another of Furst's books and it is also very slow-paced.
This latest Furst is another great, atmospheric story of Europe during World War II -- the ordinary and not-so-ordinary human beings who lived every d..Show More »ay through terrible times, doing what they thought they had to do just to survive but also to make the world better. Furst takes the reader back into a world we can only imagine now, and brings it completely to life. The grubby details of daily life under totalitarian regimes (in this case, Paris during the Occupation)are very real in Furst's telling, as is the nature of heroism -- ordinary people impelled, for their own reasons, to brave acts of resistance, sabotage, and espionage. George Guidall's reading heightens the atmosphere and brings the characters to life -- his dry, wry, world-weary tone is just perfect for Furst's works, and his adept characterizations help us visualize these people.
Rather than a connected story this is more a series of vignettes about Nicholas Morath, a part time Hungarian spy. The setting is Paris in the last ye..Show More »ar before the beginning of WWII.
The book tells of Nicholas Morath's various espionage missions - some very mundane like his trip to Amsterdam and others very exciting like his trip to see the Czech fortress emplacements. In between missions, we learn about Morath's misstress, a firendship with a bartender at the Balalaika bar etc.
There is the feeling of events spinning out of control as Hitler gobbles up more of Europe and a small coterie of Hungarian Aritocrats make futile efforts to spare their country from Hitler and the Arrow Cross boys.
This is a very atmospheric novel, like all of Alan Furst's book, but I did not find it quite as gripping as the more coherent books like Dark Star. Parts of the books, such as when Morath is imprisoned in Romania and the efforts made to release him, are thrilling in deed and hold the reader's attention. But the parts, especially dealing with Morath's personal life and mistresses, is not so interesting.
Neverthelss it is decent atmospheric book and it is not that long.But Furst has written better books which I would read ahead of this one. However, Furst is still the foremost writer about Europe on the eve of WWII. If you like that period and setting than Furst is a must read.
Alan Furst is wonderful at atmosphere but slim on plot development lately - this book is a return to his best, like The Polish Officer and Night Soldi..Show More »ers, which is still his best book in my opinion. Foreign Correspondent has strong characters, a likable hero and an interesting story line. Well worth the time.
Lt. Col. Mercier is a complex yet loveable man, who is highly intelligent and thrust into a benign role as handler prior to WWI in Warsaw. The plot w..Show More »hich draws him into an ever tightening circle of intrigue dovetails unexpectedly and omniously with the feel of a true story prior to the invasion of Poland during WWII. What is best about Alan Furst's books, especially this one is that you are immediately in Warsaw and Paris in Springtime, at that time at that moment, every detail, every nuance enriches the story.
I'm familiar with The Polish Officer and Dark Star and I was incredibly disappointed with this book. Admittedly, I am interested in spy/espionage/thri..Show More »llers with tension and suspense driving the characters. This book seemed mired in historical details piled upon details, most of which led nowhere, dramatically speaking, but more a statement by the author about his take on events past. A comparison, though perhaps not a perfect one, would be a very knowledgable history teacher telling a story set in the past in another locale, only to abandon storytelling frequently and elaborate on historical events at that time and place.
Perfunctory bits about the protagonist recalling women brushing up against him, musing about their name, sketching a past event with them, never had me engaged in relationships with them, therefore no sense of loss when things didn't work out, when they were left behind and lost.
Long sections attempting by the author to get into the heart of darkness of a man at odds with his environs and associates, felt like verbal angst from the author, not from character actions and resulting reactions. There were so many characters that in depth exploration was usually a stated opinion of the first person speaker, not displayed by characters Events were introduced in a way that built predictability of their outcome, drained suspense from one section to the next.
It was an effort to stay with this reading until the end, though the reader's character interpretations were captivating in tone at times. I'm not sure of the primary interest of readers who praise it but it's not a book I recommend for hounds of spy, thriller, espionage stories against international and historical backdrops..
This is my first introduction (other than by reputation) to Alan Furst, and while the novel was interesting and well-researched from a historical pers..Show More »pective it just wasn't a great spy thriller. Perhaps, I was hoping Mission to Paris would be grittier, but it seems like Furst was more interested in telling this pre-WWII spy novel in the tone and style of a Cary Grant/Gary Cooper movie script.
Stahl is a pawn in a political/spy/war game between big power; a lover of a lot of attractive and dangerous women; a reluctant hero, a smoldering spy. Yeesh. It wasn't THAT over-the-top, but it just wasn't what I expected. Predicable, and almost throw-away, but still enjoyable. Mission to Paris is a good vacation or beach read, just not a spectacular spy novel.
The narration was dynamic. David Gerroll, like Furst himself, pays attention to the details.