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Publisher's Summary

Widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel, New York Times best-selling author Alan Furst takes listeners back to the early days of World War II for a dramatic novel of intrigue and suspense.

Bulgaria, 1934. The local fascists have just murdered the brother of Khristo Stoianev. Now Khristo is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret police, for special service in the Spanish civil war.

©1988 Alan Furst; (P)2002 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Furst shows a remarkable talent in his fifth novel, integrating details about the cultures of Spain, France and Eastern Europe with a fascinating story." (Publishers Weekly)
"Night Soldiers has everything the best thrillers offer, excitement, intrigue, romance, plus grown-up writing, characters that matter, and a crisp, carefully researched portrait of the period in which our own postwar world was shaped." (USA Today)
"Intelligent, ambitious, absorbing....The history is deftly incorporated; the viewpoint civilized; the characters and the settings picturesque; the adventures exciting; the writing pungent." (The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

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  • Overall
  • Mary Berry
  • Farmersville TX United States
  • 04-27-11

Best Alan Furst novel!

I've now read most of this series and I have to say this was without a doubt my favorite. Although it was lengthy, I didn't want it to end. Loved the history and the characters. I find myself pulling for Kristo and his BF comrades. I've listened to literally hundreds of audible books and this is the first time I've ever rated or reviewed. Thats how strongly I feel about this great piece of espionage literature. But, my main reason for submitting this is to heap praise--that's right - heap, on George Guidall. He's without a doubt the best narrator, especially for these works. Even his women characters sound believable, something I thought impossible. Amazing. His mastery of the various languages and dialects he employs is spot on and I've heard many others who could not pull this off. He and Patrick Tull are the best narrators. IMHO.

38 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Theresa
  • osprey, FL, United States
  • 05-08-08

Chilling..Fantastic

Alan Furst creates such a sense of time and place with this novel of a world that has gone mad. The feel of civilization unraveling is quite unnerving, and as always George Guidall ( you either love the guy or hate him..) narrates with what I'd call a determined flair.
I enjoyed this as much as his other Novel, Dark Star, which is set in a similar time and place. The two Stories share the connection of the start of the Soviet Revolution, and although I did not live it- it feels very realistic.
One note: there is much death and violence- after all it is set right before and during World War 2. So, not exactly the "feel good" book of the month- My wife hated it- I loved it!

Jack

40 of 41 people found this review helpful

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  • Gene
  • Agoura Hills, CA, USA
  • 01-30-05

Authentic

This story of a Bulgarian spy seems remarkably authentic, portraying what feels like the real life of a man who served the Soviets before and during WWII. The most interesting portion takes place in Civil War-era Spain, and one learns a few tricks of the trade, such as how to find out the password to get thru a roadblock into a town (set up your own fake roadblock and wait till someone tells it to you) and what to do if you discover a beacon for incoming aircraft (don't extinguish it -- move it to where the incoming aircraft will be easy to shoot down). For those who enjoy grim spy realism that in some ways even surpasses Le Carre, this is worth a listen. If you want James Bond, skip this one.

46 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-07-12

Too complicated for an audio book.

Any additional comments?

The book is pretty slow, with lots of characters with similar names and lots of changes back and forth between scenes. I kept confusing different characters and scenes, to the point where I didn't care about any of the characters and just waited for the few action scenes to make things more interesting. It is very difficult to follow in an audio book, but I would guess it is a better read in print.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

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Extremely "Busy"

I am reader who loves detail. But there were just too many people and too many places. It was like a jigsaw puzzle with 1000 pieces. 6 chapters from the end I skipped to the last. It was a wonderful ending and I don't feel I missed anything. Favorite moment...when Sasha and Christo met at the church near the last portion of the book. I wonder if George Guidall could keep up with what he was reading!! 2nd thoughts about sequels....

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 05-29-13

A GREAT, sweeping spy epic

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 (Harlot'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.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Whole Book Builds to Climax That Never Comes

Night Soldiers seems to be well written in the style of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. The problem is that there are all of these disjointed vignettes and storylines that never seem to be fully connected and that never quite lead to the exciting page-turner it was seemingly building toward. The author repeatedly uses a technique where the outcome of a scene is left off and a later incident subtly reveals it. This gets old after it happens for the tenth time. I know this is an effective literary device if used appropriately, but it is WAY overdone.
I have listened to scores of good Audible books, but I cannot recommend this one.

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • Powell, OH, United States
  • 11-24-13

Great story that just never seems to come together

What disappointed you about Night Soldiers?

It seemed like a great story, but the author overly depends on partial explanations and relying on the reader to understand what is going on. If this was an occasional occurrence it would be ok, but we seem to jump constantly in and out of the story and never seem to understand what is happening. I end up having to back the book up constantly to try and understand what is happening. I still am not quite sure I do. Very laborious to listen to 6 Hours into the book and I have given up.

If you’ve listened to books by Alan Furst before, how does this one compare?

I have never heard his books before.

Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

Christo

What character would you cut from Night Soldiers?

I couldn't follow which character was which to tell you well enough anything about them.

Any additional comments?

The author did not do a good job of fully describing the story. Details were left out, and assumptions were made that left the reader wondering. Very dissapointed as I would have liked the story.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Don of Historical Espionage

This is an outstanding book read by an outstanding reader. Alan Furst is almost certainly the best espionage fiction writer in the post-cold war era. Though his closest comparison would be the John le Carre of the 1970s, don't look for tightly knit, organized plots. Furst writes episodically. But also beautifully.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dennis
  • Memphis, TN, USA
  • 07-25-05

Great book, but there are a number of inaccuracies

This is a very good listen as it provides a good insight into the inner workings of the operation of the Russian state security agency (NKVD) and intriguingly describes events of the the prewar and wartime Europe through the eyes of Soviet, British and American spies. The book does have several inaccuracies. One small example is the author's reference to the NKVD personnel driving Pobeda (or Victory) cars in prewar Moscow. That is not possible as the car was first built in 1946 in honor of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. I like Russian and WWII history and pay attention to details. Because of some of these inaccuracies I rated the book only 4 stars.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 08-02-16

Frustrating but engaging!

I bought this book because of the narrator: George Guidall, one of my favourite readers.
It has driven me mad. So many characters in different time frames, moving from the 1930s to 1945 but in no particular order and in what appeared to be dozens of unconnected events, with confusing names or " noms de guerre" added to the mix.
However, I applaud the quality of the writing.
Another reviewer mentioned the Spanish Civil War (featured in this novel) and I would warmly recommend "Winter in Madrid" by Sansom as an excellent read or listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Creeda
  • 10-13-14

Excellent

What did you like most about Night Soldiers?

Excellently paced - after a rather slow start. Certainly makes you understand what was going on in Spain during the Civil War - this had always been a bit of a mystery to me, between POUM, PUP, etc. (I had read the Malraux novel and never made head or tale of the divisions - also of course I didn't really care......)

Who was your favorite character and why?

Naturally - our hero Christo! A man with a soul still alive despite his many tribulations

What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

He articulates the characters so well you really feel you know them

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Certainly not laugh! Mainly rage at the sheer evil of the NKVD - first manifested when they removed the stray dog the students had sheltered (of course very minor misdeed by their standards, but indicative! - somewhat reminiscent of what happened in Catholic institutions, who patented the areas of spying and mind-control). The book also highlighted the hopelessness of the lives of people in Eastern Europe.

Any additional comments?

A very interesting book - like all Alan Furst's. The character of the American girl was very well drawn.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • christian
  • 05-22-14

Excellent, spellbinding historical thriller

If you could sum up Night Soldiers in three words, what would they be?

Avoiding Stalin's henchmen and fighting Hitler's goons

What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Guidall's voice resonates with human experience

Any additional comments?

I read this excellent novel when it came out twenty five years ago. Guidall's reading made it come alive, and made the author's strong, clear, moving prose shine. I strongly urge readers to give this book a try, it's miles above the usual "russian spy novel" fare. It's a work of art... and a damn good yarn too!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr M Goldberg
  • 09-22-17

Too long and story meandered

This was the third book that I have read / listened to by Furst. The previous stories were hugely gripping and enjoyable. This book left me very disappointed as it never really develops into anything more than one man's admittedly very long journey through the build up to, and actual second world war. There are several sections where I thought: "Ah finally we're going to get into the actual story", but then Cristo moves on to his next stage without really accomplishing anything significant. There were several points where I nearly stopped listening but made myself carry on in case something developed.

One of the positive aspects was the reader, George Guidall who is excellent. I've heard several books narrated by him and love his versatility and ability to adopt different accents.

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  • john
  • 08-02-16

a fascinating journey

For me, the story at first was interesting but not particularly exciting. However the narrator does so well that I didn't at any time feel I wanted to quit. Then, as the plots develop, the book, provides all the excitement and humour I was hoping for. As well, the storyline is deliciously unpredictable.

I particularly enjoyed the historical background being set from the eastern European viewpoint.

When I reached the end, I wanted more! This for me is a sure sign that I enjoyed it. If you enjoy espionage themed novels, you most likely will also.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Clive Byerley
  • 02-26-16

In a Class of its Own!

Would you consider the audio edition of Night Soldiers to be better than the print version?

This was my first encounter with Allan Furst's work, but I knew and trusted George Guidall to make the most of it. Was I in for a treat!

What did you like best about this story?

Furst's research is impeccable; not a false note or anachronism anywhere. Plotting is skillfull, surprising and totally involving.

What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I did not read or listen to Night Soldiers - I lived it! I binge-listened, gripped both by great writing and Guidall's masterly acting, for that is what he does. Guidall brings the characters to life in all their variety; women, girls, youths and mature men all find a voice in his superb narration.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Any additional comments?

If you are looking for a recreation of the thirties and the growing threat of Nazi tyranny, with men and women brave enough to melt your heart, then this is the book-and the series for you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 07-24-17

Great read

I found the early parts in the USSR a little slow, once we got to Spain the story livened up.