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Mission to Paris by Alan Furst
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Mission to Paris (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Alan Furst

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6825714,002 (3.71)64
Member:danhammang
Title:Mission to Paris
Authors:Alan Furst
Info:New York : Random House, c2012
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:France, Paris

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Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (2012)

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I'm a huge Alan Furst fan and this is his first novel that disappointed me. The story line was OK for the most part, but the dialogue and the atmosphere created by his narrative didn't exactly ring true. The dialogue in particular bothered me, especially early on in the story. Very "mannered" sounding, which along with the narrative attempted to create a glamorous milieu for the lead character, a famous American actor of Viennese descent.

In his previous books, you (or at least I) could sort of close my eyes and imagine the scene and the action taking place. Not so much in this one. It was still a decent read, but not one to savor. If you're just starting to read Furst, please start elsewhere. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 21, 2016 |
Hollywood is in Paris as the Germans are marching in. The French Government is stumbling toward the Nazi Empire and Frederic Stahl -- an Austrian born American -- is starring in a movie. He has an affair with the costume designer, is bewildered by the French attitudes toward sex, and wants to save people from the Nazis as the Nazis are trying to convince Stahl to star in a German movie. A fast moving thriller set in Paris. Highly recommended. ( )
  minxcr1964 | Apr 2, 2016 |
Good read. Blew through the details of movie making and I would have liked to see more interaction w Stahl and the Germans. Also would have like more description of Constanta to Lisbon but he probably wanted to end the book. ( )
  JBreedlove | Dec 19, 2015 |
Once again Alan Furst has conjured up an absorbing novel set in pre-war Europe in 1938. This one features as its main character, Frederic Stahl, Austrian born, but now living in America. There, he has become a film star, who is then employed to make a film in Paris. He looks forward to being in a city where he had previously enjoyed living. But he soon realise that the atmosphere has changed and that there are influential French people who are manoeuvring to persuade the French to come to terms with Hitler’s Germany. He is drawn into opposition to this movement and gradually starts to work for American intelligence to gather information to show Germany’s real objectives. What follows is an enthralling journey as he tries to complete he film, stay alive as the Germans track him and to try to return to America,
  camharlow2 | Dec 14, 2015 |
As an off-and-on fan of spy novels and movies, I am both chagrined and pleased to have learned about Alan Furst a few days ago. Mission to Paris is not his latest novel, but I was attracted by the title and its reference to Paris.

The novel takes place in 1938 and 1939, when pre-World War II tension was at its peak. Hollywood movie star Fredric Stahl — through a series of intra-studio machinations involving trading the services of one star for another — ends up being assigned to do a movie in Paris for the European market. Fredric is an émigré to the United States from Vienna and, because he does not have the protection U.S. citizenship would have afforded him, he is targeted by the Nazi propaganda machine to entice him into contributing to pro-Nazi cultural causes. Fredric resists, and the Nazis do not take no for an answer, so a game of cat and mouse ensues as he finds himself more and more threatened by the course of events.

In addition to the intrigue that carries the story along, one receives several subtle lessons in WWII history that one is unlikely to have read about in the history books. Mission to Paris brought to the forefront the vulnerability in those years of émigrés to France from lands under Nazi influence or control. In the immediate lead-up to the war, Nazi agents operating in France sub rosa treated the émigrés almost as escaped criminals, and many of them, having no papers, were living in a constant state of fear of deportation or worse. The film Casablanca touches on this to some extent, but Furst manages to demonstrate how subtly the Nazis operated in this sphere even before the war had begun.

The Nazis were also behind a so-called peace movement that fostered improved relations between France and Germany but really had as its motive to bring France under German hegemony without the necessity of an invasion. They had recruited émigré aristocrats and businessmen to their cause, trying to take advantage of the level of fear of a war with Germany that gripped all of Europe at the time.

Mission to Paris weaves these issues into the action so you come away feeling doubly compensated for time invested in the book. Not only is it the fast-paced action that carries the reader along, but the book delivers an interesting historical perspective as well, and you come away with a better understanding of what it felt like to be in Paris at that crucial period.

Alan Furst's writing is unexpectedly graceful and even lyrical at times. Here is how the novel opens:

In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistibly seductive. The autumn of the year 1938 began in just such weather and on the terraces of the best cafés, in the famous restaurants, at the dinner parties one wished to attend, the conversation was, of necessity, lively and smart: fashion, cinema, love affaires, politics, and, yes, the possibility of war — that too had its moment.

I find it hard to resist such evocative writing and will definitely look forward to reading more of Furst's books in the near future. ( )
1 vote Poquette | Apr 23, 2015 |
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Epigraph
In the 1930s, the Nazi government of Germany, bitterly
resentful at having lost the 1914 war, determined to
destroy its traditional enemy, France. Force of arms lay
in the future, but a small bureau in the Reich Foreign
Ministry undertook operations to weaken French morale
and degrade France's will to defend herself. This strategy,
using ancient and well-proven methods, was know as
political warfare.
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In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistibly seductive.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From Amazon.com: It's the late summer of 1938, Europe is about to explode, and the Hollywood film star Fredric Stahl is on his way to Paris to make a movie for Paramount France. The Nazis know he’s coming -- a secret bureau within the Reich Foreign Ministry has for years been waging political warfare against France, using bribery, intimidation, and corrupt newspapers to weaken French morale and degrade France’s will to defend herself.

For their purposes, Fredric Stahl is a perfect agent of influence, and they attack him. What they don’t know is that Stahl, horrified by the Nazi war on Jews and intellectuals, has become part of an informal spy service being run out of the American embassy in Paris.

From Alan Furst, the bestselling author, often praised as the best spy novelist ever, comes a novel that’s truly hard to put down. Mission to Paris includes beautifully drawn scenes of romance and intimacy, and the novel is alive with extraordinary characters: the German Baroness von Reschke, a famous hostess deeply involved in Nazi clandestine operations; the assassins Herbert and Lothar; the Russian film actress and spy Olga Orlova; the Hungarian diplomat and spy, Count Janos Polanyi; along with the French cast of Stahl’s movie, German film producers, and the magnetic women in Stahl’s life, the socialite Kiki de Saint-Ange and the émigré Renate Steiner.

But always at the center of the novel is the city of Paris, the heart and soul of Europe -- its alleys and bistros, hotels grand and anonymous, and the Parisians, living every night as though it was their last.
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Autumn 1939. In Paris American motion picture producer Frederic Stahl is drawn into a clandestine world of foreign correspondents, exiled Spanish republicans, and spies of every sort. As a celebrity from neutral America -- who can travel across the continent freely -- Stahl could be very useful indeed.… (more)

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