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The Book of Spies. An Anthology of Literary…

The Book of Spies. An Anthology of Literary Espionage (2003)

by Alan Furst (Editor)

Other authors: Eric Ambler (Contributor), Anthony Burgess (Contributor), Joseph Conrad (Contributor), Maxim Gorky (Contributor), Graham Greene (Contributor)6 more, John le Carré (Contributor), W. Somerset Maugham (Contributor), Charles McCarry (Contributor), Baroness Orczy (Contributor), John Steinbeck (Contributor), Rebecca West (Contributor)

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1505129,821 (3.69)8
These are not just stories of professional intelligence officers. We meet diplomats, political police, agents provocateurs, secret operatives, resistance fighters, and assassins -- players in the Great Game, or victims of the Cold War. The Book of spies brings us the aristocratic intrigues of The scarlet pimpernel, in which French émigrés duel with Robespierre's secret service; the savage political realities of the 1930s in Eric Ambler's classic A coffin for Dimitrios; the ordinary citizens (well, almost) of John le Carré's The Russia House, who are drawn into Cold War spy games; and the 1950s Vietnam of Graham Greene's The quiet American, with its portrait of American idealism and duplicity.… (more)



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Showing 5 of 5
When I was studying English for undergrad, I had to purchase an excessive number of copies of literature textbooks and anthologies. This was one of them, and I haven't used it since, but it cost a decent chunk of change so it's sticking around.
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
Furst picks them for you. Eleven (I think) chapters from books of espionage, intrigue, and downright murder. Furst explains, "There were two standards for selection: good writing--we are here in the literary end of the spectrum--and the pursuit of authenticity."

I used the book to browse and then went for the full Ambler and McCarry in the library--why did I not hear of McCarry before?

( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
"The Book of Spies" caught my attention because it is edited by Alan Furst, who also wrote the introduction. I have been reading Furst's excellent literary novels of espionage and I was curious to read works by other authors he recommends. Furst is often compared to Eric Ambler and Graham Greene, whom I've read. But what would Furst himself select? "A Coffin for Demetrios" is the first selection and there's one from "The Quiet American" by Graham Greene, but many of the other selections are unexpected and riveting. The only one I had read was the Ambler. I ran out and bought "The Quiet American," but I'm also going to read "Tremor of Intent" by Anthony Burgess, "Under Western Eyes" by Joseph Conrad, "Ashenden" by W. Somerset Maugham (probably the most intriguing selection in the entire anthology), and "The Tears of Autumn" by Charles McCarry. In his introduction Furst notes that the date of publication is important for each selection because they are essentially political novels, tied to and shaped by a particular place and time. I was struck by the variety among these selections and although I had my favorites, I was sorry when each ended. The anthology is not a substitute for the full-length novels, but rather provides an overview of the genre and serves a guide for further reading. ( )
  krbrancolini | Mar 24, 2011 |
Not hugely entertaining...
  Rucke | May 24, 2009 |
Furst is the acclaimed master of the historical spy novel. He sets most of his work in Europe during the early days of World War II. Here he assembles an anthology of excerpts of the literary espionage genre (a favorite of mine). You don't get to enjoy the complete unfolding of a spy novel here, but you can relish the film noir atmospheres and memorable characters created by many great writers, many of whom moved in the secret world themselves during their careers.
  BruceAir | Jul 25, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Furst, AlanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ambler, EricContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burgess, AnthonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conrad, JosephContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorky, MaximContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
le Carré, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maugham, W. SomersetContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCarry, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orczy, BaronessContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steinbeck, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, RebeccaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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  • Eric Ambler, from A Coffin for Dimitrios
  • Anthony Burgess, from Tremor of Intent
  • Joseph Conrad, from Under Western Eyes
  • Maxim Gorky, from The Spy
  • Graham Greene, from The Quiet American
  • John le Carré, from The Russia House
  • W. Somerset Maugham, from Ashenden
  • Charles McCarry, from The Tears of Autumn
  • Baroness Emmuska Orczy, from The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • John Steinbeck, from The Moon is Down
  • Rebecca West, from The Birds Fall Down
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