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The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
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The Thirty-Nine Steps (original 1915; edition 2007)

by John Buchan

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Member:HydrogenGuy
Title:The Thirty-Nine Steps
Authors:John Buchan
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (UK) (2007), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, espionage, Canadiana, great cover

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The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (Author) (1915)

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English (124)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
It's May 1914 in London, England. Scottish expatriate Richard Hannay has a troublesome visitor. That's the first thing I would say about The Thirty Nine Steps. An American stranger has come to him with a wild tale of espionage and knowledge of a planned assassination. Because he was in the know, according to this stranger, Mr. Scudder, he had to fake his own death. He has come to Hannay to hide himself and his little coded book of secrets. However, imagine Hannay's surprise when that same man is found with a knife so thoroughly through the heart it skewered him to the floor! Needless to say, Hannay is now on the run...with the cipher of secrets. With Mr. Scudder dead on his floor, surely he will be the number one suspect. The rest of the short book is Hannay's attempts to hide out in Scotland, a place he hasn't seen since he was six years old, thirty one years ago. The key to the whole mystery is a reference to "39 steps" in Scudder's little book. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Feb 8, 2016 |
John Buchan knew how to write a rollicking adventure - Christopher Hitchens described him as the bridge between Kipling and Fleming. Perhaps because of the political situation (the novel was first published in 1915, and is set in May and June 1914), spy thrillers were hugely popular at the time - Arthur Conan Doyle's "His Last Bow" is much more a spy story than it is a detective one, as were some of Agatha Christie's earlier books (The Secret Adversary, The Man in the Brown Suit) - but it's the pace and charm of Buchan's that leaves his as the icon of the genre.

Hitchcock made his own version of The Thirty-Nine Steps in the 1930s, of course, but you can see how it informed so much more of his work: the (extremely capable) Everyman dragged into a plot with international ramifications, put on the run across picturesque landscapes, relying on luck, skill and a large amount of authorial intervention. It's a terrific formula, giving someone almost exactly like the reader a reason to be chased by biplanes and blown up - it's informed just about any male-orientated YA novel you've read.

I can ignore the plot holes and contrivances; it gives me a warm feeling to read a story that's informed so many others I've loved. ( )
  m_k_m | Feb 1, 2016 |
I thought John Buchan's "The Thirty-Nine Steps" was just okay. Written as an early thriller, it features adventurer Richard Hannay, who gets embroiled in espionage and must escape the clutches of both the local police and some more sinister characters who are following him about.

The book was pretty fun initially, and I thought the framing of the story was really interesting. After Hannay's gazillionth escape from the people chasing him, it got a bit tired. It's odd to say that a 115-page book felt too long, but it did. This might have worked better as a short story.

The story ties up neatly in the end and made for a decent and fast read. It didn't, however, inspire me to read the remaining four books featuring Hannay. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 30, 2016 |
The time is 1914; the setting England and Scotland. Richard Hannay is back in London after making his money in South Africa, but he finds the city life rather boring. He has made up his mind to seek adventure elsewhere when a man from his apartment building asks for his help – there are men waiting to kill him and he needs a place to hide for a few days. Thus begins an adventure that involves German spies, international intrigue, unknown moles, a couple of murders, train rides, car chases, narrow escapes and a great deal of good luck. Hannay is charming, intelligent and resourceful, and the reader is in for a great ride.

This is a classic espionage novel. If you’ve seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same title – forget it (other than the name of the leading man and the basic German spy plot it has NO resemblance to the book). The Masterpiece Theater presentation (a BBC film) is closer to the book, but still markedly different. There is NO love interest in Buchan’s book at all. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 29, 2016 |
The classic later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock, this book is an adventure/romance whose hero/narrator exposes a spy ring and saves Britain from an invasion. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Buchan, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harvie, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hynynen, AnssiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praetzellis, AdrianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorn, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Thomas Arthur Nelson
(Lothian and Border Horse)

My Dear Tommy,
You and I have long cherished an affection for that elementary type of tale which Americans call the 'dime novel' and which we know as the 'shocker' - the romance where the incidents defy the possibilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible. During an illness last winter I exhausted my store of those aids to cheerfulness, and was driven to write one for myself. This little volume is the result, and I should like to put your name on it in memory of our long friendship, in the days when the wildest fictions are so much less improbable than the facts.
J.B.
First words
Introduction
Richard Hannay is not, on the face of it, the most exciting of adventurers, yet more than any other hero he has come to embody the man of action pitted against the forces of misrule.
I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life.
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This is the original novel, there exist a number of adapted and abridged versions for english learners that should NOT be combined into it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441178, Paperback)

A gripping tale of adventure that has enthralled readers since it was first published, John Buchan's "The Thirty-Nine Steps" is edited with an introduction and notes by Sir John Keegan in "Penguin Classics". Adventurer Richard Hannay has just returned from South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his London life - until a spy is murdered in his flat, just days after having warned Hannay of an assassination plot that could plunge Britain into a war with Germany. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay picks up the trail left by the assassins, fleeing to Scotland, where he must use all his wits to stay one step ahead of the game - and warn the government before it is too late. One of the most popular adventure stories ever written, "The Thirty-Nine Steps" established John Buchan as the original thriller writer and inspired many other novelists and filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock. In his introduction to this edition, historian Sir John Keegan compares Buchan's life - his experiences in South Africa, his love of Scotland and his moral integrity - with his fictional hero. This edition also includes notes, a chronology and further reading. John Buchan (1875-1940) was born in Perth, and first began writing at Oxford University, producing two volumes of essays, four novels and two collections of stories and poems before the age of twenty-five. During the First World War he worked both as a journalist and at Britain's War Propaganda Bureau, eventually becoming Director of Information. He published his most popular novel, "The Thirty-Nine Steps", in 1915 - and it has never since been out of print. If you enjoyed "The Thirty-Nine Steps", you might like G.K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday", also available in "Penguin Classics". "Richard Hannay is...a modern knight-errant". ("Observer"). "Once you've started, you can't put the book down". (Stella Rimington).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:01 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Richard Hannay, a mining engineer, 'retires' at the age of 37, having made his fortune in Africa. He finds London dull, until he becomes caught up in a sensational plot to precipitate a pan-European war. Hannay is at first disinclined to believe the young American, with his incredible tales of international intrigue, and hints of a terrible secret. But when the American turns up dead in Hannay's flat, Hannay is forced to flee the attentions of both the conspirators and the law. Hannay is hunted across the Scottish moors by police and spy-ring alike, and must outwit his intelligent and pitiless enemy in the corridors of Whitehall and, finally, at the site of the mysterious thirty-nine steps.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Audible.com

14 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182857, 0141441178, 0141031263, 0141194723

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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