HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Polish Officer by Alan Furst
Loading...

The Polish Officer (original 1995; edition 2008)

by Alan Furst

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8151611,167 (3.89)72
Member:AHS-Wolfy
Title:The Polish Officer
Authors:Alan Furst
Info:Phoenix (2008), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Spy, Thriller, Night Soldiers, 14 in 14

Work details

The Polish Officer by Alan Furst (1995)

None

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 72 mentions

English (15)  Spanish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Synopsis | As the German army overruns Warsaw in September 1939, a Polish cartographer accepts an unexpected offer to serve an intelligence role rather than face defeat with his regular army unit. Alexander de Milja is resourceful and (he admits to himself) lucky so far in surviving various operations against the Nazi war machine: spiriting national gold reserves out of Poland 'to help keep alive the idea of a nation'; undermining Germany's plans for a Channel Invasion of Great Britain; assisting Ukrainian nationalists with a supply train demolition and a prison break. He moves from Warsaw to Paris, Calais to Barcelona, Brest-Litovsk to the Ukrainian backcountry. De Milja is left with the question of whether his efforts make a difference, whether he contributes anything lasting in support of his ideals, or rather, if his struggle and extemporizing in fact amount to nothing.

//

As he does throughout the Night Soldiers novels, Furst here implicitly addresses some perennial concerns of life in wartime, for soldier and civilian alike. De Milja regularly encounters other characters who mostly want only to survive, or who seemingly make a partisan decision at odds with the regular flow of their lives. Mostly, though, the questions have to do with how best to join the struggle. The Polish Officer emphasises the necessity for faith in organisation and coordination, recognising that one's own little contributions may not be the key but with the efforts of others, can help fund that crucial piece of the puzzle that wins a battle, which turns the war. Yet one also is aware always that at times organisation and coordination fall apart, and then ... one's efforts can be suicide, might only lead others to their deaths. Always weighing the one outcome against the other. In a word: discipline. This implicit need for coordination, and the concomitant faith that unseen others are doing their part and one's orders truly do help realise that joint aim, this uneasy alliance of necessity and belief is the sole justification for military discipline, and at the same time, a reminder of the moral hazard always living alongside.

Furst focuses not on the historical key battles and linchpins, but the smaller and moderate successes and efforts, and leaves implicit that these helped weave a patchwork. For we know the eventual outcome. He helps us see perhaps a little ways into how it was made, the efforts and sacrifices made to allow it to form, and a glimpse into the many, many dead ends or feints.

For the historians of WWII: De Milja's time in France, behind the lines, working however haphazardly to funnel intelligence to the British on German assets and operations, raises the intriguing question of whether, strategically, the early fall of France was to the long term detriment of the Nazis. That is: it put partisans aligned with the Allies behind front lines, and in a position to divine the German war strategy, and counter their plans. Was this a greater or lesser advantage than opposing Germany from France, if the Allies had rebuffed the German invasion? Same question could apply to any country, but something about French history, status as a nation, its location, and (maybe this is it) its size somehow suggest to me the question applies specially to France. Perhaps an ethical dilemma akin to that facing the Allies in deciding whether to use atomic weapons against civilians in Japan, or to conduct an invasion of military positions in the Pacific. I wonder whether the question of France's strategic contribution was ever addressed prospectively, and helped inform Chamberlain's appeasement, or whether France's sudden fall was never considered plausible by anyone but the Nazis. ( )
  elenchus | Oct 22, 2014 |
Before the war Alexander de Milja was a cartographer and the start of this book finds him as a Captain in the Polish army just as Warsaw is about to fall to the invading German army. He's given a choice of dying on the battlefield or continue to serve his country as a member of the intelligence service. In choosing the latter his first task is to secure a safe route out of the country for Poland's gold reserve so it can make its way to England for safe keeping. After working for a while in Warsaw de Milja is then sent to Paris as the replacement for the senior intelligence officer in France and the third part of the book ends with him working with guerrilla fighters in Ukraine.

The other books I've read from this author create a very believable atmosphere and although this time around the main protagonist is not quite as engaging as previous efforts I was still drawn in to the events of the novel as they unfolded. Furst's research is again telling and it's almost like the reader is unknowingly being given a history lesson as well as an enjoyable tale from WWII. The only other quibble I have with this book is the ending. It rather meanders to a close rather than offering up any meaningful resolution. A shame but it won't put me off picking up another from the series. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Aug 30, 2014 |
Written in the same style as the other Furst I've read (Night Soldiers), The Polish Officer follows a Pole in espionage across countries during the Second World War. It's an interesting read and Furst has an entertaining sharp wit. ( )
  Tilda.Tilds | Jul 23, 2014 |
Captain Alexander de Milja is recruited into the underground Polish resistance (ZWZ) in the opening days of the German invasion. Poland may be lost, for now, but he leads a brazen, knifes edge mission to move the entire Polish Gold Reserve, via disguised passenger train, to remedial safety in Romania. From here de Milja is shifted to where the Polish exiles need him most, in France, where a series of nom de plumes and assignments await. He desperately improvises a way to light up German-held Calais to guide a squadron of RAF torpedo bombers. He also suffers setbacks, close calls and the loss of several operatives and informants, whose demises are smartly revealed to the reader by abandoned, padlocked candy shops, or spilt perfume in a ransacked hideout. De Milja is secreted back east to sabotage troop trains, and for a final, cleverly planned prison break behind German lines on the Polish-Ukrainian frontier. Exhilarating, but Furst takes time in between fireworks to give depth to characters and a sense of the (I think) reality of espionage - the waiting, the missed chances, the being stuck between multiple enemies. I've read three of his books now. Not a genre fan, but author's knowledgeable rendering impresses. ( )
1 vote JamesMScott | Jul 14, 2014 |
The period between the wars, especially the later period (we're of course talking Europe here) in the run-up to World War II especially in Eastern Europe, fascinates me. This is where Alan Furst's excellent novels are set. According to the introduction information, he has travelled and lived for many years in France and eastern Europe, though reading his books, you'd find it hard not to believe he wasn't transported in a time-machine, directly to today from Europe of the late 1930s.

The Polish Officer is part espionage novel and part fascinating look at ordinary people being forced to understand extra-ordinary situations. Situations made all the more extra-ordinary as their optimistic, post-World War I world is torn apart by forces beyond their understanding and, more importantly, beyond their control. It is surely a fictional companion piece to Max Hastings' 'All Hell Let Loose.'

I found this an absolutely absorbing novel. By far the most satisfying Alan Furst novel I've read so far. It is set in Eastern Europe, in Poland, at the outbreak of World War II. The main character is drafted into Polish Intelligence, while the war causes the world around him to collapse. He and his colleagues try to re-establish their places in the new world and determine how the future of their country might look. Being Polish, they of course know that however things turn out, it's probably going to be largely out of their hands and that other, bigger and more powerful, powers will determine what happens to the Poles and so their job is to try and make the best of it, while also trying to make sense of it all.

He is sent undercover through Poland, to France, to Spain, to England and back to Poland where the Nazis are now on their way into Russia and the world is turning upside down once again. As i said earlier, I think the book is about people trying to make the best of situations that are largely out of their control. They are trying to remain in control of their lives, while realising that it probably isn't possible.

This is a thrilling, tense, satisfying book. There are many absorbing vignettes, many interesting characters, many thought-provoking episodes, all linked by the Polish officer of the book's title, who is, as he says at one point; "...a wanderer, somehow never home." ( )
1 vote Speesh | Mar 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Furstprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schiff, RobbinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
In Poland, on the night of 11 September 1939, Wehrmacht scout and commando units - elements of Kuechler's Third Army Corps - moved silently around the defenses of Novy Dvor, crossed the Vistula over the partly demolished Jablonks Bridge, and attempted to capture the Warsaw Telephone Exchange at the northern edge of the city.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375758275, Paperback)

September 1939. As Warsaw falls to Hitler’s Wehrmacht, Captain Alexander de Milja is recruited by the intelligence service of the Polish underground. His mission: to transport the national gold reserve to safety, hidden on a refugee train to Bucharest. Then, in the back alleys and black-market bistros of Paris, in the tenements of Warsaw, with partizan guerrillas in the frozen forests of the Ukraine, and at Calais Harbor during an attack by British bombers, de Milja fights in the war of the shadows in a world without rules, a world of danger, treachery, and betrayal.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In September 1939, as German forces ravage Poland, Captain Alexander de Milja, a Polish intelligence officer with the resistance underground, risks his life in the treacherous world of global espionage to help his country.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Alan Furst is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
15 avail.
30 wanted
4 pay3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.89)
0.5 1
1 3
1.5 1
2 3
2.5 2
3 33
3.5 18
4 79
4.5 8
5 42

Audible.com

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

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,039,944 books! | Top bar: Always visible