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Alan Furst

Author of Night Soldiers

26+ Works 15,198 Members 498 Reviews 87 Favorited

About the Author

Furst received a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1962 and an M.A. from Penn State in 1967. Before becoming a full-time novelist, Furst worked in advertising and wrote magazine articles, most notably for Esquire, and as a columnist for the International Herald Tribune His early novels (1976-1983) show more achieved limited success. However, the 1988 publication of Night Soldiers inspired by a 1984 trip to Eastern Europe on assignment for Esquire revitalized his career. It was the first of his highly original novels about espionage in Europe before and during the Second World War. Born in New York on February 20, 1941, he lived for long periods in France, especially Paris where he was awarded a Fulbright teaching fellowship. In 2011, the Tulsa Library Trust in Tulsa, Oklahoma selected Furst to receive its Helmerich Award, a literary prize given annually to honor a distinguished author's body of work He also made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 with his title The Mission to Paris and Midnight in Europe in 2014. Furst again made the New York Times Bestseller in 2016 with his novel a Hero of France. (Publisher Provided) Alan Furst is an American author of spy novels. He was born in New York City on February 20, 1941, and was raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Furst received a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1962 and an M.A. from Penn State in 1967. His novels are set just prior to and during the Second World War. Titles include: Night Soldiers, Kingdom of Shadows (which won the 2001 Hammett Prize), Blood of Victory, Spies of the Balkans and Mission to Paris. In 2011, the Tulsa Library Trust in Tulsa, Oklahoma, selected Furst to receive its Helmerich Award, a literary prize given annually to honor a distinguished author's body of work. Furst made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 with his title The Mission to Paris and Midnight in Europe in 2014. Furst again made the New York Times Bestseller in 2016 with his novel A Hero of France. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Alan Furst, Alan Furst, Alan Furts

Disambiguation Notice:

#1 Alan Furst, b. 1941 - Night Soldiers

Series

Works by Alan Furst

Night Soldiers (1988) 1,578 copies, 47 reviews
The Foreign Correspondent (2006) — Author — 1,323 copies, 34 reviews
Spies of Warsaw (2008) 1,211 copies, 47 reviews
The Polish Officer (1995) 1,171 copies, 35 reviews
Dark Star (1991) 1,167 copies, 26 reviews
Kingdom of Shadows (2000) 1,082 copies, 25 reviews
Mission to Paris (2012) — Author — 1,079 copies, 68 reviews
Spies of the Balkans (2010) — Author — 1,045 copies, 37 reviews
Blood of Victory (2002) 964 copies, 14 reviews
The World at Night (1996) 934 copies, 25 reviews
Dark Voyage (2004) 899 copies, 28 reviews
Red Gold (1999) 812 copies, 12 reviews
Midnight in Europe (2014) 690 copies, 47 reviews
A Hero of France (2016) 623 copies, 31 reviews
Under Occupation (2019) — Author — 306 copies, 15 reviews

Associated Works

The Ministry of Fear (1943) — Introduction, some editions — 1,655 copies, 32 reviews
Writers on Writing, 2: More Collected Essays from the New York Times (2003) — Contributor — 187 copies, 3 reviews

Tagged

1930s (79) 20th century (60) Alan Furst (83) American (45) audiobook (46) Balkans (44) ebook (125) espionage (1,270) Europe (182) fiction (1,996) first edition (97) France (282) Furst (60) Germany (67) Greece (70) historical (155) historical fiction (898) historical novel (47) history (49) Kindle (130) mystery (475) Night Soldiers (65) novel (309) Paris (356) Poland (128) read (154) signed (83) Spain (51) Spanish Civil War (80) spy (592) spy fiction (180) spy novel (59) spy stories (48) suspense (95) thriller (422) to-read (567) unread (61) war (168) WWII (1,469) WWII fiction (100)

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1941-02-20
Gender
male
Nationality
USA
Country (for map)
USA
Birthplace
New York, New York, USA
Places of residence
Paris, France
Education
Horace Mann School, New York, New York, USA
Pennsylvania State University
Columbia University
Oberlin College
Occupations
novelist
advertising
columnist
Disambiguation notice
#1 Alan Furst, b. 1941 - Night Soldiers

Members

Discussions

Question about Alan Furst's "Night Soldiers" books in Crime, Thriller & Mystery (January 2017)

Reviews

Furst was pretty early in his career when he wrote this, and it shows. It's too long, shifts the action too frequently, meanders all over the place, and has a huge cast of hard-to-remember characters with confusing names. (Who was that guy again? Oh yeah, now I remember). Nevertheless, I am a huge sucker for WW2 era spy novels and this one is quite compelling. Furst does not seem to use recurring protagonists like LeCarre, and his hero this time out is a world-weary Soviet journalist named Andre Szara, whom we meet en route to Prague in the autumn of 1937. Inexplicably he gets roped into spying for Soviet intelligence and finds himself in Berlin during the asendancy of Nazism. At it's core this is a story of the brief alliance between Hitler and Stalin, and it's subsequent collapse. I think I liked this well enough to keep going with Furst, but will read a lot of reviews to try to find his sweet spot before I pick up the next one.… (more)
 
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Octavia78 | 25 other reviews | Jul 6, 2024 |
Best in series so far, just spoiled by ending
½
 
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BrianHostad | 33 other reviews | Jun 13, 2024 |
The Spies of Warsaw is the 9th volume in a series of historical espionage fiction by Alan Furst. The books are not a series in the same way that Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther books are a series. There are a few characters that appear in more than one of Furst's stories, and The Spies in Warsaw is one of them. Colonel Anton Vyborg of Polish military intelligence is a supporting character in an earlier book, The Polish Officer, and he reappears in a more featured role in The Spies of Warsaw.

Furst's novels are a series in that they treat of the same themes throughout. They are all set in the 1930s during the rise of fascism and the 1940s during the war that fascism gave rise to. The Spies of Warsaw covers the years 1937-1938. (The BBC miniseries based on the novel moves the action up to the start of World War II when Germany invaded Poland on September 1st,1939, and the Soviet Union's invasion from the east a few weeks later. They borrow the conclusion from the starting point of The Polish Officer.

The plot of The Spies of Warsaw is based on the efforts of a French military intelligence officer, Jean-Francois Mercier, who is attached to the French embassy in Poland to collect intelligence on what he believes are German intentions for an invasion of Poland, but more so for their strategy for an invasion of France. No matter how much evidence he lays before his superiors in Paris, with one conspicuous exception, he cannot achieve a change of their mindset with the result that when the "phony war" in the West from September, 1939 comes to an end in the spring of 1940, the French strategy is based on defensive warfare and the impregnable fortifications of the Maginot line which did not extend to the border with Belgium.

Mercier is a decorated veteran of both World War I and the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 during which he fought with Col. Vyborg. He served in the Great War under DeGaulle which it is suggested may be the source of the passive-aggressive reaction to all of the reports he files.

The story begins with the spying activities and debriefing of one of Mercier's agents, on Edvard Uhl, a senior engineer at the Adler Ironworks in Breslau, working on a tank design project for Krupp. Uhl has been recruited via a honeytrap executed by another of Mercier's agents, Hana Musser, aka Countess Sczelenska. He is besotted with her, ready to give up his wife and three children and marry his "countess'. In the meantime, he enjoys his monthly trysts and pays for it all with the money he is paid by Mercier in exchange for blueprints of the new tank designs. He lets slip the fact that he cannot make the next planned meeting because he has been assigned to a team that will be observing tank maneuvers being conducted in the Black Forest, an environment which in not conducive to tank operations. Mercier decides to become an uninvited observer to the Black Forest exercises at great risk to himself and comes away with what he believes is obvious evidence that the Germans intend to do an end run around the Maginot Line when it becomes France's turn to be invaded.

Mercier chances upon a code name for a member of the Black Front a group of early Nazi Party members who became disenchanted with Hitler. This leads him to a contact who was an old friend who had a clerical position in I.N. Six, the office of Hans Guderian, the author of a famous treatise on tank warfare, housed in the headquarters of the German General Staff. Mercier maneuvers himself into contact with the I.N. Sic source, gets the goods, gets a promotion and is stunned to hear that his superiors seemed to discount the legitimacy of the intelligence he has provided, suggesting that it might be a disinformation game being played by the Germans.

And of course, two years later France was overrun by Panzers coming through the Ardennes Forest across the Belgian frontier and Mercier's opponents, in effect, were off to Vichy in the wake of France's collapse and surrender.

Like all of Furst's novels there is the romantic sub-plot featuring Mercier and a League of Nations lawyer named Anna Szarbek. Anna has a live-in boyfriend, Maxim Mostov, a Russian emigre writer who may have a side racket slipping intelligence to a husband wife espionage team at the Soviet embassy. There are a number of "major minor" characters, such as Marek the driver / bodyguard working for Marek, the aforementioned Col. Vyborg, a Dr. Lapp, a German who provides Mercier with a critical contact named Halbach who accompanies Mercier into Germany to recruit the agent within I.N. Six.

There is also a nod the hero of The Polish Officer, Alexander de Milja. In a visit to Vyborg's office Mercier admires a map of Vyborg's country home and its surroundings. Vyborg tells him "The map was drawn by Captain de Milja, in our Geographical Section". Nice touch.

The Spies of Warsaw is a great read and as always despite the multitude of characters and the sidebars to the main plot, it is also a fast read. All of Furst's novels are highly recommended, and this is one of his best.
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citizencane | 46 other reviews | Jun 13, 2024 |
The Polish Officer is the eighth novel in the series of historical, espionage novels set in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The action of this story begins with the start of World War II and the invasion of Poland from the West by Hitler's Germany and from the East by Stalin's Soviet Union. The protagonist is Captain Alexander de Milja, of Polish Military Intelligence, a cartographer by trade, who is in charge of the Military Intelligence personnel defending the Warsaw Telephone Exchange.

De Milja is called away from the Exhange for a meeting with Colonel Anton Vyborg, who played a supporting role in another Furst novel, The Spies of Warsaw. Vyborg recruits de Milja to lead a mission whose purpose is to remove all of Poland's gold reserves out of the country before the Germans can get their hands on them. The plan is to commander a train and hide $11,400,000 worth of gold ingots in crates under the floorboards of the train and head south for the Romanian border. From Romania another group will take over and move the gold to Paris. While en route they encounter a gang of Ukrainian bandits bent on thievery and mayhem. De Milja, with the aid of some of the more daring and capable passengers, is able to rout the bandits and accomplish his mission. (In the miniseries version of The Spies of Warsaw this same episode occurs at end of the story with Colonel Vyborg and the Frenchman, Jean-Francois Mercier, leading the mission.)

After a stay in Bucharest that afforded a respite from the war, de Mija makes his way back to Poland and performs a little disinformation work designed to boost Polish morale and heads for Stockholm, hidden away on a ship for seventy hours. He makes his way to Paris just in time for the collapse of the French army in June 1940. While in France he gets to play a significant role in thwarting the planned German invasion of England.

Like all of Alan Furst's novels, The Polish Officer, reflects a great deal of study in the history of Europe in the 1930s and 40s, its geography, the politics of the various nations, and the character of the peoples. The writing is polished, the character descriptions are excellent, and the pace of the action is rapid. It is an excellent read, informative as well as entertaining. He is without peer as a novelist of the genre and of the period.
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citizencane | 34 other reviews | Jun 10, 2024 |

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Charles McCarry Contributor
Maxim Gorky Contributor
Rebecca West Contributor
Eric Ambler Contributor
Anthony Burgess Contributor
Graham Greene Contributor
Peter Noble Narrator
Louise Noble Cover designer
Alfred Molina Narrator
Valeria Giacobbo Translator
Robbin Schiff Cover designer

Statistics

Works
26
Also by
2
Members
15,198
Popularity
#1,504
Rating
3.8
Reviews
498
ISBNs
400
Languages
12
Favorited
87

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