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Night Soldiers


Night Soldiers Cover



Author Q & A

Alan Furst describes the area of his interest as "near history." His novels are set between 1933 — the date of Adolf Hitler?s ascent, with the first Stalinist purges in Moscow coming a year later — and 1945, which saw the end of the war in Europe. The history of this period is well documented. Furst uses books by journalists of the time, personal memoirs — some privately published — autobiographies (many of the prominent individuals of the period wrote them), war and political histories, and characteristic novels written during those years.

"But," he says, "there is a lot more" — for example, period newsreels, magazines, and newspapers, as well as films and music, especially swing and jazz. "I buy old books," Furst says, "and old maps, and I once bought, while living in Paris, the photo archive of a French stock house that served newspapers of Paris during the Occupation, all the prints marked as cleared by the German censorship." In addition, Furst uses intelligence histories of the time, many of them by British writers.

Alan Furst has lived for long periods in Paris and in the south of France. "In Europe," he says, "the past is still available. I remember a blue neon sign, in the Eleventh Arrondissement in Paris, that had possibly been there since the 1930s." He recalls that on the French holiday le jour des morts (All Saints? Day, November 1) it is customary for Parisians to go to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. "Before the collapse of Polish communism, the Polish émigrés used to gather at the tomb of Maria Walewska. They would burn rows of votive candles and play Chopin on a portable stereo. It was always raining on that day, and a dozen or so Poles would stand there, under black umbrellas, with the music playing, as a kind of silent protest against the communist regime. The spirit of this action was history alive ? as though the entire past of that country, conquered again and again, was being brought back to life."

The heroes of Alan Furst?s novels include a Bulgarian defector from the Soviet intelligence service, a foreign correspondent for Pravda, a Polish cartographer who works for the army general staff, a French producer of gangster films, and a Hungarian émigré who works with a diplomat at the Hungarian legation in Paris. "These are characters in novels," Furst says, "but people like them existed; people like them were courageous people with ordinary lives and, when the moment came, they acted with bravery and determination. I simply make it possible for them to tell their stories."

Product Details

Furst, Alan
Random House Trade
Furst, Alan
New York
World war, 1939-1945
Historical - General
Historical fiction
War stories
World War, 19
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
1st Trade Paper ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
July 9, 2002
Grade Level:
8 x 5.2 x 1.03 in .75 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Military
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Night Soldiers Used Trade Paper
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Product details 496 pages Random House Trade - English 9780375760006 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Intelligent and absorbing....An unusual viewpoint, solid research and unobtrusively elegant writing make this pure pleasure to read."
"Review" by , "Intelligent, ambitious, absorbing....The history is deftly incorporated; the viewpoint civilized; the characters and the settings picturesque; the adventures exciting; the writing pungent."
"Review" by , "Evocative, moving....Furst shows a remarkable talent, integrating details about the cultures of Spain, France and Eastern Europe with a fascinating story of the constantly changing, constantly unpredictable events of that world at war."
"Review" by , "Night Soldiers has everything the best thrillers offer — excitement, intrigue, romance — plus grown-up writing, characters that matter, and a crisp, carefully researched portrait of the period in which our own postwar world was shaped."
"Review" by , "The conventions are familiar, but Furst's talent for creating thumbnail sketches of his players, the attention he pays to detail — what his characters eat and wear and read, the way the weather mocks or complements the dire circumstances — makes everything seem newly minted. It's those other books and movies depicting wartime intrigue that feel clichéd, never mind that they came first. Furst writes with the vividness of an originator....A great entertainer, Furst would probably be considered our finest practicing historical novelist if he weren't writing espionage novels."
"Review" by , "A spy novel, a war story, an adventure, a survivor's tale — Night Soldiers is all this and more."
"Review" by , "An engaging writer and Esquire contributor, Furst deploys communists, fascists, and American naifs in Europe's theater of war and supports the action and romance with well-researched detail."
"Review" by , "Night Soldiers is an atmospheric journey through turbulent lands at a turbulent time, not so much a thriller as it is a panoramic, historical adventure."
"Review" by , "One of the very best novels ever written about the inner world of Soviet intelligence....This fine novel, in effect the memoir so many did not live to write for themselves, is a triumph of historical imagination."
"Review" by , "Furst's ability to recreate the terrors of espionage is matchless."
"Synopsis" by , Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-1945: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and the guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944.
"Synopsis" by , Night Soldiers is the first of Alan Furst's highly acclaimed novels recreating the atmosphere and tension of the worlds of espionage and resistance in Europe in the 1930s and World War II.
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