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Thirty-Nine Steps and ...
John Buchan
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Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #1-2)

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  294 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Hardcover, Reader's Digest edition, 405 pages
Published 2009 by ImPress (first published 1915)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 596)
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Lot of negative reviews on this. I guess those folks didn't understand what they were reading. This is virtually the first of its kind. Okay, it is a little cheesy but it rattles along. It also contains more sex and extreme violence than you would expect of a book from this time.
Buchan's attempt to write a 'dime novel,' as he put it, might read as a tad too simplistic and implausible yarn of adventure by the high standards of the modern reader of the thriller genre, but it is still entertaining and reminds one of a more innoncent world. Also, considering the fact that it was written way back when in 1914, and that the author paved the way for the thriller/espionage genre, one has to concede that at the time the novel was a trendsetter, and a valiant attempt at telling a ...more
Morgan Gallagher
2 and a half stars really. Okay, it's an old book. It's also more of a novella than a novel. Which make the first chapter even more complicated as it takes too long putting in a massive back story. It's also difficult to get past the casual racist phrases of the time. However, it does then pick up and clip along nicely. Until it gets to the end, where it limps home.

Alas, if you are looking for the Richard Hannay of film fame, you'll discover that your memories of Hannay come via Hitchcock, and C
I always find it interesting to read novels that have been turned into movies which become classic films such as this one which has had various incarnations as a film the most famous being the great Hitchcock version. One begins to appreciate the difficulties in turning books into film as plots, points of view, narrators, characters and places have to be corralled into a cohesive whole while maintaining the original intent of the original source material.
Todd Martin
The Thirty-Nine Steps is fun little spy novel that features a ridiculously improbable series of coincidences that, while laughable, keep the plot moving along. The book was written in 1915 and represents one of the earliest examples of the spy thriller, man-on-the-run genre.
Simeon Brazzell
I really enjoyed this one. I know it's a little silly and utterly ridiculous in the number coincidences. But you have to think about the day and age it was written in.

Just an idea, but it'd make an excellent slapstick spy comedy if you did it right.
Amanda Gorry
I really enjoyed this action adventure spy story. It may have been written eons ago but it still works and the language was easy to understand and not the usual flowery language from days gone by. Lots of intrigue, murder and chases - worth reading
Jun 04, 2014 Alex marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Scottish author who wrote a proto-spy novel in 1915. Note that 39 steps is a novella, but comes packaged in many editions with Greenmantle, the second in the series.
Decent spy book from the WWI era... an early man-on-the-run story. Like The Fugitive, if Richard Kimball was around in the early part of the 1900s.
Ravi Sai
This is one of the best classical thrillers I've ever read.
ye olde historical fiction, good read if you know the era and terminology
Laurie (Kwiltreader)
Fun mystery read, especially considering it was the first of it's kind and written in 1915.
For a novella written in 1921, one of the first few of it's kind, The Thirty-Nine Steps is a riveting page turner.

Richard Hannay as an ordinary man turned hero is a believable character, free from ostentation and very proactive.

The fast paced nature of the plot along with Hannay's quick thinking deductions create suspense worth mulling over.

Furthermore the novella's style, its narrative not lost in excessive technical jargon create a sense of timelessness.
Pradeep Rajiv
This book is too good for a spy thriller conceived in 1914.
The protagonist character Hannay would surely have set high standards for many more thrillers to come in this genre.
WIth a limited set of strong characters, this is easily one of the best plots I have read. The language and the characterisation are unique and would have been 19o's advanced and now vintage stuff.
Enjoyed this quick read. I see many are giving poor reviews because of the unbelievable coincidences and the simplicity of the tale. I find this foolish. Consider that this tale was constructed a hundred years ago. Take it for what it's worth. A good trend setter to the spy/mystery genre.
Evan Morris
Really not very good. I don't understand this book's reputation. It's basically a flimsy, Boys Own sort of Mary Sue story in which the heroic narrator foils the evil plot by means of pluck and a healthy dose of absurd coincidence.
James Violand
Ho hum. Nothing really exciting. Must be I'm not an upper-class Englishman right before the war to end all wars.
Loved it, good old fashioned writing style, very descriptive yet totally unbelievable plot in modern terms.
A short 1915 "thriller" -- interesting to see how this type of novel has evolved since then.
Enjoyed "Hitch's" film more. Sort of confusing, but colorful.
*Hated* this book. Don't know why I bothered re-reading.
Tim Davies
Entertainingly written, with a nice brisk pace.
Chirag Tulsiani
Fascinating and Impressive!
Steven West
Steven West marked it as to-read
Apr 05, 2015
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John Buchan (1st Baron Tweedsmuir) was a British novelist and public servant who combined a successful career as an author of thrillers, historical novels, histories and biographies with a parallel career in public life. At the time of his death he was Governor-General of Canada.

Buchan was born in Scotland and educated at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. After a brief career in law he went to Sou
More about John Buchan...

Other Books in the Series

Richard Hannay (5 books)
  • The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay, #1)
  • Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #2)
  • Mr. Standfast (Richard Hannay, #3)
  • The Three Hostages (Richard Hannay #4)
  • The Island of Sheep (Richard Hannay #5)
The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay, #1) Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #2) Mr. Standfast (Richard Hannay, #3) The Three Hostages (Richard Hannay #4) Prester John

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