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John Macnab (Sir Edward Leithen #2)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  258 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In 1925, John Buchan published his second most famous novel, John Macnab; three high-flying men—a barrister, a cabinet minister and a banker—are suffering from boredom. They concoct a plan to cure it. They inform three Scottish estates that they will poach from each two stags and a salmon in a given time. They sign collectively as 'John McNab' and await the responses. This ...more
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Published July 1st 2007 by Birlinn Ltd (first published 1925)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 427)
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Robbie Leslie
I've just re-read this (for about the sixth time, I think) and I am sure I will read it again. I fell for Buchan's adventure yarns as a young teenager and I've pretty much read them all - the Hannays, the Dickson McCunn's and the Ned Leithen's. I've enjoyed them all but this is my all-time favourite. It is just sheer fun - for once in Buchan's oeuvre the fates of nations and empires are not at stake. It is a simple story of three bored gentlemen having a great time in the hills and heather as th ...more
David Williams
I have fond memories of this book from my reading in early adolescence, so I was pleased to find it available to download free to my Kindle. It was published in 1925 but still feels fresh and spirited. This upper class world of fine manors and expansive grounds is as far away from me now as it was when I first read it as a miner's son in a council house, but that is part of the charm. The class assumptions are amusing, and relieved by Buchan's essentially liberal sentiments despite his being ver ...more
Ian Brydon
This is one of my favourite novels, ever, and I seem to re-read it just about every year. Like so much of Buchan's prolific output, it might nowadays at first sight seem rather archaic, with characters romantically hankering after a Corinthian past largely of their own imagining, but it espouses simple values that effortlessly stand the test of any time.

The novel opens on a summer day in the mid-1920s with Sir Edward Leithen, accomplished barrister and MP, visiting his doctor seeking a remedy fo
...more
Mondrian
Who can go past this puppy for sheer brilliance. A number of jaded upper class chaps looking to spice up their lives with a series of hunting exploits. All of the boxes ticked. Chaps whose word is listened to by the crown heads of Europe, rich as Croesus, money is so crass (when you have it), confident and secure in the moral and physical superiority of the English race and their helpers (scottish lackeys etc). And still it is a wracking good yarn, exciting comfortable, a past age. Leithen is my ...more
Rog Harrison
This was first published in 1925 and is a fairly lighthearted story - no battles, no master criminals. Basically three middle-aged men suffer midlife crisis and decide to do something different by pseudonymously wagering three landowners in the north of Scotland that they can poach their game undetected. As well as featuring Sir Edward Leithen this book also features Sir Archie Roylance who appeared in the Hannay novels and who also features in the later novel "The courts of the morning". Sir Ar ...more
Eric
The best of Buchan's novels.
dragonhelmuk
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monthly Book Group
Everyone had enjoyed the Buchan – “beautifully written, fluent, and very amusing – and a brilliant idea”, “easy, humorous, rollicking read”, “a well-crafted page-turner”. But two reservations were expressed.

One was discomfort with the cast of upper class grandees and the class-conscious, snobbish society they inhabited (and which the author seemed to endorse).

The other was that the book was a lightweight jeu d’esprit (although Buchan, who worked hardest at his historical fiction, might have ag
...more
Elizabeth
A snapshot of class from the point of view of a Scots-leaning socialist-leaning man of WWI, in the shadow of the war, suffering ennui, musing on the culture of the highlands: "Lamancha had an athletic, well-trained body, the navvy was powerful but ill-trained; Lamancha was tired with eight or nine hours' scrambling; his opponent had also had a wearing monring; but Lamancha had led a regular and comfortable life, while the navvy had often gone supperless and had drunk many gallons of bad whiskey. ...more
Raj
I really enjoyed this story of three successful leaders of their fields at the top of their game (a barrister, MP and banker), but listless and bored. And then they hit on the idea of writing to the owners of three Scottish estates and tell them that they'll be poaching from the estate and collectively sign the letter John Macnab. The book is light, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. The pace is fairly good, the attacks on all three estates well-described and Buchan obviously loves the Highl ...more
Stephen
I've read all Buchan's fiction, most at least four times. This is the one I go back to the most often. Flawed like all his work by shallow (but lovable) female characters and snobbery. Redeemed by gusto, honor, hillcraft, enchanted love of Scotland and, above the snobbery, real affection for simple unpretentious country people like Fish Benjie and the brave dutiful navvy or (in other books ) the Gorbals Diehards.
C.R. Hedgcock
A letter challenges three Scottish lairds to stealthy hunts on their land - but the mystery writer, "John Macnab," is in fact three rich gentlemen in need of a cure for their ennui.

This is the most light-hearted and enjoyable yarn by John Buchan that I've read. Unlikely? Yes. Fun? Absolutely.
Hannah
This was recommended to me by my grandmother, who reads at least three books a week and has a hard time remembering books as a result of that. She remembers this one just fine, however. That was the first real point in its favor. The second was that not only did she remember it, she said it was a long-term favorite.

After reading it myself, I think it's well-written, fun, and gives you something to think about while it entertains you. It's not suspenseful exactly, but there's plenty of action. I
...more
Dan
I read this several years ago and enjoyed it immensely. So I was really pleased to find this in an extensive secondhand bookshop in Tewkesbury last week, along with two other books by the same author. My personal book of the year for 2010 is probably going to be The Wild Places by Ian MacFarlane and it is partly because of this that I want to re-read John Macnab, a book that is, among other things, about reconnecting with the wildness that is within us, stifled as it is by the trappings of civil ...more
Helen Yeomans
One of my ten favorite books of all time.
John
Probably the most entertaining story I've read in a while. I bought it less than 24 hours ago, and had to tear myself away from it to go to work.

If you're a fan of fieldsports, and can decipher the intermittent bits of Scots dialog, you may just love this book.

It's light reading, not too heady, and with a good amount of humor. There are a few philosophical and political points, scored discretely, that made me pause for thought.

Overall: a great read. And it seemed to stand alone, even though p
...more
Tupence Lane
What an original book! I loved it.
David
This is a wonderful read. An enchanting story, full of mischief that reminds me of Flashman style stories. The author builds up the story as you go, to the point where you can't put the book down. It really is an easy read.
Trucie
Buchan's best.

An true 'boy's own' adventure in the Scottish Highlands, very much of its period, but with characters that linger like friends in the memory. The perfect book for a cold, wet, winter's afternoon.
Adam
What The Trouble with Harry is to Hitchcock, this is to Buchan. The aftermath of the Great War in British society is well documented in this exploration of the responsibilities that go with wealth, land and property.
Dick Hannay
Ever wanted to be a bored silly aristocrat? this book will help you see your way through that dilemma. Beautiful and inspiring descriptions of flyfishing for flyfishers.
Sarah
The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. That is the unexpected and powerful message concealed in this lighthearted tale.
Jane
Most entertaining. Utterly snobby and ridiculous, of course, but a ripping yarn as they say, and some charming characters.
Maureen
Charming and clever novel set in Scotland, from the author of "The 39 Steps"
Mellie
Sep 19, 2007 Mellie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: espionage enthusiasts
A story involving Hannay's friends, although he's not in the book.
Doug K
a fine bit of escapist fiction, thoroughly enjoyable.
Joan Thompson
A good read. enjoyed the story line. Action
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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
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More about John Buchan...

Other Books in the Series

Sir Edward Leithen (5 books)
  • The Power House (Sir Edward Leithen, #1)
  • The Dancing Floor (Sir Edward Leithen, #3)
  • The Gap in the Curtain (Sir Edward Leithen #4)
  • Sick Heart River (Sir Edward Leithen, #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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