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John Macnab (Sir Edward Leithen #2)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  302 Ratings  ·  34 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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Robbie Leslie
May 16, 2013 Robbie Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ian Brydon
Apr 05, 2015 Ian Brydon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Williams
Apr 13, 2011 David Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mondrian
Jan 18, 2011 Mondrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John
Jan 23, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carlton
Jan 23, 2016 Carlton rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A ripping yarn which just grabs you and carries you along. It is a hugely enjoyable tale of three respectable London men in the early 1920s (a barrister, a banker and a politician) who are suffering from ennui and so create a challenge to poach stag or salmon from three neighbouring Scottish Estates. I know nothing about fishing or shooting, but this does not stop you enjoying the story for what it is, which is a thriller. There is humour, romantic interest, a little politics and a bit about sho ...more
C.R. Hedgcock
Feb 03, 2015 C.R. Hedgcock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Trucie
Feb 15, 2011 Trucie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Feb 18, 2008 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2011 Raj rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, adventure
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
Sep 06, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Benita Prins
May 01, 2016 Benita Prins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're not one for detailed descriptions every so often of how the ground lies, you might get bogged down in a couple parts of John Macnab, but it's well worth it! John Buchan's adventures are always excellent and this was no exception.
Carys Woodley
Feb 24, 2016 Carys Woodley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, I have read it so any times it is falling apart. I love the fun of it, and the wonder of the possiblity, the way the people are discribed and the things that happen to them. I like the adventure that they are seeking and as the story goes on you find you self willing them on.
Hannah
Mar 30, 2011 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katrina
I enjoyed the book but as I always seem to say of Buchan's books - it's not as good as Greenmantle.
Helen Yeomans
Apr 06, 2015 Helen Yeomans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my ten favorite books of all time.
Tupence Lane
Mar 29, 2015 Tupence Lane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an original book! I loved it.
David
Oct 13, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Adam
Sep 24, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
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
Jan 16, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. That is the unexpected and powerful message concealed in this lighthearted tale.
Jane
Jan 09, 2013 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most entertaining. Utterly snobby and ridiculous, of course, but a ripping yarn as they say, and some charming characters.
Maureen
Sep 20, 2013 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and clever novel set in Scotland, from the author of "The 39 Steps"
Ronald
May 03, 2016 Ronald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
read SOMETIME in 2008; don't remember plot so no rating given
Mellie
Sep 19, 2007 Mellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: espionage enthusiasts
A story involving Hannay's friends, although he's not in the book.
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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)

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