The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10)
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The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers #10)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  3,329 ratings  ·  404 reviews
An autumn evening in 1937. A German engineer arrives at the Warsaw railway station. Tonight, he will be with his Polish mistress; tomorrow, at a workers' bar in the city's factory district, he will meet with the military attache from the French embassy. Information will be exchanged for money. So begins The Spies of Warsaw," " the brilliant new novel by Alan Furst, lauded...more
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Random House (first published June 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Nancy-jo
Jul 26, 2008 Nancy-jo added it
Recommended to Nancy-jo by: I have read all 9 of Furst's books
This is not a spy novel, but a novel of espionage and the politics of war, or in this instance, of preparation for war. Mercier is a military attache assigned to Warsaw; he collects information from the Poles and the Germans and from an insignificant seeming German engineer who has access to military plans. There is a rich cast of characters, and awonderful detailing of daily life, politics, and the lead-up to war in Warsaw and Paris. Some of the individuals are real and others are fictional. Th...more
David
This book turned up on my GoodReads list a couple of weeks ago.

What started as a snack turned into a meal and then into a banquet. I am now working on my seventh Furst book a la Kindle.
If Le Carre approaches the point of departure where "spy thriller" become serious literatire, Furst easlily transcends it.

His heroes are all Liberals. In the classic sense of the term. They hate Hitler and Stalin equally. I am down with every one of them.

Furst pretty much writes the same book over and over -- and...more
Rick
Alan Furst is a genre master, historical spy novels set in the 30s and early 40s, whose sense of history comes from Tolstoy and understanding of the scale of human drama comes from the short stories of Chekov and Joyce. Furst’s novels are compact. The action occurs on the margins of great events. They have the ring of truth in their every detail, whether it’s a period detail or the details of how real events play out with small climaxes and anti-climaxes. The tales remain satisfying because even...more
Ann
There are a number of reasons why this mediocre spy book (I hesitate to call it a novel, as that implies something undeserved in the way of characterization, plot development, aesthetic sense, or relation to reality) over-irked me, but I’ll spare you all but the biggest: we have here a Warsaw of the late 1930s which, remarkably, is populated solely by war-hating-yet-honorable aristocrats and shabby-yet-dignified proles who all despise Hitler, harbor no anti-Semitism, and (even correcting for the...more
Lobstergirl
Apr 09, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Scott Baio
"Furst's papers reside at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin," says Wikipedia. Snort! I've enjoyed a few Furst novels, but they hardly strike me as the work of someone whose papers ought to be in residence somewhere. Shouldn't you be dead for that to happen, anyway? "Furst lives in Sag Harbor, Long Island, but he considers himself a European by sensibility." Oh, mais bien sûr, naturellement. How could it be otherwise, pass the langoustines!

Our charac...more
Jennifer
This isn't a bad book, but I ultimately found it very frustrating. The main character is a French diplomat and spy working in Warsaw in 1938. He knows very well that the Germans will invade soon and that Poland will stand alone against them. But he spends most of his time (and the book) going to cocktail parties and trying to get a girlfriend. This is probably an accurate representation of how people do deal with impending doom, but still, I couldn't help but wish he seemed a little more concern...more
Martin Spellman
Alan Furst is hailed on his books as 'widely recognised as a master of the historical spy novel' and by the New York Times as 'America's pre-eminent spy novelist'. The pity is that he is none of these things. The filters obviously omit Brit contenders like John Le Carre, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming and one his novels are very comparable with: Eric Ambler. A look at lists of top US spy novelists reveals Tom Clancy, Martin Cruz Smith, Donald Hamilton (Matt Helm) and Edward S Aarons (Sam Duvell)...more
Jim
Alan Furst is one of the best writers of spy novels going. I wouldn’t rank this one among his best, but it was very good. Like all of Furst’s books, it derives poignancy from the hindsight that, despite the best efforts of the protagonist, interwar Europe was doomed.

The protagonist, Colonel Mercier (the French military attachė in Poland) is running a spy within the German armaments industry, hoping to learn what Germany’s war plans are in regard to France. Everything is based on partial informat...more
KOMET
Apr 01, 2013 KOMET rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone in search of a good spy novel.
The Spies of Warsaw is an encapsulation of the subtle and dark arts of espionage in interwar Europe. An art, which, through the passage of centuries, had been enhanced with the accoutrements of science.

The story begins in Poland in late 1937. A man who looks to be a modest businessman arrives in Warsaw, briefcase in hand. He books a room at the Hotel Europejski for an assignation with his mistress, a Polish countess. All is not as it seems. The businessman is Edvard Uhl, an engineer and special...more
Jeffrey Zeldman
Utterly absorbing; vividly real and exciting; morally complex, yet painless. Ranks with KINGDOM OF SHADOWS as an all-time best. Either will serve if you are new to Furst.

This is _transparent_ storytelling: you aren't aware of words on the page, or the author's cleverness, or any of that postmodern meta bullshit. The story takes hold of you on the first page, and doesn't let go until you finish (wishing it would never end).

Furst is a great novelist, a serious novelist (like Graham Greene); his th...more
Jeremy
Jul 15, 2011 Jeremy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeremy by: Uncle Richard
Of the 3 First books I have read this is least developed. And for a spy novel there is not so much action in regards to spying. Or at least not as much as I expected.

And yet. I still very much enjoyed this read. Although I say it was not as well developed I mean that in terms of complexity. As novels go the story itself developed nicely as he spent the first half of the novel developing the plot, characters and the budding romance. I was intrigued by all of this but then in the final half it bec...more
Paul
I am a great fan of Alan Furst. He has written 10 novels about World War II, primarily espionage or other secret activities. I have devoured all 10. This novel is the most recent of the those, more or less hot off the presses.

What I like about Furst's novels is that he puts me in a time and place with memorable effect. When I finished "The Spies of Warsaw" I felt as if I'd been living in Warsaw in the late '30s. A map of the city is even included. I enjoyed referring to it, not a distraction, a...more
Denis
The best thing about this novel (and about all of Furst's novels, from what I have glimpsed) is that it manages to recreate the atmosphere of Europe between the two world wars in a very realistic, believable way, but also with an almost excruciating emotion: something very bittersweet emanates from Furst's writing, and from the condemned Europe he describes; you can grasp the tenderness the author feels for the doomed people and countries he evokes - they know what awaits them. The characters Fu...more
Rob Kitchin
Furst excels at weaving the humdrum of everyday life through a larger geopolitical story spanning a number of countries. And so it is with The Spies of Warsaw, which traces the convoluted life of Jean-Francois Mercier in the lead up to the Second World War, and his various dalliances and missions. The plotting is slow and ponderous at times, and occasionally a little clunky, but Furst works to draw the reader in and tug them along, and as with previous books the narrative is highly informative,...more
Kristi
I read this after watching the new TV version of it starring David Tennant because another DT fan said the book was better. I'm not really sure what they were talking about. I patiently listened to this book (on CD), the the viewpoints of B characters that were comically two-dimensional and pointless, really. I kept waiting to know more about the hero of the book, but his internal dialogue kept me wanting the entire time. He was most likable when thinking about his home and dogs, but that had be...more
Steve
I really enjoyed The Spies of Warsaw. I had read a couple of Furst’s novels when the series first got started. As I recall, the details and atmosphere of WW 2 Europe recreated by Furst for these novels were impressive. On the downside were some of the characters, many of whom struck me as clichéd types from wartime movies. Imagine Casablanca as not one, but a series of novels. Well, the characters seem better drawn now. Oh, there are evil Nazis, and damaged, but gallant heroes, and beautiful wom...more
Clif Hostetler
This book does a good job of describing the intrigue and danger of the world of spies in Warsaw shortly before the beginning of World War II. The reader of today knows what's about to happen, but the characters in the book are not so blessed. The characters in the book are pretty sure that war is coming, but they have no idea of when or where. According to this story a clever spy for the French is able to piece together evidence of how and where the Germans plan to attack France. But according t...more
Richard
I am so happy to have "discovered" Alan Furst. This is my third of his, and though I think "Night Soldiers" was a masterpiece and got 5 stars from me, Spies of the Balkans, and The Spies of Warsaw are damned good.

John Le Carre, master that he is, has never written a character I've been able to warm up to. Ice water in the veins. A certain lack of flesh and blood. Alan Furst, though not the stylist that Le Carre is gives us warm blooded characters - many of whom I've actually liked, and who I wo...more
Dale
The Spies of Warsaw is a low-key finely crafted novel of espionage. Set in Warsaw and Paris, the story takes place from mid 1937 to early 1938. War was looming, and Poland was to be the first major battleground.

In this story, Jean-Francoise Mercier de Boutillion is the French military attache at the French embassy in Warsaw. He is a veteran of the previous war, and has the rank of Colonel. With relatively little training he has been assigned the role of spymaster, recruiting and running agents i...more
Darwin8u
A robust, tight and occasionally frisky Furst novel. I am quickly approaching the end of my Furst 'Soldiers of the Night' jag and thus far it has been a fascinating experience. His character-driven novels could easily be bound into one gigantic prewar novel. They all swirl and fugue with similar themes, many of the same characters, and the same dark ambiance. He is detail oriented, historically accurate, writes well AND is one of the best atmosphere writers around. He leaves you feeling the grit...more
Caitlin
I listened to this on CD. At first the book was very slow going and I found the narrator to be overly dramatic. The central character was interesting (the French Attache), but his mole was unsympathetic, and the typical plot device of having a beautiful women be the source of his undoing was present yet again. Given that this plot device is so heavily used, perhaps a scientist should clone an army of beautiful women who also happen to be smart and have sensible values, and they will manipulate t...more
Nancy
Oct 19, 2013 Nancy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ww2
This book provided an interesting, almost procedural, look at the "spy business" during the period just preceding WW2. But, something was missing for me; it never really captivated me.

I love to learn more about the political dynamics of the 1930's but there was a certain passion missing from this story. Perhaps it is because, with hindsight, we are so aware of the horrors of the Nazi regime, but Furst chose not to make the threat too horrific---just the drums of war sounding. I need a little mor...more
Scott
Very interesting and well written book. I have not read a lot of spy novels and this was a great one to start with. It really gives you a sense of how people lived prior to the invasion of France. The book primarily takes place in Poland and how spies gathered information regarding the information leading to the inevitable. Furst also threads through a romantic love story.

Here is a great interview with Alan Furst.
Peter Landis
A good friend of mine loves all of Furst's books, and claims that this is his best one yet. I had not read any of his work before, and was unfortunately, quite disappointed.

This book tailors to a very select group of readers who are: History buffs, Francophiles, and keen on inferring what is not there.

Unfortunately to me, it most often seemed as if it was large chunks of cryptic, dry, historical data, tacked together with bits of gossipy innuendo.
Jennifer
This was my first Furst novel, but it probably won't be my last. I enjoyed the characterization of Mercier, the military attache (spy) who conducts surveillance for the French in Poland prior to WWII. He was neither too "gung-ho" nor too jaded, which I found appealing in a protagonist. The novel is actually four intertwined episodes, each with its own crisis and resolution, which I had not expected, but was pleased with at the end. Overall, a satisfying read.
John
I very much enjoy Alan's stories - set in prewar Europe with the threat of war and doom are hanging in the air! This one set in Warsaw features an aristocratic French attaché who dabbles in spying and then progresses to a more ernest level of concern that the French doctrine of a static defense will not be adequate to German offensive plans. Some glamour, a little romance, a tense rescue of Russian agents and a successful foiling of a plot to capture a German spy all combine for a quick and plea...more
Louis
I read this quickly, before the BBC mini series expired on SBS on demand. I have to say David Tennant makes a much better time lord or disgraced Dorset homocide detective than Frenchman, but it is the BBC, after all, where French, Russians and Poles all speak English, varying only in their pronunciation of 'colonel' (French say kernel, Poles say co-lo-nel, Russians somewhere in between. Only the French are ever required to say Lieutenant Colonel Mercier's full rank and name. fyi the pronounce it...more
Toni Osborne
“The Spies of Warsaw” is a fiction recounting the work of European spies in the months leading to WW11. The year is 1937 and Germany is secretly preparing to invade Poland…..

The story is of Col. Jean- François Mercier, a French embassy’s military attaché in Poland whose job is to handle routine diplomatic work and attend nightly social obligations. His position provides him with the perfect cover to obtain crucial information on Germany‘s war plans. Behind the lines he covertly runs a small netw...more
Fiona Van
FURST, ALAN The Spies of Warsaw, 2008 read September 2008
This is the third or fourth Hurst wartime novel I have read and I already recognised some of the types of character. The hero is from an upper class French family, polite, restrained but languidly attractive to women, he overcomes his depression and uncertainties to be actively heroic, willing to give up his life in situations where he assesses the sacrifice is more important. The women are more vulnerable, dependent on men and not impacti...more
Alan
I received 'Night Soldiers' when I was first in Publishing. the company I worked for, St. Martin's Press, was about to release the mass market paperback. I devoured the book in one sitting and have been hooked on Furst's work ever since.

This new novel is up there with the best of them. Another reviewer said that each of his books are the same, and he wouldn't have it any other way. I think that is partly true, as they all deal with characters caught in the seemingly unstoppable run-up to World...more
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Alan Furst is widely recognized as the current master of the historical spy novel. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island.

Night Soldiers novels
* Night Soldiers (1988)
* Dark Star (1991)
* The Polish Officer (1995)
* The World at Night (1996)
* Red Gold (1999)
* Kingdom of Shadows (2000)
* Blood of Victory (2003)
* Dark Voyage (2004)
* The F...more
More about Alan Furst...
Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1) Mission to Paris (Night Soldiers, #12) The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4) Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11) The Polish Officer (Night Soldiers, #3)

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