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Dark Star (Night Soldiers #2)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  3,535 Ratings  ·  264 Reviews
Dark Star may be the most authentic espionage novel ever written. Set in the period of the Stalinist purges, it captures not only the intrigue and danger of clandestine life but the ennui, the bureaucratic infighting, the seediness of cheap rooms, the hasty moments of furtive sex, and the moral compromises of a life whose only goal becomes surviving a world where nothing i ...more
Hardcover, 417 pages
Published March 28th 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sharif
Feb 08, 2009 Sharif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan Furst is better than John Le Carre. There I've said it.

Since I started the series, I've been living in 1939, wearing my rain coat and I'm thinking of sewing my passport into the lining of my briefcase. Is that too obvious?

It's true what everyone says about Furst. You're suddenly and shockingly plunged into this period in history. You'll learn to care deeply about all those eastern bloc countries that you barely know. You'll learn how to survive as a Russian agent in Paris.

This is an amaz
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Helen
May 11, 2011 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about Stalin and World War II from this book than I ever learned from any history class.

Andre Szara is a respected Russian journalist working for Pravda, occasionally doing a little favor for the State, when suddenly, he finds himself involved in a political killing. He is handed a luggage ticket retrieved from the body, and directed to redeem a piece of luggage stowed away in a Prague train station. Under a false bottom in an old suitcase, he finds a case file, detailing a myste
...more
Andrew
Oct 14, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometime in the early 90s I was driving at night from Santa Fe to Albuquerque in a barrowed car (thanks again, Erika) listening to NPR. Their book reviewer of the moment -- Elvis Whatshisname, as I recall -- was laying extravagant praise on a spy novel, saying it broke the constraints of its genre, and blah blah blah. I stopped the car and made a note. Some weeks later, back in London where I was then living, I bought the book.

Now, I don't ordinarily read trash. Not because I am too good for it,
...more
Lars Guthrie
Dec 04, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Dark Star’ is my favorite Furst 1930s spy novel so far (I’ve read seven from eleven). It’s the second, and finds Furst yet to completely settle into the formula which serves him so well in the most recent, ‘Spies of the Balkans.’

Like that novel, ‘Dark Star’ features a shopworn veteran of his profession, in this case Russian journalism, who takes up spying to survive, and becomes a reluctant hero of sorts. André Szara comes off the most concretely of any of Furst’s marvelous lead characters I've
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Cphe
Another excellent offering from this very, very talented author. Love the detail of these novels set in Europe at the beginning of the second world war. This novel as with Night Soldiers captures the period and ambiance of those troubled times.
Christopher
Jan 18, 2008 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a sure fire winner for anyone who enjoys truly compelling story set against a lushly detailed historical back drop.

Alan Furst really has an incredible talent for bringing history alive and this book is a fine example.

Generalities aside for the moment, I particularly enjoyed the Russian/Eastern European bent of this story. Our protagonist is a Polish born Russified Jew who begins the tale as a fiery, empassioned writer for Pravda but is slowly sucked into the ravening maw of the NKVD
...more
AC
Fabulous. Far, FAR better than The Polish Officer (which is formulaic). A book that was praised by Alan Bullock, reminiscent of Victor Serge; a piece of finely written, deeply felt WW II political-historical sleuthing...Szara is a very sympathetic character...this is a stand-alone novel, despite being part of a series, and the book to read of Furst's...

Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Harold
Aug 19, 2016 Harold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Furst captures the vibe - the atmosphere - of the era. I think many of us born right after the end of WWII all grew up watching the same movies, the same horrific documentaries, and reading the same books about the war. The intrigue, the romance, the danger, the heroism, the sacrifice portrayed in this media became an early part of out psyche and in a strange way places a book like this into a continuum with films like "Casablanca", "13 Rue Madeleine" and books like "The Mask of Dimitrius" and t ...more
John Caviglia
Beautifully crafted, troubled, complex and “noir” to the core—Dark Star provides a rich perspective on the birth of WW II in the late 30’s from the point of view of an immigrant survivor of Polish pogroms, presently a Russian Jew, who as a journalist traveling abroad is recruited as a spy by the NKVD (the Russian secret intelligence service).

Yes, complex … but not much plot as such to this novel, which consists of the peregrinations and ensuing adventures and misadventures of one André Szara (o
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Feb 16, 2012 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: night-soldiers
On the cover of this edition a New York Times review is quoted: A rich, deeply moving novel of suspense that is equal parts espionage thriller, European history and love story. I'm not sure of the "equal" part, but it is all of that.

I felt myself getting lost, however, in the espionage thriller part. Maybe I needed to be paying closer attention, but there were a lot of characters and, of course, they didn't all have the same motives. Reading espionage from the perspective of a Russian spy is int
...more
Tom
Jun 02, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vast improvement over his first World War II outing, 'Night Soldiers', 'Dark Star' sees Alan Furst finding his footing and delivering a lush, intricate, sprawling, and historically rich novel about a rootless Russian Jewish journalist who finds himself serving many masters between the course of 1936 and 1941.

This book is a good deal darker in tone than 'Night Soldiers'. The story mostly concerns the machinations of the NKVD, the Communist secret services under Stalin, and their endless, paran
...more
Tim
Dec 12, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This made for a challenging and interesting listening experience, due in part to the speed of the narration, which sent fact-filled text to my ears at a rapid clip. An American author, a book set mostly in Central Europe, therefore an English narrator. Somebody with a Slavic accent might have been preferable. But the narration is good overall - its brisk, steely tone was appropriate for the material.

Furst took me back, back to my ancestral history, back to Poland, Germany, and the 1930s. He is g
...more
Florence
Jun 11, 2015 Florence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the years leading up to World War II Alan Furst sets the scene for a tense caper involving two evil dictators Josef Stalin and Adolph Hitler at the philosophical level, while ordinary secret agents battle it out closer to street level. Our protagonist, a Soviet journalist turned spy, must stay alert and thus stay alive. He has a lot to fear from erstwhile comrades as well as Nazis. You can't trust anyone. Europe is taut with intrigue and suspicion. The times were calamitous, but in the hands ...more
Rob Kitchin
Mar 06, 2016 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark Star is the second book in Alan Furst’s Night Soldier’s series set in 1930s and 40s Europe. Like the first in the series, the tale is an epic adventure traversing several countries including Belgium, Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland and Russia, tracking the fortunes of André Szara, a foreign correspondent for Pravda and reluctant Russian spymaster, over a four year period. Like the geography and time frame, the scope of the story is similarly expansive revolving around a conspiracy w ...more
Mathew
Jun 30, 2014 Mathew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have previously reviewed Alan Furst's remarkable work in The Polish Officer, a book so enjoyable I happily returned to Furst's European espionage thrills and passion in Dark Star.

It's a dense and murky novel, a bit of an acquired taste like a fine Parisian coffee. In it, seasoned Soviet journalist André Szara evolves from reluctant party participant to full fledged spy master and ultimately romantic rogue. Like Furst's other protagonists I've read, he's an affable sort, a kind of European obse
...more
Randy
May 02, 2012 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Similar to recent books it seems, this took a bit longer to get into, and involved a "re-start". I bought the book originally on a recommendation in a review -- if you like the one reviewed, this is much better. I would totally agree. This is historical fiction or perhaps better described as a historical spy novel. I restarted the book because I got lost in the "who is the good guy" question. There was a theme there, not knowing who the good guy was. Our Szara gets himself in a jam and narrowly ...more
Dorothy
Furst is a master at creating the atmosphere of the period about which he writes, the period just before and during World War II in Europe. This book's main character is a Polish/Soviet Jew foreign correspondent for Pravda who is recruited into the eerie and totally confusing world of espionage as Germany threatens to consume Europe and perhaps the world.

The plot to the novel is so convoluted, there is so much misdirection, that I found myself not knowing what I had just read or where the story
...more
Darwin8u
Jun 05, 2013 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
Alan Furst's great historical espionage novel, Dark Star is a prewar epic of Europe's moral ambiguities and shifting loyalties. Told through the eyes of Pravda journalist and Luftmensch (and sometimes NKVD spy) André Szara, the story stretches from Paris to Berlin, Warsaw, and even down to Izmir. In this novel Furst examines ideas of trust and suspicion, love and hate, magnetism and repulsion.

It is a novel about the compromises good men make to survive, the power that a few evil men have over mi
...more
Christopher
Sep 19, 2009 Christopher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, fiction
I am beginning to become a serious fan of Furst's work. [Dark Star:] is definitely a darker work than the last Furst I read The Polish Officer, and that really is saying something. I'm really not sure how accurately Furst portrays the thinking of a Soviet citizen living through Stalin's purges, but it is certainly believable. Furst proposes several theories for the purges as his main character, Andre Szara, tries to navigate the pitfalls of pre-war Europe. I wish I could measure the believabilit ...more
Alan Cohen
Aug 16, 2013 Alan Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sent to Alan Furst( saves me re- writing a review)..I wanted to congratulate you on your excellent novels. I just finished Dark Star and previously read Mission to Paris. I've read a few of your earlier works, as well. Dark Star just enthralled me. I devour historical and espionage novels, particularly about the era of pre -WWII through the Cold War( if it's LeCarre ). I didn't think you could supplant Smiley's creator as my favorite spymaster novelist , but you have. That's an accomplishment. W ...more
Dick Reynolds
Jan 15, 2013 Dick Reynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1937 and Europe is uneasy with Adolf Hitler’s bellicose posturing. André Szara, a foreign correspondent for Pravda, is co-opted by the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and becomes a full-time spy master in Paris. Szara is a Jew and a survivor of Polish pogroms and Russian civil wars. As a key member of a Paris network, he recruits an agent in Berlin who supplies him with critical information on Germany’s military buildup for World War II.
Szara is respected and well known in t
...more
Lance Charnes
May 22, 2012 Lance Charnes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of LeCarre or Ambler
As I've said in other reviews, Alan Furst is my writing hero, so it pains me to give Dark Star less than four stars. But I do; perhaps not because of any faults but rather my inability to connect with it.

This is the second in his Night Soldiers series and one of Furst's earlier works. It shares many of the qualities that have established Furst as the John LeCarre of interwar Mitteleuropa espionage: the economically drawn settings, the sharply observed dialog, the ring of authenticity in the deta
...more
Claude Foster
Apr 01, 2016 Claude Foster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Alan Furst novel in the Night Soldiers series and, once again, he delivers. No one can equal him when it comes to creating the atmosphere of pre-WWII Europe. Add a cast of interesting characters, a plot with all the twist and turns you could want, and what you have is a very enjoyable read. If you’re interested in Europe before and during WWII, this will be like catnip. If what you want is a fast paced spy novel, you won’t be disappointed. The novels in this series each has a n ...more
Toby McMillen
May 21, 2009 Toby McMillen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my second read of this book, and I have come to the opinion that this is the best of the Alan Furst books. Full stop. The character of Andre Szara is compelling and complex, and the story is well-told. Furst always gives such an interesting viewpoint of the tumultuous times in which his stories are set. Furst characters always play the part of normal people who never particularly cared to be heroes, but ended up that way anyhow.
I recommend this book, and any Furst book, for that matter,
...more
Marc  A.
Aug 27, 2010 Marc A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the (I believe) longest (almost 600 pages) and, so far, the best of the several of Furst's novels I have read. I would rate it six
stars if I could. In Dark Star, the protagonist is a Poland (Pale of Settlement) born Jew who grows up in Odessa Russia, fights for the Bolshevics in the Revolution of 1917, becomes an international reporter for Pravda, and is dragooned into doing intelligence work for the NKVD in the late 1930's. It is excellent spy fiction that takes place against superbly r
...more
Jrobertus
This is another well written spy thriller. Andre Szara is a Polish Jew, raised in Russia who is a correspondent for Soviet Pravda. In 1938 he is coerced into acting as a spy master traveling to France and Germany. The story is very complicated and the reader is often in the dark, as most spys are too. Who to trust? What is going on. Russian Jews suffered greatly under the Tsar and many led the 1917 Red revolution. But when Stalin took control he trusted only his Georgian cronies and mass purges ...more
Steve
Another brilliant description of the pre-WWII world of western Europe, told through the perspective of a Soviet correspondent for Pravda, who was born a Jew in Poland. He is drawn into working for the NKVD, the Soviet expionage service, and does so in Belgium, France and Germany, specifically contacting a German Jewish manufacturer of specialty wire, which allows their production numbers to be used to determine the manufacturing totals for German aircraft in the years leading up to World War II. ...more
Gary Knoke
Jul 03, 2016 Gary Knoke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I finished Dark Star, I have pondered how to explain it to those who are unfamiliar with the work of Alan Furst. Night Soldiers, the first in the series, was a close second to the best book I have ever read, in any genre. So I had high expectations for the sequel. The story of the Polish/Russian Jewish journalist, drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, was superb---easily equal to the work of LeCarre, Deighton, or Ambler---but the prose was not as elegant as that in Night Soldiers. Or ...more
Andy Zell
Dark Star by Alan Furst is an immersive historical novel set in Europe in the run up and first days of the Second World War. The protagonist is André Szara, a journalist working as a foreign correspondent for Pravda on the European continent. He gets entangled in the world of espionage, and only near the end of the novel is he able to figure out completely the role he has played in the dealings between Russia and Germany in peace and war. He is a survivor. Historical novels can fall into a Forre ...more
Jim
Sep 12, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really want to give ALAN FURST's historical spy thriller DARK STAR (ISBN 978-0375759994, trade paperback, $16.00) 5 stars but at times the writer devolves into a War and Peace type of Russian author. Those sections were great for my insomnia. But when Furst gets into the action of pre-WWII Europe, he soars. I have read two prior Furst novels NIGHT SOLDIERS and THE SPIES OF WARSAW.

The protagonist in this story, Andre Szara, was born in Poland and came of age in Odessa (Russia). He is Jewish, a
...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...

Other Books in the Series

Night Soldiers (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1)
  • The Polish Officer (Night Soldiers, #3)
  • The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4)
  • Red Gold (Night Soldiers, #5)
  • Kingdom of Shadows (Night Soldiers, #6)
  • Blood of Victory (Night Soldiers, #7)
  • Dark Voyage (Night Soldiers, #8)
  • The Foreign Correspondent (Night Soldiers, #9)
  • The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10)
  • Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11)

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