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Dark Star (Night Soldiers #2)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,862 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Paris, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague, 1937. In the back alleys of nighttime Europe, war is already under way. André Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars and a foreign correspondent for Pravda, is co-opted by the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and becomes a full-time spymaster in Paris. As deputy director of a Paris network, Szara fin ...more
Paperback, 446 pages
Published July 9th 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published March 28th 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
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,
Lars Guthrie
‘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
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
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.
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
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
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
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
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
Alan Cohen
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
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
Lance Charnes
May 22, 2012 Lance Charnes rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Toby McMillen
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,
Marc  A.
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
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
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
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
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
Historical fiction. Espionage. Set right before and after the start of WW II. Soviet journalist Andre Szara, is recruited by the NKVD, their secret intelligence agency, to spy on Germany. He is based in Paris. He is Jewish. He is in charge of a German Jew who owns a steel wire (swage) manufacturing company, whose product is used to make airplanes for the Luftwaffe, and using his production numbers, they can figure out how many planes are being built. There is a lot happening in this book. Stalin ...more
Margaret1358 Joyce
This is an historical tome delivered in an absolutely mesmerizing narrative vehicle. The reader is pulled into pre WWII Eastern Europe. The intensity of atmospherics, spy-making and characterization gets deeper and stronger as one is immersed in the daily life of the protagonist, Andre Szara, Russian journalist turned spymaster.
Furst's language is sharp, insightful, evocative and compelling. Atmospherics are convincing, and one has a sense of never being far from Szara's side.
Stalin's machi
Kathleen McGrath
Wanna know what Europe really felt like in the late 30's? Feel like those history books taught you less than nothing? Read Alan Furst's books and see things through the eyes of Russians, Bulgarians, Parisians, Poles and others resisting the nightmares of Hitler and Stalin. Dark Star is my favorite, but Night Soldiers and The Polish Officer blew me away as well.
"Furst writes the same book over and over. The same cities. The same war. The same protagonist, albeit with different name, nationality and persona. Not that this is a bad thing. These books are all very good. Exciting. Scintillating. Little adventures. Some involving fine foods and wines at the likes of Foquet’s or the Adlon. Others scraps of black bread in the cellar of some Eastern European hovel. Things proceed from one setting to the next, sometimes smoothly, sometimes abruptly. It may be d ...more
If you want to get the feeling of what it was like to live in the years of the early 30s into WW II, and the terror of the rise of Hitler, this is the book. Furst writes a terrific spy novel based on sound historical research. Even the minor characters linger for days after you put the book away.
I really think I would like this book more if I re-read it sitting down in longer sessions. The characters are robust, the story interesting and the setting fantastic. Wanted to give it more stars but may have to go back and read it again before doing so.
Furst has a unique style - you have to read his stories carefully to follow his craft, and that's where I find him difficult. Characters come and go, the hero of this story is a Polish Jew who moved to Russia, works for Pravada and does odd jobs for the Russian secret police. He runs into Russians who are trying to get rid of Stalin, Jews trying to escape Germany, discovers plots by Germany to invade Czechoslovakia and Poland and later he works with the Germans as they invade Russia. Just too mu ...more
My knowledge of European history and the events leading up to WWII is not very broad and my knowledge of European geography in the 1930's and "40s is even more limited. So it takes me a while to get my bearings when I read Alan Furst. But I love the way he writes and I love the sense of the times and places that he creates. I am interested and intrigued by the whole espionage/spy thing that went on back then (and still does I'm sure) and he makes these novels feel almost like history lessons. I ...more
John Gillis
This is the first Furst for me, and it was wonderful. It's the second in the series and I haven't found the first (Night Soldiers) yet, but I've since read a few later ones, like "The Polish Officer," and "The World at Night," and "Mission to Paris," which I read on Kindle. They're all good, though "Dark Star" and "The Polish Soldier" are my favorites so far. They are all spy thrillers set in the Thirties and early Forties in Paris, London, Poland, Germany, etc. Sex, history, geography, drama. I ...more
One of the more complicated of Furst novels, a spy and counter spy story that takes place in Europe in the late 30s. Andre Szara, a Soviet journalist, is drawn into the Soviet NKVD and becomes a leading spy in Paris and Berlin. He's fed important information regarding the Nazi luftwaffe program, but questions are raised about the validity of such information. There's also a side plot about Stalin's criminal origins that Furst is aware of and others are trying to protect. Who is feeding who? It's ...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 about Alan Furst...

Other Books in the Series

Night Soldiers (1 - 10 of 13 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)
Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1) Mission to Paris (Night Soldiers, #12) The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10) The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4) Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11)

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