Polish Officer
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Polish Officer (Night Soldiers #3)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,410 ratings  ·  187 reviews
September 1939. As Warsaw falls to Hitler's Wehrmacht, Captain Alexander de Milja is recruited by the intelligence service of the Polish underground. His mission: to transport the national gold reserve to safety, hidden on a refugee train to Bucharest. Then, in the back alleys and black-market bistros of Paris, in the tenements of Warsaw, with partizan guerrillas in the fr...more
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Published November 6th 2001 by Random House Publishing Group (first published February 7th 1995)
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AC
I was a bit horrified to find myself reading (and enjoying!) a piece of historical-fiction, a genre I'm supposed to hate... But so it goes.

This book is weak in plotting, which is one of the two main reasons why this is not first-rate literature. The characterization is not bad, though so many characters wend their way through the narrative that there is not much development. All this is the common knock on Furst, apparently.

Also -- one finds too many hackneyed phrases and observations... just to...more
Scot
It is a common and valid critique of Furst's books that they are just strung together scenes and images. The main character serves mostly to propel the viewpoint around (pre)war Europe and to provide a place to hang a sense of resigned wistful badassery. This is certainly true here, but I think it misses the point.

To me these are more history books than spy novels. They have given rich and broad context - cultural, economic, military - to many aspects of the first half of the 20th century I didn...more
T. Scott
This book has a scene of such heartbreaking sadness, desperation, fragility and beauty that I think about it quite often. For those that have read it, it's the scene near the beginning with young girl who wants on the train. It says something about the impact of war on the innocent and something else that I can't quite put my finger on. It's small scenes like this which make his books so dependably good.
William
The Polish Officer, like Night Soldiers and Dark Star, is good for its picturesque detail and rich understanding of the deep ties and rivalries between European states during World War II. But what makes each of these novels excellent is the infusion of stories within stories, of the heroes among millions, who give to the inhuman scale of war a believable realism. In The Polish Officer, you find these stories in a seventeen-year-old Polish girl working at a wireless transmitter in a Paris wareho...more
Darwin8u
There are certain historical truths that can only be teased out of the past with a fiction narrative build on the skeleton of the past. There are hidden truths that are exposed only with a story, with fiction, with literature. Alan Furst's war and pre-war espionage novels do that. His novels flesh out more about the people who fight, suffer and die in war than most straight academic histories can ever hope to give to the reader.

You finish an Alan Furst novel tasting the blood and the smoke, body...more
Emily
As other reviewers have noted, this book seems to be an extreme example of Furst's tendency to offer disconnected episodes, or episodes whose connection is so oblique that it's hard to perceive. Furst's novels are really starting to run together for me, so even though I like this author a lot, I'll probably give it a rest for a while before I read another one. I'd like to see him follow a character through a significant change of heart, or through the end of the war, or have him develop a charac...more
Toby McMillen
One of my favorite of Furst's books, this is a great look into the war from the viewpoint of the Poles; who writes about that? Like many Furst books this one ends up in Paris, which is never a bad place for a book setting, and de Milja is a great character. The events portrayed in the book have the feeling of historical fiction; while they may not be true, they make me smell, feel, & taste the time.
Tom Meyer
This is superior historical fiction: obviously well-researched, strongly narrated, with excellent characterization and some of the most effectively subtle prose I've ever encountered. If you can imagine the grit lack of sentimentality of The Sandbaggers set in Poland during WWII, you're close.

The Polish Officer is the story of Captain Alexander de Milja, a military cartographer recruited into the Polish secret service at the 11th hour, literally as Warsaw burns around him. The novel follow de Mi...more
Anne
Actually I now have either read all of his books or the library will send on the last 2 in a few days. That will make 7 in a week. I don't know why I'm obsessed with these spy novels by Furst, but maybe because we were in and out of these countries in eastern Europe several years ago, only a few days here and there, just as the characters cross back and forth between borders. The various countries portrayed in the short time before the US entered WWII blended together in ways that were interesti...more
Robin Webster
The ‘Polish Officer’ follows the fortunes of Captain Alexander de Milja, from the fall of Poland in 1939 when he is recruited into the Polish underground to 1941, when he finds himself fighting alongside the partisans in the forests of the Ukraine. de Milja’s first mission is to take charge of the transportation of Poland’s gold reserves which are hidden on a refugee train heading for Bucharest. He then moves on to Paris just before the occupation, then acted as an intelligence officer before mo...more
Dick Reynolds
The story begins in September 1939 when Warsaw falls to Hitler’s Wermacht. Captain Alexander de Milja is recruited by the intelligence service of the Polish underground. His first mission is to transport Poland’s gold on a train bound for Bucharest, Romania. After the success of this mission, de Milja works in the back alleys of Paris, the frozen forests of the Ukraine, and at the Calais harbor during an attack by British bombers.
Alan Furst has framed this book in the period 1939 to 1941, unli...more
Tony Daniel
The career of Polish intelligence officer during World War II; kind of a thriller, but fighting against it every step of the way. Furst is best known for his pontilist detail in setting, with each sentence sometimes seemingly like an entire research project into what sort of nails were used in this railcar construction, what substance was used to clear tank parts in German repair facilities (gasoline), etc. His characters are all Hemingway pastiche, but well done enough so as not to become unint...more
Ed
Aug 07, 2008 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WW II, Spy Literature, lovers of good writng.
Recommended to Ed by: Head Butler
This is my fourth Alan Furst book and the best so far. I got so caught up in the story that I finished it in two days. I literally could not put it down.

The struggles of Alexander de Milja, a Polish map maker, working for his government's intelligence services, to survive the German/Russian invasion of Poland in 1939 and the ongoing war, while maintaining his integrity and honor, is spellbinding.

The writing is so realistic that it would be easy to believe that Furst experienced the events himse...more
Martin
A somewhat dense, well-written, slowish, compelling book. I'll go out on a limb and say that Alan Furst doesn't suffer fools; this book doesn't pander. I guess I'm somewhat disappointed in myself that I found it somewhat slow, maybe because of its episodic nature. Maybe it was just TOO realistic, not giving readers satisfying beginnings-middles-and-ends in the episodes. I mean, I wasn't there, but my understanding is that much of the time during World War II there weren't episodes with delightfu...more
Enrique Ramirez
Alan Furst's third spy novel has all of the Furstian machinery firmly in place. It's World War II-era atmospherics are impeccable, and so are the evocations of people caught up in the political and moral gyres of clandestine activity. The book's titular character—the aristocratic Pole Alexander de Milja—is a St.-Cyr-trained cartographer recruited by the Polish Union of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej, or "ZWZ") in September 1939 to smuggle the remains of the Polish treasury away from onco...more
Jennifer
Mar 24, 2012 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: Carl McGee
Furst has a gift for making his main characters extremely distinctive despite all operating at roughly the same time and space. Alexander de Milja, the title character of The Polish Officer is memorable indeed: aristocratic, resigned to death, and very good at being more than one person when necessary. The book involves several dramatic set-pieces (a tense and violent train journey fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland; a nighttime harbor bombing; a desperate jail break) and explores the untenable situat...more
David Jordan
If “Casablanca” is your favorite movie, as it is mine, you will find this novel of war-buffeted Europe in the years 1939-1941 enlightening. Through the adventures of Polish soldier Alexander de Milja as smuggler, spy and guerrilla fighter, the reader meets all manner of expatriate and expatriate-to-be -- war profiteer, courtesan, idealistic patriot, cynical traitor, aristocrat, bureaucrat, brutal conquerer. It’s like a compilation of backstories for the desperate characters who show up at Rick’s...more
Mac
The Polish Officer is an excellent historical depiction of the WWII resistance movement. Through fiction, Furst captures the successes, the failures, the dangers, and the movement's tasks both large and small, all in rich detail across multiple countries. Additionally, Furst's focus on the importance of military materiel is enlightening. War is won not just with troops and battles but also with support and supplies, and Furst paints this picture very well. So The Polish Officer is an educational...more
Lorraine
“The Polish Officer” is a historical fiction espionage novel that takes place in 1939 as Warsaw is falling. It chronicles the bravery of the Polish underground in Poland, France and the Ukraine. Captain Alexander de Milja is the main character who works underground taking on false identities. His first mission is to transport Poland’s gold from the treasury and take it to safety so that the Germans cannot find it. In the beginning of the novel he says he may not live through these missions, but...more
Paul
"The Polish Officer" is the third in Alan Furst's still growing, loosely connected, series of "Night Soldiers" novels about spies and secret agents during World War II. In it, we meet Alexander DeMilja, a military cartographer pressed into espionage duty by his superiors as the Nazis overrun Warsaw.

DeMilja is reserved but intense, brave and lucky, and above all, smart and quick to learn. These qualities stand him in good stead as he smuggles Poland's gold reserves out of the country, works with...more
Brendan Hodge
This was the first Alan Furst spy thriller that I ever read, and returning to re-read it after a number of years (and reading all the novels he's written since) I'd still rate it as one of his best. It follows the experiences of Polish Captain Alexander de Milja, a map analyst on the Polish general staff who is recruited into the intelligence service of the Polish government (and army) in exile after the conquest of Poland in 1939 by Germany and the Soviet Union.

As always, Furst's research is t...more
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
Like the rest of Furst's novels, The Polish Officer is an exploration of how men and women caught up in the grinding, desperate grimness of Europe during the Second World War fought and survived in the shadows cast by the world of espionage and intelligence. After having read three of his novels so far, I think the reason I find them so compelling is due to two reasons.

First, is the degree to which Furst captures the feeling of the era without denigrating into hackneyed cliché. He's done his re...more
Jonathan
The Polish Officer is the third book written by Alan Furst in the Night Soldiers series of, currently, 12 books. It's not a real series, in that there isn't a main character that stars in each book. In this case, the connection is the milieu - the 1930s and 40s in war ravaged Europe, each featuring a spy or intelligence officer fighting the good fight.

This is my third book in the series and features Captain Alexander de Milja, an officer in the Polish Army who is recruited by the underground as...more
Matt
For the last few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in WW2. I’ve read some non-fiction books on the OSS. I drive my wife crazy with World War II magazine purchases at the grocery story. Naturally, I sought out the best I could find in WW2 fiction.

I found it in Alan Furst. About a year ago, I discovered his work and bought several novels. He has several mysterious and appealing novels. I even recently picked up on in audio CD.

For my first foray, I read The Polish Correspondent. The titula...more
Paul Harris
Until recently I didn't know of Alan Furst's writing at all, but I'm very pleased to have now discovered it. This was my first of his books, and from other reviews out there it looks as though there are plenty more to enjoy which will be even more satisfying than I found this one. I don't often read what might be called 'spy thrillers', but I am a fan of historical fiction. This book - and I gather the others of Furst as well - is a successful blend of the two genres.

In a word I would describe t...more
Duffy Pratt
I've been reading so many big, clunky books recently that I'm somewhat at a loss when I hit upon a writer who is both clean and efficient. This type of writing definitely lies outside the norm for me now, and I have to say that I find myself wondering why. Maybe its just that it's so much harder to find a writer with this kind of skill.

I thought this book was a slight step up from his first two books, but I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly why. I think it comes down to this: instead...more
Brian
The third novel by Alan Furst and a worthy effort through and through. Though a bit shorter than the first two, it shares all the characteristics that made them great reads. Of course there's intrigue, danger, action, romance, etc., but his ability to create seemingly fully formed characters faced with overcoming enormous odds is uncanny. And thus far I've especially appreciated the fact that his protagonists have been from less familiar parts of wartime Europe (Balkans, Poland, etc.), since I f...more
g
Oct 26, 2010 g rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to g by: George
I'm probably being a bit harsh giving it only two stars; it's probably a 2.5. I do agree with one reviewer who called the novel "mesmerizing": there is something hypnotic and appealingly atmospheric about the tale of mapmaker Captain Alexander de Milja's reluctant and daring missions on behalf of Polish intelligence in German-occupied World War II Europe. But it's also mercilessly episodic and needlessly confusing, and it doesn't even pretend to add up to much: I honestly thought my copy of the...more
Doug
This is a work of historical fiction - a spy tale set in various locales during the start of WWII. Furst's attention to detail and research is admirable. However, I felt this read more like a TV series - episodic, with none of the episodes building on the other, except, perhaps, in the incrementally positive worldview of the protagonist, Alexander de Milja. Also, I hate to nitpick on style, but I'm really starting to get annoyed with excessive use of sentence fragments by many writers, not just...more
Dorothy
Captain Alexander de Milja defends his city of Warsaw as the Germans advance in 1939, but the Germans have too much firepower. The war in Poland is over almost before it is begun. Except it really isn't.

The Poles fight on by other means, implacably opposing their invaders in ways both great and small, but stealthily, indirectly, underground. Before the last shot of the direct war is fired, Captain de Milja is recruited to help carry on the indirect war. His first task is to transport the gold th...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) The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10) Mission to Paris (Night Soldiers, #12) The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4) Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11)

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