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Polish Officer (Night Soldiers #3)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,559 Ratings  ·  264 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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Feb 03, 2016 Cphe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Becoming quite addicted to these books, love the time period and the rich historical detail. Every time I finish one of these engrossing novels I start sourcing my next read by this very talented author.
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
Dec 04, 2013 Scot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
T. Scott
Sep 13, 2007 T. Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Felisberto Barros
Jan 04, 2015 Felisberto Barros rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Não estando ambientado com este tipo de literatura, para minha grande surpresa porque iniciei-a com base nas pontuações e opiniões aqui da Goodreads, confesso que, depois de lido o livro, dificilmente investirei noutro trabalho de Alan Frust.

Infelizmente não foi uma leitura prazerosa. Tenho a dizer que, da minha parte, não gostei muito da abordagem do autor. Não conhecendo nenhum dos seus trabalhos, a ideia de espionagem é vendida de forma barata na apresentação e caracterização do livro. Sendo
Jun 21, 2007 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2013 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Sep 02, 2012 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Tom Meyer
Apr 19, 2016 Tom Meyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 and 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 d
Toby McMillen
Jan 28, 2008 Toby McMillen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
John Caviglia
Espionage at its deepest, darkest best.

Though crafted from tissues of cunning and deceit—as such novels are—The Polish Officer is less the kind of chess game played with human pawns often depicted in this genre, than an exploration of the price and meaning of survival … less a novel concerning spy craft than a perspective announced by the title itself. As a Pole, the main character, De Milja, plants his feet on a land bloodied by the battles between East and West since the time of Genghis Khan—
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
Feb 18, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The more I read, the more I learn. I had often heard of the French Resistance of WWII, but somehow that there was a Polish Resistance escaped me. Following up on my reading of The Polish Officer, I now learn that the Polish Resistance was the largest of such organizations during this war.

Alan Furst, who says he writes “near history”, gives us Alexander de Milja as the means by which we see the activities of the Polish Resistance from the time of Germany occupying Warsaw to mid-1941. While there
Bryan Alexander
Another good example of "historical spy thriller".
Furst takes the title character on a tour of war-torn Europe from 1939 'til about 1942, from the fall of Poland to the Nazi-Soviet war.
Our point of view character is quiet yet effective, a good narrative place for the reader to lodge.
Furst excels at one-off small portraits of many minor characters we briefly meet.
Jul 09, 2016 Andie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Furst's earlier World War II thrillers, and, as usual it's full of vivid characters and noir atmosphere. It is September, 939 and the German's are invading Poland. France and Britain have declared war on Germany, but are doing less than nothing to help the Poles fend off the invading Wehrmacht. Captain Alexander de Milia has been assigned some rear guard actions: hijacking a train to get the Polish treasury of gold to Romania and organizing resistance units. He moves from Poland, ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd book in the 'Night Soldiers' series. It focuse on 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. His first task is to escort Poland's remaining gold reserves out of the country, hidden in a train load of refugees. Other operations follow in France and the Ukraine.
The writing is so re
Dick Reynolds
Mar 06, 2013 Dick Reynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 04, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Alan Furst book. I’d previously started Night Soldiers but felt it was rather swamped by the amount of historical research, which the author had clearly done.

With ‘The Polish Officer’ I was gripped from the opening paragraph. It begins in Warsaw on the night of 11th September 1939 and you are introduced to Captain Alexander de Milja – an officer of the Polish Military Intelligence and previously a cartographer. The description of de Milja a few pages on is sparse – dark hair,
Aug 07, 2008 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Oct 16, 2011 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011books
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
Mar 24, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 02, 2013 David Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dee Mills
For a couple of weeks, my husband and I were absorbed in the atmosphere of World War Ii in Europe. Furst developed his tale by following the career of a Polish officer in the Polish resistence in vignettes, a style for which he is known to use in other books. This one totally worked for us. We felt like we were there, experiencing the world of war as it developed, spreading from country to country. We didn't linger in any one place just as the protagonist was called to move on, to fight another ...more
Oct 04, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was actually awesome! i like to think i'm too good for spy novels but this was SO GREAT and atmospheric give me this film please.
Fred Baker
May 01, 2015 Fred Baker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Furst earlier works but it is a classic depiction of Paris, Warsaw and other parts of Europe at the beginning of the Second World War. The historical feel and detail of the settings and events convincingly portray the despair and gradual loss of hope of the Poles and some French as they see their countries overtaken by the superior Wehrmacht forces. The characters express the uncertainty and desperation they feel as they see their lives changed irrevocably.

The story follows the li
Jan 07, 2015 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book taking the reader into the horrors of World War II through the experiences of a Polish army officer turned spy in the underground. Perhaps it had special relevance to me as I grew up during that war, later studied operations in that war during my own military service, and later traveled in countries described in the narrative. The narrative reveals the struggles of the resistance efforts of against the Nazi invaders as they ravished Europe, battled Britain, and attempted ...more
Lukasz Pruski
Although Alan Furst's "The Polish Officer" (1995) came highly recommended by a friend of mine whose judgment I value and trust, I feel a little disappointed having read the book. It is a rather standard spy novel slash war story fare; Daniel Silva's books, which I do not like at all, are quite similar, with the exception that Mr. Furst is obviously a better writer. The novel is written with great sympathy for Polish people and Polish resistance fighters in particular, but I am not allowed to be ...more
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  • Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4)
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  • Background to Danger
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 14 books)
  • Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1)
  • Dark Star (Night Soldiers, #2)
  • 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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