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The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers #10)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  4,787 Ratings  ·  504 Reviews

War is coming to Europe. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, in Warsaw, the new military attaché, Colonel Jean-François Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal, and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of the city.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Random House Publishing Group
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Jun 15, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy-thriller
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
Lewis Weinstein
ORIGINAL REVIEW ... An excellent spy story, set in Warsaw, Prague and other venues before the German invasion of Poland. ... SPOILER ALERT ... Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the question of what was known to the French about German invasion plans ... and how that information was ignored. I am left wondering how close Furst's depiction comes to verifiable truth.

UPDATE 6/2/17 ...

I re-read the book and enjoyed it again. The descriptions of places and espionage activities are simply superb, a
Jul 26, 2008 Nancy-jo added it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2008 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
Warsaw, 1938. Colonel Jean-Francios Mercier is a celebrated war hero of the 1914 war. He is also the military representative from the French embassy who trades in secrets and information from Germans, Russians, and anyone else who can be trusted. But no one is to be trusted, not really. In this time of uncertain fear and with war looming in the distance, Mercier must rely on his courage and intelligence to keep his head above water and survive. not normally the type of book that I enjoy
Feb 23, 2009 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Gradually working my way through the novels of Alan Furst. One of the strengths of this author is his attention to detail, the setting and the atmosphere of his novels. Whilst I don't consider this the best to date I've read of the author it was still for this reader an interesting read in it's own right.
Jun 05, 2012 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“Well, he thought, one did what one had to do, so life went. No, one did what one had to do in order to do what one wanted to do - so life really went.”
― Alan Furst, The Spies of Warsaw


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 t
Dec 05, 2010 KOMET rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
Jeffrey Zeldman
Feb 14, 2010 Jeffrey Zeldman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 05, 2016 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is book №10 in the "Night Soldiers" series. This time it is set in Warsaw before the start of WWII. The main character is Colonel Jean- Francois Mercier. a highly decorated soldier from WWI. He is also the military attaché at the French Embassy there. As part of his duties he has to attend various functions, and often gathers seemingly innocuous grains of information. The whole of Europe is expecting war to descend, but no-one knows when or where. Can these grains of information be gathered ...more
Brenda Hawley
Sep 19, 2011 Brenda Hawley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can one say of Alan Furst? His deceptively simple writing style is so multi-layered and full of hdden emotion, so fascinating to watch his plots develop but even more so his characters who are caught up in problems of the pre and World War II era in which they are able to merely watch the action.Furst is one of the best modern writiers in my opinion.
Bruce MacBain
Feb 01, 2011 Bruce MacBain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Furst is a master at recreating the menacing atmosphere of Central Europe on the brink of World War II. And the plot's good too.
Apr 18, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: series, movie
We find ourselves in 1937 Warsaw. At the heart of this story is Jean-Francois Mercier, a very honorable soldier in what he considers a very dishonorable position -- the military attaché at the French Embassy.
Unhappily, he is the spymaster whose main duty is to gather information about Nazi military plans towards France as he unwillingly cultivates his sources and reluctantly moves within the embassy's social circles. As his interactions begin to bear fruit, Jean-Francois begins to understand tha
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
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
Julie Christine
"In the dying light of an autumn day in 1937, a certain Herr Edvrd Uhl, a secret agent, descended from a first-class railway carriage in the city of Warsaw." With this opening sentence, Furst drops you into a world of glamour and intrigue, with the spectre of Nazism and Hitler's fanatic followers looming as dark and cold as a winter in Poland. I am now thoroughly hooked on Furst and his talents as a writer of historical espionage. His details are pitch perfect, his research laudable. He takes hi ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 06, 2010 Renata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww1-and-ww11
Loved the story and the time period of 1937. He captures the anxiety and uncertainty of the espionage community and the governments of Europe at the time. Liked the characters and could not wait to read another of his books. Followed this one up with Night soldiers which I read on my nook. It was a much longer and and involved story in which he portrays the chaos of the European communities. My heart bled for the young soldiers who were trying to survive the changing political currents sweeping ...more
This book was interesting-- about the lives of diplomat/spies in pre world war II Europe. It did drag in some spots, though.
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
May 12, 2015 Tripfiction rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novel set in Warsaw ("..a polished piece of writing..")

At the French embassy in 1937 Warsaw, the French military attaché Colonel Mercier is trying to deal with the problem of a somewhat feckless agent, Herr Edward Uhl. Soon, he is drawn into a world of intrigue and betrayal and is forced to embark on some dangerous missions himself. It doesn’t take him long to work out that Hitler plans to go around the Maginot line and invade through Belgium. He duly reports his findings but Official France cho
Apr 12, 2010 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Fantastic! Amazing! The last in a series of espionage novel, although this is actually second to last in the sequence of their being written. It really doesn't matter that much. Each can be a stand alone! This deals with the international espionage community in Warsaw before World War II in the late thirties and ends with the Vichy government taking hold in France capitulating to the Nazi takeover and the resistance government establishing in London under Gen. de Gaulle after a roller coaster of ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spy and historical fiction fans.
Another fantastic effort for the premier writer of spy stories going.

This one takes place, as you might guess, in Warsaw just prior to WW II. The major protagonist, Lieutenant Colonel Mercier, is the Military Attache' at the French Embassy.

The story starts slowly but gains momentum with each succeeding chapter until I found it very difficult to put the book down. The initial focus is on a German engineer, Herr Uhl, who is honey-trapped into sharing German armament secrets with the French.

From th
Jun 26, 2015 Andie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alan Furst's hero's are all worldly wise men of a certain age and the hero of The Spies of Warsaw is no exception. Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier is an aristocratic Frenchman: a widower and decorated hero of the First World War who is the military attache to the French Embassy in Warsaw. In this capacity he is immersed in the shadowy world of spies and counter-spies who operated in Mittel Europe in the years leading up to the start of the Second World War, and as usual in Furst's novels, our hero ...more
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WW2 Spy Novels group now available 9 27 Jul 17, 2014 07:55PM  
Would make for a great Woody Allen Movie!!!! 9 19 Sep 11, 2013 07:59AM  
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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 14 books)
  • Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1)
  • Dark Star (Night Soldiers, #2)
  • 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)
  • Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11)

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