Dan's Reviews > Night Soldiers
Night Soldiers (Night Soldiers, #1)
by Alan Furst
by Alan Furst
this is exactly the sort of thing i'm gravitating to lately. engrossing, historically resonant, approachable-but-still-literary, epic and fun. people compare furst to graham greene, which makes sense. like greene's work at its best, night soldiers manages to be melancholic and, for lack of a better word, adventurous simultaneously. furst's outlook isn't quite as sour as greene's though. there's none of that suffering christian ennui stuff that bothered me so much in books like the heart of the matter. the pessimism of night soldiers is more political. though furst seems to have a great respect for individual courage, he paints the WWII era in remarkably bleak tones. our hero, a bulgarian NKVD spy named kristo stoianev, seems extraordinarily detached from the various patriotisms he encounters. the conflict between soviet communism and fascism is depicted as a lose-lose proposition (which it obviously was), but even its more noble offshoots (the fight against franco, the french resistance) are marked by petty squabbling and totalitarian entropy. ideology is something that suffocates people instead of liberating them. on the other hand, the novel is full of action! it moves quickly through a variety of historical backdrops, introducing a number of brilliantly sketched minor characters. in fact, the minor characters are where the novel really shines. kristo often comes across as an apparatus through which furst can reckon with history, but the real story-telling occurs through the interesting folks at the story's edges.
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