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Thirty-Nine Steps and ...
John Buchan
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Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #1-2)

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  599 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
When Richard Hannay is warned of an assassination plot that has potential to take Britain into a war, and then discovers in his flat the murdered body of the American that warned him, he becomes a prime suspect. He flees to the moors of Scotland and a spirited chase begins as he is pursued by the police and the German spies involved with stealing British plans. Buchan's ta ...more
Hardcover, Reader's Digest edition, 405 pages
Published 2009 by ImPress (first published 1915)
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G. Lawrence
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I say! What a dashed ripping yarn old chap!
I enjoyed this book greatly. It's short, a novella really, but a great little read. Very of its time, and has now produced in me an urge to talk like George from Blackadder Goes Forth. Sure it will wear off eventually...
Loved all the trickery, escape and running over the Scottish moors, topping fun, wot?
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lot of negative reviews on this. I guess those folks didn't understand what they were reading. This is virtually the first of its kind. Okay, it is a little cheesy but it rattles along. It also contains more sex and extreme violence than you would expect of a book from this time.
Ashley Phillips
This was a fun read. It moved along well and was interesting. I enjoyed Buchan's descriptions of the natural landscapes. It allowed the reader to visualize them well. I would recommend it...especially if you're a Hitchcock fan :)
Ken Pelham
The murder of an old acquaintance sends two-dimensional action figure John Hannay on the run through the English and Scottish countryside, trying to elude both the police and the actual murderers. Plots are afoot to plunge the continent into war, mirroring the actual sequences of avoidable tragedies and willful stupidities that started the Great War in 1914. Hannay created the "man on the run" thriller with this novel. At times, the book is successful and entertaining, yet slips over the edge of ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Throughly enjoyable even given the story is ancient.
Jacobo Garcia
Book report.
Jacob García.

The thirty-nine steps.

John Buchan.

78 pages read.


The story was in the Wars epoch in Europe, the protagonist Richard Hannay returned to his home after living a long time in Rhodesia. So he was very bored with his work there, because his work was to talk with strangers to help them with situarions, but one day he decided to pray to God if it was a good idea to left the country, but since that moment he prayed to God, a lot of stranger things started to ha
Aaron Barnes
A fast paced and enjoyable romp through the Scottish countryside. It's worth bearing in mind when this was written, and the fact it was a pioneer of the "spy" genre.
The narrative is easy to read and Buchan has a nice pace about his writing. The book is good fun but the plot is rather too contrived in places; people and places pop up far too conveniently to move the story on (Dues ex machina).
Despite this, the book is good fun and an enjoyable read. It's also rather short and can be rattled thr
Gibin Mathew
A Riveting read !

A wonderful thriller with a powerful narration.You won't get bored at any stage of its presentation. Lot of twists wait you at in its discourse but the end is quiet predictable.The story is small around 160 pages and you could finish it in a single go.

This is my first read of John Buchan,and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The language is little tough with lot of Scottish dialogues (slang/phrases). For its story line and engaging narration ,I will rate it 3.5/5
Dec 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Starts out typical adventure novel-y, bla bla bored adventurer in the city, bla bla on the point of tossing it all, bla bla mysterious person shows up to explain vast conspiracy, bla bla the end point is that on page 11 we get to a long-winded "the Jews are doing it" complete with typical physical descriptions and really stupid reasons why, and there goes any faith I have that this novel is going anywhere I want to.

Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might as well have been written as a movie script, it is so packed with action. The plot is sometimes a bit too much and exaggerated, but I assume it shouldn't be taken too seriously. It was an enjoyable. read even though the end is a bit abrupt.
It was alright, but much of the book is the narrator running and hiding everywhere that it felt like this was three times as long as it really was!
Richard Dowling
Audio version is too dramatic. Let the story tell it not the heightened voices
Frankie Saxx
I've seen the movie and it was pretty good so when I saw this on Gutenberg I was like "Why the hell not?"

It was okay. I enjoyed it. But there are some plot holes you could drive a truck through.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and quick read
Andrew C
An interesting read. Rather Biggles old chap though. At least I finally know what the 39 steps refers to! Not a bad story, but oh so dated.
Peter Sidell
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The excitement starts in a flat in London, moves to the moors of Scotland and ends on the cliffs of Dover. A cleverly plotted good read.
Jeremy Hopkins
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Might have to reread
Morgan Gallagher
2 and a half stars really. Okay, it's an old book. It's also more of a novella than a novel. Which make the first chapter even more complicated as it takes too long putting in a massive back story. It's also difficult to get past the casual racist phrases of the time. However, it does then pick up and clip along nicely. Until it gets to the end, where it limps home.

Alas, if you are looking for the Richard Hannay of film fame, you'll discover that your memories of Hannay come via Hitchcock, and C
Carl Alves
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Thirty-Nine Steps was written and is set in World War 1 era Europe, where conspiracies of worldwide war are at work. The story’s main character, Richard Hannay is leading a typical middle class life when he gets thrust in the middle of it all as a stranger shows up telling him of this conspiracy. When the stranger winds up dead, Richard takes it upon himself to bring the killers to justice and prevent the war from happening.

This novel is part thriller, part spy novel. In comparison to other
Oct 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buchan's attempt to write a 'dime novel,' as he put it, might read as a tad too simplistic and implausible yarn of adventure by the high standards of the modern reader of the thriller genre, but it is still entertaining and reminds one of a more innoncent world. Also, considering the fact that it was written way back when in 1914, and that the author paved the way for the thriller/espionage genre, one has to concede that at the time the novel was a trendsetter, and a valiant attempt at telling a ...more
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
For a novella written in 1921, one of the first few of it's kind, The Thirty-Nine Steps is a riveting page turner.

Richard Hannay as an ordinary man turned hero is a believable character, free from ostentation and very proactive.

The fast paced nature of the plot along with Hannay's quick thinking deductions create suspense worth mulling over.

Furthermore the novella's style, its narrative not lost in excessive technical jargon create a sense of timelessness.
Jun 22, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Crime

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always find it interesting to read novels that have been turned into movies which become classic films such as this one which has had various incarnations as a film the most famous being the great Hitchcock version. One begins to appreciate the difficulties in turning books into film as plots, points of view, narrators, characters and places have to be corralled into a cohesive whole while maintaining the original intent of the original source material.
Pradeep Rajiv
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is too good for a spy thriller conceived in 1914.
The protagonist character Hannay would surely have set high standards for many more thrillers to come in this genre.
WIth a limited set of strong characters, this is easily one of the best plots I have read. The language and the characterisation are unique and would have been 19o's advanced and now vintage stuff.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This has been on my "to read" list for awhile since there is a few movies and plays based on this story. For it's time period, pretty exciting, but quite different than the "visuals" I've seen based on it. But, overall, fun and exciting for it's time and a good basis for what followed. Rich, bored young man involved in murder and intrigue (spys!!). Glad I was able to finally read it.
Harsha Gurnani
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Fast-paced (incidental-)spy thriller. The author wrote this with an intention to make the story-line as implausible and outrageous as possible. He did a good job of that.
Interesting. Also I love how the author makes an effort to explain the fortunes of our hero, and remembers to propose explanations, no matter how serendipitous.

3.5 stars
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This classic spy novel has just been re-released. It was first published in 1914 and is a template for many of the thrillers and spy novels written after. Some of the travels are difficult to follow, not knowing the Scottish countryside. Even so, it was fascinating and a good read.
Simeon Brazzell
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: secular, fiction, mystery
I really enjoyed this one. I know it's a little silly and utterly ridiculous in the number coincidences. But you have to think about the day and age it was written in.

Just an idea, but it'd make an excellent slapstick spy comedy if you did it right.
Amanda Gorry
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this action adventure spy story. It may have been written eons ago but it still works and the language was easy to understand and not the usual flowery language from days gone by. Lots of intrigue, murder and chases - worth reading
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John Buchan (1st Baron Tweedsmuir) was a Scottish novelist and public servant who combined a successful career as an author of thrillers, historical novels, histories and biographies with a parallel career in public life. At the time of his death he was Governor-General of Canada.

Buchan was educated at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. After a brief career in law he went to South Africa in 1902 wh
More about John Buchan...

Other Books in the Series

Richard Hannay (5 books)
  • The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay, #1)
  • Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #2)
  • Mr. Standfast (Richard Hannay, #3)
  • The Three Hostages (Richard Hannay #4)
  • The Island of Sheep (Richard Hannay #5)

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