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Masaryk Station

(John Russell & Effi Koenen #6)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,286 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Berlin, early 1948. The city, still occupied by the four Allied powers, still largely in ruins, has become the cockpit of a new Cold War, and as spring unfolds its German inhabitants live in fear of the Soviets enforcing a Western withdrawal. Here, as elsewhere in Europe, the legacies of the War have become entangled in the new Soviet-American conflict, creating a world of ...more
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Published June 18th 2013 by Soho Crime
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3.97  · 
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 ·  1,286 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Zohar -
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Masaryk Station by David Downing is the last novel in the John Russell series. The story takes place in the chaotic time in 1948 Berlin, when the city was divided in the post-war era.

John Russell is an American journalist living in Berlin for a long time. Even though he was linked to the Communist Party he is involved in spying for the Americans and the Russians trying to keep his family secure and safe. John is married to a German actress named Effie, they have a son and an adopted daughter.

Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This is the last in the "Station" series and I'm already thinking that I've been a bit harsh in only giving it three stars but I'm sticking to it for a number of small reasons that I shall explain later.
In "Lehrter Station" David Downing painted a superb picture of post-War Berlin; a grubby world of mixed morals, the fit child of the Nazi War. In "Masaryk Station" the world of 1948 feels perhaps a little less grubby but more uncertain because of the political game the Soviets are playing. It was
A superb end to a simply wonderful series. A marvellous end to the book. Happiness tinged with sadness. Tragedy and hope. It didn’t really feel like a ‘goodbye.’ An au revoir, hopefully. Though that’s probably me wishing it, rather than it actually being so. And yes, he saved the best for (the) last (two).

As the book begins, it is three years since the second war to end all wars ended. But the world feels for many just as unsafe as it was. Perhaps more so. The series’ ‘hero’ John Russell and his
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is number 5 in Downing's 'John Russell and Effi Koenen series'and for fans of the first 4 it won't disappoint. The series tracks the adventures of a British American journalist and expat living in Berlin and his German actress girlfriend from their pre-war days in Nazi Germany through the war years and finally to this book which takes place in 1948 and which is billed as the final installment of the series (though to be honest, I'm not convinced Downing doesn't still have another one up his ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so sorry to see this series end, but in the process, I have been impressed with David Downing's ability to create a continuing cast of characters who survived the Nazis and the Soviets (not to mention the Americans) as Berlin moved through WWII and emerged into the beginning of the Cold War.

I wasn't certain this would be the last until the end notes, but it apparently is. In this final chapter, John Russell, the British-American journalist and double agent, his actress wife Effi and their a
Randee Baty
Berlin, Prague and Belgrade are not a lot of fun to live in after WWII! John Russell, double agent working for the Soviets and the Americans, spends most of his time trying to figure out how to accomplish his missions for both of them and extricate himself from working for either of them. He just wants to keep his wife and his daughter safe.

I have not read the earlier books in this series and I do think that would have helped with understanding the relationships between the characters but I thor
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Those of you that follow me know I have read every book in the John Russel series. I started to think after the last installment Lehrtet Station that Mr. Downing was running out of plots for Russel. This book was very good from the history standpoint again which is what drew me to this series in the first place. But that being said this should be the end I would think. Also I must say that my impressions of neutrality politically was different this time and it was starting to bother me. I feel t ...more
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The sixth and final volume in the John Russell series all named after German train stations. This last volume puts the hero in Berlin a couple of years after the war and just before the Berlin airlift. I liked this series for bringing up lesser known parts of history in Eastern Europe. Once again Russell is caught between his Russian and American handlers
penny king
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of this 'Station' series by David Downing.
As enjoyable and informative as the preceding 5 stories.
His writing style always appeals to me - I look forward to reading something else by Downing in the future.
Michael Springer
Good but not great addition (finale?) to the John Russell spy series. Not quite up to the earlier works. Maybe the Ruskies just aren't as compelling a villain as the Gestapo.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5-3 stars. I really enjoyed the first four in this series which covered WW2 but I do believe that Downing should have just stopped the series after that, leaving us to be glad that John and Effi were happily reunited with one another and their friends and family.
The fifth book and this final one din‘t seem to serve much purpose at all. The fifth one was incredibly boring and this one, although it had its interesting moments, wasn‘t that much better. Again, too many characters which just confu
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Russell, an American journalist, has been living and working in Berlin since before World War II. He was linked to the Communist party in his early years. He was briefly married to a German citizen and they had a son named Paul. John Russell, and his long-time companion is a German actress named Effi. They adopted a young girl orphaned by the war, her name is Rosa. Through out the Station series John Russell, has been involved in espionage, he's struggled with each opposing side, he
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This, the sixth and last book of Downing’s ‘Station’ series, is probably as good as the others. (But I think the first, Zoo Station, is the best of the lot.) It does take a hundred pages before anything suspenseful, thrilling or dramatic occurs but the last two hundred plus pages do not disappoint, ending in a crescendo of lethal conflict resolution.

Events unfold in the post-war European hangover of WW2. The Soviet Union has laid claim to all of Eastern Europe, creating puppet ‘socialist republ
James Kemp
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very satisfying end to the series, although still leaving me with a wish for a more detailed epilogue that told us more about the rest of the cast's lives.

As with the others there is a lot of history being told here, Downing does his research and then puts it on the page. Although one obvious lack was the bit about copying a film where the story goes straight from copying to playback without going through the development process. This is in an era where chemical processing was needed to view
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
This is the concluding volume of the John Russell series which takes place over the decade which begins with prewar Berlin and ends with Partition of Berlin in 1949. The last volume is particularly evocative of the times of four power occupation of the city. Downing writes with historical accuracy and weaves an interesting plot for Russell and his companion Effi. Read this series from the beginning to avoid spoilers which do crop up even as early as the second book. I gave this volume the highes ...more
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 6th and last book in David Downing's WWII series. The books begin before the war, run through it, and end in the first years after the war. The concluding book sets the stage for the Berlin Wall and the circling of the entire country. The actually Mauer to be built after the end of this novel.
Overall I enjoyed the series with it's focus on the people of Berlin and it's seemingly open structure of composition. The fifth book is also good, but the author's maneuvering to set up a cut o
Gloria Feit
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With this, the sixth novel in the John Russell series, David Downing brings to a finale the chronicle covering the years between the World Wars, those following the collapse of Nazi Germany. It has been quite a journey, with Russell having served as a double agent for both the Soviets and Americans, certainly as dangerous as an existence can be. Each of the novels reflected the times and the clashes of the ideological differences between the two countries.

In the final book, the story of a divide
Patrick SG
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of a series of books that take a series of characters, both British and German from the rise of the Nazis through to the beginning of the Cold War. The series compares favorably to both Alan Furst's novels and the Bernie Gunther series, with this volume being more firmly in the espionage genre than any of the previous ones.

This volume was a bit more confusing because of the variety of initials and acronyms of organizations that rose to prominence in post-war Germany (although the author
Robert Scott
+++Indications are that this is the last of the John Russell series which is too bad. JR is once caught between his two masters, the Soviets & their satellites and the Anglo/Americans, trying to still be a reporter while maintaining a family and their & his own freedom. He starts out in Trieste, then to Budapest, & then to Prague where nothing ever seems to go right. Despite several threats to his life as well as Effi's & Rosa's he manages to obtain permission to leave Berlin.+++
Book abandoned due to obscene and graphic opening. I had not read any books in this series and would not pick up any book written by this author again. I had recently read a couple of "Berlin" postwar books and that is how I put myself in the position to be subjected to such a horrendous first chapter.
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
This series has got quite repetitive. More meetings on benches, close escapes at borders, its got a bit boring

Attention to detail let down too - managing to copy a film without any need for processing or developing it? Video tape hadn't been invented in 1948 methinks?
Keith Currie
So, farewell then,
John Russell and Effi Koenen.
You had a lot of adventures
With nasty Nazis
And rascally Russians
And arrogant Americans
And bumbling Brits,
But things generally worked out ok
A few pages later.
Onto the final chapter of the station series.... its 1948 & the Nazis are long gone....? Leaving jus the allies entanglement to deal with in Berlin. Must admit after the prior read I preferred the premise of the stories set in pre-war/WWII era as opposed to the beginnings of the cold war which the series has run on into so in a way I was glad to see this is the last in the series.

However that said, this chapter is a lot better than book 5 as we get a good mix of cold-war (Western Allies vs
I finally got time to finish the last book in this series. I would say 3.5 to 4*, but I didn't find it as strong as a whole as the others (even though it has been a while since I read them). Having spent time in cold-war Era Berlin and some of the other settings of the book it was interesting to me, particularly the tensions that would eventually lead to the Berlin airlift and eventually the wall. The author didn't steer clear of some questionable practices on both the Russian and American side, ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am broken-hearted that this is the last of David Downing's fascinating books that chronicle the lead-up to, the actual conflagration, and the after-effects of WW11. The six books are named after train stations in and around Berlin: Zoo, Silesian, Stettin, Potsdam, Lehrter and Masaryk. These are the departure points for Downing's main protagonist John Russell, on one or another of his missions as an agent who spies for the CIA and its antecedents, as well as NKVD, the Stalin's spy agency. Russe ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m new to John Downing’s historical novels but I’ll get to more than Masaryk Station asap

What a revelation! He puts you in a historical place and you stay there.

This is the sixth and last of this John Russell series all of which use ‘Station'
in the titles: Zoo Station, Silesian, Stettin, Potsdam, and Lehrter stations)

He reminds me of John Le Carre, Alan Furst, and Frederick Forsythe.
That quality!

I’m in awe of his historical knowledge and skill.

John Russell works for both Stalin’s NKVD and the
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I could not but help this sixth book in the Station series was a bit rushed. Weeks, even years, seem telescoped into a sentence or two. The plot had too many characters, as Russell raced from Trieste, to Belgrade, to Venice, to Prague, etc., too many sub-sub-plots that suggested Russell's counterespionage.

Taken as a whole, the series was enjoyable. Not as deep as John Le Carré, for example, but then, who is?
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It’s a wrap! Coming to the last pages, I felt almost sad because I knew there would have been no more John Russell story waiting for me after this book.
Quite a melancholic ending, mixing the happy ending of some storylines with the sadness of the unknown future (but known to the reader).
Quite a pity Paul was not present at all in this one - I truly appreciated his evolution in Potsdam Station.
Truly a great serie. Hopefully there will be more, maybe set in Prague in 1968?
David C Ward
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Russell and his Soviet handler concoct a wily and v dangerous scheme to cut ties with the intelligence agencies by blackmailing Beria. The majority of the book, set in 1948, has to do with the beginnings of the Cold War and the hardening of soviet control over the bloc. Russell continues to try and get an accounting for the crimes of Nazism. No one much cares. The Americans are dopes. The Soviets tyrants. Russell and Effie make a separate peace. Does Rosa go to art school?
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much exposition needed in order to get to a happy ending that you sometimes feel like you can see the moving parts. But I'm nit-picking, really - this brings a satisfying conclusion to the story of John Russell and Effi Koenen while also doing a lot of historical heavy lifting. It's actually been a really intriguing way to learn more about this period of history, particularly this volume whose timeline elides with the Tito - Stalin split and the Berlin airlift.
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David Downing is the author of a political thriller, two alternative histories and a number of books on military and political history and other subjects as diverse as Neil Young and Russian Football.

Other books in the series

John Russell & Effi Koenen (6 books)
  • Zoo Station (John Russell, #1)
  • Silesian Station (John Russell, #2)
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4)
  • Lehrter Station (John Russell, #5)
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