Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain), the son of a Scots Minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Royal Navy; two and a half years spent aboard a cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his first novel, the outstanding documentary novel on the war at sea. After the war he gained an English Honours degree at Glasgow University, and became a schoolmaster. In 1983, he was awarded a D. Litt. from the same university.
Maclean is the author of twenty-nine world bestsellers and recognised as an outstanding writer in his own genre. Many of his titles have been adapted for film - The Guns of the Navarone, The Satan Bug, Force Ten from Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and Bear Island are among the most famous.
I wore out the VHS of this growing up, so it was time I finally read the novel!
“Let’s get away from this joint. Gettin’ downright unhealthy round these parts.”
It was impossible not to imagine the likes of Gregory Peck as Mallory, Anthony Quinn as Andrea, and David Niven as Miller while reading this. The Guns of Navarone is fast-paced, just like the film. MacLean doesn’t waste time getting down to business. This is the first novel I've read in a long time that I found hard to put down!
There are numerous differences between the novel and film, yet despite this, I feel both author and filmmakers simultaneously made the right decisions. The futility of war was a strong undercurrent throughout, which made for some fascinating passages, such as mission-leader Mallory’s words to an enemy soldier.
“I regret we have to do all this. I trust we do not meet again - not at least, until the war is over. Who knows, some day we might even go climbing together.”
MacLean’s own war service and Naval experiences really added to the authenticity; especially the language. He knows what he’s talking about and this helped immerse me into the story, often feeling like I was alongside the characters as they attempted their impossible mission.
MacLean’s dialogue was a highlight, while some descriptive scenes came across slightly flowery – though it could be a sign of the era it was written. The character of Dusty Miller was my favourite. His one-liners and sense of humour were a breath of fresh air in often grim circumstances they found themselves in.
“I like the heat. What I don’t like are them nasty cannon shells and bullets that can ventilate a man in all the wrong places.”
All the characters were incredibly well-developed, and unique in their own ways, which helped me forge a connection to them. Stevens had perhaps the most powerful character arc of all, proving that MacLean could write quite emotionally at times too.
There were enough differences between the novel and the film to keep me guessing and occasionally surprised at various characters or plot turns. Overall, it was a very enjoyable, gripping read, and one in which gets me excited to read more of MacLean’s work, particularly the sequel, Force 10 From Navarone.
“More often than not, it is in the darkness of agony and exhaustion that the spirit of man burns most brightly.”
En general, no me ha gustado como narra la acción y tampoco hay mucha. Demasiadas descripciones y muchas, repetidas. Demasiado diálogo y demasiado largo con demasiadas acotaciones. Poca fluidez. La parte final se hace aburrida.
In general, I did not like how the action is narrated and there is not much. Too many descriptions and many, repeated. Too much dialogue and too long with too many dimensions. Little fluidity. The final part becomes boring.
داستان" توپ های ناواران " داستان فداکاری و هوشیاری گروهی کوچک است که ضربه ای را به دشمن وارد می کند. شخصیتهای اصلی، همواره مردانی مقاوم، معتقد به خدا؛ پایبند به اخلاق و تسلیم ناپذیرند. 2000 سرباز گرسنه بیمار انگلیسی در جزیره ای موسوم به « خرس » در آب های یونان گرفتار شده اند و تنها راه دسترسی به این جزیره از طریق تنگه ناوارون است ولی نیروهای آلمانی که کنترل ناوارون را در دست دارند با نصب دو توپ غول پیکر راه عبور رزم ناوهای انگلیسی را مسدود کرده اند. فرمانده انگلیسی به 6 نفر از زبده ترین و بهترین افراد خود که در کوهنوردی و مواد منفجره متخصص هستند، مأموریت می دهد که تا روز حمله نیروی دریایی انگلستان به کمک مقاومت یونانی جزیره ناوارون توپ ها را از کار می اندازند. گروه 6 نفره به سمت ناوارون حرکت می کند و با مقاومت جزیره تماس برقرار می سازد تا آذوقه و مهمات دریافت کند و خود را برای صعود از صخره های بلند و صاف ناوارون آماده کند ولی...
A classic thriller. MacLean always delivered the goods. I remember devouring all of his titles out of the library. I wouldn't suggest doing them in a row, because things can get a little repetitive. But that's to be expected of almost any author.
The concept, of having a team as the only way to take out the guns guarding a narrow straight through which the ships needed to rescue troops, have to traverse is a bit forced. But it does lend to a tight thriller with a clock ticking.
What's best about this book is the interplay among the various agents and then the locals. Betrayal and double-crosses keep the plot moving.
Quite by accident I picked this up and started reading. From the first page, the esteemed war thriller author, Alistair MacLean, engages his reader. Off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea the Germans and Italians control a cluster of islands and the area shipping lanes. On one island 1200 British soldiers are trapped and will soon be attacked by the Axis Alliance. The destruction of the mighty Guns of Navarone is the only hope these Brits have. It is a suicide mission. The guns are protected by both nature and man in their fortress. But a savvy military strategist may have found the how and who to silence these great guns.
Captain Keith Mallory is legendary. The New Zealander is a renowned rock climber and knows how to survive behind enemy lines. His faithful friend (and his good luck charm) Andreas is a Greek resistance fighter has no qualms killing Germans. The young Stevens is proficient in German and Greek is also a great climber, but is afraid of his fear. American Corporal Miller is a demolitions specialist and Brown is known for his saboteur skills. They have 3 days to scale the sheer 400 foot cliffs on the southern side of Navarone, destroy the guns, and get out before the British fleet sails into the Aegean channel to fortify the trapped soldiers. After the climb that almost killed them, the team believes the hardest part of the mission is behind them. But the Navarone fortress proves to be as great of a challenge as the cliffs. They have to choice but to destroy those guns. Many men’s lives are dependent upon their success. And they will die trying to accomplish the mission.
MacLean is a master story teller with intimate knowledge of the military. He served on a cruiser in WWII while serving in the Royal Navy. His writing is fast paced with a great detail that does not bough down the story line. His twists are like gentle waves. They don’t jar the reader. The twists and turns just seem part of the story as its natural progression. Mallory and his team are well characterized. This reader liked and cared about them. Often I caught myself holding my breath as I read the book. In my opinion, the 1961 movie Guns of Navarone just put faces to these wonderful characters. The drama is in the book. Though the film is dramatic and viewers are reminded of the tight time line Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn have. The book is deeper. The drama and action is more complete due to MacLean’s wonderful writing.
According to Wikipedia, "The Greek island of Navarone does not exist and the plot is fictitious; however, the story takes place within the real historical context of the Dodecanese Campaign, the Allies' campaign to capture the German-held Greek islands in the Aegean Sea in 1943. The story is based on the Battle of Leros, and Leros island's coastal artillery guns – among the largest naval artillery guns used during World War II – that were built and used by the Italians until Italy capitulated in 1943 and subsequently used by the Germans until their defeat."
I have seen the film version a few times but found the book more interesting, in part because the reader is given the thoughts of various characters along the way which changed my feeling about some of them. In the book, all the characters are male - I can understand why the 2 natives of Navarone were changed to women in the movie but the story makes more sense this way. Of course, having seen the movie removed some of the tension from the book as I knew what was coming; I admire the way MacLean gives the reader clues to what will come very subtly, almost like Agatha Christie!
This book involves a group of Allied Forces commandos, from various countries clubbed together by a shrewd Captain Jensen. Keith Mallory from New Zealand, Dusty Miller from the US and the calm but deadly Greek Andrea and couple of others attempting the impossible, to silence the great Guns of Navarone controlled by the Germans and thus help to enable the freeing of more than a thousand men from the nearby island of Kheros. The setting is in the World War II era.
They attempt the impossible, climbing a wet, steep cliff in the dead of the night. They get caught a couple of times, but by sheer presence of mind, manage to wriggle their way out, and eventually succeed in their mission.
This book is relentless, there is some action going on throughout the book. The action is good, the plot is excellent and the character development is fascinating.
The reason for 3 stars? Somewhere around 60-70% of the book, I was ready for it to end. I felt the author was stretching it too much at that point. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second half just dragged on until the climax took place.
I saw the movie on TV back in the 1960s. Quinn, Peck, and Niven made for an all-star cast. Finally, I read the novel. Well, sir, I'm happy to report that Alistair MacLean could tell the corker of a tale. The Allied saboteurs come through lots of close shaves still intact. At times their heroics leave you rolling your eyes a little, but the fun is watching them strive to carry out their desperate mission. There are betrayals. The pace is snappy, the suspense builds well, and the characters feel full-fledged. I found myself looking forward to getting back to reading the war tale which isn't my usual cup of tea. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I just wanted some diverting entertainment which I found here in spades.
Τον Μάρτιο του 2016 διάβασα για τελευταία φορά βιβλίο του Άλιστερ Μακλίν, οπότε όπως είναι λογικό μου έλειψαν πάρα πολύ οι περιπετειώδεις ιστορίες του, με τις δυνατές σκηνές δράσης και τα φοβερά τοπία. Αυτό είναι το δωδέκατο βιβλίο του συγγραφέα που διαβάζω και σίγουρα είναι από τις καλύτερες στιγμές της καριέρας του, ίσως μαζί με το "Όπου τολμούν οι αετοί" και το "Πολικός σταθμός Ζίμπρα" (άλλωστε, αυτά τα τρία βιβλία είναι και τα πιο πολυδιαβασμένα του Μακλίν). Λοιπόν, το βιβλίο το κατευχαριστήθηκα. Είχα καιρό να διαβάσω μια συναρπαστική περιπέτεια του Β' Παγκοσμίου Π��λέμου και τούτη εδώ ήταν ότι έπρεπε για να έρθω εκ νέου σε επαφή με το αγαπημένο αυτό λογοτεχνικό είδος. Η πλοκή είναι απλή και συγκεκριμένη, μια ομάδα επίλεκτων σαμποτέρ έχει μια δύσκολη αποστολή σ��ο νησί Ναβαρόνε (περιττό να πω ότι δεν υπάρχει τέτοιο νησί στο Αιγαίο), έχοντας να αντιμετωπίσουν τόσο τις δυσκολίες των φυσικών τοπίων του νησιού, όσο κυρίως Γερμανούς στρατιώτες που βρίσκονται παντού και ουσιαστικά γνωρίζουν ότι μια ομάδα σαμποτέρ βρίσκεται στο νησί, για κάποια αποστολή. Το βιβλίο θα το διαβάσει κανείς για την περιπέτεια, για τον τρόπο που οι πρωταγωνιστές καταφέρνουν να τα βγάζουν πέρα ανεξάρτητα από τις δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζουν κάθε φορά, για τις διάφορες σκηνές δράσης που είναι χορταστικές και καλογραμμένες, για τις περιγραφές των τοπίων, καθώς επίσης και για τη γενικότερη αγωνιώδη ατμόσφαιρα. Θέλω να πω, το τέλος λίγο-πολύ είναι αναμενόμενο, η γραφή απλή και χωρίς φιοριτούρες, ενώ επίσης δεν υπάρχει ιδιαίτερη εκβάθυνση στους χαρακτήρες. Μιλάμε απλώς για μια καλογραμμένη, συναρπαστική και άκρως ψυχαγωγική πολεμική περιπέτεια, που αποτελεί και βάση για μια από τις καλύτερες ταινίες του είδους. Κατά τη γνώμη μου, οι λάτρεις των κλασικών περιπετειών είναι αδύνατο να μην περάσουν τέλεια διαβάζοντας τούτο βιβλίο.
This was a tough read throughout. 5 men-each a specialist in dealing with death, are being sent to the island of Navarone, to destroy the famous and fatal Guns of Navarone. They are going with the skill of mountain climbing, and the knowledge of the Map got from someone who knows Navarone and the surroundings. It was thrilling to read the details of the operation and how these 5 men succeed in doing what the navy were not able to achieve...
It was very interesting and remained that way through out the book, but could've done without the long winding descriptions, especially of the thoughts of the five brave people who embark on a mission that is deemed impossible. Written in an episodic manner, it manages to keep the reader hooked to it. Action scenes looked authentic except when a big guy is fighting (😋).
The characters, despite being different from each other, were mostly one-note. This probably has something to do with the vision of the book, which might have had it's horizon set elsewhere. Nevertheless, a good book overall!
An excellent war time spy/special forces read. I'm not really the target audience but even I appreciated it which might say much. Or nothing at all. There's plenty of action, some pretty well drawn characters (considering the sort of book it is), a bit of pathos and 'isn't war hell!'. Also lots of bromance (there isn't a single woman in the book). Not bad at all.
Continuing to raid my mum’s library, and quickly picked up my first Maclean novel. Action packed, and maybe slightly long in the tooth. Maclean is as skilled of a writer as his contemporaries, Jack Higgins & Hammond Innes. 🏴
Whew! Finally finished rereading all the Alistair MacLean books that I enjoyed so much as a teen, beginning with 1957's outstanding HMS Ulysses and running through 1968's Force 10 From Navarone, (after which it's pretty much universally acknowledged that the quality of his books took a pretty steep dive).
Guns of Navarone is consistently and deservedly listed among MacLean's top 3-4. And yes, it features some of the ultimately predictable plot twists he loved to sprinkle in his stories - "the good guy was really a bad guy pretending to be good, but then he really WAS a good guy!" - but remember, this was only his second book (the first being a straight-up combat story), and so was still pretty original for its time.
Like a lot of older (and usually British) authors, I have to read with a dictionary - or at least Google - close at hand. In this case I had to turn for help on the following:
"Three days to go, engine u.s., and a first-class bloody mess..." - took a LONG time to find an explanation here on a WWII-era list of naval abbreviations; "u.s." or "u/s" stood for "unserviceable."
"Now he squeezed the trigger four times, for he wanted to mak' siccar..." - early etymology of "massacre," perhaps? Nope; turns out it's an obscure Scottish term literally meaning "to make sure," relevant here as the character shooting was Scottish (like MacLean himself).
Along with Ulysses, Navarone was also one of MacLean's few books to have no female characters - generally a plus in his case as he was NOT a strong writer of female roles. That was changed (along with a lot of other things) in the film version, where the characters of Louki and Panayis were changed to Andrea's sister and a friend. (Also in the movie, the very American character of Dusty Miller was unfortunately played by the very British David Niven - never a good casting choice.)
There's still a lot of unread MacLean out there - including his last book of the 60's, Puppet on a Chain, which I may or may not have read before. But for now at least, I'll say farewell on a particularly high note.
INTERESTING OBSERVATION: I'd say the majority of "likes" or comments on my MacLean reviews come from GR friends in South or Southeast Asia, where apparently he remains better known and appreciated than he is here in the U.S. - so glad to see he is still getting the respect he deserves in SOME parts of the world!
When I was 12 or so, one of my friends at school (Michael Edworthy) used to bring this book along every day as a sort of badge along with his Who and Yes albums. He couldn't have been reading it otherwise he'd have finished it rapidly. We were all careful never to mention the book in case he went on about it like he did about the bands. Intrigued, I bought a copy and read the first of the many Alistair MacLean books I was to devour. Set in WW2 this is story-telling for boys of the highest calibre (Ha! what a pun... I've just noticed): a hand-picked group of elite soldiers have to disable the heavily guarded monstrous weapons that cover a strait of water shortly to be traversed by an allied shipping convoy. Simples.
The usual early MacLean trademarks are all here: a mission with small chance of success; fifth columnist infiltration; self-sacrifice that brings tears of pride and edge of the seat tension and action. (See "Where Eagles Dare", "HMS Ulysses") No wonder Hollywood adapted it with Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn et al. But, as is so often the case, the book is even better than the film.
Oh, and I adapted it many times for English essays so my O'Level grade A is down to this plot.
"There are no brave men and cowardly men in the world, my son. There are only brave men. To be born, to live, to die - that takes courage enough in itself, and more than enough. We are all brave men and we are all afraid, and what the world calls a brave man, he too, is brave and afraid like all the rest of us. Only he is brave for five minutes longer."
Kalau diminta menyebutkan novel perang favorit, pasti jawabanku sama saja dengan kalau ditanya siapa penulis favorit. Banyak, euy. Kalau novel tema perang, dari rak bukuku di Goodreads sudah bisa kelihatan penulis-penulis mana saja yang jadi favoritku. Nah, untuk posting bareng BBI bulan Agustus 2013, aku memilih novel Alistair MacLean yang ini, buku pertama yang membuatku menjamah genre perang.
Tidak jelas alasannya kenapa aku memilih untuk membaca buku yang versi terjemahannya pertama kali diterbitkan Gramedia tahun 1977 ini. Tapi sepertinya sih awalnya cuma coba-coba saja, melebarkan wilayah bacaan, atau mungkin agak bosan membaca cerita detektif dan cerita silat. Sebagai tambahan informasi tidak penting, waktu itu aku masih SMP, masih rajin menyewa buku ke Taman Bacaan Aneka di Jl. Tamansiswa Bandung, dekat Pasar Palasari. Meskipun jauh dari rumah, setidaknya cukup sekali naik angkot dari sekolahku di Kebun Kelapa.
Waktu itu, aku tidak tahu siapa Alistair MacLean, belum pernah membaca satu pun bukunya, dan jelas belum ada internet untuk sekedar mencari tahu. Dan kalau dilihat dari gambar sampulnya, rasanya kurang menarik. Iya sih, yang bikin gambar Dwi Koen, dengan ilustrasi semi realistis. Tapi coverboy-nya nggak banget deh, cameo tentara Jermannya apalagi. Sudah gitu, di sampul belakang tidak ada sinopsisnya, cuma endorsement dari surat kabar di Inggris Raya (yang jelas pasti sudah lama banget, berhubung copyright novel ini tahun 1957), yang sama sekali tidak memberikan gambaran tentang apa novel ini sebenarnya:
Jalan ceritanya lancar dan mudah diikuti... (Sunday Times)
Kekuatan novel ini bersumber dari kelancaran jalan ceritanya, cara si Pengarang mengungkapkan ketegangan dan kemampuannya melukiskan adegan-adegan seru! (Evening Standard)
Penuh adegan seru. Penuh ketegangan dari awal sampai akhir. Sebuah problem yang hanya dapat dipecahkan dengan keberanian dan menempuh bahaya... sebuah kisah yang amat mencengkam. (Scotsman)
Sebuah cerita bagus yang diceritakan dengan cemerlang -- Kalau Anda membacanya sekali, dengan cepat, Anda akan dapat menikmati ketegangannya. Tetapi kalau Anda membacanya sekali lagi, Anda akan dapat menikmati detailnya yang halus... (Birmingham Post)
Petunjuk tentang apa buku ini sebenarnya hanya judul yang mencantumkan "meriam" dan gambar tentara Jerman yang membawa-bawa senapan di sampulnya. Oke deh, karena kata koran-koran Inggris itu buku ini jalan ceritanya lancar dan seru, mungkin patut dicoba untuk dibaca. Dan ternyata... I'm hooked!!! Buku ini menjadi awal dari novel-novel Alistair MacLean lainnya, serta penulis-penulis sejenis, dari Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth, sampai Tom Clancy.
Jadi, tentang apa buku ini sebenarnya?
Pada zaman dahulu kala, di era Perang Dunia II pada tahun 1943, saat kepulauan Yunani dikuasai Jerman, tersebutlah sebuah pulau bernama Navarone. Jerman yang menduduki pulau itu memiliki benteng dengan meriam-meriam yang sulit dihancurkan dan mengancam keselamatan kapal-kapal Inggris yang numpang lewat di perairan Aegea. Inggris berencana menyelamatkan 1200 tentara dari pulau tetangga, tapi khawatir kapal pengangkut akan dibombardir tanpa ampun kalau melewati selat Navarone. Berbagai cara dilakukan untuk menghancurkan meriam benteng Navarone, tapi selalu gagal. Akhirnya dikirimlah tim khusus untuk menyusup ke pulau Navarone dari jalan yang paling berat: tebing yang konon tak bisa dipanjat manusia manapun di selatan pulau. Anggota tim dipilih berdasarkan keahliannya, dan dipimpin oleh Kapten Mallory, yang pada masa damai merupakan pemanjat tebing terulung di Selandia Baru.
Waktu yang tersisa untuk menghancurkan meriam laknat itu hanya satu minggu, dan pembaca dipaksa mengikuti setiap jamnya. Dimulai dari saat Kapten Mallory bertemu dengan Kapten Kepala Operasi SOE yang merancang mission impossible itu, berangkatnya tim yang dikumpulkan secara khusus: mulai dari Andrea si mesin perang Yunani, Dusty Miller si ahli bahan peledak dari AS, Casey Brown si ahli mesin, dan Andy Stevens yang juga seorang pendaki gunung, dilanjutkan dengan adegan panjat tebing yang mendebarkan, dan seterusnya.
Pada akhirnya, harus diakui endorsemen surat kabar Inggris itu memang benar adanya. Pembaca otomatis tenggelam di dalam cerita, dan kemungkinan tak bisa berhenti membaca sebelum menamatkannya, karena terpompanya adrenalin saat mengikuti misi bunuh diri tim khusus Kapten Mallory. Ya, buatku membaca buku ini seperti menonton film aksi yang asyik.
Karenanya... pantas-pantas saja kalau pada tahun 1961 novel ini diangkat menjadi film aksi, yang dibintangi oleh Gregory Peck (sebagai Kapten Mallory), Anthony Quinn (sebagai Andrea) dan David Niven (sebagai Dusty Miller).
Film ini termasuk 8 besar box office pada tahun itu, dengan bujet USD 6 juta dan penghasilan kotor nyaris lima kali lipatnya. Untuk ajang award, film ini juga memenangkan Golden Globe untuk kategori film terbaik dan original score terbaik serta memenangkan Academy Award untuk special effect terbaik, selain nominasi untuk kategori-kategori lainnya. Dan kalau diintip di IMDB, ratingnya juga bagus, sekitar 7,6.
Pengalaman memuaskan dengan buku ini membuatku akhirnya menjadi salah satu penggemar karya-karya Alistair MacLean, mencari dan membaca buku-bukunya, dari membaca buku-buku terjemahan Gramedia yang jadi favoritku juga (di antaranya The Satan Bug, The Golden Rendezvous, dan Where Eagles Dare), membaca terjemahan non Gramedia (secara umum kecewa dengan terjemahan dan editingnya, karena seringkali boleh dibilang bukan terjemahan melainkan ringkasan!), sampai membaca buku-buku hardcover aslinya kalau belum ada terjemahannya (sengaja jadi anggota Perpustakaan ITB supaya bisa pinjam!).
Alistair Stuart MacLean (21 April 1922 - 2 Februari 1987) adalah novelis Skotlandia yang menulis cerita thriller dan petualangan populer. Karyanya yang paling dikenal adalah The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, dan Where Eagles Dare, yang juga sukses dalam versi filmnya.
During World War II, five men are recruited to achieve the impossible: destroy a German fortress that threatens Allied Naval operations in the Aegean Sea and prevents over 1,200 isolated British soldiers from being rescued. These five men are all experts at various specialties required by the commando operation, including demolitions, engineering, and most provocatively, mountain climbing since access to the fortress is impossible without scaling a sheer cliff face.
Even though the Greek island of Navarone does not actually exist, the story takes place within the real historical context of the “Dodecanese Campaign”, (specifically the Battle of Leros), the Allies' attempt to capture the German-held Greek islands in the Aegean Sea in 1943. Only the second novel by Alistair Maclean, this 1957 World War II novel has been considered a classic of the genre for decades now. These days, of course, stories or movies about a handful of talented men, each with specific specialties, teaming up to pull off a near-impossible task are a dime a dozen but I dare say many of them owe quite a bit to this book. In 1961, a classic film was produced staring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, among others.
I’ve read a number of Alistair MacLean books over the years and usually find them OK, but notice they do tend towards the “slow-burn” style, taking quite a while to build to their climax. This one, however, kept me riveted throughout. It’s easy to see why this has become a classic: excellent characters, plenty of edge-of-your-seat suspense, and wonderful pacing. MacLean didn’t believe in much of a wrap-up after the major climax and this one is no exception. The big story payoff was literally on the last page of the book.
I’m very glad I finally got around to reading this one, and now have my sights set on the sequel, Force 10 from Navarone. I’m also planning to see the Guns of Navarone film this week so as to fill another hole in my WWII film history.
Alistair MacLean's second novel written in 1957 remains an excellent read. Although set in the World War II Dodecanese Campaign , this is a completely fictitious plot. The Island of Navarone, set in the Aegean Sea is likewise fictitious. The campaign itself was an Allied disaster in which the Allied forces attempt to wrest control of the Aegean Islands from Axis forces. The campaign represents the last significant German victory in the war.
A special team of five commandos attempts to storm the insurmountable cliffs of Navarone to destroy two massive German guns (theorized as 12-inch cannons) that are radar-controlled and capable of obliterating destroyer-sized warships with a single shot. The team will be augmented by two Greek partisans as they make their way through the German controlled island. This is a thrill a minute novel, and it has lost none of its luster over the subsequent 61 years since its publication. MacLean wrote with verve, nary a detail either out of place or unnecessary. A perfectly crafted story.
The 1961 film adaptation is also excellent. Nominated for seven Academy Awards and winner of the award for Special Effects (deservedly so), the film's story line is altered for time compression and continuity sake even though it still runs for two hours and 36 minutes. It is further altered to accommodate changes in the seven commando's character backgrounds. The main characters are altered significantly and the two male partisans are replaced by two female locals. Having read the book first, I found it difficult to place Gregory Peck and David Niven as the two protagonists, but I understand the need for star power at the time of the filming. Therefore, I suggest treating the book and the film as two separate works of art. Both are worth your time.
Tense WWII thriller about a small group of commandos that has to sabotage the naval guns on an island fortress that is otherwise nigh-impregnable.
I think what I liked the most about this is it's not got that modern action movie quality of triumphing in a series of outnumbered gun battles, which gets kind of silly after a while. It's much more about stealth and subterfuge. The other surprising quality, for me, is the prose. MacLean really gets you feeling like the wind and rain are lashing you as you climb the cliff that cannot be scaled, or shivering cold as snow falls outside while you're sheltering in some remote mountain cave.
The Germans are not all nasty and cruel, which I also appreciated. It's almost too easy to make the antagonists nothing but hardcore SS scumbags. There are some scumbag Germans to be found here, but the meeting for the Alpinekorps lieutenant and Mallory is pretty good stuff. These guys might have been friends if war didn't put them on opposite sides, and this was handled well. Very good stuff all around.
I felt like I was following the action pretty well until the final escape, at which point either I lost my ability to comprehend things or the narrative became much more confusing as far as how all of the characters got back together and sailed away. That's probably all that's keeping this from a five-star rating.
Tagged with Maryland vanity because the lone American character, who happens to have to do some emergency field medical stuff, declares that one would not find finer care at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Lines like that are why the Maryland vanity shelf exists.
As thrilling and two fistedly action packed as you'd expect a war story that has maintained its popularity for so long to be. This has undeniably two dimensional but still entertaining characters, a wonderful variety of life it death scenarios (mountain climbing, storms at sea, gun fights against impossible odds) and a solid plot that holds it all together nicely.
The Guns of Navarone was Alistair MacLean's second novel, published in 1957. I've read others of his earliest books, HMS Ulysses and South by Java Head and they, like Guns, were excellent. For some reason I never tried Guns, maybe because I've instead focused on the excellent movie. But I'm glad that I finally decided to read it.
If you want a wartime thriller, filled with action and desperation and heroism, you need to try The Guns of Navarone. It's a non-stop action story in a three day period. A group of 5 men, lead by New Zealand mountain climber and now Allied soldier, Captain Mallory, must make their way to the Greek island of Navarone and there to destroy the huge German guns that threaten a British fleet that must make its to withdraw a British force isolated on the island of Kheros. Previous attempts both by sea and by air have tried to neutralize these guns but they have failed.
So Malloy and his group, consisting of his Greek ally Andrea, an American explosive expert, Cpl Dusty Miller, a British sailor and communications man, Brown and a young office, Lt Stevens must safely make it to Navrone, scale the cliffs to get onto the island and then avoid German mountain troops to get to the fortress that houses the guns and dispose of them. Hindering their trip, besides terrible weather, is a spy within the British ranks and possible a traitor amongst the Greeks on Navarone.
It's a fascinating, thrilling story and features great acts of heroism. It draws you in immediately and holds your interest and attention throughout. How they manage to avoid and foil every attempt on their lives, makes for such an interesting story. If you enjoy thrillers, you really need to try this story, a page-turner and excellent war story. This type of story is Alistair MacLean's specialty. (4 stars)
By Alistair Maclean. #1 of the Navarone series. Grade: A Alistair Maclean is probably one of the most famous fiction authors of all time. He is possibly the world’s best war fiction novelist with novels like Where Eagles Dare under his belt. The Guns of Navarone has been made into a very successful, classic feature film of the same name. Twelve hundred British soldiers are isolated and waiting on the small island of Kheros, off the Turkish coast. All these lives could be saved if only the vigilant, savage and catastrophically accurate guns of Navarone could be silenced. Navarone itself is a grim iron fortress, manned by a mixed garrison of Germans and Italians. To Captain Keith Mallory, skilled saboteur and trained mountaineer, falls the task of leading the small party to scale the vast, impossible precipice of Navarone to blow up the guns.
The novel is set during the World War II at a time when the balance of things in the Turkish coast across the Aegean lies in a thin balance. The Axis powers of Germany and Italy have gained control over a cluster of islands and there is a battalion of the Allied army trapped in an island near the stronghold of the Axis forces. Any and every attack on the fortress is foiled by the devastating guns of Navarone. The only way to stop the imminent defeat and the almost certain death of twelve hundred British soldiers is to remove the threat of these guns of Navarone. When the men behind the curtain are stymied, they stumble upon a solution: a solution so unlikely to succeed that it would require just a minor twist of fate to send all those lives down the drain. It is this suicide mission which is handed over to Captain Keith Mallory. Captain Mallory, before his army days, was known as the best mountaineer ever to be produced by New Zealand and in his army days, known to be a man who could survive even behind enemy lines. Captain Mallory and his team then set off on this mission-of-no-return in order to destroy the guns of Navarone. Crossing the precipice on the southern side of Navarone which almost killed them, they succeed in breaching the almost impregnable grim fortress of Navarone. The only task left now is to silence the guns of Navarone. The question is – will they be able to do it and in the process, not lose their lives? Alistair Maclean is the acclaimed master of the genre of war fiction. It is in every way reflected in The Guns of Navarone. The writing style is really slick, the novel is very pacey yet detailed and the storyline is very tight. The twists are so well intertwined yet so well-spaced that they do not tend to over-suffocate the inherent storyline. The timeline and the background are so well put to use that they almost become integral characters of the plot. One unique thing about the novel is that it is set during a period of three days and that very fact is so well mixed up with the storyline that you don’t feel as if it is completed within those very three days. The central characters of Captain Mallory, Andrea and the rest of his team are really well-sketched and they truly come across as heroes. The sequences when the team is stuck and the way they come out of those situations, it was as if Alistair Maclean had himself orchestrated the war. Overall, if you take The Guns of Navarone, know that you have a classic in your hands. Do not miss it.