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The Spies of Warsaw

(Night Soldiers #10)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,582 ratings  ·  563 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
Paperback, 266 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published June 3rd 2008)
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Robert I've chosen not to, but you probably could. Some characters recur but generally only in cameo.
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Jun 15, 2008 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,
Jul 26, 2008 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. ...more
Jun 28, 2008 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. Fursts novels are compact. The action occurs on the margins of great events. They have the ring of truth in their every detail, whether its 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
Feb 23, 2009 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 Ill 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
Branwen Sedai *of the Brown 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
Sep 10, 2009 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!

Jun 05, 2012 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 the
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
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 ...more
Classic tale of spying, intrigue and romance, based on the novels of Alan Furst.
A German engineer arrives in Warsaw. Tonight he will be with his Polish mistress, tomorrow at a workers' bar in the city's factory district to meet with Colonel Mercier in a backstreet cafe. Information is exchanged for money.
Mercier loathes the niceties of ambassadorial lunches, cocktail parties and banquets of a world not yet at war, but one in which the drums of war can be heard ever more insistently in the
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 18, 2015 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
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
Jeffrey Zeldman
Feb 14, 2010 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
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 ...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.
Brenda Hawley
Sep 19, 2011 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 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.
Scott Head
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read all the Night Soldiers books in order, up to The Spies of Warsaw. I love Furst, and I love his style. Ever since the first book in the series, which was and still is my favorite, I have tracked with interest the recurring places, the appearances of cross-over characters, and the rich scene-crafting.

But as one reviewer has noted, Furst tends to write the same story, but in a different context, each time. I can sympathize with such an estimate, I see it more clearly now too. But that
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Spies Of Warsaw

The hard part about reading books that are set before a war is knowing what is coming.
This incredible book is set a few years before World War 2. It is the classic spy book with plenty of adventure and danger and of course the beautiful woman for the hero.
Don't mistake me I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the formula and Alan Furst does it to perfection.
The novel follows Jean Francois Mercier as he works in Poland.
He is not happy with his current assignment
It's 1937 when Colonel Colonel Jean-François Mercier, who served in WW I, a French attaché in Warsaw, when his job draws into the world of espionage as the Nazi's are gaining more and more power in Germany. This is most definitely a book centering on espionage in pre-WW II Europe, but there are some fabulous interpersonal relationships and background, well certainly they are so on the audiobook which is very well done, indeed.

These books are 3 stars for me because the plot isn't brilliant, I
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 10th book in Furst's series set in various European countries before and during WWII. While all the books are stand-alone reads, the running theme is espionage. In this novel, a French diplomat / spy collects and handles informers in pre-war Warsaw. Furst excels at creating atmosphere and characters but falls short on moving the narrative along in an interesting way. Still, I overall enjoyed this story about all the intrigues, ruses, and relationships that make up the spy game.
Alan Furst is one of the best writers of spy novels going. I wouldnt rank this one among his best, but it was very good. Like all of Fursts 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 Germanys war plans are in regard to France. Everything is based on partial information
Jul 05, 2016 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
Jul 16, 2008 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,
Aug 06, 2010 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.
Aug 05, 2008 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.

Laura JC
I bought this only because it sounded good and was set in Warsaw, where I had just visited. I didn't think it was great. I never felt much about the characters, and nothing much happened. The few scenes that could have been made exciting were not.
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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

Other books in the series

Night Soldiers (1 - 10 of 15 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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