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Dark Star

(Night Soldiers #2)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,757 ratings  ·  333 reviews
In the back alleys and glittering salons of night-time Europe, war is already underway as Soviet intelligence and the Nazi Gestapo confront each other in an intricate duel of espionage.
Paperback, 390 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Phoenix (first published March 28th 1991)
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Julia It's not necessary. The novels follow separate characters over roughly the same period of time (1937-1945) Some characters pop up in different novels,…moreIt's not necessary. The novels follow separate characters over roughly the same period of time (1937-1945) Some characters pop up in different novels, but usually in fairly minor ways. However Night Soldiers is the first and one of the best novels in the series, so I would definitely seek it out at some point. (less)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  4,757 ratings  ·  333 reviews

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Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan Furst is better than John Le Carre. There I've said it.

Since I started the series, I've been living in 1939, wearing my rain coat and I'm thinking of sewing my passport into the lining of my briefcase. Is that too obvious?

It's true what everyone says about Furst. You're suddenly and shockingly plunged into this period in history. You'll learn to care deeply about all those eastern bloc countries that you barely know. You'll learn how to survive as a Russian agent in Paris.

This is an
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about Stalin and World War II from this book than I ever learned from any history class.

Andre Szara is a respected Russian journalist working for Pravda, occasionally doing a little favor for the State, when suddenly, he finds himself involved in a political killing. He is handed a luggage ticket retrieved from the body, and directed to redeem a piece of luggage stowed away in a Prague train station. Under a false bottom in an old suitcase, he finds a case file, detailing a
Lewis Weinstein
read long ago ... re-reading now in preparation to writing spy scenes in my sequel to A Flood of Evil

UPDATE 12/10/16 ... an excellent spy story that you "feel" as much as read. Changing currents, new alliances, set chapter by chapter against the evolving Nazi horror. Andre Szara, Jewish Polish Russian, struggling to stay alive but never stepping away from making a difference wherever he can. Fascinating moody portraits of Paris, Berlin and many other cities. I didn't follow every turn, but it
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometime in the early 90s I was driving at night from Santa Fe to Albuquerque in a barrowed car (thanks again, Erika) listening to NPR. Their book reviewer of the moment -- Elvis Whatshisname, as I recall -- was laying extravagant praise on a spy novel, saying it broke the constraints of its genre, and blah blah blah. I stopped the car and made a note. Some weeks later, back in London where I was then living, I bought the book.

Now, I don't ordinarily read trash. Not because I am too good for it,
Lars Guthrie
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Dark Star’ is my favorite Furst 1930s spy novel so far (I’ve read seven from eleven). It’s the second, and finds Furst yet to completely settle into the formula which serves him so well in the most recent, ‘Spies of the Balkans.’

Like that novel, ‘Dark Star’ features a shopworn veteran of his profession, in this case Russian journalism, who takes up spying to survive, and becomes a reluctant hero of sorts. André Szara comes off the most concretely of any of Furst’s marvelous lead characters I've
Fabulous. Far, FAR better than The Polish Officer (which is formulaic). A book that was praised by Alan Bullock, reminiscent of Victor Serge; a piece of finely written, deeply felt WW II political-historical sleuthing...Szara is a very sympathetic character...this is a stand-alone novel, despite being part of a series, and the book to read of Furst's...

Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Another excellent offering from this very, very talented author. Love the detail of these novels set in Europe at the beginning of the second world war. This novel as with Night Soldiers captures the period and ambiance of those troubled times.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a sure fire winner for anyone who enjoys truly compelling story set against a lushly detailed historical back drop.

Alan Furst really has an incredible talent for bringing history alive and this book is a fine example.

Generalities aside for the moment, I particularly enjoyed the Russian/Eastern European bent of this story. Our protagonist is a Polish born Russified Jew who begins the tale as a fiery, empassioned writer for Pravda but is slowly sucked into the ravening maw of the NKVD
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Furst captures the vibe - the atmosphere - of the era. I think many of us born right after the end of WWII all grew up watching the same movies, the same horrific documentaries, and reading the same books about the war. The intrigue, the romance, the danger, the heroism, the sacrifice portrayed in this media became an early part of out psyche and in a strange way places a book like this into a continuum with films like "Casablanca", "13 Rue Madeleine" and books like "The Mask of Dimitrius" and ...more
Claude Foster
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Alan Furst novel in the Night Soldiers series and, once again, he delivers. No one can equal him when it comes to creating the atmosphere of pre-WWII Europe. Add a cast of interesting characters, a plot with all the twist and turns you could want, and what you have is a very enjoyable read. If you’re interested in Europe before and during WWII, this will be like catnip. If what you want is a fast paced spy novel, you won’t be disappointed. The novels in this series each has a ...more
John Caviglia
Beautifully crafted, troubled, complex and “noir” to the core—Dark Star provides a rich perspective on the birth of WW II in the late 30’s from the point of view of an immigrant survivor of Polish pogroms, presently a Russian Jew, who as a journalist traveling abroad is recruited as a spy by the NKVD (the Russian secret intelligence service).

Yes, complex … but not much plot as such to this novel, which consists of the peregrinations and ensuing adventures and misadventures of one André Szara
Ron Holmes
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book by Alan Furst in this series. And, the story line is evolving and getting to be more interesting. It takes you into the inner workings of what was going in as World War 2 was about to start. For those of my friends, there is some sex in the book, but it by no means is detrimental to the story line. I will look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This made for a challenging and interesting listening experience, due in part to the speed of the narration, which sent fact-filled text to my ears at a rapid clip. An American author, a book set mostly in Central Europe, therefore an English narrator. Somebody with a Slavic accent might have been preferable. But the narration is good overall - its brisk, steely tone was appropriate for the material.

Furst took me back, back to my ancestral history, back to Poland, Germany, and the 1930s. He is
Elizabeth (Alaska)
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: night-soldiers
On the cover of this edition a New York Times review is quoted: A rich, deeply moving novel of suspense that is equal parts espionage thriller, European history and love story. I'm not sure of the "equal" part, but it is all of that.

I felt myself getting lost, however, in the espionage thriller part. Maybe I needed to be paying closer attention, but there were a lot of characters and, of course, they didn't all have the same motives. Reading espionage from the perspective of a Russian spy is
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to get the feeling of what it was like to live in the years of the early 30s into WW II, and the terror of the rise of Hitler, this is the book. Furst writes a terrific spy novel based on sound historical research. Even the minor characters linger for days after you put the book away.
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, wwii
I am beginning to become a serious fan of Furst's work. [Dark Star:] is definitely a darker work than the last Furst I read The Polish Officer, and that really is saying something. I'm really not sure how accurately Furst portrays the thinking of a Soviet citizen living through Stalin's purges, but it is certainly believable. Furst proposes several theories for the purges as his main character, Andre Szara, tries to navigate the pitfalls of pre-war Europe. I wish I could measure the ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A nicely crafted, at times lyrical, and periodically fascinating piece of historical (gentleman spy) fiction surrounding the Euro-Russian lead-up to World War II that ... alas ... didn't truly speak to me and never fully captured my attention. My sense is that I'm in the minority on this one. Ah, well.

It's an impressive piece of work - it just didn't move (or engage, or grab) me, nor did it hold my interest. On a more positive note, the slow rate of consumption meant that the book helped me pass
Furst is a master at creating the atmosphere of the period about which he writes, the period just before and during World War II in Europe. This book's main character is a Polish/Soviet Jew foreign correspondent for Pravda who is recruited into the eerie and totally confusing world of espionage as Germany threatens to consume Europe and perhaps the world.

The plot to the novel is so convoluted, there is so much misdirection, that I found myself not knowing what I had just read or where the story
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the definition of a thriller is a work that excites the reader or viewer, or contains a twisting plot and action that leaves the reader on the edge of his seat, then Alan Furst probably cannot be classified as a writer of thrillers. The books, at least so far, that Furst writes do not thrill, instead they astonish. They astonish the reader’s mind for detail, they astonish his capacity for emotion, they astonish in their beauty and their minimalism. More importantly, as these are spy novels, ...more
Rosie Amber
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Dark Star is an historical fiction spy thriller set in Europe between 1937 and 1940.

As Europe struggles to avoid another war, we meet André Szara, a Russian journalist recruited by a Soviet secret intelligence agency and placed in Paris. He enlists the owner of a factory in Berlin which supplies crucial parts for Germany’s war-planes and sends the monthly production figures back to Moscow. However, he’s never sure if the agent has been compromised and if his figures can be trusted.

Any good spy
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A vast improvement over his first World War II outing, 'Night Soldiers', 'Dark Star' sees Alan Furst finding his footing and delivering a lush, intricate, sprawling, and historically rich novel about a rootless Russian Jewish journalist who finds himself serving many masters between the course of 1936 and 1941.

This book is a good deal darker in tone than 'Night Soldiers'. The story mostly concerns the machinations of the NKVD, the Communist secret services under Stalin, and their endless,
Lance Charnes
Dec 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of LeCarre or Ambler
As I've said in other reviews, Alan Furst is my writing hero, so it pains me to give Dark Star less than four stars. But I do; perhaps not because of any faults but rather my inability to connect with it.

This is the second in his Night Soldiers series and one of Furst's earlier works. It shares many of the qualities that have established Furst as the John LeCarre of interwar Mitteleuropa espionage: the economically drawn settings, the sharply observed dialog, the ring of authenticity in the
Dick Reynolds
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1937 and Europe is uneasy with Adolf Hitler’s bellicose posturing. André Szara, a foreign correspondent for Pravda, is co-opted by the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and becomes a full-time spy master in Paris. Szara is a Jew and a survivor of Polish pogroms and Russian civil wars. As a key member of a Paris network, he recruits an agent in Berlin who supplies him with critical information on Germany’s military buildup for World War II.
Szara is respected and well known in
Rob Kitchin
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark Star is the second book in Alan Furst’s Night Soldier’s series set in 1930s and 40s Europe. Like the first in the series, the tale is an epic adventure traversing several countries including Belgium, Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland and Russia, tracking the fortunes of André Szara, a foreign correspondent for Pravda and reluctant Russian spymaster, over a four year period. Like the geography and time frame, the scope of the story is similarly expansive revolving around a conspiracy ...more
Alan Cohen
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sent to Alan Furst( saves me re- writing a review)..I wanted to congratulate you on your excellent novels. I just finished Dark Star and previously read Mission to Paris. I've read a few of your earlier works, as well. Dark Star just enthralled me. I devour historical and espionage novels, particularly about the era of pre -WWII through the Cold War( if it's LeCarre ). I didn't think you could supplant Smiley's creator as my favorite spymaster novelist , but you have. That's an accomplishment. ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Similar to recent books it seems, this took a bit longer to get into, and involved a "re-start". I bought the book originally on a recommendation in a review -- if you like the one reviewed, this is much better. I would totally agree. This is historical fiction or perhaps better described as a historical spy novel. I restarted the book because I got lost in the "who is the good guy" question. There was a theme there, not knowing who the good guy was. Our Szara gets himself in a jam and narrowly ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
Alan Furst's great historical espionage novel, Dark Star is a prewar epic of Europe's moral ambiguities and shifting loyalties. Told through the eyes of Pravda journalist and Luftmensch (and sometimes NKVD spy) André Szara, the story stretches from Paris to Berlin, Warsaw, and even down to Izmir. In this novel Furst examines ideas of trust and suspicion, love and hate, magnetism and repulsion.

It is a novel about the compromises good men make to survive, the power that a few evil men have over
Marc  A.
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the (I believe) longest (almost 600 pages) and, so far, the best of the several of Furst's novels I have read. I would rate it six
stars if I could. In Dark Star, the protagonist is a Poland (Pale of Settlement) born Jew who grows up in Odessa Russia, fights for the Bolshevics in the Revolution of 1917, becomes an international reporter for Pravda, and is dragooned into doing intelligence work for the NKVD in the late 1930's. It is excellent spy fiction that takes place against superbly
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the years leading up to World War II Alan Furst sets the scene for a tense caper involving two evil dictators Josef Stalin and Adolph Hitler at the philosophical level, while ordinary secret agents battle it out closer to street level. Our protagonist, a Soviet journalist turned spy, must stay alert and thus stay alive. He has a lot to fear from erstwhile comrades as well as Nazis. You can't trust anyone. Europe is taut with intrigue and suspicion. The times were calamitous, but in the hands ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This second chapter in the Night Soldiers saga was, quite frankly, great. We meet new NKVD recruit and sometime renown journalist Andre who is in Germany and France on the eve of the Second War. A lot happens, but it is not the plot or events that drive this and the first Night Soldiers, but the characters. Whether French, German, or Russian each is well drawn and palpable. Not sure where this is going, but I'm enjoying the ride so far.
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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)
  • 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)
  • The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10)
  • Spies of the Balkans (Night Soldiers, #11)
“Politicians were like talking dogs in a circus: the fact that they existed was uncommonly interesting, but no sane person would actually believe what they said” 5 likes
“Luftmenschen were also eternal students, lost souls, young people who spent their lives arguing politics in cafés and drifting through the student communities of Europe— gifted, bright, but never truly finding themselves.” 0 likes
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