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The World at Night

(Night Soldiers #4)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  5,024 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 8th 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published May 14th 1996)
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Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars. I like this author's spy books. This one is set in France, from May, 1940 to June 1941. Jean Casson is a French filmmaker. He puts films together, recruiting scriptwriters, actors, directors, and financing. This book starts out slow, showing Jean as an ordinary man, drawn into extraordinary actions by the war. Before the war, he led a pleasurable life of short term love affairs and an amicable relationship with his wife who he has been separated from for several ...more
Here's what you should listen to while reading this review:

If you scratch at the gold of Furst's evocative books, some of the plating inevitably flakes off... on nearly every page, alas.

And if you knock here and there to sound the depths of his imagination and the depths of insight, one finds tinny, hollow sounds here and there. Perhaps more than 'here and there'.

And so, it is not without cause...that many readers write Furst off as little more than a l
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Robert Ludlum Fans
I am a huge fan of Alan Furst; I've read all and enjoyed of his 1940's era books -- most of them several times. Except this one.

To me, Furst's novels have three great strengths. 1: Atmosphere -- an ability to transport the reader back to the smokey, uncertain times as WWII was getting started; 2: Great and believable characters -- people who are like those around you who happened to find themselves in compelling circumstances; and 3: Plausibility; unlike most "spy novels," Furst's do not contai
T. Scott
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
I've read all of Furst's WWII books. These aren't action novels. They are atmospheric and very evocative. In some ways, they are all the same book and the same main character, but I don't that isn't necessarily a criticism. This is one of the best of the bunch. The desperation, fear, and apathy that war brings with it are always prevalent, and part of what make the books so good.
I've read a few books by this author now but this one just didn't have the strength/impact that the previous novels delivered. I wasn't particularly enamoured of the main character Jean Casson, French producer and would be spy. He was far too naive and self centred for his role here. Some of his actions simply didn't correlate to his character. Also, the novel just felt incomplete.

On the positive side I love the way the author writes, the delivery of the story, the time depicted and the historic
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Furst's fourth Night Soldiers' novel switches narrators to Jean Casson, a French movie producer. He is a reluctant hero who is drawn into the secret war against the Nazi occupiers of France. With 'The World at Night', Furst is able to again relate the way WWII impacted typical Europeans in ways that most fiction and nonfiction writers who focus on Europe's second world war seem to often miss or overlook.

A solid Furst novel, just not a great one. But take that with a grain of salt. Minor Furst n
Patrick Sherriff
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spies-like-us
There was a slow build-up and the novel didn't really catch fire for me until the final third, but that is maybe as it should be. What Furst has created is an evocative exploration of what it was like to lose your country, way of life and future and then to have to continue living. It's an intelligent novel with authentic detail, moments of humour and terror, and a sting in the tail. In these dark Trumpian days it's instructive to see how people of an earlier age dealt with an even greater affro ...more
Duffy Pratt
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always like Furst's books. To a certain extent, they are all similar. A conflicted man, with some noble underpinnings gets drawn over his head into a world of intrigue that he only vaguely understands it. This time its a minor film producer just after the occupation. Furst has a wonderful way of making spying seem simultaneously noble and mundane, even a bit tawdry. For most of the book, its not quite clear whether Casson is a spy. He seems to have mixed views on the subject. But both the Brit ...more
I haven’t read Furst before, and picked this up because it was on sale. Narration is good, but at some points you keep waiting for something to happen. Eventually you start to care about the characters, but the second half of the book is better than the first.

Crossposted at Booklikes.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
You can always get lost in a novel by Alan Furst. The good kind of lost where you forget about passing time, missed train stops, your plan to go to bed at a reasonable hour. In The World at Night, a French film producer finds his life, along with everyone else’s lives, upended by the German invasion of Poland and the sudden conquest of France. Jean Casson, in his early 40s, is mobilized to his astonishment and attached not unreasonably to a film crew, but France is defeated before his unit gets ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Terrifically atmospheric and sometimes cinematic. History is generously, credibly drawn across the pages.

This spy novel is not as heroic or compelling as is typical for the genre, but is perhaps more realistic.

But the women felt like throw-away placements more than characters, and so represented wasted opportunities for characters or relationships to be I vested in. The romantic focus wasn’t convincing or interesting, and as such added little to the book despite taking up a surprisin
Jan Rice
I am glad I read Night Soldiers first. This one struck me as much more ordinary. It was so long before anything happened. And that narrator, George Guidall, with his whispery, insinuating voice, is not right for a World War II spy story. (Moreover, Guidall narrated a Daniel Silva thriller I listened to, so hearing him again reminded me of a book I'd just as soon forget.) But it comes back to The World at Night: if more had been happening, I would have been less distractible. I had bought The Wor ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the front of the book there was a short section containing professional reviews. One of the reviewers made the same observation I've noted in my review of an earlier Alan Furst book. Furst is an expert in capturing the feel of pre and early WWII. I was born the year after the war ended so I really don't know first hand what that feel is, but to me, and the professional reviewers, it is the atmosphere one gets when watching movies such as Casablanca, 13 Rue Madeleine or The House On 92nd Stree ...more
A swathe of sex scenes interspersed by ineffectual spying.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Smart comfort food for those who like spy novels grounded in far more realism than Robert Ludlum, though less than John LeCarre. Each Furst novel looks at a small segment of either the run up to World War II or the conflict itself. The World at Night is set during the period between the attack on France in 1940 and the end of 1941, just before the United States enters the war. It follows film maker Jean Casson through as series of haphazard adventures (including a trip to Franco's Spain and anot ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alan Furst is simply the best writer of thrillers around today. His heroes are are mature, world weary men about town who have no ambitions to be heroes, but have a sense of honor that nonetheless propels them onto the heroic path.

In this volume, Jean Claude Casson, a Parisian film producer struggles to come to terms with life under the German occupation during World War II. He sees people all around him collaborating, but just cannot make himself cozy up to the Nazis. He tries a little espionag
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Alan Furst has written fourteen books (soon to be fifteen) set in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. They form the "Night Soldiers" series and they are loosely connected but can be read in any order. "The World At Night" focuses on Jean Casson, a film producer living in Paris. When the Germans arrive in 1940, he is living a very comfortable life: his career is going well, he has a good relationship with his ex-wife and an endless stream of women willing to share his bed. Gradually things change unde ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't usually read spy novels, but this is the second Alan Furst I've read. His writing provides just enough detail to pull me in. The only way I can describe it is 'spare', though that doesn't do it justice. Despite the WWII setting, which I seem to read so much of, Furst provides a different context and a novel I couldn't put down.
Rachel Pollock
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, but this was so gratifying.

A superficial but good-natured rake of a film producer gets sucked into WW2 espionage in occupied France. Dire danger, narrow escapes, sexcapades, and doomed lovers.

More please.
Jason Kratz
The fourth book in the "Night Soldiers" series of World War II-era spy novels by Alan Furst evokes the feeling of what I assume is close to how it felt to live in Paris in 1940 under German occupation. Furst is a master of description and detail and with this book that is evident as ever. But is the book good? Can description and feeling be enough to carry a novel?

Set almost exclusively in Paris in 1940, in the time leading up to, and during, German occupation the book tells the story of French
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up. Not one of Furst's best, but still a brilliantly bleak and realistic portrayal of life under Nazi occupation in France during WW2. Still learned more from this novel than I ever did in a history class, and as with other books by Furst, I was still compelled to look up every detail while my interest in the time period increased exponentially. And, as always, Furst' characterizations are incredible: many times I was compelled to pause and consider, "what if that had been me? ...more
Kenyon Harbison
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
The novel is about the tribulations of a French film producer, Jean Casson, during the German occupation of Paris. It is a "spy novel" in the loose sense of the term, as are all of Alan Furst's novels that I have read so far. This is not the silly Robert Ludlum type of spy novel, in other words. You truly can FEEL Paris during the occupation. Where a Ludlum or (these days) a Patterson gives you a clunky, dropped-in sentence of superficial "color," which, if you have half a brain in your head, yo ...more
Janette Fleming
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical drama with a hint of a spy story.

The Germans break through the Maginot line just as French movie producer bon vivant Casson is discovering that at 41 he is fallible and failing. The occupation of France and of his native city, Paris, just accelerates his fall. He tries to adopt to his changed situation, to the loss of wealth, loss of standing, by trying to to be a soldier, a collaborator, a movie producer once again. But he wanders through the suffering warrens of his fallen land and
Dick Reynolds
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
It’s May 1940 as Hitler’s forces are about to invade France. Film producer Jean-Claude Casson is in need of money and a script to make his next movie but both are in short supply. There is a pervading gloom around Paris but, as Casson observes, one must survive. Children would be born, bakers would make bread, lovers would make love, dinner parties would be given, and, in that way, France would go on being France.
The situation becomes even worse when the Germans easily defeat France and occupy
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A French film producer enlists with the French army to protect France. After the Nazis defeat the French, he returns to France and tries to rebuild his life under occupation.

One scene raised this book from a good to a great read: the protagonist is seated at an upscale diner, where he is conversing with a friend who may be able to find him a job. He is surrounded by wealthy people who are trying to weather the occupation and maintain their lives. He listens in on their conversations, and gets th
Jun 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Alan Furst’s World War II espionage novels can sometimes read nothing like novels about spies. Instead they’ll tell of a postcard from a lost friend, signed with an impersonal, intimate X. They’ll contemplate the slow rolling of cigarettes at a Paris café, an untapped telephone under the bar, and former lovers pretending a kiss in order to escape unwanted attention. Jean-Claude Casson, hero of "The World at Night," is no James Bond, so when he is unlucky, we feel it sharply; when he loses, we lo ...more
May 30, 2012 added it
The historian in me loves the World War II mysteries by Alan Furst. He is a master of the dark and brooding atmosphere pervading Europe as the Nazis advance. The main character of this mystery is a French film producer named Jean Casson. Casson is a divorced member of the creative class in Paris, living a hedonistic life without much direction. When the Occupation happens, everything changes and everyone must make adjustments and choices. Casson is recruited by British intelligence on a mission ...more
V.R. Barkowski
In Nazi occupied Paris, film producer Jean Casson is drawn into the Resistance and reconnects with his lost love, Citrine. THE WORLD AT NIGHT is a well-written, atmospheric novel, but I never connected with the protagonist. Since I have an affinity for flawed, conflicted characters, and Jean is nothing if not flawed and conflicted, I'm surprised the book didn't work for me on this level. Wish I could be more specific. Possibly because I’m writing about this period myself, I was distracted by the ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Furst's 4th 'Night Soldiers' novel, and is told from the perspective of Jean Casson, a French movie producer. He is a reluctant hero who is drawn into the secret war against the Nazi occupiers of France. With 'The World at Night', Furst is able to again relate the way WWII impacted typical Europeans in ways that most fiction and nonfiction writers who focus on Europe's second world war seem to often miss or overlook.

Once again the atmosphere of the time has been well captured, and the c
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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 F

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)
  • 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)

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