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Dark Star [Paperback]

Alan Furst
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Feb 1998

Alan Furst’s irresistibly atmospheric tale of a journalist reluctantly caught up in espionage in Eastern Europe as World War II approaches has won remarkable critical acclaim. Now it is to be reissued in B-format, in a new cover style, alongside his new paperback, The World at Night.

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. On the front line is André Szara, a born survivor – of the Polish pogroms, the Stalinist purges and the Russian civil wars. His only goal is to keep going in a world where betrayal can come at any time. But slowly he is drawn into the dark intrigues of pre-war Europe where life is a grey uncertainty of cheap hotel rooms, love affairs that cannot last and friends who have ceased to exist.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; (Reissue) edition (16 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006511317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006511311
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,177,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Furst has lived for long periods in France, especially in Paris, and has travelled as a journalist in Eastern Europe and Russia. He has written extensively for Esquire and the International Herald Tribune.

Product Description


‘Imagine discovering an unscreened espionage thriller from the late 1930s, a classic black-and-white movie that captures the murky allegiances and moral ambiguity of Europe on the brink of war… Nothing can be like watching Casablanca for the first time, but Furst comes closer than anyone has in years.’

‘The time-frame of the late 1930s on the continent was once the special property of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene: Furst has ventured into their fictional territory and brought out a story that is equally original and engaging.’
New York Times

‘Espionage oozing from every shadow – writing of a high calibre.’
Sunday Express

Sunday Telegraph
‘A jewel.’
Daily Mail

Book Description

'Outclasses any spy novel I have ever read' Richard Condon, author of The Manchurian Candidate --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
IN THE LATE AUTUMN OF 1937, IN THE STEADY BEAT OF North Sea rain that comes with dawn in that season, the tramp freighter Nicaea stood at anchor off the Belgian city of Ostend. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably his best one 24 May 2006
By Biagio
There is something true in saying that all of Furst books are similar, but then again they serve their purpose (high quality entertainment, not literary masterpiece) so well that one does not really mind. In this type of literature, as in Le Carré, one prefers sustained quality rather than novelty. However Dark Star and Night Soldiers differ from the others in that they have some very itneresting historical comments to make. There are two pages in Dark Star where the author goes through the purging of jews from the soviet communist party that are very interesting; how the party went from having a huge jewish presence ("We were in the paradise businnes" as General Bloch, s beautifully penned character, says) to almost none after Stalin took control of things. It is in inserting considerations of these kind (certainly not original) that makes Furst's first books so interesting.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Furst is a revelation. He writes leagues ahead of Le Carre, Deighton et al. Furst combines the eloquent first person observations of Deighton's Bernard Sampson and the unrelenting intelligence of Le Carre's George Smiley.
Dark Star is set in pre-war Paris, a Soviet journalist (Andre Szara) fights to stay alive caught between the approaching menace of Nazi Germany and the ruthless savagery of the NKVD. The oppressive atmosphere of uncertainty can almost be felt like a breath of fetid air as you open the book and remains convincing throughout as Furst resists applying the wisdom of hindsight - Szara knows war will happen, but when? It seems certain that Hitler must fight, but who as alliances are shifting and often meaningless?
Szara's efforts to cling to a life (any life) are further complicated as he is used by warring factions in the NKVD who view Szara's inevitable death as an acceptable write off. Szara's friend consoles him with "In [any] work there is competition, alliance, betrayal. Unhappily when an intelligence apparat plays these games, they are equipped with very sharp tools ....... and the level of play can be frightful. A journalist .... will simply be eaten alive."
A man driven by love, anger and desire, trying to survive in a world between competing ideologies that have a savage and feral momentum.
"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you" (Leon Trotsky) best seems to summarise Szara's quiet terror and the reader's compulsion to read on.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contrived, Flawed and Wonderful 21 Mar 2002
The woeful tale of Szara, the Polish/Russian journalist, trapped in the intrigues of the intelligence services of Europe prior to WWII is gripping. We feel an imediate empathy with the character as he tries to make sense of the nonsensical, dodging the bullets as he goes.
There is a marvellous Flashman-esque element to this story, wherein the author lands his main character into the most improbable, historically important events leading up to the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Russia. How he remains alive is of as much a mystery to him as to us, as he is hunted by the world's most devious men. Yet, there is a thin thread of possibility that it may have been possible for him to do so.
It is this thread that pulls us as readers from one unlikely scenario to another as he cheats death time and again. And before you know it you have been convinced that the parallel lives of Stalin and Hitler were inevitable through fate.
I recommend this book to all who enjoy the suspension of reality, with a tinge of historical activity to spice it all up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A convert 31 Aug 2007
My first 'Alan Furst' and there will be more. Really enjoyed this novel. With complex characters, interesting plot and ambitious but fairly convincing insights into the history of the 1930s, it is difficult to fault. But I have some reservations - the ending/denouement felt a bit rushed and contrived - all a bit too 'happily ever after' considering the darkness of the subject matter.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, dark & literary thriller 6 Mar 2003
Alan Furst is a superb writer with a very sure and evocative touch. I have enjoyed all of his books, but Dark Star shines out as the finest. The central character Szara is a complex and compelling one as flawed and interesting as one of Le Carre's heroes.
This is an author who should not be pigeon-holed into a genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional 21 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sentence by sentence, Furst is the master of the literary spy novel. Well crafted, erudite, moving novels in a league of their own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Stardom 5 Aug 2013
By Ludder
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A brilliantly written book which engagingly captures the spirit and emotions of the pre-war years .A superbly entertaining novel which I would unhesitatingly recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars dark intigue by russians pre-war 26 Mar 2013
By yorkist
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alan Furst always intrigues with his multi layed plots.
The 1938 background is the outline for the outbreak of world war 2
The subtle character images are gripping
If you like spy stories this is a must.
But russian spies will always be a mystery.That is why we buy them
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 1 month ago by Valhalla
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
This is the first Alan Furst novel I have read and it will be the last. The story is so tedious, overly detailed with tangential facts and basically down right boring that I... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dausubel
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Written in a very dense style which I found difficult to penetrate and appreciate. Ended up caring little for the characters and gave up on the book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Martin Warlow
2.0 out of 5 stars A Furst too far...
... up its you-know-what. I have read nearly all his books and am a fan, but this book was so full of doubtless carefully researched data and empty of connected plot that I gave it... Read more
Published 13 months ago by I. Bryant
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
I know that most reviews of this book are enthusiastic (but aren't they almost always, on Amazon?) I can't share this enthusiasm - in fact, I gave up about a third of the way... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Michael Tracy
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre war Europe
I love all of Alan Furst's novels and this one is no exception. Brilliant atmosphere created and characters often quirky and interesting.
Published 19 months ago by higgers
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Star Alan Furst
A very good read as one would expect from Alan Furst. A very good read as one would expect from Alan Furst
Published 19 months ago by alaint
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Star
Brillant book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is almost as good as Night Soldiers, but not quite. Read more
Published 20 months ago by JGH59
4.0 out of 5 stars "one gets tired of being the eternal stranger"
Dark Star is a novel set during the last two years before the onset of World War II. The story of Andre Szara, a forty year old Russian Pravda journalist turned reluctant spy, from... Read more
Published 22 months ago by travelswithadiplomat
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many unfinished plotlines
A very unsatisfying 'read'. Book can't seem to make its mind up about which plotline to follow evetually settling for a thin implausible equation linking Hitler and Stalin (I won't... Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2009 by John Harpur
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