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Night Soldiers [Hardcover]

Alan Furst
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2005

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates

the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a work on a grand scale.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; Library edition edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297850717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297850717
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 893,590 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


‘Furst’s intelligent, ambitious, absorbing novel charges along from the rise of Fascism in Bulgaria, to Spain during the Civil War, to France and back to Eastern Europe as World War II draws to an end. The history is deftly incorporated; the viewpoint civilized; the characters and the settings picturesque; the adventures exciting; the writing pungent.’
New York Times

‘Night Soldiers has everything the best thrillers offer – excitement, intrigue, romance – plus grown-up writing, characters that matter, and a crisp, carefully researched portrait of the period in which our own postwar world was shaped.’
USA Today

‘Exceptional. Best of all is the chilling trail of treachery and betrayal, as the Russian Revolution – in the guise of the NKVD – devours its adherents.’
Washington Post

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

'Ideally complex, intelligent, hugely intriguing; Furst is in a class of his own' William Boyd

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative uncertainty 4 Jan 2010
Furst is a wonderful novelist within the espionage genre, different in approach to any others I have come across. You could say the plot is labyrinthine except that it could be argued the book is virtually plotless, written from the point of view of the protagonists who, of course, don't know much about what's going on. It's not the case of the writer developing an elaborate scenario which is sorted out one way or another towards the end - there usually is no such resolution in Furst's books; it is more like a painter dabbing tentatively at the canvas, occasionally doing something figurative and then disappearing into the abstract. A person sits in a cafe, catches the eye of someone else, is worried that he is being watched; this fleeting episode is never mentioned again and the reader, any more than the character, doesn't know at the end of the book whether it has been relevant to subsequent events. Uncertainty is not just the experience of the characters but the organising principle of the writing. To this is added a profoundly evocative treatment of pre-war and wartime Europe bolstered by reference to actual events and people and their refraction through the experience of individual characters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I bought Night Soldiers by Alan Furst because I was looing for a good spy novel and this was up there in various charts and top tens of the best spy novels of all time, along with Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and John le Carré. I have to say that I was hugely disappointed. On the plus side, it does have some interesting observations about Soviet spy craft and the historical setting is, of course, fascinating and very dark and threatening (hence the two stars). However, the novel is too long and very badly written. For example, in the few action sequences it is very difficult to understand what is actually happening because of the naive and artless writing style. Key elements are missed out and so the slower reader (like myself presumably) is left having to go back and re-read sections trying to figure out who had done what to whom. Further the story is told in a most laconic, one might say annoying, style where for many pages nothing at all happens, occasionally punctuated by clearly important - but difficult to discern - meetings in dark alleys between people the reader often fails to recognise. This is brought to bear particularly in the way the author introduces a new character and gives several pages of their back story - the German fighter bomber pilot in Madrid is a good example - and then immediately kills them off. This happens all the time as detailed characters come and go through the life of the hero (Khristo Stoniev), but who serve no long-term function in the story - the American Robert Eidenbaugh (alias Lucien) is a prime example - and just disappear with no explanation. Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pawns in the game 30 Jan 2011
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The details of this story of 1930/40's espionage have been ably set out by others. Khristo Stoianev and his Eastern European cohorts are portrayed as pawns in the spying game symbolized by the chess piece he carries as a sort of lucky charm.

The book did not grip me. It read more as the findings of a research project than as an outstanding novel. The minute detail of local politics, geography and actual events was often distracting. The decision to split into four major chunks did not work. There were many set-pieces which would have benefited from a natural chapter break.

The book is laudable, educational and describes a rarely covered broad canvas of European history from a different political perspective. However, it was rather earnest and did not thrill - but then again maybe Mr Furst never intended it to. A worthy and rewarding book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and riveting 27 Dec 2007
By NickR
Nobody does 30s and 40s gloom and grime quite like Alan Furst. The period detail is wonderful. My only regret is that so many linguistic howlers have slipped through; I can't speak for the Bulgarian or Romanian extracts, but I would not have expected an author with AF's background to make so many mistakes in French and Spanish.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere of fear 8 Oct 2004
No one manages to get period detail down quite like Furst. His sense of color, ambience, time and place are simply exquisite. And, he's a master of the well told tale. Highly recommended. If you're looking for another good spy yarn, try Assassin by newcomer Ted Bell.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb and chilling thriller 22 Oct 2001
By Nick 66
Furst is a master story-teller and he has an excellent ability to convey time, place and the political realities of the period.. wrong to say that Furst gets his history wrong about the POUM-- Furst makes at least two references its Trostkyist direction.
And even if inaccuracies do creep in, the overall impression is gripping. I have read four of his novels in the last two months, I just can't get enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Night Soldiers by Alan Furst 16 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't pick this book because I am into spy thrillers, but rather because I'm interested in both the history of Eastern Europe and World War II, and in that respect Night Soldiers did not disappoint. A sweeping account of the pre-war and war years seen through the eyes of a rebel Bulgarian, Khristo.

As a novel, however, I found it unsatisfactory in a number of ways. The pacing is very slow for a thriller, and the book is overlong. The principal character, Khristo, has seen his brother murdered, his belief in Communism shattered, and is in fear of his life from the Soviet secret service. And yet, really, he is quite a bland character. The author does not get inside this man's head to the extent that he could have done and make us really care about him and what happens to him. Minor characters are not well used - appearing long enough to make the reader interested in them, then disappearing again without explanation.

There is no real central plot; the book is really a chronicle of Khristo's life during these formative years, and that doesn't a page-turner make. I found the dialogue dull and uninspired - although that may be because the writer was trying to convey the impression that the characters are not speaking in English and avoided idiomatic English in dialogue for that reason.

On the plus side, I did like the narrative style. The author's diction is concise, never clunky, and with many a quirky and memorable turn of phrase.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love anything by Alan Furst
Published 11 days ago by Chrissie Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and chilling romp through europen history
This was the second book I've read by Alan Furst. I'd started with the 2013 Mission to Paris which I gave just three stars. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Northern wit
5.0 out of 5 stars Furst Rate!
Perhaps this is the best of Furst novels of pre-war and wartime Europe. He depicts the labyrinthine world of agents and spying very realistically and engagingly.
Published 11 months ago by Ludder
5.0 out of 5 stars Mater spy novel
Learn a great deal about European History in the thirties and forties as you read the novel. Twist at he end was a bit predictable.
Published 12 months ago by Mel Goodman
4.0 out of 5 stars An East European spy's guidebook
Very enjoyable, very well written. Another quality book from Alan Furst. No shortage of locations and plenty of adventure. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
I totally enjoyed this book. It reeled me in from the start and kept me gripped to the very end. Great tension and so many paths the story could have taken. Recommended.
Published 14 months ago by Gareth Parsons
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author
Wonderful read one of my favourite authors never disappoints well written keeps you on your toes all the time really recommend ..
Published 15 months ago by Barny J
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre War Spy Drama
An involved saga, Moscow spy school, the Balkans, Spanish Civil War,pre war Paris and the resistance.
Good history and very real charachters, but not a quick read.
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Good book -

but the author should have checked the Spanish bits: loads of spelling and grammar issues there. Still, well worth the reading.
Published 18 months ago by josep serra gallego
2.0 out of 5 stars Over complicated and with a too ornate style
I found it difficult to finish. Over-complicated plot and an ornate and overblown writing style. The plot put a strain on one's patience.
Published 18 months ago by RICHARD GODDARD
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