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Prester John Paperback – 13 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (13 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846970644
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846970641
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 535,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Buchan was born in Perth. His father was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland; and in 1876 the family moved to Fife where in order to attend the local school the small boy had to walk six miles a day. Later they moved again to the Gorbals in Glasgow and John Buchan went to Hutchesons' Grammar School, Glasgow University (by which time he was already publishing articles in periodicals) and Brasenose College, Oxford. His years at Oxford - 'spent peacefully in an enclave like a monastery' - nevertheless opened up yet more horizons and he published five books and many articles, won several awards including the Newdigate Prize for poetry and gained a First. His career was equally diverse and successful after university and, despite ill-health and continual pain from a duodenal ulcer, he played a prominent part in public life as a barrister and Member of Parliament, in addition to being a writer, soldier and publisher. In 1907 he married Susan Grosvenor, and the marriage was supremely happy. They had one daughter and three sons. He was created Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield in 1935 and became the fifteenth Governor-General of Canada, a position he held until his death in 1940. 'I don't think I remember anyone,' wrote G. M. Trevelyan to his widow, 'whose death evoked a more enviable outburst of sorrow, love and admiration.'

John Buchan's first success as an author came with Prester John in 1910, followed by a series of adventure thrillers, or 'shockers' as he called them, all characterized by their authentically rendered backgrounds, romantic characters, their atmosphere of expectancy and world-wide conspiracies, and the author's own enthusiasm. There are three main heroes: Richard Hannay, whose adventures are collected in The Complete Richard Hannay; Dickson McCunn, the Glaswegian provision merchant with the soul of a romantic, who features in Huntingtower, Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds; and Sir Edward Leithen, the lawyer who tells the story of John MacNab and Sick Heart River, John Buchan's final novel. In addition, John Buchan established a reputation as an historical biographer with such works as Montrose, Oliver Cromwell and Augustus.


Product Description

About the Author

One of Alfred Hitchcock's favourite writers, John Buchan was a Scottish diplomat, barrister, journalist, historian, poet and novelist. He published nearly 30 novels and seven collections of short stories. He was born in Perth, an eldest son, and studied at Glasgow and Oxford. In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. In 1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor and they subsequently had four children. After spells as a war correspondent, Lloyd George's Director of Information and Conservative MP, Buchan moved to Canada in 1935. He served as Governor General there until his death in 1940.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By N. Wilson on 30 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
I first read this book some 6o years ago. It entranced me then and I re-read it several times. As in all his best books (The Dancing Floor; The Courts of the Morning; The Far Islands; possibly Greenmantle) in Prester John there is a captivating sense of ancient, hidden knowledge ... meretricious, of course, but seductive. There is also clean prose and the bite of a well written thriller. My reason for re-reading it was to see if nowadays its inherent racialist snobbery made it intolerable. Interestingly, it does not. It had no effect on me as a child and, if you feel your way back into the strangely innocent mind-set of the imperialist elite, it is something you may observe with curiosity ... and gain historical understanding. Naturally, the thrill of the story has faded a bit with longer experience and a more jaded palate - but it is still a darn good tale.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. H. F. Murden on 12 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having read Buchan's '39 Steps' many years ago I thought it was time I re-acquainted myself with this master of the short thiller/adventure.

I wasn't disappointed ! A thoroughly enjoyable read, the somewhat anachronistic language highlights the changes in society's attitudes towards race since it was written but in no way detract from the book's charm.

Buchan's crisp and fast moving prose make this a real page turner !
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Legal Vampire on 8 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
A great story. No point debating wheher it could all actually have happened; this is entertainment, just enjoy it!

It begins with a strange and dangerous incident during the narrator's boyhood in Scotland, involving a visiting African Christian minister who secretly combines his Christianity with more ancient beliefs.

The story swiftly moves on to South Africa, where the narrator goes to seek his fortune after the death of his father forces him to abandon previous plans to go to university and enter the ministry.

He soon finds that beneath the surface calm the natives are restless and something strange is going on, linked in some way to an inaccessible cave and the old legend of a Christian king somewhere in Africa called Prester John. Soon, the natives are revolting!

Quite a short book, so not too forbidding to pick up and begin reading.

Really, the book has two heroes, the black leader of the African revolt and the white man who helps to foil it, both of whom have remarkable qualities, regardless of which of them is ultimately right.

As other reviewers have already commented on them, it may become a little tedious to go on about the race and colonialism issues, but it is hard not to mention them in a modern review.

The author John Buchan assumes that black Africans' dreams of expelling the white man and restoring their past African kingdoms are in some ways a noble endeavour but ultimately, for the foreseeable future, Africans are better off under colonial rule as long as it introduces modern technology, education, law and Christianity. Frankly, given the unhappy history of quite a few African countries since independence, we should not assume that Buchan was completely wrong to believe that.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
A classic page-turner!! The story of the stereotypical colonialist 'plucky young lad' out to make his fortune in Africa. Unsurprisingly, he gets tangled up in the midst of an African tribal uprising. While perhaps propagandist at one time, somehow the stereotypical colonialism from the turn of the century doesn't really strike the reader. What does is the fast paced, 'Boy's Own' narrative of one person's heroic adventures. A great adventure story to take you away for an afternoon to a world that now seems far removed from this one. A time to remember adolescent dreams of glory in far-off lands.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John on 22 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Read this as a boy and thoroughly enjoyed it. Forty years on enjoyed it again. Comes in the category of 'Ripping Yarns'. Written a century ago and politically incorrect today but who cares - a great story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J M STEEL on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Classic, read and re-read, with quite a bit of Buchans persona in the main character, as in all his books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Izzard on 9 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great read - much more unrefined though than Greenmantle - very rough around the edges. The Great War, which was still 4 years away when PJ was written, seemed, understandably, to smooth the edges off and the later works were definitely less controversial (by modern thinking) and more rounded, but with no less drama or tension. Still, this remains a great book by a great writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 3 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Entertaining account of a Scottish lad seeking his future in South Africa and encountering a character from his past who has a mission to fulfil. Interesting account of tribal uprisings in South Africa during the early part of 20th Century.
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