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The Foreign Correspondent [Hardcover]

Alan Furst
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 May 2006
From Alan Furst, whom The New York Times calls “America’s preeminent spy novelist,” comes an epic story of romantic love, love of country, and love of freedom–the story of a secret war fought in elegant hotel bars and first-class railway cars, in the mountains of Spain and the backstreets of Berlin. It is an inspiring, thrilling saga of everyday people forced by their hearts’ passion to fight in the war against tyranny.

By 1938, hundreds of Italian intellectuals, lawyers and journalists, university professors and scientists had escaped Mussolini’s fascist government and taken refuge in Paris. There, amid the struggles of émigré life, they founded an Italian resistance, with an underground press that smuggled news and encouragement back to Italy. Fighting fascism with typewriters, they produced 512 clandestine newspapers. The Foreign Correspondent is their story.

Paris, a winter night in 1938: a murder/suicide at a discreet lovers’ hotel. But this is no romantic traged–it is the work of the OVRA, Mussolini’s fascist secret police, and is meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine émigré newspaper. Carlo Weisz, who has fled from Trieste and secured a job as a foreign correspondent with the Reuters bureau, becomes the new editor.
Weisz is, at that moment, in Spain, reporting on the last campaign of the Spanish civil war. But as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Sûreté, by agents of the OVRA, and by officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder.

The Foreign Correspondent is the story of Carlo Weisz and a handful of antifascists: the army officer known as “Colonel Ferrara,” who fights for a lost cause in Spain; Arturo Salamone, the shrewd leader of a resistance group in Paris; and Christa von Schirren, the woman who becomes the love of Weisz’s life, herself involved in a doomed resistance underground in Berlin.

The Foreign Correspondent is Alan Furst at his absolute best–taut and powerful, enigmatic and romantic, with sharp, seductive writing that takes the reader through darkness and intrigue to a spectacular denouement.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition First Printing edition (30 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400060192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400060191
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,119,367 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


'Mr Furst excels at period atmosphere, which he conjures up, not with a litany of facts absorbed and reproduced, but with light touches that suggest the broader scene. His characters are wonderfully human: complex and ambiguous, fearful and determined, but people, who, when need to be, can gather their courage and do what needs to be done. Mr Furst is a subtle, economical writer who knows precisely when to stop a sentence.' (THE ECONOMIST (10.6.06) )

'There is something deeply comforting about Furst's cat-and-mousery, played out in Spain, Italy and the smoke-filled bars of Paris. But beneath the period detail there is both a complicated thriller and a full-throated love story.' (WWW.FIRSTPOST.CO.UK )

'outstandingly atmospheric and well-informed.' (Jessica Mann LITERARY REVIEW )

'The Foreign Correspondent is a reminder that the espionage novel - if that's what we're going to call it - can still be a vehicle for fine writing. Furst's audacious reinvention of the genre is a constant delight.' (Barry Forshaw THE INDEPENDENT (5.12.06) )

'a typically silky spy thriller...the period minutiae, as ever, were superb.' (David Robson SUNDAY TELEGRAPH )

'This is the kind of literate and erudite writing we have come to expect from Alan Furst, who gives us an object lesson in how a quiet, beautifully written spy thriller can be just as gripping as anything in which bombs and bullets fly...Excellent.' (Matthew Lewin THE GUARDIAN (9.12.06) )

'He [Furst] certainly knows his territory, and writes beautifully from the first sentence.' (Alex Berenson THE SCOTSMAN (16.12.06) )

'Furst's heroes are exceptional in their intelligence, their canny ability to survice, and their remarkable attractiveness to women.' (Ruth Morse TLS (22 & 29 December 2006) )

'Furst is often compared to Graham Greene, but a closer parallel might be Eric Ambler, who likewise dealt in the interface of politics and business, and whose characters are more ambiguous but less divided than Greene's...Furst...[is] so pleasurable and rewarding to read.' (Michael Carlson THE SPECTATOR (30.12.06) )

'Furst's Simenon-like evocations of mid-century Paris are a reliable delight; what is also impressive here is how a relatively slender novel gives a panoramic picture of fascism and its opponents elsewhere in Europe, as Weisz's job takes him to Spain, Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia.' (John Dugdale SUNDAY TIMES (7.1.07) )

'a thrilling evocation of Paris just before the Second World War.' (George Byrne EVENING HERALD (4.11.07) )

'Does anyone write better espionage thrillers than Alan Furst? The answer is a ringing no...This is a novel that shows Furst at his masterful best, his prose beautifully shaped, his use of understatement serene, and his creation of character supreme. Do yourself a favour and buy this book. You won't get better.' (Vincent Banville IRISH TIMES (27.1.07) ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The next great page-turner from the master of the noir spy novel. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for summer days or winter nights 12 Jun 2006
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
A friend of mine in London recently asked for a suggestion about a good book to read on the night train from Munich to Prague. I immediately recommended Alan Furst's King of Shadows, which opens on the night train from Budapest to Paris. An Alan Furst novel is often the answer to a request for a `good read'.

Furst comes from a line of writers whose literary lineage can be traced back to both Graham Greene and Eric Ambler. Like Ambler, Furst often takes an unassuming, or unwitting civilian and immerses him in a world of mystery and intrigue in pre and post-World War II Europe. Foreign Correspondent opens in Civil War Spain but quickly moves to pre-war Paris. Italian journalist Carlo Weisz, a refugee from Mussolini's fascist Italy living in Paris, is part of a group of Italian expatriates who print a dissident newspaper, Liberazione, and smuggle it into Italy. The Italian secret police, the OVRA, has infiltrated the group. One of its members has been murdered and each member of the group is feeling the effects of the OVRA turning the screws on their operations. At the same time Weisz' day job as a foreign correspondent for Reuters takes him back and forth to the Berlin of Hitler, Himmler, and Goring. It is in Berlin that Weisz reunites with and reignites his affair with Christa von Schirren. Along the way Weisz comes to the attention of and is recruited by British Intelligence. The plot outline is simple: will Weisz and his cell continue to publish Liberazione and will Weisz be able to get Christa out of Berlin before the war that everyone knows is coming closes all borders.

Furst's strong point has always been how he sets the scene. His atmospherics are tremendous.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Furst among equals 17 Nov 2007
Maybe it's me. I've read all of Furst's novels in this loose "series", and I'm a big fan. But either I'm getting bored with the style, or he's treading water.

This certainly isn't a bad book. And there's nohing wrong with taking a "low key" approach to the 30s/40s espionage genre - but the Graham Greene comparisons are way off the mark. Compared to his earlier works, I'm afraid this is "Furst by numbers". All the usual elements are there: the jaded but honest protagonist, the potentially doomed love affair, the "night and fog" locations, and a few of the "occasional" characters from the earlier books.

But it just never quite catches fire. Sad to say, I could easily have put this book down a few pages before the end, with no burning desire to finish it. And that's something I never thought I'd say about an Alan Furst novel. I'll still await his next book with anticipation, because I know what he's capable of - but I think he needs to re-read "The Polish Officer" or "Dark Star" as a reminder of how it should be done.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed it - having been recommended him by friends I trust. This was the first volume to hand in a bookshop so bought it without knowing anything about it. Was immediately swept into the murk and dinge of pre-war Paris - which was excellent. He seems to have lost his faith in main verbs, but this was gradually restored as the book went on (or is that my imagination?) - it took a bit of time to get into the style - but it's staccato writing certainly helped to conjure up the nervousness and insecurity of living in a world gone mad and overshadowed by war.

For all the suspense and evocation of the book, which i loved (Furst is clearly a very descriptive, poetic even, writer), i couldn't help feeling a little disappointed by the conclusion. I kept wondering how he was going to pull it off as i ran out of pages and so knew the end had to be coming somehow. Kolb's Berlin visit only takes a few pages, and Weisz's final journey (please note care with which i try to avoid plot spoiling) is also rushed. He suddenly arrives - and book ends. Ho hum.

But then i suppose this is a love story not a John Le Carre - and that is sort of the point, i guess. It is humanity and relationships that are the most valuable treasure to protect to in wartime. I have to agree. It's just that i would have greatly enjoyed further descriptions by Furst of how to reach this conclusion. But then, if one is begging an author for more, then this presumably means he has done his job pretty well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and foreign 24 Nov 2007
Having discovered Furst this summer, I have been enjoying going through the catalogue. What I really enjoy about Furst's work is how it makes me think again about the tragic history of Europe in the 20th century and unimaginably horrific events within living memory in ostensibly civilised societies. His work makes me feel lucky to be living in this era - which is strange in itself. This is somehow less intense than the novels set in eastern Europe but Furst shines a soft torchlight on the era gently unfolding an ostensibly simple plot using a fascinating blend of characters. A pervasive theme in his work is the characters' lack of awareness of the true extent of the horrors that are going to engulf Europe - it gives the reader a range of new perspectives on our common (European) history. My niggling reservation about this novel (similar to his other books) is the ending.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars another great story
great book alan furst writes really good stories about a time in rescent history that no one else seems to bother about but is very important.
Published 8 months ago by alistair
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down.
Alan Furst has filled my desire for a good spy writer.
I needed someone after John Le Carre' and he fills the requirement. Read more
Published 10 months ago by GAAH
2.0 out of 5 stars A Waste of Money
Not a good read at all. Boring with nondescript characters. Wouldn't recommend this author from this book. First impressions and all that. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Penny
5.0 out of 5 stars Another First from Furst
Good story as usual don't know what more I can say.Good story as usual don't know what more I can say
Published 13 months ago by alaint
5.0 out of 5 stars well told, multi-layered story
Alan Furst's stories are thrillers with a small t. They grab and pull you along, but the storytelling is subtle and deep, avoiding melodrama and high tension plotting that often... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Rob Kitchin
4.0 out of 5 stars Foreign powers
The book opens, as does Eric Ambler's Cause For Alarm, with an assassination carried out by Italian Fascists (OVRA), although you have to say the earlier writer does it with a lot... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mike Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Spy drama
I bought this book after hearing that a film was to be made of one of Alan Furst's books. Very atmospheric and beautifully written I was there in the dark streets of Paris. Read more
Published 23 months ago by auriol
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
This was my first Furst.
I was expecting to get into it as one might Graham Greene. It was disappointing because despite the reputation, this book never really took off. Read more
Published on 6 April 2012 by F. P. Nath
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, charming thriller
This book is a real pleasure and is not at all predictable. It represents the world of Italian anti-fascist emigres and reproduces the tension and fear of the era. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2011 by J. Borst
1.0 out of 5 stars My furst was slaked long ago
Furst is not a boring writer but he's not interesting enough to be competitive in this genre. This one feels like a phone in.
Published on 5 Sep 2010 by John Coffey
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