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The Polish Officer Paperback – 16 Feb 1998

52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; (Reissue) edition (16 Feb. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006511295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006511298
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.5 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,418,598 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


‘One of the best novels of the year… Furst’s ability to recreate the terrors of espionage and combat is matchless.’
Robert Harris, Daily Mail

‘Brilliant… you can almost hear the chained wheels of the Gestapo car on the snow, the whack of bullets in the moonlit Polish forests, the quietness of occupied Paris by night… a compelling work.’

‘Excellent… beautifully written, intensely atmospheric and dramatically convincing. The Polish Officer is a work of quiet subtlety that will niggle in the memory far longer than most frenetic novels of espionage.’
Sunday Times

‘Surely among the most convincing war books of our time.’
Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

From the master of the historical spy thriller, a story set in the heart of the Polish resistance --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By T Marshall on 13 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Having read "Night Soldiers" and "Dark Star" I leapt upon this novel with a huge amount of anticipation. Usually whenever I do this I am let down in some way, but Mr Furst has that most sought after of qualities in an author: consistency.
The Polish Officer in question is a wonderfully understated character, merely trying to do what's best in a more-than-uncertain world. With his loyalties lying with "a country with a bully for a neighbour" he seeks out the best underground way possible to continue fighting for it, be it against the Russian NKVD or the German Gestapo. We are taken along for the ride across a war-torn Europe, wondering much as he does as to when he is going to be killed, rather than if. He survives long enough for us to empathise with him and his situation. He is like we would be; ordinary but using it to his advantage. He underlines the fact that a James Bond in his situation would be merely a name on a headstone.
This is an excellent spy novel. This is an excellent war-story. But above all it is an excellent tale from an excellent author
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first novel I've read by Alan Furst, and I was pleased to find that the golden opinions which Furst has been winning (comparisons with Le Carre, among others) seem to be justified. He writes unobtrusively well, and the period in which the novel is set offers almost too much material for the thriller writer.
For the English or American reader, life in Occupied Europe from the perspective of those who lived there is still an unfamiliar angle from which to view the Second World War, and I found Furst's treatment a refreshing change from the usual Anglocentric perspective. There are no English or American characters of any significance; instead the focus of interest is upon the emigres and displaced persons, the former military officers and bandits who find themselves more or less willingly drawn into an apparently hopeless resistance to the occupying Nazi and Soviet forces in France, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine. It is a small triumph that Furst makes this unfamiliar material compelling to the English reader.
I would add only one caveat; the author's somewhat curious decision to limit his period of interest to that between roughly 1938 and 1941, (broadly, that in which the Axis powers were most clearly in the ascendant) although defensible in dramatic terms, left this reader at the novel's end with a strong feeling that the whole story had not been told. I understand that Alan Furst's other, and now rather numerous, novels are set in the same period, and one wonders how long it will be before he begins to feel constrained by this self-imposed restriction. Certainly the central character of The Polish Officer is strong enough to justify at least one sequel, and perhaps to set the mind at rest.
It is a measure of the author's success that one badly wants to know for certain that his hero survives the war. I will certainly be seeking out this author's other books, though I will be surprised if they are superior.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kasablanka on 8 July 2007
Format: Paperback
This is my favorite of Alan Furst's books because of the main character and it is one complete story. Some of his books are rather episodic.
'Captain de Milja was a soldier, he knew he didn't have long to live. And, in truth, he didn't care. He was not in love with life. One or two things had to be taken care of, then matters could run their course'.
'De Milja looked to be in his thirties, but there was something about him, some air of authority, that was much older than that ... His face was delicate, arrogant, hard ... in any event, he was a very serious man.'
Like a lot of the author's characters, they seem doomed but do survive or at least, are alive at the end of the book and sometimes make a brief appearance in some of his other books, especially as in 'The Foreign Correspondant'. It would be good to encounter Captain De Milja again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robin Webster on 15 May 2014
Format: Paperback
The ‘Polish Officer’ follows the fortunes of Captain Alexander de Milja, from the fall of Poland in 1939 when he is recruited into the Polish underground to 1941, when he finds himself fighting alongside the partisans in the forests of the Ukraine. de Milja’s first mission is to take charge of the transportation of Poland’s gold reserves which are hidden on a refugee train heading for Bucharest. He then moves on to Paris just before the occupation, then acted as an intelligence officer before moving on to the Ukraine. There is no doubt that the author has much knowledge of the subject and there were some interesting snippets regarding the intelligence service in Paris and the tactics of the partisans in the Ukrainian forest. In fact there were a lot of good ideas, but far too many to fit into a book of 337 pages. I found that many, but not all the characters in the book were underdeveloped and for the most part the dialoge was just functional. I also felt it wasn’t the most well-paced book I have ever picked up and to me it read like a series of short stories. It’s a shame because I do read a lot of books on the subject of WW2. However, if I read a historical novel I do like the background facts to be right, but I also like it to centre on the characters and the interplay between them: Otherwise I’ll read a factual history book on the subject which I am also happy to do. However, someone who enjoys reading novels where the characters main function is to relay the events to the reader may have a different opinion.
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