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The World at Night [Paperback]

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

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Book Description

7 July 2005
Paris 1940. The civilised, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson ends with the German occupation of the city. Out of money and almost out of luck, Casson attempts to work with a German film company but finds himself drawn into the dark world of espionage and double agents. More used to evading jealous husbands than the secret police, Casson beomes a reluctant spy, torn between honour, patriotism, love and survival.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753818329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753818329
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 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: 1,479,079 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


‘There’s unlikely to be a more engrossing read this year. Just wonderful’
Time Out

‘The World at Night is a brilliant piece of atmospheric writing’
Daily Telegraph

Sunday Express

‘A wonderfully evocative picture of wartime Paris… brilliant’
Mail on Sunday

‘Furst has an eye and an ear for the feel of the 1940s in occupied Europe. The sights, sounds and colours are all authentic. A minor masterpiece’
The Times

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

Book Description

'A wonderfully evocative picture of wartime Paris and the moral maze of resistance' Mail on Sunday

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Alan Furst has done another excellent job of portraying the world of espionage in the 30s and 40s. Like a latterday Eric Ambler, he has made this his own territory - and all of his books are worth reading.
The progress of Jean Casson, a cynical, apolitical man of the world into a spy for the British in Paris in 1940 is done very well indeed. One begins observing him, as he goes about his deal-making, meets his mistresses, joins his wife for her birthday party, making money and enjoying life. His change to committed anti-Nazi is both believable and enjoyable. Particularly well done is Furst's portrayal of the German invaders as not always efficient, certainly no supermen.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part One Of Two 18 Dec 2002
By taking a rest HALL OF FAME
"The World At Night", is actually the first of a pair of books that tell the story of Jean Casson, a former movie producer who is faced with finding a way to survive the onset and extended occupation of Paris in World War II. France was not only divided into parts by the Germans, it was further sub-divided by a variety of groups that had their own agenda. Jean tries to maintain his life, and protects those he cares about, all the while coping with what it means to be a patriot.

Alan Furst writes about a narrow by eventful time from 1933 to 1945. His books are meticulously accurate to the point they would pass inspection by many readers of history. The author takes an unusual step at the end of his books by sharing with readers his sources for the novels he creates. This is not done in an academic bibliography or a blizzard of footnotes, rather he writes conversationally about what he reads, and what he suggests as reading for those who are interested.

In this first book Jean Casson will take part as a photographer during the short-lived French defense. He eventually finds himself taking on a task he believes will help France through his aiding the British. This is not a character that has a desire to be heroic; he seems to just want to find his place. Questions of what is honorable, and what constitutes loyalty constantly shadow him. In many ways he is the personification of the nation he lives in. He is conflicted to the point of pondering whether a barber who continues to cut hair during the war, including that of the German occupiers is a collaborator. At this level the question may appear simpler than the so-called larger issues, but the philosophical issue is the same.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars great on atmosphere, weak on plot 3 Nov 2009
By Trilby
The atmosphere and description of this (as all the other Furst novels I have read so far) is very strong and authentic, so that the reader is catapulted right into the heart of the scene. Having said that, in my view the plot is weak, and there seems to be very little rhyme or reason behind what takes place. Even Casson's relationship with Citrine, which seems to provide his main motivation, is not clearly explained: it did not work in the past, yet now it somehow springs into life. Similarly, his decision to aid the resistance is not satisfactorily explained, and I was left confused as the story unfolded. The last scene gave me the distinct impression that the author had run out of things to say and wanted to pull the plug: so that the reader is left wondering. A disappointment.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Atmosphere, But Plotless 25 Jan 2005
Furst's fourth WWII espionage novel is heavy on atmosphere but virtually plotless, and is disappointingly left to be finished in his next book, Red Gold. All his books feature loner male protagonists, and here the subject is Jean Casson, a midrange French film producer. In his early 40s, Casson is a somewhat hedonistic bon vivant, and as life comes to a momentary standstill during the initial weeks of occupation, he struggles to keep himself fed and clothed. One gets the distinct sense that Casson is supposed to be somewhat emblematic of a certain type or even France, rather than a distinctive character unto himself. A somewhat empty womanizing type, without the courage of any convictions, but with expensive tastes, Casson is recruited to help the resistance. It's a third of the way into the book, by the time this happens though, and-unlike in other of Furst's books-the intelligence aspect never picks up any momentum.
As amateur intelligence operation, Casson is mediocre at best, and it's never really clear why he agrees to help. The perhaps reflects a certain aspect of France at the time, the desire to retain honor, but without having to do too much hard work, or put oneself into too dangerous a situation. At the same time his espionage work starts, he rekindles an old relationship that is perhaps his one true love. This never transcends the generic potboiler romance level, and fails to add any depth to what little story there is. As in all of Furst's writing, the book is rich in detail when in comes to occupied Europe, one really gets the vibe of the cafés, restaurants, and street life in Paris. However, the espionage angle develops rather confusingly and almost randomly, resulting in a rather convoluted anticlimactic finale, which includes a ridiculous escape scene.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great WW2 era thriller 5 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another excellent book from Alan Furst.

Set, as usual in the complex world of plots and intrigue just before and during the Second World War. Great description of Paris and good characters as ever.

Furst's books open up a fascinating glimpse of pre war Europe, a lost world of countries, factions and politics whch have long ceased to exist, but gave rise to our modern world.

There's a certain similarity between some of the books - middle aged protagonist, doomed love affairs, lot of action in Paris and eastern Europe, impending Nazi/Soviet threat - but that's not a criticism, he does it very well and makes you want to know more about those countries (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria etc.) in that era.

Good complex, subtle, thoughtful plots, with plenty of action. I also like the way certain characters from the other books crop up from time to time, viewed in a new perspective.

Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a good read, like all his books to a greater or lesser degree
Published 15 days ago by nonno
5.0 out of 5 stars ... "vide grenier" (like our car boot sales but more like a social...
Bought this book as a result of picking up a copy of "Red Gold" by the same author at a "vide grenier" (like our car boot sales but more like a social event) in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Philip R Watson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Furst at this best.
Published 2 months ago by P PRECIOUS
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I read this a few years ago in paperback, but am amazed that it has so few reviews and so few 4/5 star ones at that. Read more
Published 6 months ago by SpyReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Toujour Tristesse - Nobody does it better
Granted, Alan Furst is an acquired taste - see the unfavourable reviews. But there is a great deal to enjoy for readers who buy into his episodic structure and evocative... Read more
Published 12 months ago by G. M. Sinstadt
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the author usual standard
This novel feels more ponderous than other stories by he same author with the storyline a little too contrived. Overall it is enjoyable but not one of his best.
Published 12 months ago by The cyclist
3.0 out of 5 stars Not powerful enough
would preferred to spent a bit more on a more upmarket model. Took longer to caramelise the creme surfaces fully.
Published 12 months ago by Mr G.R.James.
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight
Not nearly as good as, say, Spies of Warsaw. Unrealistic and shallow with a not particularly likeable main character who is largely two dimensional.
Published 18 months ago by K Mansfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Night illuminated!
As with his other excellent spy novels, Alan Furst succeeds in "The World at Night" in drawing credible characters in credible, though unnerving, situations, into which they fall... Read more
Published 21 months ago by DocSteveM
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment
This is the first Alan Furst I have read (& probably the last). There was a point where I wondered whether to finish the bokk or not. Howvere, I ploughed on. Read more
Published on 3 July 2012 by Llysmeirion
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