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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone who ever dreamt of adventure. Brilliant!
First published in 1915 when Europe was locked in conflict triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in the Balkans, John Buchan's Thirty-Nine Steps takes the tensions and conspiracies which led Europe to war as the backdrop for his timeless adventure story.

The lead character Richard Hannay, is simply a bored Gentleman in London...
Published on 20 Dec 2008 by Howard Green

versus
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Argh
This must be the third 39 Steps Kindle book I've reviewed this week, but sometimes it is worth making a point -- especially when such a terrific work of literature is at stake. This is not quite as bad as the two other editions I reviewed. But it is, again, the same text stolen from Project Gutenberg and without any typos or formatting issues corrected.

Ugly...
Published on 17 Jan 2012 by Paddington


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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast, frantic, a bit absurd - and then there's that aeroplane..., 27 Jan 2011
By 
Richard Hannay is bored out of his skull in London, and about ready to head abroad again in search of a more diverting life. But lo! In the first of many amazing coincidences, his American neighbour accosts him in the hallway that very day and begs him for help. He has discovered a cunning plot to start a war between Germany and Russia, and since he knows too much, the men in question want him dead.

A day or two later, when Hannay finds said neighbour on his smoking room floor with a knife through his heart, he realises he must run - so run he does! With the police behind him for murder, and the warmongers out to stop him hijacking their plans at any cost, the book becomes a helter-skelter race against time as Hannay fights to stay alive long enough to act on his late friend's information and stop the dastardly German plot.

There's a whole lot of running across moors and splashing through streams, improvised disguises and quick thinking, and, of course, hiding from that iconic aeroplane full of baddies. Buchan wrote that he meant this to be a "shocker' - the romance where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible' - and that is exactly what he delivers. It is fast and absorbing, faintly amusing and utterly absurd at times - and well worth a couple of hours of guilty-pleasure reading time!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a dated classic, 7 Nov 2008
By 
An avid reader (Newcastle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
The fact that this has dated badly is not arguable, it's very much a book of its time (lets not forget that this was written in worrying, paranoid times and in the early days of WWI and that it's author was born in the Victorian era) and it's hardly surprising that some of Buchan's attitudes (and subsequent character attitudes) are not exactly 'politically correct' by todays standards.

The 39 steps must be read taking all of this into account, doing so reveals an interesting and original spy thriller, it's short, punchy and entertaining.

Personally Greenmantle (they second Hannay novel) is a better book but this is a must read for anyone interested in the spy genre or anyone looking for a window into a long gone era and all of the attitudes that come with that.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not that good, 23 May 2007
By 
Censuwine (Balzan, Malta) - See all my reviews
It's not often that the film is better than the book, but in this case, the film makers definitely made a bland tale reasonably interesting.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still a Good Read, though Dated, 28 Nov 2005
By 
microfiche (Scarborough, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
It's not often one reads a novel by a Governor General of Canada. I am rather fond of Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir for their sponsorship in Ontario's local history, so I'm biased toward John Buchan's books.
They are a really good read. World War One Spy Thrillers. The Thirty-Nine Steps is a classic. Like the television show, "The Prisoner" Richard Hannay is running from a crime he did not commit. A dead man is in his home. He has to find out who killed him and why he died before he's put on the spot or killed. The language and style is more Victorian and formal than modern spy novels - sort of like Ashenden or The Prisoner of Zenda. Both of them are classics too. You won't get bored though. There is lots of action - just with slower vehicles.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to be taken too seriously., 13 Oct 2007
By 
Nicola Jarvis (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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Being a short novel that was published in 1915 do not expect 'The Da Vinci Code', but you can expect the slight innovative ideas that were bounced around during this period that brings us the post-modern version of the thriller we have today.

It is dated for obvious reasons - the cliff-hangers and non-stop incidental action is something current readers of thrillers will slam as cheesy, unlikely and clumsy (though they were slightly more original during the time). Obviously there are early twentieth-century colloquialisms and slang terms with the odd Scottish dialect placed here and there. The gender bias is a bit shocking; there are not any female characters in this at all (unless you include housemaids and fat women on buses) - this is an extremely boyish novel and many female readers may find it hard to appreciate considering the protagonist's primary concern is to be manly. Lastly, there are the common attitudes of the day which may be regarded as offensive to today's readers (there are some obvious anti-Semitic sentiments in the story) and Germans are considered the common enemy (unsurprisingly). All that said, do not be fooled by the 'Classic' status by the publishers; it's in the first-person narrative that has a verbal, colloquial tone, making this novel an extremely laid-back, easy read.

We are treated to mad several weeks following the hero, Richard Hannay, who is on the run from the police and "the Black Stone" (German spies) and so we get to see him in many disguises, telling many lies, meeting a shocking amount of nice people up in the Scottish moors who he knows to trust instantly and then heads back down to London to save the United Kingdom from German spies pretty much on his lonesome. Far-fetched would be an understatement, but so is James Bond, Bruce Willis in a white vest and Dan Brown novels, so if you can turn your brain off when you are watching action films or reading daft novels there's no reason why you can't do the same for this book. It's just a bit of fun, with the odd dash of political statement. If you do not take it too seriously, you can have a fun few hours reading through this slim volume (the actual story is 104 pages long) and it's interesting to see the early rise of the spy/thriller novel. Like Dan Brown, do not expect anything deep or profound, it really is just daft, unlikely action from beginning to end.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'shocker', 1 Aug 2009
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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Mr Buchan tells you what to expect in the dedication, ...'that elementary type of tale which the Americans call the 'dime novel' and which we know as the 'shocker''. And that is exactly what you get in just 100 pages.

The story goes like the locomotive he escapes in, with credulity stretched to the limit eg) 'Then I got a corpse - you can always get a body in London if you know where to look for it'. Hannay has whisky and soda for breakfast before displaying his multilingual skills, the eyes of a kite, an expert cryptologist and expert knowledge of explosives et al.

Are you getting the picture? It is a slightly tongue in cheek, stonking King and Country read of thwarting 'blackguardism'. It is no classic but in the context of 1915 it would have been fantastically popular followed by the splendid later Hitchcock treatment in film to cement its status.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a shame that Galloway does not feature more, 14 July 2009
By 
G. D. Busby "Cornish Graham" (Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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Having visited Galloway a few days before reading this, I can only say that I wish Buchan had used the setting rather more. The novel is quite fast-moving and very much reminiscent of Childers' The Riddle Of The Sands - although not quite as good! Wordsworth Editions must have a winner on their hands yet again.
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7 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Anachronistic, stereotyped, occasionally arresting, 3 Dec 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
This novel is a wonderful example of anachronistic writing: lots of chaps smoking pipes and wearing tweeds, derring-do through the Lowlands of Scotland and the streets of London, and a cast of stereotypes: "cor, blimey" Cockney ruffians, "och aye, the noo" Scottish farmers, and steely-eyed and square-jawed Huns.
The most cringeworthy part of the novel is the dollop of anti-Semitism from our hero's neighbour and the plot's catalyst, with his pratings about Zionist conspiracies: someone whom anyone today would dismiss as a raving nutter, but whom our hero Richard Hannay takes seriously as an excuse to escape from his tedious London life of being an Edwardian toff.
What's more, our hero doesn't climb the Big Ben tower and hang on to the arms of the clock, as he does in a more exciting film version of the story I remember from my childhood.
Occasionally, there is a scene or turn-of-phrase that arrests one's attention. But my overriding feeling was one of disappointment, particularly in the sheer unfeasibility of Hannay's Boy's Own exploits, and an ending that feels not like a bang, but a whimper.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 20 Jan 2000
This review is from: The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
Wonderful. Buchan's writing style is refeshing, and the book thouroughly enjoyable.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite classic., 3 Jan 2012
By 
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

This is my second book of this year's challenge and my first 'Classic' of the year.

I say classic but this book left me feeling slightly deflated. Maybe I am not the best person to judge this book as the thriller genre has failed to set me on fire.
Maybe a thriller fan would appreciate it more.

Richard Hannay returns home from the Boer war to find a strange man standing by his door, a man with a startling revelation. He invites him in to sleep for the night and the next day his new friend is dead.

Hannay finds himself on the run from the local police and a mysterious gang of criminals. Who is this mysterious gang and what has it got to do with the outbreak of the first world war ?

I found the whole plot dull as dishwater, from the beginning, right through to the disappointing end. I must say that I found the so called chase through the Scottish moors pretty lame and it wasn't much of a chase when half the local population is inviting you in for bed and breakfast !

If I had to say something positive about this book it would be that it was short.

I can't believe the amount of good reviews this book has, but maybe ( just maybe) it's not my cup of tea. I have never seen any of the film adaptations but I presume they tinkered around with the story. I also found much of the plot to be quite unrealistic and unbelievable.

1/5
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The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics) by John Buchan (Paperback - 27 Sep 2007)
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