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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes you yearn for the great outdoors
Other commentators have concentrated on the huntin', shootin', fishin' aspects of this book and they are certainly right to do so, but by doing so they perhaps miss what a great paean to the great Scottish countryside this is. In common with much of Buchan's work, the action takes place predominantly outdoors and he is so comfortable in his effortless description of place...
Published on 18 Jan 2008 by Jack Victor

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in its way, but very antiquated.
In my younger days I read and re-read all the Richard Hannay novels, and even though some of them smacked of racial elitism, the stories were gripping from end to end. A friend recently recommended the Sir Edward Liethen stories to me, as "great comfort reading", so I thought I'd give them a go. This tale of three VIP's who are bored with life and decide to attempt some...
Published 18 months ago by David Heald


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes you yearn for the great outdoors, 18 Jan 2008
This review is from: John Macnab (Paperback)
Other commentators have concentrated on the huntin', shootin', fishin' aspects of this book and they are certainly right to do so, but by doing so they perhaps miss what a great paean to the great Scottish countryside this is. In common with much of Buchan's work, the action takes place predominantly outdoors and he is so comfortable in his effortless description of place that it is a true joy to read. Sure the book has the class distinctions of its time but you can visit the Western Highlands even now and see how accurate and compelling his writing is. Also the "manhunt" aspects of the book surely appeal to the hunter in all of us "men of a certain age", who habitually watch Top Gear and would still like to nip out for a quick game of "Best Man Fall"

One last thing, whilst I adore the Richard Hannay books, may I guide those of you who have still to discover the genius of John Buchan (and please read his biographies for justification of my attaching that word to him) to read the "Dickson McCunn" books, Huntingtower, Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds. These are light, easy to read, surprisingly suspenseful and throughly rollicking reads that today's authors just cannot hope to match.

I notice that a number of Buchan's books are being re-published so I hope that many more people will get beyond The Thirty Nine Steps to see what a marvelous legacy of works Buchan has left us.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escapism from a different age, 3 Feb 2008
By 
Mr. A. E. R. Bell (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Macnab (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book - my ultimate all time comfort read. The story of three great men seeking to recapture the excitement of life in Scotland's incomparable highlands through the pre-confessed poaching of a stag or a salmon on neighbouring estates. It is beautifully written and, while an essentially gentle story, gripping. I must have read it 100 times and still, when my mind is troubled, I go back to it. "Pride and Prejudice" for men.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!, 23 April 1999
By A Customer
An exciting story of three public men who are bored with success and decide to do something outlandish to bring back their joy in life. They each issue a challenge to a Scottish landowner that engages, within a fixed time limit, to kill either a deer or a salmon without getting caught.
If they are caught they stand to lose their reputations. The book deals with the adventures while each man is dealing with his challenge.
Well up to John Buchan's usual standards!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming paean to a better ordered time that also manages to be a rattlinggood read!, 9 Aug 2014
This review is from: John MacNab (Kindle Edition)
This is one of my all-time favourite novels. Like so much of Buchan's prolific output, it might nowadays at first sight seem rather archaic, with characters romantically hankering after a Corinthian age largely of their own imagining, but it espouses simple values that effortlessly stand the test of any time.

The novel opens on a summer day in the mid-1920s with Sir Edward Leithen, accomplished barrister and MP, visiting his doctor seeking a remedy for a dispiriting lethargy or ennui that has recently befallen him. His doctor is unable to identify any physical source of Leithen's discomfort and recalls the bane of the intellectual community in the Middle Ages who were plagued with tedium vitae. His brutal prescription to the beleaguered barrister is that Leithen should endeavour to steal a horse in a country where rustling is a capital crime. Later that evening Leithen dines in his club and meets an old friend, John Palliser-Yates, an eminent banker, who has been similarly smitten. When the two of them are joined for a glass of restorative brandy by Charles, Lord Lamancha, Cabinet Minister and general grandee, who also claims to be suffering from this disturbing listlessness, and Sir Archibald Roylance, general good chap about town, the four of them hit upon the idea of issuing a poacher's challenge, writing to three landowners and stating that they will bag a deer or salmon between certain dates and inviting the landowner to do their best to stop them.

They base themselves at Sir Archie's highland estate, and proceed to challenge three of his neighbours. Seeing a half-empty bottle of John Macnab whisky on a neighbouring table they choose that name as their soubriquet.

As always with John Buchan's works the prose is beautiful - clear and sonorous - and his love of the Scottish landscape comes shining through. Though I have no love of hunting, the descriptions of the stalking manoeuvres are described in close, though never overwhelming details, and the characters all appear entirely plausible. Buchan has often been dismissed as writing stereotypical characters wholly lacking in political or social conscience. This novel triumphantly decries that: it positively rattles with social conscience, often dispensed from unexpected sources.

It also offers a heady mix of out and out adventure, humour, and even a love story. A little bit of everything, conveyed in Buchan's unerringly gifted prose.

A heart-warming paean to a better ordered time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent !, 30 Nov 1999
By A Customer
Whether you are familiar with this story from school or finding it for the first time, it makes for an excellent read. It carries an excellent 'sense of place' and, forgiving the minor details that date it, it is as applicable today as ever it was.
If you are going on holiday to Scotland and want to understand something of its' sporting history and development you could do no better than read this book. If you are visiting Scotland to fish or stalk and have not read this book - why not ! If you have already stalked or fished in Scotland and want to conjur up the memories then dive in.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read, 9 Oct 2009
This review is from: John Macnab (Paperback)
I love this book. Well written, pacy like all John Buchan's novels. This is different from the usual war-time/spy catching novels, instead concentrating on a summer after WWI when his usual protagonists are suffering from a sort of post traumatic antipathy and decide to do something to regain what they've lost.

The descriptions of the Scottish huntin' sootin' fishin' life are so evocative and quite educational too. Despite many years walking and climbing in the highlands I'd never fully understood stalking, the skills or appeal, until I read this.

It's a fun book, probably a bit of a boy's/men's book, hard to put down. There's also a romance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great escapism, 21 Nov 2008
This review is from: John Macnab (Paperback)
a really good book to dip in and out of, I use it whenever I need some escapism. It's got enough excitement to keep you interested, as well as some beautiful description of the Scottish highlands. Perhaps not one for those of you who disagree with blood sports though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentlemanly manners in the twilight of Empire, 14 Mar 2010
By 
Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
"Macnab maun be a fair deevil." - From JOHN MACNAB

Passing by the book lending shelf - basically one step above the round file - at the local YMCA, my eye was caught by a volume, JOHN MACNAB, published by "Wordsworth Classics." Since the novels that I generally read are published by "Utter Rubbish", and since this volume seemed, on inspection, to promise mild amusement, I surreptitiously stuck it in my gym bag. Who knows? Perhaps I might even assimilate a whiff of cultcha.

JOHN MACNAB was penned by Scotsman John Buchan, who was to eventually become Governor General of Canada and 1st Baron Tweedsmuir. Written in 1925, the novel opens with three gentleman friends - lawyer Sir Edward Leithen, banker John Palliser-Yeates, and Cabinet member Charles Lord Lamancha - discovering that they all suffer a common and debilitating malady, a loss of zest for life (for which, nowadays, one would simply be prescribed an antidepressant chemical).

Enlisting the aid of another friend, Scottish landowner Sir Archibald Roylance, the trio contrives a plot to poach game - deer or salmon - from the hereditary lands of three of Archie's Highland neighbors under the guise of an assumed false identity, "John Macnab." But, this is not to be common theft, but rather an exercise in sportsmanship. Letters over Macnab's "signature" are duly sent to the three targeted and unsuspecting lairds setting out the terms of the challenge, which includes monetary wagers. The life-stimulating danger to our three heroes comes from the damage to their reputations should they be caught and their identities revealed. Responses received from the three landowners indicate that they will take extraordinary measures to protect their holdings from trespass. The game is on.

The story begins engagingly enough as the plotters repair to Roylance's lodge to plan their assaults with the help of some local talent, which includes an itinerant young tinker-boy, Fish Benjie, and Archie's veteran stalker, Wattie. Each of the three - Leithen, Palliser-Yeates, and Lamancha - takes responsibility for poaching one of the three targets.

The narrative is successful through the first two acts. Then as more characters are added and the Press becomes involved, the story loses focus and what was, to my mind, an otherwise elegantly simple plot and concept. By the end of the third act, JOHN MACNAB disintegrates into a genteel Highland farce. Of course, it's all quite civilized in the upper-class, British manner. And the charming Scottish dialect is lovingly rendered.

Perhaps the chief value to be gained from this relatively short book (188 pages) read today in 2010 is the window on a way of life struck a heavy blow by the Great War and soon to be eclipsed by World War Two and the subsequent loss of the Empire. Or perhaps I'm just reading too much into it. In any case, I'll return it to the shelf at the Y culturally enriched and mildly, but not greatly, amused.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Game, 2 Oct 2007
By 
Rotgut "rotgut" (Warrington UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: John Macnab (Paperback)
A comfortable read, John Buchan in top form on his home ground, writing about the blood sports he loves.

This book really should not work, as our heroes admit at the beginning of the story, their motivation for their adventures is merely to avoid boredom; As is clear at the end, the risks they have exposed themselves are all quite bogus. Why on Earth should the modern reader care about three patrician Tory squires playing at being rebels?

Simply, the reader cares because of the easy charm of our author, he engages our interest and sympathies so that it is impossible not to root for our eminent trio and their various assistants.

Also, although contrived, the tale is far from bloodless, Buchan always approaches his adventures as sporting contests anyway, no matter how high the odds, so the challenges thrown down by "John Macnab" suit his tone perfectly.

The night fishing exploits of Edward Leithen are perhaps the most memorable passages in the book, but all the sporting pursuits are well drawn, and with obvious knowledge and affection to draw on.

The highly class bound society shown here may seem off-putting to modern tastes, but Buchan is so assured, so certain of the rightness of the world he describes, it is impossible not to accept his preconceptions and simply enjoy a rattling story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From the back cover...., 26 May 2008
THREE prominent gentlemen - a lawyer, a banker, and a statesman - bored in London in August decide they must give up their public life for a time and put themselves in a position where they will meet adventure and by the risk of exposure give themselves a zest for life. So they accept an invitation to Scotland, where as the collective figure `John Macnab' they challenge their friend's neighbours to catch them poaching, by the most sportsmanlike means, salmon and deer. John Buchan brings to life the flora and fauna of the Highlands and the people who inhabit them -- from `Fish Benjie', a mischievous and cunning urchin, to Lord Claybody, the local magnate who threatens `John Macnab' with legal action. The story of the success and failure of the expeditions, the mixed feelings of the participants, and the interference of the campaign with that of the local Conservative candidate are all described with wit and excitement."
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John Macnab
John Macnab by John Buchan (Paperback - 1 July 2007)
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