The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 24 Jun 2004
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"It is the dimension of the mysterious that makes Buchan's writing so unfailingly compelling."
It is the dimension of the mysterious that makes Buchan's writing so unfailingly compelling. (John Keegan, from the introduction)
The original and best adventure story ever told, with spies, thrilling chase scenes and explosions --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The lead character Richard Hannay, is simply a bored Gentleman in London pining for South Africa and his native Scotland until a man is murdered in his flat after pouring out in panic the details of a conspiracy which threatened war against the United Kingdom. Richard Hannay effortlessly takes up the dead man's position as he attempts to prevent national disaster whilst hunted by foreign conspirators and British police alike.
The author describes his novel, in a dedication to his friend Thomas Nelson at the beginning of the book, as a ``shocker' - the romance where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible'. Certainly Richard Hannay has a remarkable ability to extract himself from the most difficult of situations throughout the tale.
The Thirty-Nine Steps is truly an adventure story because it takes an ordinary person as its hero. Richard Hannay is plunged into the adventure as suddenly as the reader and so there is an immediate connection. The author shamelessly betrays his love for the genre citing Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle as masters of adventure and crime writing within the book. This passion for the genre is very apparent and Buchan writes with a subtle humour throughout, evidence of how much he clearly enjoyed creating the story. Equally apparently is his love of the Scottish countryside which is described delightfully throughout and poetically at times, as are the host of minor characters which populate the landscape.Read more ›
Ugly sepia stills from the film have been interspersed throughout. They do not improve matters.
I think 'one-click' purchasing is all that keeps some of these appalling editions alive. There are one or two very attractive, carefully edited and formatted editions of the 39 Steps available. A quick 15 seconds of clicking through Amazon search results will reveal them to you. This is not one of them.
The words are certainly there, but what happened to any formatting? Chapter One ends, the next line is Chapter Two's heading, but without any spaces goes straight into the text..... I thought my Kindle was acting up, so did the old computing trick of going back a page then reloading it - no difference!! I'd noticed a few instances of missing spaces in Chapter 1, but by this point was just becoming an irritation and taking away any sense of being involved with the story.
So, checked out an alternative edition (see all the reviews) which somebody had taken the bother to do a little work on the layout and then deleted this version.
Now back into enjoying the story and a learned a lesson in trying before buying....
'The thirty-nine steps' was first published in 1915, but in my opinion it's still one of the very best suspense stories ever!
Written in 1915 as he convalesced, The Thirty Nine Steps was the first of what John Buchan called his `shockers', or adventure stories.
Set in the months preceding the outbreak of the first world war, the novel introduces us to Buchan's enduring hero, Richard Hannay. Coming home one night he finds a mysterious man on his doorstep asking for his help. Being an adventurer and recognising someonein true need he lets him in. This leads to a whole series of adventures as the mysterious man is murdered and Hannay finds himself on the run from the murderers (who fear what he knows) and the police. Buchan then writes a brilliant story of a cat and mouse chase across the highlands of Scotland, as Hannay fights to remain free of capture by either side, and tries to work out just what is at the heart of it all. That particular mystery leads him to a deep plot that strikes at the very security of the county, breathtaking in its magnitude.
It's a classic piece, and we really get to know (and like) Hannay. OK, so a lot of the time he has extraordinary luck as well as his wits (a room the villains lock him in just happens to contain a handy store of torches and explosives...) but the adventure is so full of charm, and the stakes so high and the story so exciting that you can forgive its few shortcomings. It's a classic, no, THE classic adventure story of one man on the run fighting against all the odds. 4 sequels were to follow featuring Hannay, and many authors attempted to copy the style, but no one ever really matched the verve, vigour and excitement of the original. 5 stars all round.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So, with a little spring in my step, I finally embarked upon reading The Thirty-Nine Steps ... and was met with a dark, almost Gothic novel. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Stephanie
Never got round to reading this dated drivel before,kept on thinking of Ripping Yarns,not worthy of its reputation at allPublished 1 month ago by rougeroute
A good, well thought out story. The only downside is if you have seen the film version, otherwise it is well plotted, excellent descriptions of Scotland's glens and moor land with... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Money tree
A real classic, great plotting, muscular
prose great characters. John le Carre is the inheritor of this great tradition. Read more
I was pleased to have the opportunity of reading this well know novel. Excellent story line which keeps you guessing throughout the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mags2745
A classic. A lot of attitudes that are totally unacceptable now, stiff upper lippery and coincidence, but still a rattling good yarn.Published 3 months ago by Evonne