Monday, September 23, 2013

What would YOU risk to sabotage the Nazi agenda?

"The best-selling author has made a career of capturing the classic cloak-and-dagger days leading up to World War II, bringing the era to life like a literary version of Casablanca."—CNN

In Mission to Paris, Alan Furst's 12th novel, his hero is a Hollywood star of Austrian extraction making a film in Paris at a very questionable time: late summer of 1938. The fascinating nature of the people he meets (for good and for ill) and the escalating intrigue of the situations in which he finds himself makes you want to gobble the book down in one sitting. It's a prickles-at-the-back-of-your-neck kind of experience, as you watch through his eyes the evolving events that will shortly spark the second World War. (Click here for an audio extract. )
"This is the romantic Paris to make a tourist weep. . . . In Furst’s densely populated books, hundreds of minor characters—clerks, chauffeurs, soldiers, whores—all whirl around his heroes in perfect focus for a page or two, then dot by dot, face by face, they vanish, leaving a heartbreaking sense of the vast Homeric epic that was World War II and the smallness of almost every life that was caught up in it."—The New York Times Book Review. 
Below: Maxim's, the famous Belle Époque restaurant in Paris where members of the political warfare unit of the Third Reich (the"Ribbentropburo") try to bribe Shahl into furthering Hitler's propaganda aims by judging a contest of German films about mountain climbing. Furst lived in Paris for eight years, and has a passion for the city and its myriad environs.

In the 1930s there were so many different conflicts going on between the British, the French, the Russians, the Germans, the Spaniards, the Romanians and so on. The intelligence services for all these countries were all battling during what was a very difficult political time. I wanted to read a panoramic spy history of the '30s, and when I went out looking for it, I discovered there was no such thing. I was astonished. So I thought, "Well, I'll write it."—Alan Furst, CNN interview

Click here to read an excerpt from Mission to Paris

1 comment:

  1. I was reading the excerpt from the novel, when the author suddenly used the "f-word," I do not think I am prudish, but this word struck me as inappropriate. Then he repeated it.
    The novel is set in wartime Europe, before I was born. But in speaking with my parents, it seems I do not encounter that word, even in casual conversation.
    Were people using it as freely as we do now, as a common adjective with no real meaning?
    Why does it seem out of place to me? Should the author have used another word, perhaps?

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