The Book of Spies: An Anthology of Literary Espionage by Alan Furst, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Book of Spies: An Anthology of Literary Espionage

The Book of Spies: An Anthology of Literary Espionage

4.2 5
by Alan Furst
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

An anthology of the world's best literary espionage, selected by a contemporary master of the genre, Alan Furst.

Here is an extraordinary collection of work from some of the finest novelists of the twentieth century. Inspired by the politics of tyranny or war, each of these writers chose the base elements of spy fiction—highly evolved spy

Overview

An anthology of the world's best literary espionage, selected by a contemporary master of the genre, Alan Furst.

Here is an extraordinary collection of work from some of the finest novelists of the twentieth century. Inspired by the politics of tyranny or war, each of these writers chose the base elements of spy fiction—highly evolved spy fiction—as the framework for a literary novel. Thus Alan Furst offers a diverse array of selections that combine raw excitement and intellectual sophistication in an expertly guided tour of the dark world of clandestine conflict.

These are not just stories of professional intelligence officers. We meet diplomats, political police, agents provocateurs, secret operatives, resistance fighters, and assassins—players in the Great Game, or victims of the Cold War. The Book of Spies brings us the aristocratic intrigues of The Scarlet Pimpernel, in which French émigrés duel with Robespierre's secret service; the savage political realities of the 1930s in Eric Ambler's classic A Coffin for Dimitrios; the ordinary citizens (well, almost) of John le Carré's The Russia House, who are drawn into Cold War spy games; and the 1950s Vietnam of Graham Greene's The Quiet American, with its portrait of American idealism and duplicity.

Drawing on acknowledged classics and rediscovered treasures, Alan Furst's The Book of Spies delivers literate entertainment and excitement on every page.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
One look at any best seller list will remind reviewers, readers, and librarians of the popularity of the mystery, spy, or espionage novel. In this compilation of some of the greatest works of espionage literature, Furst, a widely recognized espionage writer (e.g., Kingdom of Shadows; Red Gold), reminds readers in the introduction, citing the Old Testament, that spying is one of the oldest professions known to humanity. This volume-which features work by such writers as Eric Ambler, Anthony Burgess, Joseph Conrad, Maxim Gorky, Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, and Rebecca West-doesn't break new ground, but it does place the genre in perspective, using it to explain human nature within history, national security, and the context of war. Furst used two standards for including writers in the anthology: five of the authors, having served in the intelligence services for their country, write from "practical, firsthand experience," while others had experience with living under or working in a particular political climate, where they learned to view the "world as a theatre of deception." This very literary look at a popular genre is recommended for all libraries with large collections of thrillers. [This anthology is published to coincide with the paperback release of Furst's 2002 best seller Blood of Victory.-Ed.]-Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A master of the form culls from the cream of the cloak-and-dagger crop. Having possibly already supplanted le Carré as the most popular writer of the spy genre, Furst (Blood of Victory, 2002, etc.) is as good a choice as any to headline this anthology. In an introduction, Furst lets us know he's not after any old Bond knock-offs here, but wants good writing ("we are here in the literary end of the spectrum") and "the pursuit of authenticity." To that end, he made some excellent choices (fortunately taking sections out of novels as opposed to using only shorter pieces) that more than fulfill the rules he set for himself, where the characters "work at the sharp edge of the Manichean universe." Things start off promisingly, with Eric Ambler's 1939 "A Coffin for Dimitrious," about a mystery novelist who pursues the ghost of arch-criminal/political operative Dimitrious across Turkey and the Balkans. Ambler's voice is martini-dry and brilliantly focused on the details, but the real genius is the fleeting face of Dimitrious himself, who could well have been the inspiration for Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects. Le Carré, of course, shows up here, but unfortunately, it's a good-enough but unspectacular bit from "The Russia House" (George Smiley is the great, notable absence in this volume). A gem mostly forgotten is W. Somerset Maugham's semiautobiographical "Ashenden," whose titular British WWII spy is fey and given to extravagance: Oscar Wilde on a mission and saddled with a conscience. A memorable episode from Graham Greene's The Quiet American is another surprising but excellent choice (a lesser editor would have assumed that Our Man in Havana was the one to go with), while Steinbeck's TheMoon Is Down, Anthony Burgess' Tremor of Intent, and Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel round things out quite nicely. Twelve expertly chosen tales of secret operatives: shadowy and elusive, cunningly written and thrillingly fraught with peril.
From the Publisher
“A master of the form culls from the cream of the cloak-and-dagger crop. . . . Twelve expertly chosen tales of secret operatives: shadowy and elusive, cunningly written and thrillingly fraught with peril.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Spanning nearly three quarters of a century . . . this handy sampler touches on many high points of spy writing. . . . In this case, fiction is more thrilling than truth.”
—Time Out New York

“[A] dazzling anthology . . . The writing—whether displaying the cold clarity of Maugham or the pained lyricism of McCarry—is splendid.”
The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679642510
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/13/2003
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.95(d)

Meet the Author

ALAN FURST is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. He is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, and Blood of Victory, all of which are available as Random House Trade Paperbacks. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Sag Harbor, New York
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
B.A., Oberlin College

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Book of Spies: An Anthology of Literary Espionage 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
AnBu More than 1 year ago
This book is academically stimulating and is rivaled only by its teaching consistency in the art of Spy Novel writing.
sportswriter1 More than 1 year ago
If John LeCarre owns the spy world as it is today. Furst illuminates the past with equal mastery.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago