Blood of Victory

Blood of Victory

by Alan Furst
3.6 10

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Blood of Victory by Alan Furst

“In 1939, as the armies of Europe mobilized for war, the British secret services undertook operations to impede the exportation of Roumanian oil to Germany. They failed.

“Then, in the autumn of 1940, they tried again.”

So begins Blood of Victory, a novel rich with suspense, historical insight, and the powerful narrative immediacy we have come to expect from bestselling author Alan Furst. The book takes its title from a speech given by a French senator at a conference on petroleum in 1918: “Oil,” he said, “the blood of the earth, has become, in time of war, the blood of victory.”

November 1940. The Russian writer I. A. Serebin arrives in Istanbul by Black Sea freighter. Although he travels on behalf of an émigré organization based in Paris, he is in flight from a dying and corrupt Europe—specifically, from Nazi-occupied France. Serebin finds himself facing his fifth war, but this time he is an exile, a man without a country, and there is no army to join. Still, in the words of Leon Trotsky, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Serebin is recruited for an operation run by Count Janos Polanyi, a Hungarian master spy now working for the British secret services.

The battle to cut Germany’s oil supply rages through the spy haunts of the Balkans; from the Athenée Palace in Bucharest to a whorehouse in Izmir; from an elegant yacht club in Istanbul to the river docks of Belgrade; from a skating pond in St. Moritz to the fogbound banks of the Danube; in sleazy nightclubs and safe houses and nameless hotels; amid the street fighting of a fascist civil war.

Blood of Victory is classic Alan Furst, combining remarkable authenticity and atmosphere with the complexity and excitement of an outstanding spy thriller. As Walter Shapiro of Time magazine wrote, “Nothing can be like watching Casablanca for the first time, but Furst comes closer than anyone has in years.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588362803
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/27/2002
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 118,361
File size: 851 KB

About 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, and Kingdom of Shadows. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York.

From the Hardcover edition.


Sag Harbor, New York

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Oberlin College

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Blood of Victory 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another dark, dreamy, complicated historical espionage novel from the master of this genre. Nobody does Eastern Europe during WWII better than Alan Furst. Furst is to WWII as Le Carre is to the Cold War. Both write with great style and skill and their anti-heros are portraits of honorable men trying to do the right thing during times of great madness.
GPaisley More than 1 year ago
Review of "Blood of Victory" by Alan Furst. I had heard that Alan Furst wrote these fantastically-detailed rich narratives about the years leading up to World War 2. Since I find that period in history fascinating, I thought I would try one. I chose "Blood of Victory" primarily of where it was set (Istanbul), rather than any other reason of the several novels he has written. My primary impression after reading it was disappointment. The narrative meandered and had I not known the "goal" of the protagonist from the dust jacket, I would have been completely lost for the first half of the story. In fact, 'story' is a somewhat generous term. The book is divided into five sections, each longer than a traditional chapter and having the quality of almost being distinct from each other. The plot-to the extent there is one-is loosely built through these sections before coming to the conclusion. There is precious little description of settings and people in this book, which was particularly disappointing because it is just this element that I was looking forward to. There is virtually no character development, both in terms of description or change through the course of the book, even for the protagonist, Serebin-we know as little of him at the end as at the beginning, and indeed, we don't really know how the events of the book affect him. Neither Furst nor Serebin provide any insight into his history, his motives, his thoughts or desires. He meanders through life, apparently just skimming along the surface, not getting truly involved in much of anything to any real depth. The cities that Serebin passes through in the course of the story are just as vague-no real description (even clichéd) are presented to the reader. Furst is sometimes compared to Le Carre', although I think this comparison is much more in Furst's favor. Le Carre is absolutely masterful in his descriptions and characterizations. When you finish his books, you know the characters as close as a personal friend, you have seen what they have seen, heard what they heard, and smelled what they smelled. You have walked a few miles in their worn old shoes. They may both write espionage novels, but that is where the real comparison ends. Perhaps this novel is an example of some new technique whereby the author (or at least the self-appointed professional critics) claim brilliance in the writing because of what he doesn't say. One could, I suppose, observe that the lack of description or development of the primary character in the book conveys more effectively than actual description or development ever could. The looseness of the plotline conveys in the brilliance of absence the idea that the plots of our lives are just as vague and meandering. To be descriptive or specific would just be to be dishonest because nothing is descriptive or specific. If this diagnosis was actually legitimate (or, more frighteningly, actually accurate) then we are all doomed to die a horrible death by postmodernism in which everything is defined by what it isn't rather than what it is. It's silly. By this logic, I could have composed the most profound novel in the white space between this paragraph and the previous-if you will simply give me credit for everything I could have said, but didn't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this novel immensely. Thoughtful, serious-minded writing that captures the desperate times of that particular period. The action is intense when it occurs, but does not try to carry the story. Anyone interested in gritty, realistic spy novels from WWII-era need look no further.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely Boring. I have never, in all my years of reading novels, not finish a book. It took me two days to struggle past the first 57 pages--then I gave up. It was just too slow for me. If all of Furst's books are like this, then I know that his writing is not my cup of tea. I hope that other readers enjoy it, but I wish that I could get my $12.95 back. Oh well!