PLOT:The book opens in November 1915, with Hannay and his friend Sandy convalescing from wounds received at the Battle of Loos. Sir Walter Bullivant, a senior intelligence officer, summons Hannay to the Foreign Office. Bullivant briefs Hannay on the political situation in the Middle East, suggesting that the Germans and their Turkish allies are plotting to create a Muslim uprising, that will throw the Middle East, India and North Africa into turmoil. Bullivant proposes that Hannay investigate the rumours, following a clue left on a slip of paper with the words "Kasredin", "cancer" and "v.I" written by Bullivant's son, a spy who was recently killed in the region.
Despite misgivings, Hannay accepts the challenge, and picks Sandy to help him. Bullivant says that American John Blenkiron will also be useful. The three meet, ponder their clues, and head to Constantinople. Starting on 17 November, they plan to meet at a hostelry exactly two months later, going each by his own route - Blenkiron travelling through Germany as an observer, Sandy travelling through Asia Minor, using his Arab contacts, and Hannay entering enemy territory via Lisbon under a Boer guise.
Hannay meets by chance an old comrade, Boer Peter Pienaar, and the two enter Germany via the Netherlands, posing as anti-British exiles itching to fight for the Germans. They meet the powerful and sinister Colonel Ulric von Stumm, and persuade him they can help persuade the Muslims to join the Germans' side. Hannay has several more adventures, meeting famed mining engineer Herr Gaudian (who later reappears in The Three Hostages), hears of the mysterious Hilda von Einem, and meets the Kaiser.
Finding Stumm plans to send him to Egypt via London, Hannay flees into the snowbound countryside, tracked by the vengeful Colonel. He falls ill with malaria and is sheltered over Christmas by a poor woman in a lonely cottage. On his sickbed, he realises that the clue "v.I" on the piece of paper may refer to the name he overheard, von Einem.
Recuperated, he carries on, travelling by barge carrying armaments down the Danube, picking up with Peter Pienaar, who has escaped from a German prison, along the way. They pass through Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade, and as they travel, Hannay connects the phrase "der grüne Mantel" with something else he overheard earlier. They reach Rustchuk on 10 January, with a week to go before the rendezvous in Constantinople..............................
John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, GCMG, GCVO, CH, PC ( 26 August 1875 - 11 February 1940) was a Scottish novelist, historian, and Unionist politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the 15th since Canadian Confederation.
After a brief legal career, Buchan simultaneously began his writing career and his political and diplomatic careers, serving as a private secretary to the colonial administrator of various colonies in southern Africa. He eventually wrote propaganda for the British war effort in the First World War. He was elected Member of Parliament for the Combined Scottish Universities in 1927, but he spent most of his time on his writing career, notably writing The Thirty-Nine Steps and other adventure fiction. In 1935, he was appointed Governor General of Canada by King George V on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett, to replace the Earl of Bessborough. He occupied the post until his death in 1940.
Buchan was enthusiastic about literacy and the development of Canadian culture, and he received a state funeral in Canada before his ashes were returned to the United Kingdom....