Summary and book reviews of Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

Mission to Paris

A Novel

By Alan Furst

Mission to Paris
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2012,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2013,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

It is the late summer of 1938, Europe is about to explode, the Hollywood film star Fredric Stahl is on his way to Paris to make a movie for Paramount France. The Nazis know he's coming - a secret bureau within the Reich Foreign Ministry has for years been waging political warfare against France, using bribery, intimidation, and corrupt newspapers to weaken French morale and degrade France's will to defend herself.
 
For their purposes, Fredric Stahl is a perfect agent of influence, and they attack him. What they don't know is that Stahl, horrified by the Nazi war on Jews and intellectuals, has become part of an informal spy service being run out of the American embassy in Paris.

From Alan Furst, the bestselling author, often praised as the best spy novelist ever, comes a novel that's truly hard to put down. Mission to Paris includes beautifully drawn scenes of romance and intimacy, and the novel is alive with extraordinary characters: the German Baroness von Reschke, a famous hostess deeply involved in Nazi clandestine operations; the assassins Herbert and Lothar; the Russian film actress and spy Olga Orlova; the Hungarian diplomat and spy, Count Janos Polanyi; along with the French cast of Stahl's movie, German film producers, and the magnetic women in Stahl's life, the socialite Kiki de Saint-Ange and the émigré Renate Steiner.

But always at the center of the novel is the city of Paris, the heart and soul of Europe - its alleys and bistros, hotels grand and anonymous, and the Parisians, living every night as though it was their last. As always, Alan Furst brings to life both a dark time in history and the passion of the human hearts that fought to survive it.

Excerpt
Mission to Paris

In the 1930s, the Nazi government of Germany, bitterly resentful at having lost the 1914 war, determined to destroy its traditional enemy, France. Force of arms lay in the future, but a small bureau in the Reich Foreign Ministry undertook operations to weaken French morale and degrade France's will to defend herself. This strategy, using ancient and well- proven methods, was known as political warfare.

In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistably seductive. The autumn of the year 1938 began in just such weather and on the terraces of the best cafés, in the famous restaurants, at the dinner parties one wished to attend, the conversation was, of necessity, lively and smart: fashion, cinema, love affairs, politics, and, yes, the possibility of war - that too had its moment. Almost anything, really, except money. Or, rather, German money. A curious silence,...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Furst brilliantly recreates the ominous environs, describing Paris, Berlin, and other locales just before the appeasement of Hitler via the Munich Agreement in September 1938 through the outbreak of the war. Between the risks of border-crossing, one character's struggle with the Gestapo, murder, and street disturbances, Mission to Paris is rife with examples of the strain both ordinary and high-profile people endured.   (Reviewed by Karen Rigby).

Full Review Members Only (748 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb James Patterson
The writing in Mission to Paris, sentence after sentence, page after page, is dazzling. If you are a John le Carré fan, this is definitely a novel for you.

Author Blurb Vince Flynn
I am a huge fan of Alan Furst. Furst is the best in the business - the most talented espionage novelist of our generation.

Author Blurb Erik Larson
Reading Mission to Paris is like sipping a fine Chateau Margot: Sublime!

Publishers Weekly

Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading.

Booklist

Starred Review. Through his dozen historical-espionage novels, most set just prior to or during WWII, Furst has taken us across Europe, but he is most at home in Paris, which is why legions of his fans, upon seeing the title of his latest book, will immediately feel their pulses quicken.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Furst conveys a strong sense of the era, when responding to a knock might open the door to the end of one's days. The novel recalls a time when black and white applied to both movies and moral choices. It's a tale with wide appeal.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Between them, Fredric and Paris make this a book no reader will put down to the final page. Furst evokes the city and the prewar anxiety with exquisite tension that is only a bit relieved by Fredric's encounters with several women, each a vivid and attractive character. Critics compare Furst to Graham Greene and John le Carré, but the time has come for this much-published author (this is his ninth World War II novel after Spies of the Balkans) to occupy his own pinnacle as a master of historical espionage.

The Boston Globe

Alan Furst again shows why he is a grandmaster of the historical espionage genre... As summer or subway reading goes, it doesn't get more action-packed and grippingly atmospheric than this.

The New York Times Book Review

This is the romantic Paris to make a tourist weep... In Furst's densely populated books, hundred 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.

Reader Reviews
Colleen L.

World World II Espionage at its' Best!
I love reading about World War II because there are so many interesting aspects to this war and so many new things to learn. I knew Paris was hotbed of rumors just prior to the war but had no knowledge of the Germans who actually lived in the city. ...   Read More

Gael

Mission to Paris not up to Furst standards
This book must be a disappointment for all of the Furst fans out there. Mission to Paris reads like a movie pitch. There is no intellectual quality to any of the characters. He creates atmosphere in some places but most of the book lacks tension or ...   Read More

alexander

dribble
I have read all of Furst's books and his last 2 have been grand disappointments. This one is boring, superficial, and a waste of time (and $)! I have read elsewhere that Furst writes as if he is trying to attract a movie offer-well he's got a script ...   Read More

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Parisian Highlights

Around 250-300 BCE, the capital of what is now known as France (or, more formally, The Republic of France) was established on the River Seine. It was inhabited by an Iron Age Gallic tribe, the Parisii. In 52 BCE, it became a Roman settlement, known as Lutetia Parisiorum, and by approximately 300 CE was known as civitas Parisiorum, the precursor to the City of Paris.

Arrondissements of Paris Comprised of twenty arrondissements (administrative districts) arranged in an outward spiral from the city's center (see map at right), Paris includes two natural islands - Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis, both located on the Seine River. This "City of Light" boasts a population of over 10.4 million people in the greater metropolitan area (2009), ...

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