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Mission to Paris: A Novel [Hardcover]

Alan Furst
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 12 2012
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.

Advance praise for Mission to Paris
“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.”—James Patterson
“I am a huge fan of Alan Furst. Furst is the best in the business—the most talented espionage novelist of our generation.”—Vince Flynn
Praise for Alan Furst
“Unfolds like a vivid dream . . . One couldn’t ask for a more engrossing novel.”—The Wall Street Journal, about Spies of the Balkans
“Though set in a specific place and time, Furst’s books are like Chopin’s nocturnes: timeless, transcendent, universal. One does not so much read them as fall under their spell.”—Los Angeles Times, about The Spies of Warsaw
“Alan Furst’s novels swing a beam into the shadows at the edges of the great events leading to World War II. Readers come knowing he’ll deliver effortless narrative.”—USA Today, about The Foreign Correspondent
“Positively bristles with plot, characters and atmosphere . . . Dark Voyage has the ingredients of several genres—the mystery, the historical novel, the espionage thriller, the romance—but it rises above all of them.”—The Washington Post, about Dark Voyage
“No other espionage writer touches [Furst’s] stylish forays into Budapest and Berlin, Moscow and Paris. No other writer today captures so well the terror and absurdity of the spy, the shabby tension and ennui of émigré communities at the time. His characters are hopeless, lethal, charming. His voice is, above all, knowing.”—Boston Sunday Globe, about Blood of Victory

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“This is the romantic Paris to make a tourist weep … The brilliant historical flourishes seem to create – or recreate – a world … 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.”
The New York Times Book Review

Alan Furst again shows why he is a grandmaster of the historical espionage genre. Furst not only vividly re-creates the excitement and growing gloom of the City of Light in 1938-39, as war with Nazi Germany looms, but also demonstrates a profound knowledge of the political divisions and cultural sensibilities of that bygone era … As summer or subway reading goes, it doesn't get more action-packed and grippingly atmospheric than this.”
The Boston Globe

“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.”
—Library Journal (starred)

“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.”
Kirkus (starred)

“[Furst] is most at home in Paris, which is why legions of his fans, upon seeing only the title of his latest book, will immediately feel pulses quicken … Furst has been doing this and doing it superbly for a long time now … Long ago Furst made the jump from genre favorite to mainstream bestsellerdom; returning to his signature setting, Paris, he only stands to climb higher.”
—Booklist (starred)
“Alan Furst’s writing reminds me of a swim in perfect water on a perfect day, fluid and exquisite. One wants the feeling to go on forever, the book to never end … Like Graham Greene, Furst creates believable characters caught up, with varying degrees of willingness, in the parade of political life. And because they care, the reader does, too … Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading.”
—Publisher’s Weekly
“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.”
—James Patterson
"I am a huge fan of Alan Furst. Furst is the best in the business--the most talented espionage novelist of our generation."
—Vince Flynn

“Reading Mission to Paris is like sipping a fine Chateau Margaux: Sublime!”
—Erik Larson

About the Author

Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into eighteen languages, he is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, Dark Voyage, The Foreign Correspondent, The Spies of Warsaw, and Spies of the Balkans. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris, and now lives on Long Island.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important lesson Dec 29 2012
By Prairie Pal TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Other reviewers have noted that the tension in this novel about pre-war Paris is palpably less than in other of Furst's works. Certainly compared to "Night Soldiers" or "The Polish Officer", "Mission to Paris" lacks edge-of-seat excitement, but it is no less compelling because of that fact. What Furst is trying to show here is the corrosive effect of Nazi money and menace outside of the borders of Germany and how Hitler's agents were instrumental in gutting the resolve of France. The collapse of the French armies in the spring of 1940 owed as much to the attacks on French morale throughout the 1930s as to Guderian's tanks. Bribes, extortion, subtle threats can be just as effective as assassination and their use in the Paris of 1938-39 is the backbone of this very worthy novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ejoy and Learn from History and Fiction July 24 2014
Bought via E-reader
if you want fast action, big fights and car chases, then his books are not for you. If you want a good spy novel AND learn about the world that it involves, then this book and his others are for you.
Learn about the historical atmosphere in the barely pre-war years of Paris and Berlin, that makes the book come alive. Feel the fear, the tension, the denial (As Germany rearms, they maintain the lavish cocktail parties and white tie diners) See the arrogance, hatred and atrocities already rampant in Berlin. Unless you have relatives who lived through the terror, get an insight into the massive political infighting and espionage, that left France weak and the people unprepared. Learn about the phony trade, friendship and pacifist groups (note I said phony not legitimate) that were really fronts for the massive Nazi propaganda machines that said all will be ok. Even when the Nazis took over Austria and Czechoslovakia and demanded control of the Polish port of Danzig, they used the propaganda to say that that was the end of Germany's moves. See, we signed a document saying so!,
Yes, it is a novel but you can learn and see the history repeating itself today. Putin is using the same rationale in the Ukraine and Crimea today that Goebbels and his propaganda machine used then to take over the countries, before the war officially started. (Protect our citizens)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Story Dec 17 2013
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Book 12, in the Night Soldiers series

Mr. Furst returns once more to pre-war Europe, nothing is formulaic about his novels each stands on its own although some may recognize old faces form time to time.

In “Mission to Paris “, the author lures his protagonist Fredric Stahl, twice Oscar nominated movie star to the “City of Light”. Fredic thinks he is in France to play the leading role for paramount in “Après la Guerre”. But in Europe 1938 things are not really as they seem after all it is a frightening time as the Continent is moving towards war.

Fredic makes the movie and gets entangle with all sorts of characters and attracts the attention of the Germans who are very interested in him. All they want is for him to come to Berlin and be a judge in their film festival… This is an unsubtle attempt to recruit him to spout out pro-Nazi sentiment. Fredric is very skeptical that accepting the offer would be good for his career. Saying no may not be an option and from there he finds himself in direct opposition with the propaganda meisters….Fredic seeks help from the American Embassy and in doing so he inevitably becomes one of their useful courier and information gatherer …….

“Mission in Paris” is an historical spy fiction that gives us clues into the propaganda warfare that the Nazis and the French sympathizers waged on France. The novel is entertaining enough although I found the denouement to be rather weak and its third person narrative to be a bit cheesy at time. There are crackerjack scenes but they lack in suspense is as if the author ran out of steam describing them. I like the happy ending, rare and unlikely did they happen in those days.

Although this novel is good it is definitely not Furst at his best and definitely not the one I preferred the most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Germans have infiltrated France with their official envoys and spies. Fredric Stahl is an Austrian émigré who’s moved to the Los Angeles where he becomes a Hollywood star. As a struggling actor, he’d spent a number of years in Paris and, at the beginning of the book is returning to his favourite city to act in a movie about the war in the Balkans. Fluent in German, French and English he’s recruited by the American ambassador to make contact with a spy in Berlin where he’s been invited to judge a mountaineering film festival. The extent of German activity in France described in the book was surprising to me as were their attempts to intimidate an America citizen. Romance, intrigue and political espionage make this a fun, fast read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Danger Not Authentic Enough Dec 8 2012
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Once again, Alan Furst, the American historical fiction writer, has written a novel that brings together the private lives of foot-loose individuals seeking adventure within the context of history in the making. For his main character, Furst offers us Fredric Stahl, an Austro-American filmmaker who has come to Paris to make a movie about the tensions of the interwar years and the struggle to keep the world from slipping into another major war. Paris is presented as that international city where a ton of covert things seem to be happening that represent in microcosm a continent on the edge: talk of war is in the air; the movie industry is thriving with big stars turning up and hanging out; and Goebbel's German Ministry of Propaganda has infiltrated the ranks of the French government in an effort to break its will to resist. In this very potent setting, Stahl makes the rounds as he tries to line up support for his film. What he hears at various parties is a cross-current of conversations that express a mixture of defeatism, fear, and loathing. Everyone knows or at least suspects that Nazi agents are in their midst, and that somebody like Stahl is a prime target for being co-opted for their cause. While Stahl's ambitious film project begins to slowly take shape, there is a sense that it will need big money to bring it to production, and that source will lie with the Germans to the east and require Stahl to pay a visit to Berlin. It is at this point that the story picks up in tempo and assumes the complexion of a spy novel with plenty of intrigue, suspense and dangerous encounters. While the novel is rich in cultural references, it lacks in authentic danger. Read more ›
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