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Partisans Hardcover – Jan 1 1983

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (January 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385182627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385182621
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,848,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I wrote in recent reviews of Mankell and Leon mysteries that, after reading Sherlock Holmes and Helen McInnes, I had avoided mysteries altogether for many years, too boring. I had forgotten about Alistair McLean. I did read a few of his stories, and liked them, but I didn't read the famous ones and have forgotten exactly which stories I had liked (it was in the seventies, at latest). "Puppet on a Chain" sounds familiar.
I picked up the Norwegian translation ("Partisaner") of "Partisans" cheaply in Trondheim in 1985 because I thought it might be easy, but my vocabulary at that time was inadequate for a novel, so I strained over the first 15 pages and then gave up. I read the first few pages again last night, and was amazed that I had marked a few sentences: in response to why the Scandinavian name "Petersen" (the name of the hero) is found in Jugoslavia, Petersen responds to the German officer in Rome that that can't be regarded as unusual, that there is, e.g., a village in the Italian Alps where the rest of a Scottish regiment landed in the Middle Ages, and where every second name starts with "Mac". What's funny is that I forgot that I had read this, but in 1/1988, with my then German girlfriend, we visited that village! It's named Gurro, lies in Val Canobino above Cannobio on Lago Maggiorre. They have a Scottish museum, and many of the men have red hair and faces. I didn't ask about surnames, though, although we returned to the village (an extremely stately mountain village half in ruin in 1988) and hiked in the region in 1995. Much more interesting is that this is a region where the old women still wear local costumes and use the kraxe (a wooden back-rack) for transport in daily life. There is only one hotel in the entire valley, which is not a valley at all but is more of a canyon. PS It's not a good translation, I still have trouble with it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Lots of Fun - A MacLean Classic May 3 1999
By Richard R - Published on
Format: Hardcover
MacLean delivers another fun adventure in this 1983 yarn about a World War II espionage mission. Pete Peterson and his motley crew of maybe-Chetniks maybe-Partisans cross Italy and Yugoslavia to deliver a message and unmask a double agent. The characters are MacLean classics: beautiful patrician women, evil assassins, stalwart companions, and a glib and brilliant hero. The plot meanders through the confusion of Yugoslavia's three-way civil war while under Italian and German occupation. A fun adventure, a light read, a real Alistair MacLean classic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Plot That Goes Splat March 19 2006
By Bill Slocum - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Partisans" is one of those disappointing adventure novels that build up a nice head of steam before crashing into a wall.

During World War II, a Yugoslavian agent under apparent German command takes a team of compatriots deep into his native country, where Italian, German, and their Cetnik "allies" watch each other as suspiciously as they do their Partisans foes. The agent, Petersen, has a message to deliver, though what that message is and who he has to deliver it to is a mystery.

What makes "Partisans" enjoyable is the leisurely way it begins, with much circuitous banter and some dark doings on darkened city streets and aboard an Italian torpedo boat. You know Petersen can't be working for the Nazis, but what about those with him? Who can he trust? Who can we trust? One settles in expecting a variant of the commando tales MacLean famously presented in such books as "The Guns Of Navarone" and "Where Eagles Dare," though laced with a welcome sardonic edge courtesy of Petersen.

Agreeing an attempted assassination against them was committed by amateurs, Petersen adds: "But the effect of an amateur bullet can be just as permanent as a professional one."

Or take his impression of an Italian officer he meets: "He's reasonable, personable, smiling, open-faced, has a firm handshake and looks you straight in the eye - anyone can tell at once that he's a member of the criminal classes."

As the novel goes on, you begin to realize it isn't going anywhere, that the banter is all you will get. The plot advances only because Petersen and his group keep getting captured by various forces who then leave them unharmed, which Petersen explains is part of his mysterious plan. A rotund pal drinks alcohol by the quart, while another keeps a strange, surly silence. A couple of women along for the trip call Petersen a "monster," then break into tears over such things as having to ride a pony over a mountain.

More annoyingly, one never is able to work out what Petersen is up to until the end of the novel, at which point he explains it all to you and his comrades in such a roundabout way none of it makes much sense.

Maybe he was having a poke at the au currant thrillers of the time. When "Partisans" was published in 1983, MacLean was struggling with a form of novel he helped popularize but which had been picked up by more sophisticated writers like Frederick Forsyth and Ken Follett, who jammed labyrinthine storylines into books twice as large as MacLean's. Of course, MacLean's simpler stories could be quite wonderful, too, but here we are handed a plot so convoluted no one could understand it. Even the flap jacket for the original hardcover describes a story with little resemblance to what's in the book.

That's a shame, because "Partisans" has the makings of a good tale, with interesting characters and a charged background of multiple, conflicting loyalties running riot in an exotic locale. MacLean throws a lot of plates in the air, and you wonder how he is going to get them all down. Then he surprises you by letting them crash to the floor.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
WW2 Spy Thriller From One of the Best July 6 2013
By ironman96 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alistair Maclean, known most for "Where Eagles Dare" and "The Guns of Navarone," is one of the best writers in the WWII spy thriller genre. "Partisans" is lesser known but still very good. This book is set in Italy and the former Yugoslavia during WWII The story will likely be confusing to most people since the history and politics of the former Yugoslavia is unknown to most. Yugoslavia officially sided with the Axis powers but had a large rebel force known as partisans who fought against the Axis. There is also the dynamic of the Italian-German alliance which was strained, especially towards the end of the war. All this background makes for much intrigue and suspense. This is an entertaining and fast moving novel, if a little confusing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Alistair Maclean's 'Partisans' Jan. 3 2014
By Ralph R. Holmes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
typical maclean novel filled with unique characters, detailed plot and surprising twists and turns. deals with the conflict in yugoslavia during world war II. kept waiting to learn if actor sterling hayden (a real life oss agent assigned to operations in this area) would make an appearance. same gripping type of novel in vein of 'the guns of navarone.' you become a participant in the story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fiction only Oct. 11 2013
By DARKOBOY - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is written like a second war James Bond. The Yugoslaw names are taken from ex Yugoslav Partisan leaders like Mose Pijade and the story disapoint me the most. But Iam Slovene and I like Partisan fight for freedom and Igave the book three star.

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