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The 39 Steps [Hardcover]

John Buchan , Toby Buchan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2011
One of the most exciting 'chase thrillers' ever published, and a huge influence not only on spy fiction, but on Hollywood as well, "The 39 Steps" is a book which has captured the imagination of audiences for decades. It was written by acclaimed Scottish author John Buchan, who inspired the writing of other great British novelists, including Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and John le Carre. "The 39 Steps" remains his most famous work. It is the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a steely determination and an extraordinary knack for getting himself out of sticky situations; the original, archetypal 'man-on-the-run' character, which has been a staple in literature and film in subsequent decades. The novel charts the electrifying story of an ordinary man caught up in a sinister international plot. Repackaged as a striking hardback, it is an edition to be cherished by any fan of the book, or anyone just discovering Buchan's work.

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Product Description


This latest edition of the novel has been redesigned, resulting in an authentic looking cloth-bound book... Exciting and thrilling, this should be read by all The Sun A spiffing, well-loved Boy's Own sort of read The Daily Mail A handsome new edition Tribune

About the Author

John Buchan was a Scottish diplomat, barrister, journalist, historian, poet and novelist. He published nearly 30 novels and seven collections of short stories. He was born in Perth, an eldest son, and studied at Glasgow and Oxford. In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. In 1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor and they subsequently had four children. After spells as a war correspondent, Lloyd George's Director of Information and Conservative MP, Buchan moved to Canada in 1935. He served as Governor General there until his death in 1940. Stuart Kelly is the Literary Editor of Scotland on Sunday. He is the author of Scott-land and The Book of Lost Books, and has contributed to The Decadent Handbook, Alasdair Gray: Critical Appreciations and the Scottish Goverment's Introducing Scottish Literature. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Plain Fun! March 13 2004
Format:School & Library Binding
This is one of those short novels that is just a fun read. The main character is taken on a journey that leads him away from the boredom he was experiencing in London. It is a simple first-person story with a very interesting writing style. John Buchan manages to make the "rookie-happenstance-spy being chased by everyone" story work without a hitch.
I wish I had read this novel sooner. I believe it is a must read for anyone interested in good literature and storytelling. I felt like the main character, Richard Hannay, was telling me the story as he puffed on his tobacco pipe. Hannay is like a man trapped in a giant rolling snowball...cept' he's enjoying the wild ride and ignoring the eventual crash.
Buchan made the suspense, the landscape, and the travel blend together in a very well-rounded adventure. I have never seen the movie adaptation, but will definitely look for it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Seminal British thriller. Sept. 4 2003
A breezy little read, John Buchan's "The 39 Steps" was quite the success in its' day, and has apparently never been out of print.
The book is an example of an author being not so concerned where the story ends, but in having a lot of fun actually getting there.
Hitchcock's film, liberally quoted in other reviews, is a marvel, and should be required viewing by pretty much everyone. But it's about 50% different than the novel, keeping about half of the stuff found between these pages.
That makes reading the novel after seeing the film an unexpectedly surprising experience. The plot justs gallops along, one adventure and colorful character after another. Buchan's evocative and picturesque Scottish highlands breathe. His cocky hero, Richard Hannay, is a joy to follow. I had no idea there are FOUR subsequent novels featuring Hannay, which I now proudly own, in spectacular Folio editions!
One last thing: the "anti-Semitism" mentioned comes only from the decidedly evil character (and is totally within character), and not seen anywhere else in the novel.
This is not a classic in the "heavy, literal, dense, highbrow" sense. This is a classic that you can imagine thousands of people, early in this century, having just the best time reading.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to its potential June 2 2002
I picked up the Dover Thrift Edition of this novel on the basis of the back cover blurb; I've never seen the film, so I didn't know what to expect except some atmospheric chases and tense proto-espionage thrills. This appealed to me, as lately I've been getting into some Victorian/Edwardian thriller writers such as H. Rider Haggard and Sax Rohmer. Unfortunately, even at 88 pages this novel(la?) is too long. It opens well with an exciting series of events, so I had high hopes for the book, but the story then begins to drag into repetitive hijinks on the Scottish moors which lack very much real suspense - you never really worry for the safety of our hero, Richard Hannay, or feel that he isn't going to escape from the marauders always a few steps behind him. I was indeed bothered by the pervasive anti-Semitism which keeps cropping up (though it is sometimes downplayed and outrightly discarded), but ultimately as other reviewers have said that turns out to be more or less a red herring - and anyway, I feel that you can enjoy a work of art which is a product of its times without endorsing all its now-offensive values. (King Solomon's Mines, to take another example, is blatantly colonialistic, paternalistic and racist-in-benevolent-clothing, and those values should be condemned, but I for one can appreciate the other aspects of the novel while disapproving of Haggard's biases.) A much bigger problem for "The Thirty-Nine Steps" is that it is frankly not very interesting or thrilling; the action picks up a little in the final chapters, but (not to give anything away) just when we expect a mind-blowing twist or reversal, everything ends in a thoroughly predictable and bland way. Oh well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars SPYING IN THE AGE OF INNOCENECE Dec 20 2001
`Behind me was the road climbing through a long cleft in the hills...In front was a flat space of maybe a mile, all pitted with bog holes and rough with tussocks...To the left and right were round-shouldered green hills as smooth as pancakes, but to the south there was a glimpse of high heathery mountains, which I remembered from the map as the big knot of hill, which I had chosen for my sanctuary...Then I saw an aeroplane coming up from the east.'
Osama bin Laden soliloquizing in the wilderness of Tora Bora? Nah, we are dealing here with much less violent times. It's the hero of THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS describing his hideout in the outback of Scotland, during the days preceding the World War I.
Richard Hannay is on visit to London for a break in the old country after a successful career in mining in Rhodesia. Soon the suburbia gets the better of him. As he decides to return to South Africa, he stumbles upon a situation that promises him a world of unalloyed excitement and adventure. A stranger, privy to a plot hatched by Anarchists to destabilize Europe, seeks shelter in his apartment. He doesn't last there long, as the plotters catch up with him and bump him off. Hannay decides to take up the ill-fated man's mission and gets thickly embroiled in the plot.
What follows is a long and colourful retreat from the arms of law as well as from the dragnet of the plotters. This escape takes us through the glens, heathers, rivers, hills, streams, dykes and moors of Scotland. Hannay changes his guise several times to give the villains the slip. As D-Day approaches he comes out of his hiding and with the help of the top brass of the secret service swoops down on the German spies.
THE TIRTY-NINE STEPS is a classic espionage thriller.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A thrill-a-minute...
OK, so this little adventure novel is light on character development and short on complexity. Current tastes seem to favor spider web-like plots and multi-layered subplots along... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2009 by D Glover
4.0 out of 5 stars An immensely entertaining adventure story!
Richard Hannay, a former Scotsman, has been in South Africa for some time working as a mining engineer. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2009 by Paul Weiss
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Pulp Fiction
Call it a dime novel, call it a thriller, or, as they do in the foreward, a "shocker". Whatever you call it, this Bond-esque short novel is great fun on the face of it, with a by... Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2008 by Craig Jenkins
4.0 out of 5 stars A Romp Through the Highlands
An excellent introduction to the Buchan style of descriptive narrative that takes you though the Scottish wilds. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2006 by Kelley Charlebois
4.0 out of 5 stars High-quality potboiler of the Edwardian era
John Buchan claims to have written this fast-paced "dime novel" while recovering from an illness. The story of how Richard Hannay stumbles upon and then escapes from a pre-WWI... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003 by bensmomma
3.0 out of 5 stars The Adventures of a Super-Sherlock
This 1915 espionage thriller will delight fans of Conon Doyle with a chain of "adventures" involving a chase, disguises, roll playing, an impossible escape, secret code, warplans,... Read more
Published on Dec 9 2002 by Scroop Moth
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book that became an even greater film!
A great espionage thriller, involving danger, murder, and the future of England, set just before World War I. The pace is fast, and it makes for a quick but enthralling read. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2002 by meiringen
4.0 out of 5 stars Get the Dover Thrift Edition of the 39 steps
Not bad. Voice certainly recalls Robert Donat's portrayal of the protagonist in the Hitchcock movie. Read more
Published on May 15 2002 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mother of All Airport Novels
This compact little story by John Buchan, the father of the Esponage Novel for Grown Lads, is the best known adventure of Richard Hannay, the more-English-than-the-English son of... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2001 by Matherson
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