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Partisans Hardcover – Jan 1983

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Hardcover, Jan 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 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,857,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'A magnificent storyteller' Sunday Mirror

‘The most successful British novelist of his time’ Jack Higgins

‘Alistar MacLean is one of the few people writing today who has a story to tell.’ Daily Express

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alistair MacLean, the son of a Scots minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy. After the war he read English at Glasgow University and became a schoolmaster. The two and a half years he spent aboard a wartime cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his remarkably successful first novel, published in 1955. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding popular writers of the 20th century, the author of 29 worldwide bestsellers, many of which have been filmed.

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Top Customer Reviews

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) HASH(0xa808ba80) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8373a20) out of 5 stars 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
HASH(0xa7e6cca8) out of 5 stars 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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7e63120) out of 5 stars 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7e53f9c) out of 5 stars Forgettable in every way Aug. 13 2010
By H. Jin - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While not quite plumbing the depths of the awful 'Goodbye California' or the boring 'Santorini', it's fair to say that 'Partisans' is one of Maclean's weakest books, and yet another example of his late-career decline. Despite returning to WW2, where some of his classic works were set, Maclean just cannot capture the magic this time around. Unlike his taut, fast-paced early thrillers, this a very loose, lightweight book that goes nowhere. It's the sort of book that's instantly forgettable; it's easy enough to read, but leaves no impression whatsoever once you've finished it. Years on, I still vividly remember the heart-pounding climaxes to 'The Satan Bug', or 'Fear Is The Key', or 'Puppet On A Chain'. But almost nothing sticks in my mind from 'Partisans', apart from an interesting torture scene involving a lethal injection, and the fact that everybody changes sides at least twice.

All the usual late-career Maclean flaws are here. The impossibly brave and capable hero Peter Petersen, the "heroines" who are actually utterly clueless damsels in distress, the clumsily handled "no-one is really who they seem" plot twists. Despite being set in wartime Yugoslavia, the book is very talky and slow moving, with almost no action at all. In fact, very little of interest happens at all throughout the book, it's mostly the characters trading one-liners and complaining about being left in the dark by Petersen. There's certainly no sense of the bigger picture of the fate of Yugoslavia and the progress of the war itself.

'Partisans' is not a "bad" book in the way 'Goodbye California' was, and it's readable enough. But it's nowhere near what Maclean was capable of, and will be a huge disappointment to fans of his early work. Newcomers should stick to his 50's and 60's stuff, and leave this one alone.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ef54f8) out of 5 stars Not Vintage MacLean Aug. 15 2000
By Mark S. Winger - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the weakest book of his I have read, and that is about thirty MacLean novels. I understand that he passed away prior to this book being published and that is was compiled posthumously. While admittedly not all of his books are great, I don't feel this is up to snuff with any of the others. Don't make this your first MacLean book and unless you feel the desire to read every one of his books like I choose to, take a pass on it. I am unwilling to touch any of the Alistair MacNeill books written using MacLeans notecards because I feel those are apt to be pretty weak too, and no one ever seems to duplicate the originals. If you are going to give a couple of MacLean novels a try, go for "Where Eagles Dare", "Puppet on a Chain", "Bear Island", & "Ice Station Zebra".

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