Here is an extraordinary collection of work from some of the finest novelists of the twentieth century. Inspired by the politics of tyranny or war, each of these writers chose the base elements of spy fiction highly evolved spy fiction as the framework for a literary novel. Thus Alan Furst offers a diverse array of selections that combine raw excitement and intellectual sophistication in an expertly guided tour of the dark world of clandestine conflict. These are not just stories of professional intelligence officers. We meet diplomats, political police, agents provocateurs, secret operatives, resistance fighters, and assassins players in the Great Game, or victims of the Cold War. The Book of Spies brings us the aristocratic intrigues of The Scarlet Pimpernel, in which French migr s duel with Robespierre's secret service; the savage political realities of the 1930s in Eric Ambler's classic A Coffin for Dimitrios; the ordinary citizens (well, almost) of John le Carr 's The Russia House, who are drawn into Cold War spy games; and the 1950s Vietnam of Graham Greene's The Quiet American, with its portrait of American idealism and duplicity. Drawing on acknowledged classics and rediscovered treasures, Alan Furst's The Book of Spies delivers literate entertainment and excitement on every page.
"A master of the form culls from the cream of the cloak-and-dagger crop. . . . Twelve expertly chosen tales of secret operatives: shadowy and elusive, cunningly written and thrillingly fraught with peril."
"Spanning nearly three quarters of a century . . . this handy sampler touches on many high points of spy writing. . . . In this case, fiction is more thrilling than truth."
--Time Out New York
"[A] dazzling anthology . . . The writing--whether displaying the cold clarity of Maugham or the pained lyricism of McCarry--is splendid."
--The Wall Street Journal