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The Thirty-nine Steps

The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
By: (1875-1940)

The typical action hero with a stiff upper lip whose actions speak louder than his words, a mysterious American who lives in dread of being killed, an anarchist plot to destabilize Greece, a deadly German spy network, a notebook entirely written in code, and all this set in the weeks preceding the outbreak of World War I. The Thirty-nine Steps, by John Buchan is a spy classic entirely worthy of its genre and will delight modern day readers with its complicated plot. It is also notable for being the literary progenitor of the spook novel that typically features the secret operative on the run, determined to unravel a world domination plot.

John Buchan, the author, was a Scottish writer and historian who also had an illustrious career as the Governor General of Canada in 1935. Born in Perth, Scotland, he developed an early love of nature which features prominently in his writings. He won several prizes at Oxford for his essays and poetry and embarked on a diplomatic career. He served in South Africa and on his return to London, became the editor of a prominent newspaper. He wrote his first novel, an adventure tale, in 1910, worked on creating war propaganda for Britain during World War I. While recovering from a bout of illness connected with his chronic duodenal ulcer problem, Buchan wrote The Thirty-nine Steps, the first of a series featuring the intrepid Richard Hannay.

The surprisingly slim novel (it has just 100 pages) is a quick but exciting read. One evening in London, Richard Hannay, recently returned from Rhodesia, is accosted by a desperate stranger who begs for shelter as he fears for his life. Hannay who's not the type to shirk adventure, obliges. However, the stranger is shortly found violently murdered in Hannay's flat. From here on, the plot takes readers on a thrilling rollercoaster ride as Hannay attempts to thwart a diabolical German conspiracy.

Buchan, the author of more than 100 books, received several civil and literary awards. The Thirty-nine Steps has been extensively adapted for radio, stage, screen and television. A video game was released recently. However, Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film starring Robert Donnat is perhaps the best take on this early precursor of cool, debonair secret agents like James Bond. In his preface, Buchan confesses to a passion for the “dime novel” or “shocker” where “incidents defy probability.”

The book holds immense appeal for readers of all ages, especially those who enjoy tales involving plots and counter plots!

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 18 reviews)

Reviewer: - November 11, 2019
just as I read it as a kid so many years ago
Reviewer: - April 26, 2019
Subject: Good Book
A very good read. I highly recommend it, especially if you get the other two books too, Greenmantle and Mr. Standfast.
Reviewer: - October 13, 2018
Subject: The 39 Steps
Really amazing book and recommend it to any reader of any age
Reviewer: - October 7, 2017
Subject: book
good story
Reviewer: - January 23, 2017
Subject: The 39 steps
I have read and re read this book over the years and it was good to listen it, well read
Reviewer: - June 18, 2016
Subject: The Thirty-nine steps
A very good espionage adventure story, extremely well narrated by Adrian.
Reviewer: - January 26, 2016
Subject: Loved it!
Great story and reader!
Reviewer: - May 31, 2015
Subject: Delightful
The reader really made it especially enjoyable. And the book is just as great.
Reviewer: - November 9, 2014
Subject: Excellent
One of those books you dread reaching the end. loved the reader as well.
Reviewer: - March 19, 2014
Reviewer: - October 28, 2013
Subject: Brilliant.
I loved the narration, and the story keeps your attention with everything that's going on. Thank you.
Reviewer: - October 1, 2013
Good read. All that adventure, it almost seem as though it had been me going through all that. Poor guy.
Reviewer: - September 18, 2013
Subject: Review
If you can stay with this book it's pretty good. Narration is a bit dry, but towards the end his accents are brilliant. Thank you for this story.
Reviewer: - July 22, 2013
Subject: Good book, well read
Really enjoyed this book. VERY well read.
Reviewer: - June 24, 2013
Great story!!
Reviewer: - May 31, 2013
Very exciting and well read. A good thriller. The voices are wonderful and well done.
Reviewer: - May 20, 2013
Subject: Nice Story
Simple yet captivating.
Reviewer: - December 22, 2012
Excellent reading!

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