Night SoldiersPosted: 2011/02/15
Furst, Alan. Night Soldiers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988
I have to admit this took me a little time to get into. The story starts off in 1934 with a violent bang. Khristo Stoianev is a Bulgarian teenager who witnesses the brutal beating and subsequent killing of his younger brother, Nikko. Nikko, only 15 years old, was used as an example of a growing power. Using this tragedy as a vehicle for change, Khristo is drawn into the NKVD, the Soviet intelligence service. From there he is sent to serve in the Spanish Civil war (although it is curious to note during his training he was taught English and French, not Spanish). Meanwhile,the political arena is heating up. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are arm wrestling over real estate in Eastern Europe. Stalin is starting to purge the undesirables and this is to include Khristo so he flees to France.
Furst paints a stunning picture of eleven years of Eastern European history complete with French underground guerrilla operations, lavish love affairs, the never ending quest for power and multidimensional aspects of war.
Most telling line, “But these were political times, and it was very important to think before you spoke. Nikko Stoianev spoke without thinking, and so he died” (p 3).
Favorite line, “The nasty scene at the Finnish embassy refused to leave his mind, and he and Andres had decided to drawn their war in a bottle of Spanish gin” (p 161).
Author fact: Alan Furst was born on February 20th, 1941. He has an ongoing love affair with Paris.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “World War II Fiction” (p 253) even though WWII isn’t the focal point of the the story.