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Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst
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Kingdom of Shadows

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Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst
Mar 13, 2001 | ISBN 9780375506802

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    Oct 09, 2001 | ISBN 9780375758263

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  • Mar 13, 2001 | ISBN 9780375506802

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“Compares most favorably with the virtuoso European thrillers of Graham Greene and especially Eric Ambler. . . . This is a major, masterful entertainment.”—Bill Bell, New York Daily News

“In my estimation Kingdom of Shadows is a masterpiece. Furst is here writing at the height of his powers, confident of his style, tone and content. And his evocation of that dark time of the soul, before and during the second World War, reverberates in the mind just as that famous Beethoven symphony call- sign echoed in the airwaves over Europe all those years ago.”—Vincent Banville, The Irish Times

“[Kingdom of Shadows] is as good as a John le Carré, but with a richer ambience of ‘old’ Europe. It manages to be as atmospheric as a Brassaï photograph or a Peter Lorre film, yet is unfailingly tense at the same time, never losing sight of the political horror under the period detail.”—Phil Baker, The Sunday Times (London)

“What gleams on the surface in Furst’s books is his vivid, precise evocation of mood, time, place, a letter- perfect re- creation of the quotidian details of World War II Europe that wraps around us like the rich fug of a wartime railway station.”—Johanna McGeary, Time

“Alan Furst’s books are addictive—if you like one, you have to read them all.”—Mark Horowitz, New York magazine

“With Kingdom of Shadows, Furst has firmly ensconced himself in the upper echelon of writers of literate historical fiction. A Furst novel, as this one shows in spades, is one that should be savored, never hurried. Settle back, immerse yourself in some great writing about a fascinating if terrifying time when the world was on the brink of a terrible darkness.”—Tom Walker, The Denver Post

“[A] perfect blend of fact and fantasy. . . . The book is a rare treat.”—James Norton, The Christian Science Monitor

“The novel’s strengths lie in how it sets its traps; Morath’s best efforts to combat the Reich often benefit the side he’s fighting against. Our hero is undermined again and again. As Furst details Morath’s emotional and political vertigo, Kingdom of Shadows is undeniably intelligent and harrowing.”—Charles Wilson, The New York Times Book Review


Frankfurt eBook Award NOMINEE 2001

Author Q&A

Alan Furst describes the area of his interest as “near history.” His novels are set between 1933–the date of Adolf Hitler’s ascent, with the first Stalinist purges in Moscow coming a year later–and 1945, which saw the end of the war in Europe. The history of this period is well documented. Furst uses books by journalists of the time, personal memoirs–some privately published–autobiographies (many of the prominent individuals of the period wrote them), war and political histories, and characteristic novels written during those years.

“But,” he says, “there is a lot more”–for example, period newsreels, magazines, and newspapers, as well as films and music, especially swing and jazz. “I buy old books,” Furst says, “and old maps, and I once bought, while living in Paris, the photo archive of a French stock house that served newspapers of Paris during the Occupation, all the prints marked as cleared by the German censorship.” In addition, Furst uses intelligence histories of the time, many of them by British writers.

Alan Furst has lived for long periods in Paris and in the south of France. “In Europe,” he says, “the past is still available. I remember a blue neon sign, in the Eleventh Arrondissement in Paris, that had possibly been there since the 1930s.” He recalls that on the French holiday le jour des morts (All Saints’ Day, November 1) it is customary for Parisians to go to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. “Before the collapse of Polish communism, the Polish émigrés used to gather at the tomb of Maria Walewska. They would burn rows of votive candles and play Chopin on a portable stereo. It was always raining on that day, and a dozen or so Poles would stand there, under black umbrellas, with the music playing, as a kind of silent protest against the communist regime. The spirit of this action was history alive–as though the entire past of that country, conquered again and again, was being brought back to life.”

The heroes of Alan Furst’s novels include a Bulgarian defector from the Soviet intelligence service, a foreign correspondent for Pravda, a Polish cartographer who works for the army general staff, a French producer of gangster films, and a Hungarian émigré who works with a diplomat at the Hungarian legation in Paris. “These are characters in novels,” Furst says, “but people like them existed; people like them were courageous people with ordinary lives and, when the moment came, they acted with bravery and determination. I simply make it possible for them to tell their stories.”

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