Alan Furst - Historical Espionage Fiction

The Spies of Warsaw

Alan Furst writes historical espionage fiction set in the Europe of the 1930's and 1940's. His spy novels are about the events that both led up to and occurred during the 2nd World War.

I write historical spy fiction -- that's my official designation. I grew up reading genre writers, and to the degree that Eric Ambler and Graham Greene are genre writers, I'm a genre writer. [Alan Furst quoted on]

He has written twelve spy novels.

  • Mission to Paris (2012)
  • Spies of the Balkans (2010)
  • The Spies of Warsaw (2008)
  • The Foreign Correspondent (2006)
  • Dark Voyage (2004)
  • Blood of Victory (2002)
  • Kingdom of Shadows (2000)
  • Red Gold (1999)
  • The World at Night (1996)
  • The Polish Officer (1995)
  • Dark Star (1991)
  • Night Soldiers (1988)

Alan Furst says his inspiration to write espionage novels came from a visit to Moscow in 1983. He arrived the night the Russians shot down a Korean passenger plane flying from the USA to South Korea. Moscow he found to be a highly intrigued and dark place and he thought they must be writing wonderful spy novels. They didn't because they weren't allowed to so he thought he would do so instead.

Many of his novels are set in Paris. A city he fell in love with when he went there in the 1960's. He later lived there for an extended period of time and wrote Dark Star and Night Soldiers in the city.

He now has a deep but scathing admiration for the French: deep because, despite everything, they managed to save Paris from going the way of Warsaw; scathing because of the myths they have created since the war. [Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph, 18 September 2004]

Alan Furst is an American and grew up in the Upper West Side, of New York City, surrounded by Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, many survivors of the camps.

The Isaac Bashevis Singer refugees were sitting on park benches on Broadway and they lived in the Ansonia. It’s the Upper West Sides as Singer describes it. There were still dairy restaurants. Steinberg’s was still there and there still were Jews going to dairy restaurants. All of this is gone. [Alan Furst quoted on in an interview with Terrance Gelenter]

Furst writes about a time, as he says, when politics were clear - it was good v. evil. The world was at its worst as the violent struggle between Communism and Nazism was unleashed in which millions would die. It is also a time when some people were at their best, often reluctantly drawn into a conflict they would rather have watched from the sidelines.

I'm just fascinated by the period and by the incredible courage... endless ingenuity and courageous passion people had to fight against evil. I love the gray areas, but I like the gray areas as considered by bright, educated, courageous people. [Alan Furst quoted on]

Welcome to the world of Alan Furst!

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This page was added on 12 April 2008. Updated on 18 June 2012.