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Showing posts from September, 2016

Review: The 39 Steps (1935)

John Buchan wrote what is perhaps his most known novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps, the first of the five espionage thrillers that feature a bumbling, relatable hero Richard Hannay, in bed with a stomach ulcer. The bodily pain that accompanied the writing, and henceforth dogged his entire life, was recompensed with the fulsome reception of the book, especially from those who were fighting in the trenches during WWI. A soldier wrote Buchan: “The story is greatly appreciated in the midst of mud and rain and shells, and all that could make trench life depressing.”
Buchan’s classic has all the stock materials that make up for a potent morale-booster: an everyman stumbles into an international conspiracy, undergoes every conceivable hazard and hardship, grapples with his limited means and amidst troubled water, finally and narrowly salvaging his own country from the boiling soup. Published in 1919 and at a time when the nation is battening down hatches for the imminent war, the story’s narrative…