Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

It’s the autumn of 1938. France is almost completely surrounded by fascist dictatorships and a Germany governed by NSDAP. The hounds of all-out war have not yet been unleashed, but Germany is waging political warfare against France. The Germans have allied themselves with French right-wingers who abhor and want to destroy democracy in the country, and who wish to replace it with an authoritarian government that will rid France of socialists, communists, and labor unions once and for all.

And now Frederic Stahl, a Hollywood star born in Vienna, Austria, with a Slovene father, sits in his Parisian hotel room. He’s in France to make a movie, loaned out by Warner Bros., and in the newspaper Le Matin he reads, “Hollywood Star Frederic Stahl Speaks Out for Rapprochement.” The quotes in the article are not inaccurate per se, but they are presented in a way that turns Stahl into something he is not. Forces he wants nothing to do with are using his name and public image to promote their ideas; they have him speak out against French re-armament and preparation for war.

Being a famous and important person from a powerful part of the world, people will listen to Stahl and perhaps even change their minds when they hear him share his opinions. He is an agent of sorts, an agent of influence. Stahl understands this and wants to do “something, anything, even a small thing,” to fight back, and he becomes part of an informal espionage service run out of the American embassy in Paris.

When the actor arrives in Berlin for a film festival, his worst fears are confirmed as Kristallnacht breaks out and destroys tens of thousands of Jewish lives – soon enough Frederic Stahl’s own life is in danger.

Like so many of Alan Furst’s heroes, Frederic Stahl is (to use a phrase from the novel) “a warm man in a cold world,” and in a time of fear and resignation he takes a stance for what he believes in – a world where dialogue and not violence shapes societies. Mission to Paris takes place just before World War II, but it has distinct contemporary resonance, and the novel asks the reader, “What do you want to do?”

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

See previous blog posts of other Alan Furst titles, Red Gold and Dark Star.


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One Response to “Mission to Paris by Alan Furst”

  1. Steve Bank Says:

    Good recommendation Emil….I enjoyed this book

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