The Thirty-nine Steps


The Thirty-nine Steps

Length: 04hrs 20mins 10 episodesCompleted
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The typical action hero with a stiff upper lip whose actions speak louder than his words, a mysterious American who lives in dread of being killed, an anarchist plot to destabilize Greece, a deadly German spy network, a notebook entirely written in code, and all this set in the weeks preceding the outbreak of World War I. The Thirty-nine Steps, by John Buchan is a spy classic entirely worthy of its genre and will delight modern day readers with its complicated plot. It is also notable for being the literary progenitor of the spook novel that typically features the secret operative on the run, determined to unravel a world domination plot. John Buchan, the author, was a Scottish writer and historian who also had an illustrious career as the Governor General of Canada in 1935. Born in Perth, Scotland, he developed an early love of nature which features prominently in his writings. He won several prizes at Oxford for his essays and poetry and embarked on a diplomatic career. He served in South Africa and on his return to London, became the editor of a prominent newspaper. He wrote his first novel, an adventure tale, in 1910, worked on creating war propaganda for Britain during World War I. While recovering from a bout of illness connected with his chronic duodenal ulcer problem, Buchan wrote The Thirty-nine Steps, the first of a series featuring the intrepid Richard Hannay. The surprisingly slim novel (it has just 100 pages) is a quick but exciting read. One evening in London, Richard Hannay, recently returned from Rhodesia, is accosted by a desperate stranger who begs for shelter as he fears for his life. Hannay who's not the type to shirk adventure, obliges. However, the stranger is shortly found violently murdered in Hannay's flat. From here on, the plot takes readers on a thrilling rollercoaster ride as Hannay attempts to thwart a diabolical German conspiracy. Buchan, the author of more than 100 books, received several civil and literary awards. The Thirty-nine Steps has been extensively adapted for radio, stage, screen and television. A video game was released recently. However, Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film starring Robert Donnat is perhaps the best take on this early precursor of cool, debonair secret agents like James Bond. In his preface, Buchan confesses to a passion for the “dime novel” or “shocker” where “incidents defy probability.” The book holds immense appeal for readers of all ages, especially those who enjoy tales involving plots and counter plots!


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