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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th July 2016 > FURST AMONG SEQUELS

FURST AMONG SEQUELS

In his historical spy novels, Alan Furst finds fresh ways to extol great courage in the face of great evil

LIKE A MICHELIN-STARRED chef or a composer of classical music, the spy novelist Alan Furst is an expert at developing variations on a theme. In his case, the theme is a morally weighted question: What would you do? Mathieu, the protagonist of Furst’s new novel, A Hero in France, fights against the German invaders in 1940 and then decides to join the Resistance rather than live passively under Nazi tyranny, as some French chose to do.

“The book is about these upper-middle-class people who decided to fight back against the Germans,” says Furst, speaking from his home in Sag Harbor on the east end of New York’s Long Island. “They could ignore it, but they don’t. There is moral compulsion—you watch something wrong going on, and one day you feel you have to do something about it. Or you don’t.”

A Hero in France is Furst’s 14th novel about spies and wartime Europe. Some share a cast of minor characters. All of the books return to Furst’s core interest. “They are anti-fascist books,” he says. “They are about people who don’t like authoritarian rule. They don’t like living in tyranny, and they try to strike back against it.”

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Can Europe Save Itself? - On the morning after the Brexit vote, a dazed Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, a body consisting of the heads of government of the 28 countries in the European Union, was asked to react to the historic vote. Ironically, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century philosopher whose work influenced the rise of German militarism that led to two world wars - the conflagrations the EU was designed to prevent from happening again. “What doesn’t kill you,” Tusk proclaimed, “makes you stronger.”
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