Blood of Victory

February 19th, 2009 at 11:21 pm David Frum | No Comments |

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Speaking of spy fiction – spy literature I should say in this case – I finished the audiobook of Alan Furst’s Blood of Victory on the elliptical machine yesterday. Who is the original author of the line, “Those who like this kind of thing will find that it is just the kind of thing they like”? Whoever it was, it aptly sums up this story of attempted sabotage of the Romanian oil fields by British agents in 1940-41. If you like Furst, you’ll like this. If not – well, not.

At the core of the book: a terrifyingly vivid depiction of the January 1941 coup attempt and anti-Jewish pogrom by Romania’s ultra-fascist Iron Guard. A favorite moment: two conspirators, one an emigre Russian semi-aristocrat, the other an unexpectedly exiled Romanian businessman, find themselves eating what both have to assume is their last meal at an underground restaurant in Belgrade. The meal sounds perfectly disgusting: chicken-liver risotto, filet of pork, red pepper puree, accompanied by local brandy. Neither man knows the other well, and they fill the meal with small talk. Finally, dessert, the last minutes before the action begins. And the Romanian businessman, with that marvelous combination of principle, courage, and embarrassment at anything that smacks of bombast that defines Furst’s most appealing characters semi-apologetically offers this farewell toast:

“To success, gentlemen. And, when all is said and done, death to tyrants.”

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Johnnnymac66

    I’ve lived all of my 51 years in Chicago. I learned world politics by reading Gigi Geyer, Evans & Novak, George Will, and many, many others. I learned Chicago politics by reading Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, and many others.
    For me, the tipping point with Evans came when he “outted” Valerie Plame, a crime I believe was treasonous. I wrote him and told him exactly that, and was not surprised when I received no response.
    From that point on, I’d glance at his columns, but never again believed anything in them.
    When Hunter Thompson would inject himself into the stories he was writing, it was funny. Outting an undercover CIA operative because of a personal grudge wasn’t at all funny.
    I still believe Robert Evans committed treason against the United States.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Novak comes off as a sort of American, Jewish-cum-Catholic verson of Evelyn Waugh: nasty, vindictive and palpably self loathing. But he wasn’t unpatriotic. Moreover, he was correct about the War on Terror and Iraq. Compare his foreign policy views to David Frum’s, and then tell me: who comes out looking better on the geopolitics of the past decade?

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Oh, and by the way Frum, you’d fail your mother-in-law’s course, too: it’s ABC 20/20, not “NBC 20/20.”

  • lolapowers

    Mr Frum, I so wholeheartedly agree with you, Novak was indeed a dark soul !

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