Sunday, March 24, 2024

A thriller

I have expressed my enthusiasm for John Buchan's thrillers before. This is about one of them:
First published in 1924, The Three Hostages features one of Buchan’s regular heroes, Richard Hannay. When the book begins, Hannay is just turned forty years of age, not long married, with a young son. After distinguished service in the First World War, he has retired to the country to fish and shoot. Before long, however, a national crisis arrives, and Hannay is told that His Country Needs Him. Reluctantly, Hannay has to respond to the call of duty.

The plot of The Three Hostages is pure blood and thunder; it is a melodrama. It is, however, an exceptionally intelligent and well told melodrama, and the reader is effortlessly carried along.

The main reason for discussing the book today is that it reveals how remarkably percipient Buchan was about future developments. ....

.... ‘Have you ever realised,’ one character asks Hannay, ‘the amount of craziness that the War has left in the world?’

Later, another character speaks of the dangers of propaganda. ‘Dick, have you ever considered what a diabolical weapon that can be – using all the channels of modern publicity to poison and warp men’s minds?’ This, please note, was written ten years before the appointment of Goebbels as Hitler’s propaganda minister.

The rise of Hitler, or a fanatic like him, is also foreseen. ‘In ordinary times he will not be heard, because, as I say, his world is not our world. But let there come a time of great suffering or discontent, when the mind of the ordinary man is in desperation, and the rational fanatic will come by his own. When he appeals to the sane and the sane respond, revolutions begin.’ ....

Should you be interested in the history and development of the thriller, The Three Hostages is a book you should read.
Read The Three Hostages online.

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