In The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), the best-known of his thrillers (made into a popular movie by Alfred Hitchcock), John Buchan introduces his most enduring hero, Richard Hannay, who, despite claiming to be an “ordinary fellow,” is caught up in the dramatic and dangerous race against a plot to devastate the British war effort. In this, the only critical edition available, Christopher Harvie’s introduction interweaves the writing of the tale with the equally fascinating story of how John Buchan, publisher and lawyer, came in from the cold and, via The Thirty-Nine Steps, ended the war as spy-master and propaganda chief.
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