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Extended Audio Sample Darkness at Noon: A Novel Audiobook, by Arthur Koestler Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00009354747816 out of 54.00009354747816 out of 54.00009354747816 out of 54.00009354747816 out of 54.00009354747816 out of 5 4.00 (17,745 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Arthur Koestler Narrator: Frank Muller Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2015 ISBN: 9781449804152
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Originally published in 1941, Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon, is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Communist revolutionary caught in the vicious fray of the Moscow show trials of the late 1930s.

During Stalin’s purges, Nicholas Rubashov, an aging revolutionary, is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the party he has devoted his life to. Under mounting pressure to confess to crimes he did not commit, Rubashov relives a career that embodies the ironies and betrayals of a revolutionary dictatorship that believes it is an instrument of liberation.

A seminal work of twentieth-century literature, Darkness at Noon is a penetrating exploration of the moral danger inherent in a system that is willing to enforce its beliefs by any means necessary.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations. Written with such dramatic power, with such warmth of feeling, and with such persuasive simplicity that it is as absorbing as melodrama.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “One of the few books written in this epoch which will survive it.”

    New Statesman (London)

  • “A rare and beautifully executed novel.”

    New York Herald Tribune

  • “A remarkable book. A grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bur | 3/2/2017

    " I looked forward to this with great anticipation after all that I had heard of the novel and the author. It didn't disappoint either. The story is of a man who is destroyed by the government that he helped to create. The reference is to the many officials killed by Stalin during the Great Purge and Show Trials. Koestler doesn't mention Stalin by name, nor the USSR. The similarities though are too obvious to be missed. Koestler performs wonderfully in describing the protagonist's struggles to endure the sufferings, physical and mental, and to try to hold out without giving the interrogators what they want. The ending is well done though predictable. Predictable doesn't mean boring or anti-climatic. Koestler's novel doesn't fade off but maintains a fine level of tension though to the foreseeable end. Wonderfully done. "

  • 4.666666 out of 54.666666 out of 54.666666 out of 54.666666 out of 54.666666 out of 5 Andrea | 9/18/2016

    " I've downloaded this audiobook because Eckhart Tolle mentioned it in one of his talks so I had high hopes for it. And it certainly met my expectations. Would not recommend listening to it late at night though, as it happened to me a few times that I'd fallen asleep while listening, only to then wake up in the middle of the night and hear an intense conversation from a prison setting - it can be quite unsettling at times :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexei | 2/19/2014

    " Interesting and insightful but deeply flawed in its concept and examination of the communist morale, ethics and philosophy. Not to say that from the purely historical viewpoint it's so unauthentic and primitive in exposing pre- and post- revolutionary history of the Russian communist movement that it's not even funny. Koestler surely knew something about it so it's quite a surprise for me that he chose to write on these topics in such a simplistic and inadequate manner - well, it's not a historical trait so some degree of fantasy and even mixing things a bit is, of course, tolerable but the book's extreme remoteness from the historicism is annoying for a person who knows some basics about those times. Maybe the author intended to combine some very interesting and deep reflections on historical materialism, pain and suffering (both physical and spiritual), betrayal and the contradiction between the duty and the sense of guilt and humaneness with such a vulgar simplifications and misrepresentations in order to make his novel (otherwise too abstruse, abstract and intellectually demanding for an average reader) more light-minded and easy-going or the obvious agitprop literature limitations (of which this book is a perfect example despite its depth and non-triviality) left their ugly traces but this creates a very mixed feeling. More detailed review to follow (as I don't want to sound proofless). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 2/16/2014

    " A great intellectual dialogue of conscience. Slow and deliberate pacing lends an intense thoughtfulness. So much to ruminate upon... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 2/15/2014

    " I found this story fascinating from the perspective of what I would do if I was in a similar situation. There was a great blend of present events with backstory that lead to those events. Finally, the ending was one of the best in its conveyance of a unique situation and conclusion to a good story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tombom P | 2/15/2014

    " The ending is kind of explicit about the moralising, but it still avoids easy answers and asks questions related to the actual Soviet experience that's far more realistic and interesting than 1984's "they just want power for the sake of it. bad people" thing. The conversations between Ivanov and Rubashov are pretty fascinating as elucidations of common guiding principles - both in the Soviet movement and outside of it - the problems with them re ideas of humanity and the problems with those ideas. The book also talks about the problems of collaboration and resistance. Not a perfect book but a step up from a lot of "dystopian" novels by focusing on real circumstances and reasons why people do things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 2/14/2014

    " Re-reading this book that I haven't opened since freshmen year of college. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Aitkenhead | 2/4/2014

    " This made a huge impact on me when I read it 20 years ago. I don't know how it would like it now, it has been interesting to read other people's reactions on this site. My memory of it makes it one of my favourites. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason Inman | 2/1/2014

    " The horrors of having what you believed in and helped build come back to end you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scottish Bob | 1/31/2014

    " Now this is real horror. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff | 1/27/2014

    " Bleak depiction of totalitarianism and the total control of individuals. Gripping. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 behemothing | 1/25/2014

    " i don't like this book as much as other people seem to (especially according to great book lists etc.) but i've enjoyed reading it so far. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andi | 1/24/2014

    " I really, really liked this book! I am a bit unsure of myself given that I liked it and its subject matter. Still a good read. For a full review please check out EMME Books Join us in our quest to read Modern Library's Top 100. (Yes it was a fit of insanity!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damian | 1/20/2014

    " A sad, haunting book about an early Bolshevik sitting in prison awaiting execution. A meditation on how the communist movement tore itself apart, and made abominations like Stalin inevitable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matchew McMatchew | 1/19/2014

    " Engrossing yet tedious in some areas. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Felicia | 1/13/2014

    " It got better as it went along, but it waxed a little too philosophical for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Harmon | 1/3/2014

    " This book is so bleak but so illustrative of how political machines can get out of control. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom | 1/2/2014

    " This pretty much just uses one character to make all the standard complaints about USSR style communism. It was alittle boring, and Animal Farm did it better and more subtly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brynn | 12/24/2013

    " A really good read. Gives an interesting insight on the intense Moscow Trials. Thank you, AP Euro for making me read this! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robbie | 12/23/2013

    " A superb novel which gives a deep and empathetic insight into the experiences of a high-profile victim of the Stalinist purges. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jun | 11/29/2013

    " Koestler brings memories of activist past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allen | 11/22/2013

    " Fascinating book about life in Stalinist Russia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rashid | 11/8/2013

    " Conspiracy.. and politic chess game. Must read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chas Bayfield | 10/5/2013

    " I really enjoyed this - a gripping account of Soviet incarceration. Now tempered of course with Koestler's unsavoury backstory. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacy | 10/1/2013

    " Interesting read. Slow start, but you get into it. The author leads you with just enough info to draw you into the story behind Rubashov (main character). It was also interesting to see the communism from an insiders point of view. I say read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brittany | 6/26/2013

    " A bit slow, turned out to be less than I thought it would be. Not something I would recommend unless you are interested in the subject matter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chuck Sheppard | 6/11/2013

    " This story bares some resemblance to 1984, although it lacks the love story of Winston and Julia. Just another wartime novel, nothing special but if you need something for a few afternoon hours, this can pass. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne Vanstone | 6/4/2013

    " Missed my stop on the tube because of this book and was quite pleased as I had to re-trace my journey and gave myself more time to read. "They are coming...they are coming for him..." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hoang | 5/13/2013

    " Read this for a "Political Disillusionment" class in college and loved it. Unfortunately, I didn't find his other books as good a read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Felicia | 12/26/2012

    " It got better as it went along, but it waxed a little too philosophical for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jun | 11/29/2012

    " Koestler brings memories of activist past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane | 11/28/2012

    " Fasinating portrayal of the trial and execution of a Communist for subversion in Stalinist Russia. Although the book is a work of fiction, it is also heavily influenced by real events. Particularly good is the portrayal of Communist interogation techniques. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Magee | 11/24/2012

    " Lived up to all the hype "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grig O' | 11/16/2012

    " sweeeeet. a must-read for any amateur leftie "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valerie Decastro | 7/13/2012

    " Just as the titles entails, dark. It was also witty at times. An incredible story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brandon | 5/12/2012

    " Parts of this book reminded me of "The Trial," "1984," and "Notes From the Underground." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Aitkenhead | 1/17/2012

    " This made a huge impact on me when I read it 20 years ago. I don't know how it would like it now, it has been interesting to read other people's reactions on this site. My memory of it makes it one of my favourites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah Kovacs | 1/3/2012

    " This classic book bears rereading or discovering. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pippa222 | 11/18/2011

    " Read in 1982. Thought it was extremely good but succinctly noted, 'a book that made me feel sick.' Knowing the truth and the fear. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 10/31/2011

    " Really Really moving book. Deep impression that has lasted many years. This is well worth the time spent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin Beck | 10/7/2011

    " I probably should have read this a little more closely. I just like the daily accounts of soviet prison life. but it went deep into the illogical ideology of soviet logic. And how the confession of one act lead them to follow your intentions and count it as a confession to a way bigger act. Oh well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian | 9/27/2011

    " read this shortly after ghost in the machine "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robbie | 9/25/2011

    " A superb novel which gives a deep and empathetic insight into the experiences of a high-profile victim of the Stalinist purges. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damian | 9/19/2011

    " A sad, haunting book about an early Bolshevik sitting in prison awaiting execution. A meditation on how the communist movement tore itself apart, and made abominations like Stalin inevitable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edward | 9/7/2011

    " Great book, if a little formulaic. Early propaganda....
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jscorse | 9/1/2011

    " Another probing examination of totalitarianism in all its depravity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grig | 8/9/2011

    " sweeeeet. a must-read for any amateur leftie "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 moceanu | 8/9/2011

    " Opened my eyes to some positive aspects of Stalinism, although I'm far from a Red Terror apologist. I feel the book would have worked better as a simple exchange of ideas, like in Plato's Dialogues, doing away with the setting and incessant wall-tapping. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fsiemsen | 8/8/2011

    " Fantastic! A glimpse into history when Stalin's Old Guard was replaced by the New. All the character names in the book are numbers (and guess who's #1 ;-)). One of the best endings ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam | 6/30/2011

    " Koestler provides a more realistic take on the same territory staked out by Kafka’s The Trial and Orwell’s 1984(which it influenced). Set in specific time and date, that of the 1930’s show trials of Stalinist Russia, though presented in a language that aims for a universal parable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erdem | 5/7/2011

    " Too didactic. The actual telling of the story seems secondary to the ideas - in which case, why write a story at all? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Connie | 5/5/2011

    " Terribly depressing. Could not finish this novel. I was having nightmares. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 4/23/2011

    " Maybe not for everyone, but definitely a great book club selection for those with a political bent. Endless hours of disussion on Koestler's character Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov's reflections and rationalizations for the crimes he has committeed for the Communist Party. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ke | 4/10/2011

    " The story is pretty good but I found it confusing at times. I wish the points of view were clearer.

    It surprised me that the neighbor didn't betray him.

    I wish there were more original images of women. And the story could have probably ended earlier. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 4/2/2011

    " This book is kind of spectacular. I simple but gorgeous exploration of human narrative, identity, subjectivity, and ideology. At the same time heart breaking and illuminating. Just beautifully wrought. "

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About the Author
Author Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler (1905–1983) was a Hungarian-British author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. In 1931 Koestler joined the Communist Party of Germany until, disillusioned by Stalinism, he resigned in 1938. A few years later, he published his novel Darkness at Noon, an anti-totalitarian work, which gained him international fame. Over the next forty-three years from his residence in Great Britain, Koestler espoused many political causes and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies, and essays. He was awarded the Sonning Prize for outstanding contribution to European culture and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

About the Narrator

Frank Muller (1951–2008) was an Audie and Earphones Award–winning narrator. A classically trained actor, Frank appeared on both television and the stage. His credits include Hamlet, The Crucible, The Taming of the Shrew, The Importance of Being Earnest, Law & Order, All My Children, and many, many more. In 1999 Frank was awarded the AudioFile Lifetime Achievement Award, the top honor in the audiobook community.