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Download The Thirty-Nine Steps Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Thirty-Nine Steps Audiobook, by John Buchan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 53.55 out of 5 3.55 (80 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Buchan Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Richard Hannay Series Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781455171033
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Perhaps more than any other book The Thirty-Nine Steps has set the pattern for the story of the chase for a wanted man. And, of the many writers who have attempted this kind of thing since Buchan, only a very few, like Graham Greene, have managed to sustain the tension in the same way. The story’s extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name.

The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan’s best-known thriller, introduces his most enduring hero, Richard Hannay—who, despite claiming to be an “ordinary fellow,” is caught up in a dangerous race against a plot to devastate the British war effort.

It begins calmly enough with a rather boring trip to London. Returning to his flat, Richard is shocked to find his neighbor dead on the floor with a knife in his back. Near the deceased is a small black notebook containing cryptic notes about the “thirty-nine steps” and a black stone. As the situation escalates, Hannay is mistaken for a secret agent by the police. Now he must run for his life across the Scottish highlands, thinking his way through narrow escapes while trying to decode the thirty-nine steps.

With wit and flair, this old-fashioned roller coaster ride offers soaring suspense with a comic touch.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It is the dimension of the mysterious that makes Buchan’s writing so unfailingly compelling.”

    John Keegan, author of A History of Warfare

  • “Frederick Davidson’s voice is properly sardonic, and his supercilious British articulation is just right. The story’s extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name.”

    AudioFile 

  • “It is just the kind of fiction for here. One wants something to engross the attention without tiring the mind. The story is greatly appreciated in the midst of mud and rain and shells, and all that could make trench life depressing.”

    An officer on the front in World War I

  • “Buchan’s technique as a writer is simple enough and well displayed in The Thirty-Nine Steps. He understood that in a thriller…what matters above all is to keep the reader focused on what is going to happen next…It doesn’t matter that the reader has no clue where he is being taken or, when he gets there, how the thing happened as it did. All that matters is that once you’ve started, you can’t put the book down.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “Buchan essentially invented the espionage novel with his Richard Hannay yarns.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Texaskcr | 2/20/2014

    " Fantstic and really holds up- considering it was written so long ago. One can see the influence it has had over the mystery genre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tanya | 2/18/2014

    " A little hard to read at times, with 1915 British slang, but good story! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kassandra | 2/15/2014

    " Sometime earlier this year I was watching BBC, which is a PBS production network that specializes in period dramas and they were airing a mini series called The 39 Steps.Right after watching the mini drama I did some research on the actual book since I completely relished the drama.Form then on I have been reading Richard Hannay's journey. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa Page | 2/12/2014

    " Exciting for those who enjoy Hitchcock and espionage! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hil | 2/8/2014

    " I was a bit disappointed with this to be honest. I grew up with the 1978 film with Robert Powell, and I don't mind that the plot is different, but it just wasn't as exciting either, and also rather confusing for my poor tiny brain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan | 2/4/2014

    " The thirty nine steps has a remarkably unbelievable plot with a lot of deus ex machina. And yet the book is a classic because despite all the unbelievable elements it succeeds. Some critical readers may miss the brilliance of this novel due to their pedantic and uppish views. Such brilliance is that it successfully with few words creates a narrative that serves the purpose of any good novel. And that is to engage the reader with a story, no matter how unbelievable. Who cares how believable the story is so long as one is engaged in another world? That is what this tale does engages the reader and allows them entry into another world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lorraine | 2/4/2014

    " I wanted to read this book as I had heard it was different from every movie version I've seen - and it certainly is! There's no handcuffed girl being dragged to a hotel, there's no girls in this book at all! It's just John Hannay spending a month travelling around Scotland by train, car, bike and on foot trying to learn the truth about the allegations made by Spanner or Spinner, the man was is later found murdered in his apartment. This book was written prior to WWI. It's not as easy read as the terms used are a little dated from modern usage. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jayne Charles | 1/25/2014

    " This book got me thinking about the way technology has developed over the years - to such a degree that a story like this could not really happen in the modern age. The main character would have been caught on so many CCTV cameras, and mobile phones would have been buzzing..... Not having modern communications made it possible to have chase stories like this, and whilst it's probably a bit far fetched even still it's all good fun. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristen | 1/25/2014

    " I enjoyed the play more (seeing it vs reading the story) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex Tilley | 1/24/2014

    " A jolly fine romp old chap...! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J.M. | 1/23/2014

    " A LOT of fun, this classic spy story is a fast-paced adventure that never lets up. The hero's ability to blend into the landscape and transform himself into other personas as he avoids the bad guys is fascinating. A first class adventure story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 1/21/2014

    " an old story. a movie. and still a good mystery story. b j harrison reading. excellent job. totally enjoyed this short fiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara Roden | 1/20/2014

    " One of the grand-daddies of the spy thriller genre, and still one of the best. One day someone will actually film the novel without taking too many liberties, but until that day my favourite version is still the 1979 one with Robert Powell and David Warner. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Simone Ramone | 1/18/2014

    " So dated and yet still enjoyable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louise | 1/15/2014

    " This is my favourite book in the world. A Must read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaylee | 1/12/2014

    " Found out about this book after seeing the Hitchcock film (which can be downloaded from archive.org). The writing style definitely dates the book, but it is short and fast-paced. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron Lamb | 1/8/2014

    " Great murder mystery/detective caper. Exciting and short, perfect for a sunny afternoon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 1/8/2014

    " I did enjoy this book but I was left wondering what the plan was that set to destroy England. To me, it was clear. The narrative was engaging if a little unbelievable. Can't wait to watch the films to see how it was interpreted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Everett Darling | 1/2/2014

    " Despite an uncanny amount of spelling errors sloshed all over my edition, I found this an extremely good read. Hannay is a working-class concoction of two parts Bond and three parts Poirot dashed with some vulnerability, adding a tangibility to his escapades. Conversely, the story lacks a grain or so of plausibility at times, but much less so than in either Christie's or Flemming's far-fetched capers. If you like Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, 39 steps is required reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurie | 1/2/2014

    " Although the overarching structure is the same, and so are the protagonist and a few of the incidents, this is pretty astonishingly different from both the Hitchcock film and the recent Masterpiece adaptation. There is no silly love interest subplot at all (thank goodness). Not surprisingly, I found the film superior in creating suspense. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barry Tomsett | 12/15/2013

    " one of the best thrillers i have ever read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trina | 12/8/2013

    " Hair-raising adventure from back in the day. Holds up well. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charlie Flannelly | 12/6/2013

    " Pretty dull, on the whole. I saw the movie first, though, which I usually try to avoid, so as to not have preconcieved notions. In this case I didn't even know there was a book, so it wasn't completely intentional. Still, the movie was much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Toni | 12/3/2013

    " A fun, if somewhat silly, book written in 1915. It's a great period piece of the spy/espionage genre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dune Elliot | 11/17/2013

    " I have not actually read this book, but I have seen it put into a play. My mother was skeptical about how this story could be put on stage, but after having seen it, it was very well done. I loved the story and think that the intrigue involved was very thought out; highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aimee | 11/16/2013

    " Good spy book, short and sweet and enjoyable with great description of scotland countryside...definitly worth a read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul David Krishnan | 11/13/2013

    " I thought this was rather well written. Perhaps because I've read quite a bit of Sherlock Holmes, I was not very impressed with the way the book went but still an interesting read. Will attempt to read the entire Hannay series "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 11/11/2013

    " Enjoyable mystery thriller that takes place in the early 1900's "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jihyang Kim | 10/21/2013

    " This book is are really interasting. the story started with main charactor were bored. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moose | 10/21/2013

    " Really enjoyed this - while some holes in the plot, some references which clearly indicate that it is definitely of it's age, and a good amount of unfeasability, nonetheless it had me turning each page in order to find out what happens. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roxane | 8/8/2013

    " The first of the Richard Hannay books - great read, great fun! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike Mikos | 7/19/2013

    " Early spy thriller. The problem is most of the book describes a chase of the hero across the moors of Scotland and very little about the foreign plot he's trying to stop.It's a fast read and the beginning is a good hook. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 7/5/2013

    " Loved it. I had seen the BBC movie and really wanted to read the book. I enjoyed the book. A quick read with a good mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fuggle91 | 6/9/2013

    " I suppose this was once considered 'a mans book'but I love the 'lose yourself' pacy adventure, the tension and the twists. John Buchans' books generaly are quite enjoyable and exciting, though very archaic in style. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robin | 6/6/2013

    " Hannay is insufferable, but don't let this lightweight story prevent you from viewing the Hitchcock retelling. One of those rare instances when the movie outshines the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamaki | 1/27/2013

    " It was one of the most amazing and thrilling books I have ever read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel Alders | 10/22/2012

    " Buchan is fantastic. Re-reading the first two adventures of Richard Hannay before I get into The Three Hostages and Mr. Standfast. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leigh Mann | 9/28/2012

    " I bought this book when I saw the play on Broadway several years ago. It is a fast and active read, fun and well written. I'd like to read more by Buchan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg Bailey | 9/19/2012

    " Second read. Didn't enjoy it quite as much. Interesting but not as suspenseful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Simone | 8/29/2012

    " What an adventure, I could not put this down...John Buchan has quite an imagination. This was truly a hidden gem! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dominick | 8/16/2012

    " This is a highly-regarded proto-thriller about a guy who through happenstance gets tied up in an elaborate plot to steal defence secrets from England. It depends very heavily on coincidences, too many really to seem anything other than desperate. I'd say this one hasn't aged well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marie Keys | 8/16/2012

    " good thriller. Not my usual genre but I enjoyed this. The protagonist is a good character. I liked the Hitchcock movie adaptation as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian Simpson | 6/10/2012

    " When I re-read this classic last year I was disappointed. Hannay's adventures were much tamer than those he was given in the film and the ending felt flat. It seemed very dated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh Davidson | 5/6/2012

    " Fun fast read...more of a 7 out of 10 but enjoyed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sydney | 5/6/2012

    " For its genre, it's a great romp. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 8/15/2011

    " an old story. a movie. and still a good mystery story. b j harrison reading. excellent job. totally enjoyed this short fiction. "

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

    " Interested book that the Hitchcock movie of the same name was made from. Buchan writes a good thriller. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frances Redhead | 7/4/2011

    " Well, at least it was short! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danielroffle | 5/20/2011

    " Yeah it's a bit repetitive, but it did introduce the expression "my hat!" as a sign of amazement to my vocabulary, and there are plenty of lolsome Dreaded Hun moments too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gordon | 5/14/2011

    " A short novel from a best-selling author of espionage novels. The story takes place right before World War I. It was adapted into a famous Alfred Hitchcock movie from 1935, but the story is quite different. Utterly unbelievable, but quite entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan | 5/14/2011

    " Fun adventure book suggested to me by a bookstore clerk in Antigua. Good break-up between some more serious reads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Simon | 5/9/2011

    " It’s not high literature – but, by George, it’s entertaining! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Simone | 5/2/2011

    " So dated and yet still enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 4/16/2011

    " Loved it. I had seen the BBC movie and really wanted to read the book. I enjoyed the book. A quick read with a good mystery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 4/9/2011

    " Pretty dull, on the whole. I saw the movie first, though, which I usually try to avoid, so as to not have preconcieved notions. In this case I didn't even know there was a book, so it wasn't completely intentional. Still, the movie was much better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abeer | 4/8/2011

    " i read this book when i was in the 7th grade, i really liked it and read it several times it talks about the adventures of Richard Hanny the book is so lovely and interesting

    "

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About the Author
Author John Buchan

John Buchan (1875–1940) was educated at Glasgow University and Brasenose College, Oxford. He became a barrister, Member of Parliament, soldier, publisher, and Governor-General of Canada. Of the over one hundred books he published during his lifetime, he is best remembered for his adventure and spy stories, especially The Thirty-Nine Steps, which was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock.

About the Narrator

Frederick Davidson (1932–2005), also known as David Case, was one of the most prolific readers in the audiobook industry, recording more than eight hundred audiobooks in his lifetime, including over two hundred for Blackstone Audio. Born in London, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and performed for many years in radio plays for the British Broadcasting Company before coming to America in 1976. He received AudioFile’s Golden Voice Award and numerous Earphones Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for his readings.