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Landmark: The Thirty-Nine Steps and World War I

Matthew Sweet explores representations of World War I, empire and adventure in John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

The Thirty-Nine Steps first appeared in Blackwoods Magazine in August and September 1915 and depicts Europe on the edge of war in May and June 1914. It quickly became popular reading in the trenches and on the home front, and nearly a hundred years and three film adaptations later, its popularity is enduring.

In a special edition of Free Thinking, Matthew Sweet talks to Buchan's biographer Andrew Lownie and Buchan scholars Dr Michael Redley and Dr Kate Macdonald about the connections between Buchan's own war experience and The Thirty-Nine Steps, and to Professors Elleke Boehmer and Terence Ranger about how ideas about empire and adventure play out in the novel.

First broadcast 24/06/2014

You can download this programme by searching in the Arts and Ideas podcasts for the broadcast date.

Available now

45 minutes


Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Sweet
Interviewed Guest Andrew Lownie
Interviewed Guest Michael Redley
Interviewed Guest Kate Macdonald
Interviewed Guest Elleke Boehmer
Interviewed Guest Terence Ranger
Producer Laura Thomas


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