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The Man Who Was Thursday
By G. K. Chesterton

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The Man Who Was Thursday

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The Man Who Was Thursday
By G. K. Chesterton
Dover Large Print Classics, (2002)
ISBN: 0-486-42250-X
Genre: Literature

Reviewed by Fritz du Trey - November 28, 2002

Gilbert Keith Chesterton's tale, The Man Who Was Thursday is an intriguing story about a group of anarchists and one man's endeavor to uncover their nefarious plot. Part mystery and part social commentary, this is a delightfully funny foray into turn of the century (19th) London that is as relevant today as it was in 1908, when it was first published.

In this tale, the anarchists hide in plain sight by proclaiming to all that they are anarchists, under the assumption that no one would believe them. Into this mix is thrown Gabriel Syme, a policeman with a poetic bent. Upon discovering that his fellow poet, Lucian Gregory, is an anarchist, he is faced with the dilemma of not being able to turn him in because he had promised not to. A conundrum that is also faced by Gregory who, after introducing Syme to his fellow anarchist is unable to warn his fellow 'club' members that they have a policeman in their midst - for being an honorable, although ruthless man, would rather lose his life than break an oath.

Events in this topsy-turvy novel take Syme into their power and propel him headlong down a road, and into a role, he is neither prepared to accept or qualified to hold. In short, Syme becomes 'Thursday', one of the seven men who comprise the Central European Council. It is this council that directs the anarchist scattered throughout Europe. Little by little, Syme tries to figure out a way of destroying the very institution that he now finds himself embroiled in - without breaking his oath, and without losing his life. When 'Sunday' the head of the council declares that he has proof that they have a spy in their midst, Syme is sure that his number is up...

Along the way, Chesterton introduces us the predecessor of the modern car chases - in this case they are carried out on elephants and via hot-air balloons! And, like any modern action tale, there is a fair number of explosions, gun play, near misses, and heart pounding moments when the reader is nearly forced to give up all hope of the hero surviving the peril du-jour that he is facing.

Bizarre, hilarious, and a real page turner, this is one of those books to add to your list of books to have with you should you ever be stranded on a desert island, for with every reading you will ferret out more elements of the mystery, as well as the nuances of Chesterton's social and political commentaries that run as an unobtrusive commentary throughout this unique and deceptively complex novel.


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