Best 1957 Adventures (2)

By: Joshua Glenn
July 16, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!


1957. Alistair MacLean’s WWII commando adventure The Guns of Navarone.

This was one of my favorite adventure novels, when I was a teenager; I’ve included it on my list of the 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time. New Zealand mountaineer Keith Mallory, American demolitions expert Dusty Miller, Greek resistance fighter Andrea, and two other commandos — a particularly satisfying example of the Argonaut Folly’s “crackerjack” sub-genre — are sent on a mission impossible. They must destroy an impregnable German fortress (on the fictitious Greek island of Navarone) that threatens Allied ships racing to the rescue of British soldiers trapped in the Aegean! Cliffs are scaled, storms are weathered, gun fights blaze — and if all this weren’t enough, there’s a trademark MacLean plot twist or three. Who among the commandos is a double agent? And which double agent is a triple agent?

Fun fact: Adapted as a perfectly good 1961 movie starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn; MacLean’s 1968 followup, Force 10 from Navarone, is a sequel to the movie, not the book. FWIW, the excellent 1965 song “The Guns of Navarone,” adapted from the movie’s theme by The Skatalites, is the best-selling ska single ever.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists