- Published: 2006
- Number of pages: 401 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 0.29 MB
- Authors: John le Carré
George Smiley’s deadly game Smiley and his people are facing a remarkable challenge: a mole—a Soviet double agent—who has burrowed his way in and up to the highest level of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of their vital operations and their best networks. The mole is one of their own kind. But who is it?
From the Publisher John Le Carre’s internationally famous hero, British Secret Service Agent George Smiley, has a world-class problem. He has discovered a mole–a Soviet double agent who has managed to burrow his way up to the highest level of British Intelligence. Under the direction of Karla, Smiley’s equivelent in the Soviet Union, the agent has already blown some of the most vital secret operations and most productive networks. Now-how can Smiley use a lifetime’s worth of espionage skills to ferret out a spy who posseses them as well? “A stunning story of espionage.”–The Wall Street Journal. “Le Carre is simply the world’s greatest fictional spymaster.”–Newsweek –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition. Review “The premier spy novelist of his time. Perhaps of all time.”—Time“A rattling good novel.”—San Francisco Chronicle“John le Carré is the great master of the spy story…the constant flow of emotion lifts him not only above all modern suspense novelists, but above most novelists now practicing.”—Financial Times“Stunning.”—Wall Street Journal –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ I’m a reasonably well-educated and worldly fellow, but from page one till the end I never had more than a thirty per cent idea about what was going on in this book. LeCarre throws us an array of nicknames, inside references, obtuse ironies and snotty quips that blurred the whole book for me. I finished it because I was damn-well going to finish it, not because I enjoyed it.Here’s what i know. A Brit spy or two was turned by the Soviets (or was it the Czechs?) This is bad. A Soviet spy or two was turned by the Brits. This is good. There was a guy in the middle. Somebody drank too much. They all drank too much. There was a private school and an odd teacher living in a trailer. Snide remarks were made. An awkward and unpopular student found a gun. Smiley sat in a grungy room and figured it all out. His wife cheated on him.
⭐ James Jesus Angleton, the legendary (and controversial) chief of CIA counterintelligence, described his work, borrowing a phrase from T. S. Eliot, as a “wilderness of mirrors.” In such a wilderness, it is difficult to discern between reality and reflection. Add the element of danger, and the wilderness induces paranoia in the viewer. The setting of John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is this wilderness of mirrors.The story takes place in 1973. It opens with Jim Prideaux, former British agent, being hired as a substitute teacher at a boys’ prep school. “Control” (head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6) has died, George Smiley (Control’s chief lieutenant) has been sacked, Operation Testify (Prideaux’s last op in Czechoslovakia) ended in abject failure, and “Circus” (MI6), has been reorganized under a new chief.Then, a British agent named Ricki Tarr comes across information that the Soviets are running a mole in the Circus, who is code-named “Gerald.” Oliver Lacon, the Civil Service officer responsible for MI6 oversight, approaches Smiley and asks him to investigate. As the novel unfolds, Smiley discovers that there is a mole, he is a double agent feeding the Circus bad Soviet intel, and he is responsible for blowing Prideaux’s op.It is a testament to John Le Carré’s skill as a writer that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a page-turner despite the fact that it contains so little action. Instead, the plot moves forward and the truth is revealed by means of conversations, flashbacks, and Smiley’s seemingly inexhaustible memory. Smiley walks us through the wilderness one mirror at a time until we see reality.Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the fifth of seven novels in which George Smiley plays a part and the first of Le Carré’s famed “Karla Trilogy,” in which Smiley matches wits with “Karla,” head of “Moscow Center” (the KGB). It is followed by The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. Of the five novels I have read so far, this and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (in which Smiley plays a small role) are the best.Interestingly, Le Carré is releasing what is billed as a new George Smiley novel in September. It’s called A Legacy of Spies, and I look forward to reading it after I finish this series.
⭐ “Tinker, Tailor…” is the fictionalized story of the Cambridge spies–notably Kim Philby. It’s a Cold War story that takes you back to the 1970s. This is the first of three novels that were later published as a trilogy. I reread this old classic after many years as part of a John Le Carré book course. We read it along with a biography of Kim Philby, the British mole who spied for the USSR while a member of MI6, the British intelligence service. The writing is on a very high level. George Smiley is the main character, who appears in a number of Le Carré novels. He is quintessentially English, modest, and retiring, but with a sizeable ego when it comes to intelligence work. Imagine Alec Guiness in the role, as he appeared in the BBC series, and you will get an accurate picture. There’s a bit of moderate, non-graphic violence, as well as allusions to moderate, non-graphic sex, and nothing in the way of profanity that I recall.There’s much debate about whether Le Carré (né David Cornwell) is a literary writer or just at the top of spy novelists. I believe he’s both. This novel, in particular, has a lot of biographical material, thinly disguised. I read a biography of Le Carré at the same time as the course. There are many parallels to Philby’s life, and much is taken from David Cornwell’s experience as a member of the two British Secret Service organizations, MI5 and MI6. You can easily see where some of the characters were drawn from. Not necessarily so blatant as to be actual profiles, but the similarities are obvious. Reportedly, Le Carré”s friends liked the idea of their names being used in his novels, or their serving as inspiration for a character.Highly recommended for those who like spy fiction and appreciate good writing.
⭐ Having watched the Alec Guinness mini-series twice, and the Gary Oldman film three times, and now reading this for the first time (I thought I had read it before and realized after the first chapter that I hadn’t), I have to say I like Le Carre more as theatrical drama than written word.Le Carre’s story is intricately plotted and smoothly paced. The story moves along even as the author emphasizes that true espionage work is painstaking and not particularly flashy. He does a great job of building the world of “the Circus” and “Moscow Central.”But, for whatever reason, Le Carre’s characters don’t come alive for me on the page. I found myself recalling how Guinness (or, a couple of times, Oldman) played a scene to give me the connection to the Smiley of the novel. I relied on my memory of Ian Richardson and Clive Owen to flesh out Bill Haydon . . . and so forth. I can’t put my finger on what it is about Le Carre’s writing that distances me from almost all of the characters; perhaps it’s because so much of the book is told from the perspective of Peter Guillam, who isn’t that interesting a character for me. But there is one character that really worked for me: Jim Prideaux, the British spy who is betrayed at the beginning of the book and whose loneliness and isolation is so painful. I felt his suspicion and sympathized with the hurt he must have felt, particularly as he faced the truth of what led to his being shot and captured. Ian Bannen’s and Mark Strong’s performances in the mini-series and film, respectively, are each quite vivid and effective, but I found that I didn’t need them in order to connect with the Jim on the page.
⭐ I read the first 3 or 4 chapters and was SO lost. I NEVER give up on a book (in the past) so I went to the beginning and started over. Still confused, just could not get interested. I knew my son-in-law had this book, as I had seen it in his home, so i asked him what he though of the book. He told me he had given up on it, though he doesn’t usually do that, as it was too confusing. I agreed and felt I had an excuse to forget about it…. and I did. I’ve read and enjoyed other “classics”, but this one…. not worth struggling with anymore.
⭐ ::a variant of this review appears on BookBub’s site::I bought this so I’d have it on my Kindle, having already read it several times in hardcover and paperback. It’s a Cold War-set classic, responsible for a great BBC Miniseries starring the late Sir Alec Guinness and Ian Richardson (also in the UK HOUSE OF CARDS) – and a somewhat less great feature film starring Gary Oldman and Benedict Cumberbatch.There’s a highly-placed “Mole” (traitor) in “The Circus” (MI-6), and the first secret investigation to flush him out ends with a seriously-injured agent in Soviet hands, an international scandal forcing out Circus Chief Control & his Deputy George Smiley and replacing him with glad-handing Conservative Percy Alleline, and the development of a suspiciously bountiful source inside Moscow code-named “Merlin”. Smiley is surreptitiously brought out of retirement when “Scalphunter” (field agents similar to, though far less heroic than, Ian Fleming’s 007!) Ricky Tarr pops up after being missing for several months with the story told him by a discontented female Soviet Agent, Irina, about a British Mole code-named “Gerald” whose intelligence is accorded VIP Treatment by the KGB’s 13th Directorate head, Karla….While there’s a lot of spy jargon thrown around In the book, ex-MI5/MI6 Agent John le Carre succeeds in making what it all means clear without resorting to infodumps. Smiley was his series character in his first several books – a middle-aged, unassuming, seemingly-weak spy who’s highly capable and possesses a powerful memory and a strong mind. The plot is devoted to betrayals both National (Gerald) and Personal (George’s faithless wife Ann’s affair with his colleague Bill Hayden, George’s protege Peter Guillum’s suspicions about his current girlfriend having another lover), and how they sometimes are the same – and sometimes not.A book worth reading, and owning – and if you can get the BBC Miniseries of TINKER, TAILOR… , absolutely worth watching.
⭐ The base for a British mini-series, and a more recent movie, this is probably the best of the John Le Carre British spy novels. I was reminded of John Le Carre’s books by his recent passing, he was an amazing writer even outside of spy genre, so I went back and am re-reading the George Smiley series. This book is nothing at all like the Ian Fleming James Bond novels, no fancy cars or gadgets, the fights in the George Smiley universe are fought at an intellectual level, intertwined with uncertainty and very British levels of manners, conventions, and classes. The protagonist does not really get the girl (at least in this novel), she factors in, but mostly he does not know where she is, and in fact has to puzzle that out as part of the plot. As such, the protagonist is someone that you can relate to, a more normal person, someone his bosses and co-workers take advantage of, even his tailor sees him coming. He is kind of down and out when the novel begins. Thus the novel is about his struggle to come back, to get to the truth, which while kicked off by a lucky event or two, is that made more challenging both by where he begins, but also having to discover truths about his life and the Service that he would really rather not have learned . His fight back is done intellectually. We all might all aspire to be as smart as George Smiley, but few of us are. And probably a lot of novelists aspire to write as well as John Le Carre, but very few are able to do it. If you read only one George Smiley or John Le Carre novel, this is the one to read.
⭐ It isn’t hyperbole to say that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the quintessential book of espionage. Told from the point-of-view of the main character George Smiley, John le Carre’s universe unfolds slowly as Smilely uses instinct, deduction, and trade-craft to unravel the book’s mystery. The level of jargon employed is high, but it serves its purpose of drawing you into this dark world. Once you’ve mastered all these subtle meanings, you feel as though you have earned a place at the table to hear the story.It is, perhaps, the antithesis of James Bond, as there is little flash, style, or ostentatious behavior, as the author uses the patience and, in some cases, the weaknesses of the characters to tell the story that was confined almost exclusively to the shadows. The story is gripping because it is plausible.Smiley’s world extends from this book, and I can’t wait to begin the next one.
⭐ John LeCarre is almost in a class of his own when it comes to writing spy novels. He was a spy himself, before turning to writing. Good writers write what they know. John LeCarre does just that. This novel is the first in a three part trilogy called the Karla Trilogy, where George Smiley is brought back from retirement to find a mole in the British Intelligence Service referred to as The Circus. What Smiley uncovers is that the mole is being run by Moscow’s mastermind known as Karla. I won’t go into the story itself. It’s a great novel filled with descriptions of real spy tradecraft, how spies really operate in their shadowy world. This book ranks right up there with my other favorite LeCarre novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, as probably the two best spy novels ever written.
⭐ The time is the early 1970’s and British intelligence has slowed to a crawl as the realization spreads they have been penetrated at a high level by a Russian spy. Many of the loyal members have been pushed out and one of those left is the mole. Led by George Smiley the ousted agents combine to ferret out the culprit. England was a grey and grim place back then and this book reflects that. Only le Carre’s writing saves this book from a time and place frankly not worth visiting. In later versions of his books the author has written thoughtful forwards reflecting on the ins and outs of that particular work. Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy seems to be his earliest book that le Carre does not seem faintly embarrassed by. One reason for that is that he has worked hard through a long career at improving his craft. His books preceding this have not aged well but from this one on I feel he has only gotten better with age until he has reached a point where he is arguably the finest living writer in his genre.
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