Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The honourable schoolboy by John Le Carré

The honourable schoolboy (original 1977; edition 1979)

by John Le Carré

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,608412,296 (3.81)131
Title:The honourable schoolboy
Authors:John Le Carré (Author)
Info:London : Pan Books, 1979. Paperback.
Collections:LT connections, Read but unowned
Tags:20th century, Cold War, crime, England, espionage, fiction, Hong Kong, London, mystery, novel, paperback, series, spy, suspense, thriller, UK, UK author

Work details

The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré (1977)

Recently added byRose_F, dcunning11235, EJanega, valdawn, private library, thebopple, CandaceVan

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 131 mentions

English (38)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Too many details, the plot is too slow-moving. ( )
  siok | Sep 4, 2016 |
The second in the Karla trilogy, continues the le Carré themes of how hard this life is on agents and the behind the scenes machinations. ( )
  kale.dyer | Aug 2, 2016 |
I'll say my least favorite Le Carre so far (number 5 I believe), but still good. Great talent for description and setting... great at not over-doing written accents... there are points it dragged a bit I thought... It could have been 500 instead of 600 pages and we all would have been fine I think... Still, I just read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, so I'm a little spoiled... think it will be a bit before I finish the trilogy and read Smiley's People. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 21, 2016 |
Pretty good read. Not as good as Soldier-Sailor, the quintessential Le Carre. The plot was more Hollywood than is usual with this author. ( )
  clarkland | Aug 13, 2015 |
At first I hated it, then loved it, then by the time I was done I was somewhat disgusted with it again.

For starters, whereas Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy treats you like a grown-up, The Honourable Schoolboy (THS) starts off sounding very much like a Nancy Drew sequel -- patiently laying out plain explanations for every term of likeable Circus jargon (and making it seem rather flat and lifeless in the process), as well as offering facile re-introductions for all the characters.

Things really get underway in the middle, but the plot has a much lower "thread count" than does Tinker Tailor, and there really aren't many surprises in it. The narrative is good but whenever it gets close to Smiley and the Circus, it suddenly gets much more hurried and caricatured. I later read that Le Carre was afterwards in doubt about whether he should have included Smiley at all since he felt people were getting needlessly distracted from the "real story" around Jerry Westerby -- which explains his seeming impatience and lack of attention when writing those scenes.

The summary of this book would give you to understand that this is the book where Smiley "gets revenge" on Karla. In fact, Karla barely figures at all except as a name, and Smiley ends the book having achieved precisely nothing. After all is said and done, all the good people are out on their ear again and the world moves on indifferently. The people who "won" succeed by stealing successes worked for by others, and the only other lingering feeling about the success of the main operation was how tragic it truly was for its targets, and for the main character, Jerry. This pretty much destroys the book's enjoyability for me; it ultimately doesn't develop the story or the characters of the previous book: it spins their wheels before leaving them in the ditch.

The scenes set in the Orient and in the warfare in Cambodia were interesting and vivid. I can bring myself to enjoy this book if I'm looking for a sequel to Joseph Conrad's dank and unquiet "Heart of Darkness", but not if I'm looking for more of what I loved in Tinker, Tailor. ( )
  joeld | Aug 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A retired missionary and his daughter, a Hong Kong policeman, an Italian orphan, an English schoolmaster, an American narcotics agent, a slovenly Kremlinologist, a mad bodyguard, the quite splendid Craw -- all are burned on the brain of the reader. If they are not marooned in loneliness, their cynicism corrodes or they go blank when there are no explanations, only helicopters. Loneliness, in fact, rather than betrayal, is the leitmotif. It is the leper's bell around their necks. They have only themselves to be true to, and they are no longer sure who they are. Not a page of this book is without intelligence and grace. Not a page fails to suggest that we carry around with us our own built-in heart of darkness.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, John Leonard (Jul 20, 1977)

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laing, TimIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nousiainen, JussiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soellner, HeddaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soellner, RolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
-W.H. Auden
For Jane, who bore the brunt, put with my presence and absence alike, and made it all possible.
First words
Afterwards, in the dusty little corners where London's secret servants drink together, there was argument about where the Dolphin case history should really begin.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description

1. How the Circus Left Town

2. The Great Call

3. Mr. George Smiley’s Horse

4. The Castle Wakes

5. A Walk in the Park

6. The Burning of Frost

7. More About Horses

8. The Barons Confer

9. Craw’s Little Ship

10. Tea and Sympathy

11. Shanghai Express

12. The Resurrection of Ricardo


13. Lies

14. The Eighth Day

15. Siege Town

16. Friends of Charlie Marshall

17. Ricardo

18. The River Bend

19. Golden Thread

20. Liese’s Lover

21. Nelson

22. Born Again
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743457919, Paperback)

John le Carre's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him -- and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

In this classic masterwork, le Carre expands upon his extraordinary vision of a secret world as George Smiley goes on the attack.

In the wake of a demoralizing infiltration by a Soviet double agent, Smiley has been made ringmaster of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service). Determined to restore the organization's health and reputation, and bent on revenge, Smiley thrusts his own handpicked operative into action. Jerry Westerby, "The Honourable Schoolboy," is dispatched to the Far East. A burial ground of French, British, and American colonial cultures, the region is a fabled testing ground of patriotic allegiances?and a new showdown is about to begin.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In an attempt to recover from the devastating effects of having uncovered a double agent in a high position in its organization, the British Secret Service carries out an elaborate espionage scheme in the Far East.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
42 avail.
25 wanted
5 pay12 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.81)
1 4
1.5 2
2 22
2.5 6
3 117
3.5 45
4 199
4.5 18
5 103


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,764,798 books! | Top bar: Always visible