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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le…
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)

by John le Carré

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: George Smiley novels (5), The Karla Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,778160734 (4.03)401
  1. 30
    The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carré (longway)
  2. 21
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Setting the oeuvre.
  3. 00
    A Legacy of Spies: A Novel by John Le Carré (dajashby)
  4. 00
    Declare by Tim Powers (LamontCranston)
  5. 00
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (tandah)
    tandah: A different era, but similar pacing and sense of foreboding.
  6. 11
    The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: More perfect atmosphere.
  7. 11
    Game, Set & Match (Berlin Game ; Mexico Set ; London Match) by Len Deighton (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Another great trilogy.
  8. 12
    The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (wvlibrarydude)
  9. 28
    Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy (Hedgepeth)
    Hedgepeth: Red Rabbit is any early case in Jack Ryans career that is not as action driven as some of the other novels. It moves a little faster than Tinker, Tailor but should still appeal to those who appreciate a more methodical pace.
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» See also 401 mentions

English (150)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (160)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
George Smiley, retired Cold War spy, untangles the knot of betrayal and double-agency that got him "retired" in the first place: there's a mole at the very top.

Featuring old memories, delicate operations, random schoolboy interludes, interpersonal drama, and almost no on-screen action.

I saw the movie first, which was probably for the best; I'm not sure I could've followed it without the vague recollection of the major players. But I saw it long enough ago that it couldn't ruin anything really.

And the movie was quite faithful: not just to the plot, but to the mood, and how delicious every small moment was. Le Carré's writing is gorgeous, even when the plot is difficult to follow. I regulator found myself not sure what was happening on a page, but nevertheless enjoying each sentence.

I don't think I'll be recommending to people. Way too dry for a lot of people.

And of course now I'm watching the movie again. This time I think I'll actually know what's going on! It's practically fast, compared to the book. ( )
  Andibook | Apr 20, 2018 |
OMG I read a spy novel.

It was okay. I felt like this wasn't so much about spies as it was about very sad British people, who are either betrayers or the betrayed, and petty office politics where people turn up dead or tortured occasionally. Which, as a spy novel, is its own brilliance... making the anti-James Bond. So this anti-James Bond novel makes spycraft look like incredibly tedious work. Which is great in a way because it probably is (John Le Carre worked for British intelligence, so he'd know).

The problem for me is that I do not care at all about intelligence work. Do not care. The novel was well written though, and expertly put together. But it was like a puzzle that makes a picture I have no interest in, like cats or a cottage. Cats in a cottage! Or sad, betrayed British people in tedious jobs. ( )
1 vote Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
A good story, though it did run a bit dry at times. ( )
  JBD1 | Apr 5, 2018 |
"He would set up as a mild eccentric, discursive, withdrawn, but possessing one or two lovable habits such as muttering to himself as he bumbled along pavements. Out of date, perhaps, but who wasn't these days? Out of date, but loyal to his own time. At a certain moment, after all, every man chooses: will he go forward, will he go back? There was nothing dishonourable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one's own generation."

This is the fifth entry in John le Carré's George Smiley series - espionage books set during the Cold War. George Smiley is a member of the British Secret Intelligence. These books are fascinating and ring true because le Carré, whose real name is David Cornwall, also worked for the British Secret Intelligence. I am so glad that I had first watched the movie version of this which features Gary Oldman as Smiley - it is very well done, and having just seen it enabled me to follow the intricate plot so much better. The narration of the audiobook is by Michael Jayston, who does a fabulous job of it - he is such a good fit for these books. I also followed along in the print version in order to reread the complicated parts and to endeavor to keep all the characters straight. Definitely worth the extra effort - highly recommended if you like spy stories. ( )
  Crazymamie | Mar 24, 2018 |
"He would set up as a mild eccentric, discursive, withdrawn, but possessing one or two lovable habits such as muttering to himself as he bumbled along pavements. Out of date, perhaps, but who wasn't these days? Out of date, but loyal to his own time. At a certain moment, after all, every man chooses: will he go forward, will he go back? There was nothing dishonourable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one's own generation."

This is the fifth entry in John le Carré's George Smiley series - espionage books set during the Cold War. George Smiley is a member of the British Secret Intelligence. These books are fascinating and ring true because le Carré, whose real name is David Cornwall, also worked for the British Secret Intelligence. I am so glad that I had first watched the movie version of this which features Gary Oldman as Smiley - it is very well done, and having just seen it enabled me to follow the intricate plot so much better. The narration of the audiobook is by Michael Jayston, who does a fabulous job of it - he is such a good fit for these books. I also followed along in the print version in order to reread the complicated parts and to endeavor to keep all the characters straight. Definitely worth the extra effort - highly recommended if you like spy stories. ( )
  Crazymamie | Mar 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
10 of the Greatest Cold War Spy Novels
“Like Fleming, Le Carré (real name: David John Moore Cornwall) worked for British intelligence. But where Fleming used his WW 2 experiences as a springboard for fantasy, Le Carre turned his Cold War service into grimly realistic novels. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) trumped Deighton as a response to James Bond’s glamourous world of espionage, and he continues to turn out fine work to this day. Tinker charts the search for a Soviet mole in the upper echelons of British intelligence, providing Le Carré’s signature character – the low-key professional George Smiley – with a late-in-the-game chance to reclaim his standing in the Circus (MI6), made bittersweet by betrayal. A fine BBC serialization in 1974 was followed by an equally well-received feature-film version in 2011.”
 
Karla is finally lured across a Berlin bridge and into the West. But, again, what figure is cut by the evil mastermind when he appears? “He wore a grimy shirt and a black tie: he looked like a poor man going to the funeral of a friend.” Le Carré has never written a better sentence, one so impatient of ideology and so attentive to what he, following W. H. Auden, describes plainly as “the human situation.” The television series of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” has lost none of its grip, and the new film will recruit new friends to the cause; but if we seek George Smiley and his people, with their full complement of terrors, illusions, and shames, we should follow the example of the ever-retiring Smiley, and go back to our books. That’s the truth
added by John_Vaughan | editNew Yorker, Anthony Lane (Dec 14, 2011)
 
The power of the novel is that le Carré transfigured espionage – its techniques, failures and deceptions – into a rich metaphor combining national decay, the disintegration of certainties with advancing age, the impossibility of knowing another human being's mind, the fragility of all trust and loyalty.
added by thorold | editThe Observer, Neal Ascherson (Sep 11, 2011)
 
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is fluently written; it is full of vivid character sketches of secret agents and bureaucrats from all levels of British society , and the dialogue catches their voices well. The social and physical details of English life and the day to day activities of the intelligence service at home and abroad are convincing. Unlike many writers Le Carré is at his best showing men hard at work; he is fascinated by the office politics of the agency since the war.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Richard Locke (Jul 20, 1974)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John le Carréprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greenburger, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jayston, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laing, TimIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soellner, HeddaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soellner, RolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolfitt, AdamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Tinker,
Tailor,
Soldier,
Sailor,
Rich Man,
Poor Man,
Beggarman,
Thief.

Small children's fortune-telling rhyme used when counting cherry stones, waistcoat buttons, daisy petals, or the seeds of the Timothy grass.
- from the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
Dedication
For James Bennett and Dusty Rhodes in memory.
First words
The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn't dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood's at all.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Is he friend or foe?
Spying is no nurs'ry rhyme
Control suspects all
(pickupsticks)
Smiley and Control
Team up to capture the mole
Deep must they burrow
(pickupsticks)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743457900, 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.

A modern masterpiece in which le Carre expertly creates a total vision of a secret world, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" begins George Smiley's chess match of wills and wits with Karla, his Soviet counterpart.

It is now beyond doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:53 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

George Smiley, an agent at the very highest level of British Intelligence, enters the twilight world of espionage and his own past when he is assigned to discover which of his four closest colleagues is a double agent.

» see all 15 descriptions

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