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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le…
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (original 1974; edition 1974)

by John Le Carre

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,734130991 (4.03)338
Member:klobrien2
Title:Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Authors:John Le Carre
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1974), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 355 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
Tags:thrillers, espionage

Work details

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

Recently added bygodesslissa, private library, dibdab, E., supercoldd, SueB51, julienormal, lakeview1970, Thraxina
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» See also 338 mentions

English (120)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (129)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
George Smiley lives in a very scary world. Although he is a patriot, his is not a blind patriotism; he recognizes the world situation as complex and does the best he can as a spy and as a person. He tries to know his conscience and to act in accord with it. Smiley is also very good at what he does, and uses "gut feeling" successfully to inform his actions. Unfortunately, his gut feeling about the mole is hidden within the negative gut feeling that is based on other inappropriate behavior in which the mole is engaged. This was an interesting method of protecting the mole, since Smiley's skill set as a spy provided accurate gut feelings about a variety of situations. It is easy to see how one reaction could hide the feeling inspired something else. This is a unique exploration of intuition. Smiley is a truly enjoyable character. He makes mistakes sometimes and is not a stereotypical spy, and this book was quite engrossing. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 16, 2015 |
The best thing about this book is the rich atmosphere, which I have elsewhere read described as Tolkien-esque, thickly populated with towering, conflicted and secretive characters. The jargon of the British spy trade - "lamplighters," "product," "handwriting," "trade-craft," "hoods," "sound-thieves," etc etc, is both endless and a delight to chew on, like nuts from a bowl. This is one of those novels that respects you as a reader, takes your intelligence seriously by relying on your ability to make leaps of intuition over sensibly placed gaps in explanation (the movie pulled off this effect excellently also), and admits you to the inside of a story where professional intrigue and personal hopes and failures constantly bleed over into each other. The plot is intricate and satisfying at every stage, and ends in a lovely, strong mix of revelation and irreparable tragedy.

If I were to compare Le Carrè's book to any of the Jas. Bond series, the former would be like Sherlock Holmes and the latter more like the old Adam West version of Batman.

I saw the 2012 movie release of this book and then listened to the audiobook read in the tough, marble-smooth voice of Michael Jayston (who played Peter Guillam in the 1970s BBC production), and I can hardly imagine enjoying one without the other. They're both excellent. ( )
2 vote joeld | Aug 7, 2015 |
I read this book for the first time many many many years ago (My first Le Carre), and... I just didn't know authors could do that.

Le Carre is a gentle and empathic writer, and he makes you enjoy the slow turning of the pages. The read is hypnotizing, spell binding, it lulls you to sleep. Not to sleep. To transfer over. You can stop reading for a bit and just savor the scene he's put you in. If you saw it in real life, you'd recognize it immediately.

Spies, Schmies. This is a story about people, their insecurities, their internal demons and their struggle against the world. The human condition.

The character of George Smiley is unique, as he captains his ship-of-one across some of the most treacherous waters ever conceived...

It's an old trick of the trade, perhaps. Misdirection. The waters do not actually matter. There's very little "spy stuff" in TTSS. It is all about the people, and what makes them decide to wade into these waters, fully knowing that they might not come back ashore.

James Bond does it for the gals, for the cars, for the glory - and because he's invincible. But if you take all these things away, why would an intelligent person do this?

This is what I think Le Carre is fishing for in his Smiley novels. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
Slow to get moving, tough to follow the jargon and gives proof to fact that the British and the Americans are 2 people's separated by a common language. That said, it is what everyone says it is : a masterful spy story. ( )
  dham340 | May 10, 2015 |
Yes, but Kindle.
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (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 (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John le Carréprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Carre, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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.)
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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 8 descriptions)

British agent George Smiley hunts for a mole in the Secret Service and begins his epic game of international chess with his Soviet counterpart, an agent named Karla.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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