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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (original 1974; edition 1974)

by John Le Carre

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,143143869 (4.02)354
Title:Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Authors:John Le Carre
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1974), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 355 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:thrillers, espionage

Work details

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

  1. 30
    The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carré (longway)
  2. 00
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (tandah)
    tandah: A different era, but similar pacing and sense of foreboding.
  3. 00
    Declare by Tim Powers (LamontCranston)
  4. 11
    The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: More perfect atmosphere.
  5. 11
    Game, Set & Match (Berlin Game ; Mexico Set ; London Match) by Len Deighton (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Another great trilogy.
  6. 11
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Setting the oeuvre.
  7. 12
    The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (wvlibrarydude)
  8. 18
    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 354 mentions

English (134)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I really like spy novels, but they take a long time for me to read for some reason. While I can read other books in a few days or less, spy novels take me a while to get through. I like to process them slower and really understand all the different threads going on.

This was, no lie, one of the best spy novels I've read. I loved all the different people and all the different agendas going on throughout the novel. It was a slowly unfolding mystery and i loved every second of it! ( )
  Sarah_Buckley | Sep 17, 2016 |
Don't expect an action-packed book but the unraveling of the mole is still a masterpiece. ( )
  siok | Sep 4, 2016 |
Brilliant slow paced and methodical spy thriller. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jul 25, 2016 |
My reading was often interrupted and for short bursts which made it difficult at times to follow the characters and the action. For the last 1/3, I was able to read more consistently and really began to appreciate the fuss made over this book. It's not about solving the mystery as much as it is about describing the people and places of espionage. The characters are memorable and it is interesting to learn what Cold War spy games consisted of- drop boxes and microfilm, double and triple agents, and a lot of running around to make everyone feel like something was really happening when oftentimes not much was. I liked it! ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Read this after watching the Alec Guinness BBC bit. Woweeee. How is this the first thing I've ever read by this man? ( )
  BooksForDinner | Apr 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (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
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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Rich Man,
Poor Man,

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
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Is he friend or foe?
Spying is no nurs'ry rhyme
Control suspects all
Smiley and Control
Team up to capture the mole
Deep must they burrow

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)

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 12 descriptions

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