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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le…

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

by John Le Carre

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4,7121271,000 (4.02)338
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
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  3. 00
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  4. 11
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    John_Vaughan: More perfect atmosphere.
  5. 11
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    John_Vaughan: Another great trilogy.
  6. 11
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    John_Vaughan: Setting the oeuvre.
  7. 12
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  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 338 mentions

English (118)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
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 |
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the fifth spy novel by John LeCarre that features George Smiley as the chief protagonist. Smiley is an overweight, somewhat disheveled middle-aged man whose appearance belies a keen intelligence. This book is the first in which we hear about Karla, the ultimate Russian spy master and the head of “Moscow Center,” the Soviet secret service.

As is typical of LeCarre’s spy novels, the background is furnished in flashbacks. The story line is convoluted, but no more complex than the fictional labyrinthine scheme concocted by Karla to plant a “mole” in the highest echelons of the British security apparatus. And indeed, Karla’s ultimate target is not the British, but the Americans, with whom he anticipates the British will communicate clandestinely.

The book was made into an exceptionally good movie starring Gary Oldman as Smiley and featuring Colin Firth. In the end, the mole is discovered through Smiley’s painstakingly clever investigation in which he unravels Karla’s serpentine maze.

LeCarre is a master of his craft and this is one of his best. As with his other novels, the writing is very literate even though he employs a great deal of spy jargon that sounds very realistic, but which the author himself made up. I listened to the audio version, read superbly by Michael Jayston, who imparts to each main character an individual and easily recognized voice. He is particularly good a vocalizing the Scottish brogue of Percy Alleline. I highly recommend either the audio or print version of this book.

(JAB) ( )
1 vote nbmars | Jan 17, 2015 |
I enjoyed the style of the thing, and the interrogation scenes, but I had a couple of reservations with it. The identity of the mole is foreshadowed by story-logic, which seems like an unnecessary concession to dramatic convention in a plot that otherwise seemed to embrace the untidiness and false trails of real life. Also, while I understand the ending was intentionally presented anti-climactically for style reasons, I felt like Carre should have gone into a little more detail to show how the mole's identity had been proven, because the way it read to me, was that the final event just gave one more piece of circumstantial evidence (even though it was clear he was the mole from clues earlier in the book). ( )
  jhudsui | Jan 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (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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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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