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Absolute Friends by John le Carre

Absolute Friends (original 2003; edition 2004)

by John le Carre

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2,110443,114 (3.47)45
Title:Absolute Friends
Authors:John le Carre
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2004), Hardcover, 672 pages
Collections:Your library

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Absolute Friends by John le Carré (2003)



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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Writers must HATE to always be evaluated in terms of other authors (but according to Bloom that is what the great ones do to themselves as a matter of course). Conrad's influence is always present in Le Carre's novels. Thank God. Le Carre writes moral tales--shelved with the spy novels--on a par with Lord Jim. But the shadow of Dickens, always present, has loomed ever larger in Le Carre's works. This results in absolutely amusing scenes that are simultaneously biting, scathing. But taken too far this does affect the pace of the work. This is a difficult balancing act that I think Le Carre loses in some of the later works--but never completely for me.

I am a fan, Period. Even when I give something of Le Carre's 3 stars, I would rather have read it than not and it is probably a better read than 99 out of 100 other books I could be reading at that point. Unfortunately, Le Carre gets pitted against himself when I award the stars. And he is himself always a tough act to follow. ( )
  tsgood | Jun 9, 2016 |
Although I have been what I describe as a "serious reader" for nearly sixty years, "Absolute Friends" was my introduction to LeCarre'. Naturally, I was familiar with his work, but for whatever reasons, had not read anything he had penned. Having found a hardcover copy for $1. at a roadside bookstore, I decided I would delve in, with the thought "What the Hell, never too late". In retrospect I wish I had passed on what I thought to be a bargain for the "master's work". Prompted by a personal commitment I made decades ago to give the writer the benefit of the doubt, typically until the very last word, I forced myself to complete what was, in toto, a miserable chore. Thinking I was going to read a fine piece by a supposed master of the spy genre, I found myself suffering through a disjointed narrative where it was often difficult to distinguish between the thoughts of the main characters and the relentless political ranting of the author. Reading this book is akin to eating cardboard, the taste is bad and worse, there is little in it to satisfy the appetite. ( )
  MikeBruscellSr | Nov 8, 2015 |
I'm of two minds on this. Mostly, I really loved it. It is powerfully written and the main characters are interesting. They are very real and flawed and so much more interesting because I want them to have something good happen to them, despite all thier flaws. That is where I am mixed. I expected something like the ending but it still left me feeling like I was listening to the news; depressed and helpless. Oh, and bitter. LeCarre is always good at the moral universe inhabited by spies but here he really extends the cynical outlook and makes a much more worldly statement about ulterior motives and double dealings, etc. I agree with him more than I can state but it does make me feel very sad and down when the novel ends. I can't say that is a bad thing but I think I'm going to read something more cheerful next.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Two completely different characters meet become firm friends, fall out, reappear in each others lives through several decades and they're always in the core of the Cold War spy game. Through that period their personalities are well described and believable. However that does not hold in the post-Soviet era when they are again at opposite ends of the spectrum of political certainties: Somehow, and this is never explained the 2 are selected for their roles of a lifetime to inadvertently justify Neo-con terror in response to Fundamentalist terror that enables the great Pentagon war machine and their greedy side-kicks the Armaments industry and Washington Political power-brokers to have their gory way in Iraq (?). At least I think that was the intended fictional expose within this narrative: Unfortunately the plot is stymied by only the 2 characters really having any productive direction and input: thus, when in the last chapters suddenly an omniscient chap turns up who dupes both into that 'role' he has so little depth of character and background to his remarkable position it is quite incredible to believe the 2 fell for his act. A failure of narrative that in turn makes the end to this story so implausible I guess Le Carre just got tired and wanted it over with. ( )
1 vote tommi180744 | Apr 29, 2014 |
Le Carre books are almost a genre unto themselves these days, and like any genre, they can be a bit hit and miss. Absolute Friends is reasonably good, but it does suffer a little from flab and slight indulgence.

Teddy has come a long way from his activist student days in Berlin, however his friend Sasha is a presence that haunts him through the decades, and he guides Teddy into the ethical morass of intelligence work.

I think Le Carre is often under-rated as a stylist, in part because he's so readable and prolific, but for me the most enjoyable component of Absolute Friends was the prose. Sharp and observant, his writing is also veined with lyricism, and the elegiac, weary tone is just perfect for the story.

In terms of narrative, this is not the cracking pace that some of his other novels are - though the final quarter races by. Covering so many decades via a flashback felt a little meandering at times, and though I was enjoying the characters and their situations, the through-line was hard to trace. I wasn't sure *why* I was reading so much history.

Ultimately that history is a form of characterisation, not just of Teddy and Sasha but the developing - or rather devolving - intelligence community. Absolute Friends marked the first "hard left" turn that Le Carre took and in that context I can see why it was so bracing at the time. Five books later, and the tune is a little familiar, as are the characters, the arc they describe and the conclusion - which was a little too pat and just-so for me.

Though I agree with Le Carre on a political level, I do find his latter novels can lack the subtlety of some of his earlier work, the point is really rammed home and it's a bit of a shame as his characters are so life-like and prose so modulated.

For all that, it's still an enjoyable book. Not the best place to start on Le Carre, but by this stage, I can't imagine there are too many readers who haven't read at least one of this books. ( )
  patrickgarson | Sep 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
In this book John le Carré, the pro's pro, seems determined to resume his own apprenticeship as a writer, to shuck off the last stubborn vestiges of public-school cleverness. The rant at the end of the book is the proof. He does the most un-English thing imaginable: he loses his head while all about him are keeping theirs.
Una nueva muestra del mejor le Carré, en forma de salvaje fábula sobre la hipocresía de la política, aunque no exenta de ternura, y a la vez un canto a la amistad que sobrevive en un mundo despersonalizado y sin rumbo. Con su habitual maestría, le Carré relata la historia de dos amigos a lo largo de cincuenta y seis años: Ted Mundy, hijo de un militar británico, y Sasha, hijo de un pastor luterano proveniente de la Alemania del Este. Ambos estudian en Berlín Oeste y se reencontrarán primero en la guerra fría y años más tarde en un mundo amenazado por el terrorismo y sojuzgado por la política americana de la guerra global.
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On the day his destiny returned to claim him, Ted Mundy was sporting a bowler hat and balancing on a soapbox in one of Mad King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316000647, Hardcover)

This epic tale of loyalty and betrayal spans the lives of two friends from the riot-torn West Berlin of the 1960s to the grimy looking-glass of Cold War Europe to the present day of terrorism and new alliances. This is the novel le Carr fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:35 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Follows friends and fellow ex-spies, Ted Mundy and Sasha, as they attempt to change their lives and the world in which they live, covering their new escapades in Germany and the ones from their past.

(summary from another edition)

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