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A Small Town in Germany by John le Carré

A Small Town in Germany (1968)

by John le Carré

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1,531297,347 (3.64)27

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A better Le Carre book. A good read with interesting observations of Germans in post WW2 era. Interesting observations of English embassy staff office politics. Interesting observations of English empire costs including the Army on the Rhine. Populism is a major element in this story. ( )
  spycaperbanks | Jun 2, 2019 |
This is apparently one of le Carre's less admired novels, which surprises me because I thought it was excellent. There are a few sections of speechifying which stop the story in its tracks, as well as a couple of instances where the prose becomes too self-consciously literary. But for the most part this is a tightly written, sharply observed, and utterly engrossing novel. It's a spy novel, in the sense that there are spies, but it's really a political novel. The "small town in Germany" is Bonn, the capital of West Germany, and the story of the disappearance of Embassy functionary Leo Harting is set in the "near future" when joining the Common Market was still an ongoing process. Britain hasn't reconciled itself to its diminished role in the world, and le Carre describes the pomposity of the diplomatic classes with great acerbity.

The twin challenges of a populist German activist and political hopeful pushing for greater links with the USSR (and therefore with East Germany) and Common Market negotiations play out against the backdrop of the main plot, in which Alan Turner comes from London to investigate Harting's disappearance and recover the files Harting stole before he vanished. Turner is vaguely Leamas-like, a bull in a china shop who is impatient of the hypocrises (necessary and otherwise) of the diplomatic and espionage upper echelons. The storyline is very twisty and while I guessed at some of it, the main reveal was a surprise to me (and much more substantively interesting than what I was expecting).

Like the rest of le Carre's Cold War novels, reading this in 2018 is uncomfortably apt. We have populists, easily swayed citizenry, shady diplomatic dealings, and lots of coverups. Hopefully we also have some bulls in china shops, even if they don't fully win in the end. ( )
  Sunita_p | May 18, 2019 |
I've read some le Carré in the past and they've been pretty decent, this is one of his earlier books and I have to say it's clear that it is, he hasn't quite polished his writing style yet and the plot is rather stiff and jerkily unfolded. Don't get me wrong, there is a good story within the pages, but the way he manages to convey the story is, well, rather dull. There's moments were it seems like things are about to get interesting but it just never quite gets there.

The story is set in West Germany within the backdrop of Britain attempting to join the European Economic Community (what will become the European Union) and a member of the United Kingdom's German embassy disappears with sensitive files causing concern that the membership process in Brussels will be derailed. Among this there is a rising pro-Russian politician who seems to hate the British and a spycatcher, Alan Turner is brought in from England to find the missing staff member.

It fills in time but it's pretty dry, if you have the choice between this and something else, I'd choose something else unless you're a die hard John le Carré fan and wish to see the evolution of his writing.
  HenriMoreaux | Apr 29, 2019 |
Disappointing. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 18, 2018 |
Review: A Small Town In Germany by John Le Carre’. 10/13/2017

This is one of Le Carre’s books that was slow pace and complex. I have read some of his books and liked them but this one just didn’t hit home. For a while I kept getting confused about who was who. I think I was trying to hard to figure out which character was the spy and who was the good guys. I kept going back over pages to keep track of the characters. I didn’t care for the investigator, he was stubborn and his interviews only made people angry especially a woman he slaps around trying to get more information that she did not know.

The story was a cold war spy thriller concerning Britain and West Germany. The British Embassy was in the town of Bonn, Germany trying to get into the Common Market of Germany. However, Karfeld, a German industrialist is intensifying anger among the citizens with nationalist speeches, supporting stronger ties with Moscow, and undermining support for Britain’s entry of conveyance to the Common Market.

Another problem arises when they discovered a missing staff member, Secretary Leo Harting at the British Embassy. What made it a bigger problem was he disappeared taking confidential files, a document trolley, a tea machine, an electric fan and some cups. (I guess Le Carre had some humor at that moment). I will say his writing is witty and concise at times but the ending I felt wasn’t his style… ( )
  Juan-banjo | Oct 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Alan Turner, agente de los servicios secretos británicos, es encargado de buscar a Leo Harting, funcionario de la embajada británica en Bonn, quien se ha llevado consigo una serie de documentos comprometedores.
La personalidad de Harting se va recomponiendo paulatinamente a través de los recuerdos contradictorios de sus colegas de la embajada.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
The final explanation is unexpected -- but, when it comes, is immediately convincing. "A Small Town in Germany" is an exciting, compulsively readable and brilliantly plotted novel. Le Carré has shown once more that he can write this kind of book better than anyone else around -- and he has done so without repeating himself.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Richard Boston (Jul 20, 1968)
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Way over there in a
Small town in Germany
There lived a shoemaker:
Schumann was his name.
Ich bin ein Musikant,
Ich bin fur das Vaterland,
I have a big bass drum
And this is how I play!

-A drinking song sung in British military messes in Occupied Germany, with obscene variations, to the tune of the "Marche Militaire."
First words
Ten minutes to midnight: a pious Friday evening in May and a fine river mist lying in the market square.
Mezzanotte meno dieci: un pio venerdì di maggio e una bella nebbia fluviale stagnante nella piazza del mercato. Bonn era una città balcanica, sporca e segreta, rigata con i fili dei tram. Bonn era una casa buia in cui qualcuno aveva esalato l'ultimo respiro, una casa dai neri drappeggi cattolici, sorvegliata da poliziotti. Le loro giubbe di cuoio luccicavano alla luce dei lampioni. Si sarebbe detto che tutti tranne loro avessero udito l'allarme e fossero fuggiti. Ora un'automobile, ora un pedone passavano rapidamente, e subito seguiva il silenzio come una scia. Un tram sferragliò, ma lontano. Nella drogheria, su una piramide di barattoli, il cartello scritto a mano annunciava l'emergenza: "Fate subito le provviste!" Tra le briciole, maialetti di marzapane, simili a topolini senza pelo, proclamavano il dimenticato giorno del santo.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743431715, Paperback)

John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

A man is missing. Harting, refugee background, a Junior Something in the British Embassy in Bonn. Gone with him are forty-three files, all of them Confidential or above.

It is vital that the Germans do not learn that Harting is missing, nor that there's been a leak. With radical students and neo-Nazis rioting and critical negotiations under way in Brussels, the timing could not be worse -- and that's probably not an accident.

Alan Turner, London's security officer, is sent to Bonn to find the missing man and files as Germany's past, present, and future threaten to collide in a nightmare of violence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

West Germany, a simmering cauldron of radical protests, has produced a new danger to Britain: Karfeld, menacing leader of the opposition. At the same time Leo Harting, a Second Secretary in the British Embassy, has gone missing - along with more than forty Confidential embassy files. Alan Turner of the Foreign Office must travel to Bonn to recover them, facing riots, Nazi secrets and the delicate machinations of an unstable Europe in the throes of the Cold War. As Turner gets closer to the truth of Harting's disappearance, he will discover that the face of International relations - and the attentions of the British Ministry itself - is uglier that he could possibly have imagined.… (more)

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Average: (3.64)
1 3
2 12
2.5 8
3 65
3.5 27
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5 32

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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