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The Looking-Glass War by John le Carré

The Looking-Glass War (1965)

by John le Carré

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This the Le Carre book that sets up the world of George Smiley's Circus. And I recall it as a "Business as usual" book, before Le Carre began to discuss the cost of the spy business, at which he was the master. One doesn't fully understand the following works without this home base book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 25, 2014 |
ok. demoralising. ( )
  mahallett | Apr 3, 2014 |
I like the change that Le Carré makes with the plot lines of this story. Some of it is a bit more telegraphed then usual, but it is still a masterful piece of writing. His characters are, as always, stooped in mystery and originality. Makes for some glaring realism that is quite refreshing. ( )
  TJWilson | Feb 22, 2014 |
Short, and one of Le Carre's better spy novels, though there is little action in it and Le Carre's intro says it was very poorly received.

We instead meet a sister service to the Circus, one that is in danger of being dropped altogether, and so goes out on a limb to prove sinister bomb developments going on just the other side of the curtain in order to keep their service alive. People die. ( )
  br77rino | Jan 3, 2014 |
Can't say I really enjoyed this. This is harder going than LeCarre's first three novels, much bleaker in tone. It concerns a Department apart from the Circus who decide to put in their own man to spy on a possible missile site in East Germany. However, the Department hasn't undertaken this sort of thing since the war, and one can tell from the beginning that it's all going to go pear-shaped.
I found the writing somewhat confusing, I was distracted by trying to work out how the Department fitted into the scheme of things vis-a-vis the Circus. And I felt the premiss of the story somewhat far-fetched - would any minister allow this bumbling set of incompetents anywhere near East Germany when they have the expertise of the Circus?
I gather this novel was panned by the critics when first published and you can see why - not so much a spy story as a description of how not to run an intelligence agency. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Oct 26, 2013 |
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The spy part of "The Looking Glass War" is, of course, excellent. It concerns a former military espionage department in London (small, left over from the glorious days of World War II) and its struggle to train one of its former agents for a mission into East Germany. The technical background for the mission is well presented. The action itself, once it finally gets under way, is tense and doomed in a gratifying manner; we are given just the right sort of sketch-portrait of Leiser, the special agent. Moreover, as in "The Spy," we are given a strong sense that all this tension, duplicity and personal betrayal exist within the little world of espionage mostly for their own sake and not very much for the sake of the greater political good they are supposed to serve.
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The carrying of a very heavy weight such as a large suitcase or trunk, immediately before sending practice, renders the muscles of the forearm, wrist, and fingers too insensitive to produce good Morse.
—F. Tait's Complete Morse Instructor, Pitman
A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East. — Kipling
For James Kennaway
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Snow covered the airfield.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743431707, 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. THE LOOKING GLASS WAR Once upon a time the distinction had been clear: the Circus handled all things political while the Department dealt with matters military. But over the years, power shifted and the Circus elbowed the Department out. Now, suddenly, the Department has a job on its hands. Evidence suggests Soviet missiles are being positioned close to the German border. Vital film is missing and a courier is dead. Lacking active agents, but possessed of an outdated mandate to proceed, the Department has to find an old hand to prove its mettle. Fred Leiser, German-speaking Pole turned Englishman -- once a qualified radio operator, now involved in the motor trade -- must be called back to the colors and sent East....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:59 -0400)

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Focuses on a former military espionage department in London and its attempts to train an agent for a mission in East Germany.

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141196394, 024196220X

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