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Absolute Friends by John Le Carré

Absolute Friends (2003)

by John le Carré

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Spy novels need to be convincing if not in plot, then certainly in characterisation and I felt the two main characters in this novel, Sasha and Ted Mundy weren’t authentic enough. Of the two Sasha troubled me more for his naivety, and so it was a little strange that Mundy chose to follow him. Even stranger was that, given Mundy’s closeness to Sasha, he didn’t warn him of what was happening towards the end.

What I liked most was le Carré’s exposure of how our world works today. Written after Blair took the UK to war despite all the anti-war demonstrations, le Carré gives Sasha a lot to say about how they get away with this and how wrong this is: ‘The easiest and cheapest trick for any leader is to take his country to war on false pretences. Anyone who does that should be hounded out of office for all time’. Although we are made to feel that Sasha is too simple in his thinking, I find myself agreeing entirely, although I feel they should be in jail as war criminals instead of continuing, Blair, Howard and Bush, to tread the world stage. So that denunciation of the way the world is run was convincing for me and I guess, on reflection, having people thinking they can do something about it getting killed for this is appropriate. It’s just that Sasha thinking he can be part of a great scheme to change the world by setting up a university which is objective seems incredibly ingenuous. ( )
  evening | Sep 21, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (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.

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