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The Looking Glass War (1965)

by John le Carré

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: George Smiley (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,273475,512 (3.62)98
It would have been an easy job for the Circus: a can of film couriered from Helsinki to London. In the past the Circus handled all things political, while the Department dealt with matters military. But the Department has been moribund since the War, its resources siphoned away. Now, one of their agents is dead, and vital evidence verifying the presence of Soviet missiles near the West German border is gone. John Avery is the Department's younger member and its last hope. Charged with handling Fred Leiser, a German-speaking Pole left over from the War, Avery must infiltrate the East and restore his masters' former glory.John le Carré's The Looking Glass War is a scorching portrayal of misplaced loyalties and innocence lost.… (more)
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» See also 98 mentions

English (43)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This one makes me so sad and angry. ( )
  suzannekmoses | May 20, 2022 |
A bit of a stretch, I think, to claim that this book is "a George Smiley novel." ( )
  gtross | Mar 14, 2022 |
Written by anyone else, The Looking Glass War would merit nearer four stars. But this is likely le Carre's least enjoyable spy novel, so don't start with this one lest you dismiss the rest. The problem is not the pessimism so much as that he had not yet found his style. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
A Le Carre I hadn't come across, with a pervasive sense of impending doom, as vain and complacent spies plot a sure-to-go-wrong low-budget operation with obsolete equipment. So the exact opposite of a James Bond novel. ( )
  adzebill | May 10, 2021 |
What is notable about the book is not the spying, but the portrayal of office politics and political maneuvering. LeClerc heads a Department that is moribund but he manages to persuade his bosses to grant him resources for their biggest mission in years. This mission is rather dubious and they have no agent to deploy, except one that has been out of action for years. The conclusion is predictable. The mission doesn't succeed and LeClerc grabs eagerly at the lifeline thrown to him by the Circus. But he doesn't recognise that he has failed. How pathetic it is. ( )
  siok | Apr 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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.
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Taylor, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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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It would have been an easy job for the Circus: a can of film couriered from Helsinki to London. In the past the Circus handled all things political, while the Department dealt with matters military. But the Department has been moribund since the War, its resources siphoned away. Now, one of their agents is dead, and vital evidence verifying the presence of Soviet missiles near the West German border is gone. John Avery is the Department's younger member and its last hope. Charged with handling Fred Leiser, a German-speaking Pole left over from the War, Avery must infiltrate the East and restore his masters' former glory.John le Carré's The Looking Glass War is a scorching portrayal of misplaced loyalties and innocence lost.

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Average: (3.62)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141196394, 024196220X

 

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