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Smiley's People: The Karla Trilogy, Book 3
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Smiley's People: The Karla Trilogy, Book 3 [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by John le Carré (Author), Michael Jayston (Narrator)
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

George Smiley was summoned from his dubious retirement by two seemingly unconnected events - an old woman in Paris is promised the return of a daughter she will never see, and a handover is to take place on a steamer in Hamburg.

©1979 David Cornwell; (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 23 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
  • Release Date: November 18, 2010
  • Language: English
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This is the last volume in a trilogy which, without any doubt, the best spy story ever written in English. _Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy_ began it with the story of George Smiley's uncovering of the mole in British Intelligence HQ, known as "the Circus." _The Honourable Schoolboy_ -- which largely stands alone from the first and third books, and is a superior piece of work by itself -- tells of Smiley's first steps toward revenge against Karla, head of Moscow Centre and his personal enemy for nearly thirty years . . . only to be denied the fruits of his own success by political machinations at home. _Smiley's People_ brings everything to a very satisfying conclusion, via the discovery that Karla has an unsuspected human side, which makes him vulnerable. As always, Le Carre's development of his characters is masterful and his dialogue and descriptive passages make it clear why, at his best, he is considered an exceptional stylist. The pace of the action in the early part of the book is purposely rather slow, drawing you in, making you pay attention to what's happening and thinking about what secrets might be behind it all -- just as one imagines George is doing. But as the story develops, the pace picks up, until the last quarter is nearly a headlong gallop toward a triumphant final chapter. Unreservedly recommended.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Final Confrontation... June 28, 2011
The Cold War ended a couple of decades ago, but John LeCarre's classic spy novel, "Smiley's People", is still an astonishingly good read. It is actually the concluding piece of a superb espionage trilogy that begins with "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and continues with "The Honorable Schoolboy." The rather dense plot of "Smiley's People" will likely make more sense if the novels are read in sequence.

As the story opens, a former agent of the British Secret Service is found horribly murdered outside London, after making contact with his old employers. George Smiley, once head of the Secret Service, is summoned out of an unhappy retirement to make sense of the mess. What he discovers is a secret so important to an old adversary that it was worth killing for.

With official license renewed, the patient Smiley follows a faint trail of clues across Europe and his own history in the Cold War. He will call upon old friends and comrades for information and assistance, while trolling the sad wreckage of his own personal life. At the end of the trail may be the opportunity for the supreme act of professional revenge on a Russian spy master, or a deadly ambush...

LeCarre has a unique writing style, intermingled with a cynical take on the espionage business, that requires close attention from the reader. His hero, George Smiley, is almost the antithesis of the James Bond stereotype. However, the patient reader may find that George Smiley's own considerable gifts for his craft can make for a very compelling story. "Smiley's People" is very highly recommended to fans of espionage novels in general and those of John LeCarre in particular.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smiley's swan song October 13, 2007
Smiley's People is the final installment of the trilogy that tells of the struggle between George Smiley, British spy extraordinaire, and Karla, his Russian counterpart. George is called out of retirement to investigate the death of a Russian defector from his earlier days at the agency. As usual the trail is absolutely Byzantine, but it leads him toward an opportunity that could finally bring his nemesis Karla down. I won't reveal any more of the plot because novels like this depend too much on the specific twists and turns for their entertainment value.

To some extent, it's a waste of time reviewing the third book in a trilogy. If you haven't read them, you should really read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy before even thinking about this book. If you have, and liked them, you want to know how the story ends and you'll read Smiley's People regardless of the reviews. If you didn't like them, then even glowing reviews probably won't be enough to get you across the finish line. For the few people on the fence, here's my two cents.

Le Carre' is an undisputed master of the spy novel and in many respects he's on the top of his game here. Of the three books in the trilogy, this was by far the easiest and most straightforward to read. It's the only one that uses a classic third party narrator perspective and the story is relatively simple (for a spy novel). I found the story and many of the characters interesting. It moves along at a steady pace and there was a sufficient sense of menace to feel some tension even if the stakes aren't as high as some of the other stories.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smiley's Swan Song July 1, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
`Smiley's People' is, of course, one of the best spy novels ever written, and a must read for lovers of the genre. That said, it's the weakest of the Karla Trilogy. While certainly less confusing, confounding, and imposing than `The Hounrable Schoolboy', it's also less engaging. It certainly feels less brilliant than `Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy', a novel, I would argue, that is the best spy novel ever written. This was a book that was written when the character George Smiley was already a literary star; it is not a book, however, that made him a literary star, and the result is a story that artificially parades out a litany of Smiley's `people' like the contrived movie star guest appearances on a bad sitcom. Worse, the story, while still composed of that le Carre brand of believability, is by and far the flattest of the three novels. If you've read the first two, then this is a definite buy, but it's not a stand alone novel, and is definitely not the best place to buy in to the Smiley novels. Yes, the prose is still le Carre strong, but his remaining attributes (the subtlety, the moral nuance, the Dickens-esque characters and Dickens-esque gray) feel a bit phoned-in, a bit forced, a bit of an accidental caricature of itself. In all, a little too self-serving.

That said, the Karla trilogy is to spy novels what the Earth is to the planets, and I'm not sure how much higher praise can come. John le Carre successfully defined himself against the ostentation of Ian Fleming during the prime of the latter's career, but amazingly, he is still defined against the plethora of outright horrid novels breeding like weeds in the genre (Have you read a Vince Flynn? He makes Tom Clancy look like Flaubert).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Faceless Man
As a matter of personal taste and not as a literary judgement I am not capable of offering I admit to never having been impressed with Le Carre as a writer. Read more
Published 9 days ago by D. J. Leedham
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but don't read authors prologue
Le Carre is easily my favorite author and he delivers again in Smiley' People. If you've read the first 2 in the Karla series, you don't really have a choice but to continue, do... Read more
Published 19 days ago by cmcniff
5.0 out of 5 stars One of John Le Carre' best books. He keeps the reader captivated from...
One of John Le Carre' best books. He keeps the reader captivated from the very beginning. Interesting insights into people involved .
Published 24 days ago by Robert B. Marsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If you like any of the Smiley novels, you'll like this.
Published 29 days ago by Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and final of the Smiley's Trilogy.
This is one of John le Carre finest. From the bloody beginning it was a great read that required close attention on the readers part.
Published 1 month ago by Keith S Massey
5.0 out of 5 stars great book I sometimes find myself arguing with
This is one of the essential books for understanding the Cold War. Though I would balance this work with something like the Gulag Archipelago. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Willard F Steele
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I always love John le Carre books, and the Smiley trilogy is my absolute favourite.
Published 1 month ago by Natalie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
His books are always riveting.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The Smiley trilogy are my favorites.
Published 1 month ago by Robert W. Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling story
One of the best of the genre. An intriguing story well written with great character development, mood and humanity. Great closure to Tinker, Taylor.
Published 2 months ago by Phillipsstudio
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