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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels Book 5) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 401 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 5 of 7 in George Smiley Novels (7 Book Series)
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Top Customer Reviews
"Tinker, Tailor..." is the first in what has come to be called LeCarré's "Karla (or Smiley) Trilogy", in which English spy George Smiley is pitted against the Soviet spymaster Karla. Written during the Cold War, it is a portrait of that time, with its paranoid and morally ambiguous view of global politics.
A botched espionage operation in Czechoslovakia causes "Control," (Head of British Intelligence), and his associates to be discredited. "Control," already ill and aging quickly, dies soon after this debacle. George Smiley, his able lieutenant, is retired in disgrace. The two are succeeded by four "young turks," all highly ambitious men from Intelligence who had been trained by "Control" and Smiley. Months later, a maverick Far Eastern agent turns up in London with a story suggesting there is a mole (a deeply concealed double agent) in the Circus (Intelligence HQ). Smiley is called out of retirement to investigate the possibility that a Soviet mole has penetrated the very top levels of the British Secret Service. The "Tinker, Tailor...Read more ›
The arrival of a schoolmaster at a remote English boarding school is the unlikely beginning of a master spy-story. If the reader has perused the dust jacket, he is left wondering where the connection is. A bit boring in the beginning, the start of the novel is far from spectacular. Characters unfold almost as an aside. Connections are not evident. When the hero of the novel, George Smiley makes his entrance it is almost as an afterthought.
Far unlike Ian Flemming with his techno-laden James Bond licensed to kill, Le Carre's George Smiley is a prosaic, pedantic, lugubrious, painstaking, ordinary mortal with an orderly mind. He is a hero like no other. Not for him the flashy glamour of the spy world popularized by Alistair McLean, Ian Flemming, and others of their ilk. Smiley's heroism lies in this mediocre methodic brilliance. And in his prodigious memory.
Cast away from the "circus", he is called in from retirement to trap a mole high up in the secret service. His fall from grace is more a reflection of the times than his inherent worth. As the bureaucratic battles yield new order in the ranks of service, Smiley, of the old order, is viewed with suspicion and forced into retirement. But much as the irrepressible James Bond could not be done away by his numerous enemies, Smiley's brilliance cannot be dispensed with by the Service. At a time when no one in the service can be trusted, when it is painfully obvious that one amongst the trusted four is a mole, Smiley is called in for his analysis. Nowhere is it stated that Smiley is brilliant. Nor does he appear to have any special skills.Read more ›
Now here's my thoughts: LeCarre's book isn't "bad" per se, but it is definitely a different style from most other spy genre novels. Remember, it was written in the 1970s - so forget the 'techno-thriller' books that Clancey made famous in the late 80s. LeCarre's books - this one included - were however an intellectual step up from the earlier spy/action thrillers...
The problem most readers will have is that there is almost NO action. Roughly speaking, its about Geo.Smiley trying to solve a problem (a mole) in the "Circus" using clues from the past. So a lot of it is contemplative and revolves around the "old boys" of the organization talking in circles at times about their experiences (reminds me of Kerouac and "On the Road"). The writing is very circumspect - and introspective - in that regard.
There are no Jack Ryans here, no cowboy heroes. The characters are all upper class (or have the pretensions, if not the birthright), understated Englishmen, and working in a decidedly bleak period. In fact, LeCarre's style seems to reflect the malaise of England and the west in general of the early 70s. That is due mostly to LeCarre's focus on the mental maze Smiley must navigate which leaves little room for descriptive settings or surroundings. Colors, seasons, etc (or rather, the lack) all seem to suggest a perpetually gray, damp late autumn day at 5 PM...
This is NOT an easy read - one must concentrate, just like Smiley. Don't expect to be able to put it down and pick back up repeatedly without losing the plot. This is a wintertime book, one to read when its rainy and you have nothing pressing to do (and nothing on your mind).
Its worth reading as an example of a more mature spy (or even drama) genre. But it is easy to see how the modern spy novel (techno-thriller) has supplanted the Karla-trilogy style for most readers...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First (and last) book by this author for me. Yes, he's well known but I couldn't follow the characters. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Carol D Green
I would read more of this genre if everyone wrote like John le CarrePublished 12 days ago by Leigh M
Come for the dense, realistic spy procedural, stay for the loving portrayal of postwar England and its personalities.Published 25 days ago by D. A. Conrad
I have tried to read this author several times, but I find his style so verbose and labored that I just cannot finish the novels.Published 1 month ago by Colonel Rich B.
The most madly atmospheric literary Cold War British spy novel ever. *warning* Le Carre novels are not for the casual reader. Only serious readers need apply! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Briandlee
What a masterful storyteller. I LOVED the beginning. As each character is introduced, we are drawn further into the plot. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kathy Bell
George Smiley is the antithesis of James Bond and it's beautiful. Where Bond is entirely bravado, Smiley is brains. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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