43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Infighting and tragedy in a Cold War espionage setting.,
This review is from: The Looking Glass War (Paperback)
I read "Looking Glass War" several years ago and was jolted at how realistic the people and the departments seemed. The tragedy of the story stayed with me for a long time.
Human ambition, the senselessness of bureaucracy and the infighting among goverment departments --- these are some aspects explored here in a 'spy-story' setting. The interactions seemed very real; the bizarreness of the events very much like real life.
Of course this is more of a serious novel than a thriller, as expected of John le Carre. The mood is gray and cluody, and the ending is distressing. The story follows a young employee of an almost-defunct intelligence department. He flies to Scandinavia and finds the local police more savvy than himself. The characters deceive others and themselves in daily-life ways. They prepare to send a poorly-trained man of forty into East Germany as a spy. At the final betrayal, our protagonist cries in anger and shame.
Those reading this book for getting kicks out of following the heroic adventures of a glamorous spy, sent to do the right thing by the right side, will be disappointed. There's no clear distinction between good and bad sides. The enemy people (east germans) are all too human. As in life, much is ambivalent.
This is not an action-packed thriller to make a feel-good hollywood movie from. Rather, it's an excellent addition to human literature, a testament to the tragedies of individuals caught between government institutions of the twentieth century.