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Smiley's People Paperback – November 26, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Chicago TribuneA splendid spy story...a fine narrative, a delight to read, intricate, exciting, absorbing. -- Review

About the Author

John le CarrÉ was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People. His novels include The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, Our Game, The Taileor of Panama, and Single & Single. John le CarrÉ lives in Cornwall.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (November 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743455800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743455800
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,737,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
In this John le Carre novel we have the final confrontation between George Smiley and Karla, his long time nemesis. This is my first book by the author and I did not feel like I was starting in the middle. So you do not need to read the two that precede it. This is not just a spy novel, but also a well-written book. And the author is able to allow us to have a strong sense of picturing the characters. They are well thought out and three-dimensional.

Our hero George Smiley is brought out of retirement by some antics and death of an old retired contact. And we follow Mr. Smiley as he works to solve the case or close it any way he can. Of course George Smiley does his utmost to solve it. And it is this journey he takes that leads us to his old time foe from the Soviet Union, Karla.

Smiley does not seem like a spy, but his methods, instincts and powers of observations are exceptional. But what any person attuned to his surroundings would have. It is nice to have a normal human hero. One who shoes us his range of emotions and thought process. And the realistic ending. Yes it may seem anticlimactic. But I prefer the realism of it all.
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