Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Paperback – October 1, 2002
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The Wall Street Journal A stunning story of espionage....His people are full-bodied, believable individuals, the minor characters as vivid as the main cast. -- 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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There's much debate about whether Le Carré (né David Cornwell) is a literary writer or just at the top of spy novelists. I believe he's both. This novel, in particular, has a lot of biographical material, thinly disguised. I read a biography of Le Carré at the same time as the course. There are many parallels to Philby's life, and much is taken from David Cornwell's experience as a member of the two British Secret Service organizations, MI5 and MI6. You can easily see where some of the characters were drawn from. Not necessarily so blatant as to be actual profiles, but the similarities are obvious. Reportedly, Le Carré"s friends liked the idea of their names being used in his novels, or their serving as inspiration for a character.
Highly recommended for those who like spy fiction and appreciate good writing.
The story takes place in 1973. It opens with Jim Prideaux, former British agent, being hired as a substitute teacher at a boys’ prep school. “Control” (head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6) has died, George Smiley (Control’s chief lieutenant) has been sacked, Operation Testify (Prideaux’s last op in Czechoslovakia) ended in abject failure, and “Circus” (MI6), has been reorganized under a new chief.
Then, a British agent named Ricki Tarr comes across information that the Soviets are running a mole in the Circus, who is code-named “Gerald.” Oliver Lacon, the Civil Service officer responsible for MI6 oversight, approaches Smiley and asks him to investigate. As the novel unfolds, Smiley discovers that there is a mole, he is a double agent feeding the Circus bad Soviet intel, and he is responsible for blowing Prideaux’s op.
It is a testament to John Le Carré’s skill as a writer that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a page-turner despite the fact that it contains so little action. Instead, the plot moves forward and the truth is revealed by means of conversations, flashbacks, and Smiley’s seemingly inexhaustible memory. Smiley walks us through the wilderness one mirror at a time until we see reality.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the fifth of seven novels in which George Smiley plays a part and the first of Le Carré’s famed “Karla Trilogy,” in which Smiley matches wits with “Karla,” head of “Moscow Center” (the KGB). It is followed by The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. Of the five novels I have read so far, this and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (in which Smiley plays a small role) are the best.
Interestingly, Le Carré is releasing what is billed as a new George Smiley novel in September. It’s called A Legacy of Spies, and I look forward to reading it after I finish this series.
It is, perhaps, the antithesis of James Bond, as there is little flash, style, or ostentatious behavior, as the author uses the patience and, in some cases, the weaknesses of the characters to tell the story that was confined almost exclusively to the shadows. The story is gripping because it is plausible.
Smiley's world extends from this book, and I can't wait to begin the next one.