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Spy Story [Hardcover]

Len Deighton


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Book Description

Dec 27 1987
An attempted murder, the defection of a highly placed KGB official, and an explosive nuclear submarine chase beneath the Arctic Ocean seem to have little connection to one another. But they are the sparks that propel Pat Armstrong -- also known as Harry Palmer -- into the heart of a brutal East-West power play.
And when Armstrong returns to his own apartment -- where someone who looks and dresses just like him has taken up his identity -- we are drawn into the world of spies and counterspies, plots and counterplots, that is Len Deighton's unbeatable trademark.


From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK (Dec 27 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224009710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224009713
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,462,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Noon on the North Pole April 9 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Two civilians leave as soon as their submarine anchors at a remote, secret Scottish Navy base. They are Patrick Armstrong and Ferdy Foxwell (PA;FF). They spent 43 days without booze or smokes under water and below the North Pole's thick and uneven icecap, esp. when seen from below. So, time for a drink or two in the first pub in this barren, cliff-ridden region, before going home. They survive an attempt to tip their car over the edge by another car, whose occupants are nicely settled in when they arrive at the pub. Was it a warning?
PA and FF take all this in their stride, staying cooler than you or I would. Attentive readers may suspect at this stage that we are mere spectators in a long-planned drama and that PA and FF are mere pawns or larger pieces in some Cold War chess game. Because more incidents occur, esp. to PA, such as a brutal armed burglary of his new flat by Soviet intelligence officers led by KGB Colonel Stok (who reappears as an adept of the Scottish poet Burns in "Billion Dollar Brain"). Another warning to desist? Earlier, upon arrival from Scotland, PA used his abandoned flat to call for a taxi and finds it curiously changed and extended, with medical equipment added, and a passage made to the flat next door. What alarms him most is evidence that his identity has been stolen to benefit another man...
At work (PA and FF both work at a War Office institute devoted to studying historical conflicts with the aid of computers) a new broom has been appointed, the abrasive, retired Colonel Chuck Schlegel (USMC). His task is to merge the institute with similar war games institutions in NATO-land. He orders a naval war game between the Red Room (commanded by Ferdy) and the Blue Room ( led by visiting top US admirals) to secure more funding and legitimacy for the institute. Or what? PA is referee Schlegel's Personal Assistant and able to move between Red and Blue. It gives him a crash course in decision-making and playing foul to obtain higher objectives.

"Spy Story" is about a carefully-planned defection of a key Soviet submarine commander. Len Deighton must remain in print. It is not for claustrophobics. His knowledge in 1974 of the intelligence capabilities of submarines and computers is awesome. Colonel Schlegel makes a comeback in "Yesterday's Spy". Authentic, convincing and with a chilling finale.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Cold War Espionage Oct. 11 2007
By C. Schaub - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've read probably 100s of Cold War spy novels. In my opinion John Lecarre and Len Deighton are the best writers in this genre. I liked Deighton's "Spy Story" when I first read it about 20 years ago. On re-reading it I'm glad to see that it holds up very well.

The elements of the plot are all familiar: retired spy reluctantly drawn back into the game, infighting among the various intelligence agencies, opportunity for an intelligence coup or it is really a Soviet trick?, public school Brits vs hardnosed American military types, double agents & double crosses, etc. Len Deighton weaves all these near-cliches into a well-written, fast-paced, action & detection narrative.

I never thought I'd use the word nostalgia with regard to the Cold War, but that was my reaction to "Spy Story". As the opening of the Lone Ranger show used to say "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear".
1.0 out of 5 stars it's a waste of time July 14 2014
By George Nolta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I gave up on the book about half way through. It was quite dated - having been written in the early 1970s, and showing it. The plot was very slow to evolve, and it seemed confusing to determine what was going on. If you are British and have experience with WWII-era war games, the book may have some appeal. Otherwise, it's a waste of time.
1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Can You Trust... Sept. 10 2006
By Betty Burks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Since Marlowe was considered a spy in Britain, this book about Pat Armstrong was tempting as his identity had been stolen by someone who looked and dressed like him, Harry Palmer. Regardless of what I may seem like over the radio, or through my words, I'm just a young man trying to make his way through this world the best way he can. I'd like to think that I'm a good guy, and that I do things that are extraordinary, at times. But, over all, I'm as normal as most. The music began on the radio: Noel Coward on the piano. Not MYL but British, so could he be a spy. He wrote, You are a dear friend to me. Even though we are both miles away, and very much different in age - I think we have a special friendship, though we have never met. And we can relate to so many things that are similar. It's well known that radio people are seldom who they claim to be, using another name and identity. They are the modern version of spies. The first Politburo shake-out since the ousting of Nikita Khrushchev was announced at the end of a two-day meeting of the Central Committee. According to observers, the new line-up means the end of all hopes for the German treaty of federalization.

There is a real spy story about John Richardson who had been a US double agent in the 1930s in military intelligence. He learned about Communist insurgencies and how Lenin had created the Communist International of the show "purge" trials of the 1930s. It was called the golden age of spying from 1950 to 1960.

Len Deighton is a historian who has written several such stories about spies, counterspies, plots, and counterplots, like 'Berlin Game' and 'Funeral in Berlin.' Marx had designed his theories around the belief that Germany would be the first socialist land, and that Communism is the 'opiate of the intellectuals.' As a historian, he also wrote 'The True Story of the Battle of Britain, and 'Blood, Tears, and Folly (WWII) in 1993 which has been re-released in 2005.

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