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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley Novel Paperback – Aug 12 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (Aug. 12 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014312093X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143120933
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.6 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #552,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Espionage & spy thriller

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on July 9 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Le Carre is the best spy novelist ever and truly a modern master of literature. Tinker Tailor takes the reader on a journey through the murky labyrinths of british intelligence as the antihero Smiley, a plump, confused, betrayed, but deceptively steely and intelligent spy, ferrets out a mole burrowed into the highest levels of British Intelligence by his Soviet nemesis, Karla. The themes of betrayal, downfall, and the inescapable immorality of spying permeate this finely written book, while the challenge of discovering, with Smiley, who the mole is, captures the reader from the start. Le Carre's character developement is superior to almost any writer, living or dead, and the complexity of the mole, Smiley, Connie Sachs, and a host of other characters adds another superior facet. Finally, Le Carre's use of wonderfully quaint terminology, with "moles", "legmen", "burrowers", "the circus", and others making frequent appearances, spices up the book. The best spy book I have ever read, and I have read every book by Forsyth, Higgings, Clancy, and Craig, and almost every Ludlum. This may be a great spy book, but it is also an outstanding work of literature, like its two successors, and is a classic in every respect. Everyone should read it who has a mind and appreciation for a nobly done turn of phrase. However, this book isn't for the James Bond Boom Boom kiss the girl and fly off sort- requires thought!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Le Carre's masterpieces, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is much more than a popcorn espionage novel. The characters are vibrant, and the setting is very good. I enjoyed the seemingly bumbling George Smiley, a British ex-spy who's actually sharp as a needle. When the Service thinks it's been pentrated by a Soviet mole, they called in George, whom they fired years ago for a fiasco in Czeckoslovakia. (Smiley's boss had embarked on a small private war there, without authorization or reason, and had caused quite a disruption.) Smiley digs through mounds of files and old briefings by night, searching for the clues that will lead him to the mole. The plot is very well done. My favorite part of Tinker Tailor, however, is the brilliant characterization. I can almost smell the people on the pages. Connie, an eccentric old lady reminscing about her days in British Intelligence (the Circus), an emotional and unfortuate woman who never quite grew up; Peter Guillam, the impatient, embattled and embittered spy who drags Smiley back in to the Circus; Jim Prideaux, the strong-as-an-ox victim of Czeckoslovakia, shot and wounded in the back, the master of the game who hides as a teacher at a boys prep school and charms the students earning himself the honor of a nickname (Rhino); Roach, a fat, athsmatic boy at the prep school who is enchanted with Rhino, loves him and misses him dearly when school lets out, worries about him, and later sees him bury a handgun in the garden, eventually convincing himself that the gun was only a dream. There are scores of others, just as real. The thick plot and wonderful characters of John Le Carre's first Smiley novel make it a delight to read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What happens if you've lost your friends, your motivation, your career is hopelessly stalled and you're coming to realize the entire foundation of said career is hopelessly misguided?
As John Le Carre shows us, we'd probably just soldier on, like Tinker, Tailor's immortal anti-hero, George Smiley. Smiley half-suspects that the capture of the M16 "mole" won't really matter in the end; he knows, anyway, that his country is no longer a nation of Empire and that all that awaits him is a drab retirement, but somehow, he finds the strength and the facility to keep batting for England: at the end of the day, he is actually serving his country.
Apart from the remarkable revelation that is George Smiley, Le Carre renders another expose: spying is nothing like we think it is - in fact, it is desparately unglamorous, lonely, plodding work in which even the leading lights will end up drowning in bureacracy. There are many, many scenes where our hero must navigate some dimly lit file room or office library, and the occasional, cringlingly embarassing office social gathering. But have no fear: the mole is found.
I agree with others that this is Le Carre's best work.
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If you've read this masterpiece by LeCarrè then you would know why I think he is the greatest spy novelist ever.
The story is one of treachery in the "Circus"(which LeCarrè dubiously calls his Secret Service). LeCarrè having worked in the Secret Service (both MI5 and the SIS) for 15 years knows all about treachery. Indeed his Father, a ritzy-glitzy con man, betrayed him. Having experinced all this, you get in this novel what most others don't have:authenticity.
George Smiley: "One of London's meek who do not inherit the Earth", "small, podgy and at best middle-aged". Is a seemingly unremarkable character. Not particularly great-looking or glamorous or physically well built or anything else. The worst insult he can hurl upon a man is "you pompous featherhead". Yet beyond this inconspicuos shroud lies "one of the no-men of no-man's land".
He spends his time trying to forget all that he has learnt for they are only painful ones (his wife having cheated on him numerous times, having innocent people killed, meeting traitors who he was intimate with) but his past comes back to him in that a few fellow "old Circus"'s approach him with a request: find the mole that has buried himself deep into the upper echelons of the Circus for 30 years.
It is a trademark of LeCarrè's that he tends never to give us a happy ending in his novels but that is not him being cynical merely trying to communicate to us his messages about Life. Smiley has all of his old friends under suspicion: Roy Bland, Toby Esterhase, Percy Allelline, and Bill Haydon. We find Smiley going over some very, very old ground with some very painful and unhappy memories.
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