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Our Kind of Traitor Hardcover – 16 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (16 Sep 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0670919012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670919017
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Our Kind of Traitor is a reminder – if such a thing were needed – that John le Carré is comfortably still at the top of the tree in arena of the intelligent thriller; he is still writing books for readers who want some texture to their genre reading. But – to rehearse the old debate -- is le Carré a genre writer – or simply a first-rate novelist? Very few would now argue with the latter assessment. The Spy who Came in from the Cold, his first real-calling card book, took the world of espionage thrillers by storm back in 1963, and that brilliantly written examination of the betrayal and duplicities of the Cold War both changed the face of the spy novel and marked le Carré out as the essential writer in the field – a badge he’s sported ever since. Subsequently, the much-acclaimed series of novels featuring the subtle spymaster George Smiley (inaugurated with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1974) made much else in the field seem superficial and unambitious. While there was a move away from the pared-to-the-bone precision of the earlier books, the sprawling canvas of the Smiley sequence allowed the author to add new levels to the popular novel, making them as rich as more overtly ‘literary’ fare.

After recent work taking on American foreign policy (a bête noir of the author) and the big pharmaceutical companies, le Carré has returned to the concision of his early work, and in Our Kind of Traitor has delivered one of his most sheerly satisfying novels in years.

Britain is suffering under the recession, and a young couple – a leftish academic and his girlfriend (who is in the legal profession) – escape a depressed UK for a leisurely break on the Caribbean island of Antigua. But a meeting with a Russian millionaire by the name of Dima plunges the couple down the rabbit hole in a dizzying, picaresque odyssey in which the worlds of the City of London and the shadowy corridors of espionage collide.

In many ways, this is quite unlike any other John le Carré novel, even as it utilises familiar tropes. And the surprises here (which it would be criminal to reveal) demonstrate that one of our greatest writers – to his considerable credit – is refusing to stand still. --Barry Forshaw


If you want to know about the state of Britain today, forget the Booker shortlist. Just read John le Carré's latest thriller (Evening Standard)

Return of the master . . . Having plumbed the devious depths of the Cold War, le Carré has done it again for our nasty new age (The Times)

Few recent plays have had dialogue as good, and few recent literary novels can boast a set of characters so vividly imagined. Our Kind of Traitor is a teasing, beguiling, masterly performance (Sunday Times)

A compelling tale of deceit, dialogue and the author's own despair John le Carré's greatest gift may be his ear, which allows him to pick up a tremor of fear in the softest voice or a false note in any exchange of words and play with them to his heart's content. He can therefore create, in dialogue, a trembling soundscape that has a pitch-perfect quality (James Naughtie Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I bite on 5 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I just love John le Carre's books. He conjures a world of intrigue and double-dealing so effortlessly. This story is no exception as the British Secret Service butts it's head against the Russian Mafia in a tale of unremitting treachery.
Dima is a Russian Mafiosi with a skill in money laundering the spoils of the group's illegal operations worldwide but he falls foul of a younger generation of gangsters and offers his secrets to MI6 in return for a safe haven for himself and his family in the U.K.
He uses an unconnected Oxford Don and his lawyer girlfriend as trusted intermediaries and the pair become emotionally involved with Dima and his children as they pursue his cause with the British spies.
Enter now the self-interest of the British Establishment and their political allies, some of whom are deeply entwined with the dealings of the Russians. Bearing in mind the recent 'loss' of secret dossiers with regard to paedophilia within the establishment, the machinations in le Carre's book have a strong ring of truth to them.
I am not going to spoil the ending for future readers. Enjoy the journey.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Oct 2010
Format: Hardcover
With Le Carré, you don't get mad action. You get people. This is no exception. It's certainly not his greatest work, but it's still a lot better than a lot of spy novels that are out there. Perhaps, it is ultimately a bit predictable, but as ever, you are never quite sure. And when the end comes, it comes suddenly and that can lead to some suggestions of "running out of steam", but how else could it have ended?

When academic Perry and his girlfriend Gail find themselves on a tennis break in Antigua, they have no idea that their lives are going to be turned upside down when they meet a rich and somewhat scarey Russian who wants to play Perry at tennis. Soon, Perry and Gail are unwittingly involved in a bid for asylum as the Russian, Dima, has information that will be of interest to the powers that be, certainly involving the banking sector. This is Le Carré right up to date, full of talk of recession and banking meltdown.

As with any good spy book, we spend time in Paris as well as Antigua, London and Switzerland, with a short jaunt to Russia thrown in for good measure. Le Carré writes beautifully (his dialogue in particular is always authentic) and creates completely believable characters all with their own little character weaknesses. And if Le Carré's best works have been in the Cold War era, you have to admire the resilience of the man to adapt his novels to more modern times.

It's certainly well worth a read, providing you are not expecting vintage Le Carré.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By S. Morris on 25 Sep 2010
Format: Hardcover
For a time it felt like we were back in the happy days of Tinker Tailor and I was absorbed into this novel and very happy that the author seemed about to deliver a similar experience to his Smiley novels.

Then, the larger than life Dima began to be irritating and something began to wane. Even Hector - a very different kind of Smiley - began to let me down too.

I accept that the author has moved on and the villains of today are not the old Cold War warriors so I may be making an unfair comparison with the past. I think that I do appreciate the author has become cynical about institutions - government, the Service,the Swiss, the City - that we once relied upon, naively perhaps.

Still, I was pretty content right up to the end - or the lack of one, to be precise. Maybe the world has reached the point where no-one can win so that there cannot be an ending. Fine, but it seems that such stories are going to leave me feeling that I've rather wasted my time.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWERTOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
I read "Our Kind of Traitor" in a week that the U.S. media revealed that the private prison industry had written and ensured passage of the immigration Arizona law and BP and Halliburton were publicly dukeing it out over responsibility for the catastrophic failure of their joint drilling venture in the Gulf of Mexico. There was other reporting on how Wall Street and financial institutions had manipulated the mortgage markets that resulted in the 2008 recession and how one of the principals in that greed-fest had been let off (judicially) with a slap on the wrist fine. In Russia, more investigative journalists were killed or arrested and the Russian Federation government announced greater involvement in the country's private business sector and put into place a new, Putin-selected Mayor of Moscow. And so it goes most weeks of the year.

John Le Carre has increasingly written in the stark but real terms that accurately reflect what is actually happening in the globalized and corporate controlled world that we live in. He gets a lot of flack for doing so, but you could certainly make an argument that our "now" world (which he faithfully chronicles in his "fiction") is a scarier and more dangerous place for the citizens of developed and developing countries alike than the world that existed before the disintegration of the Communist Bloc in 1989.

"Our Kind of Traitor" is a terrific book with the classic Le Carre mix of rich character development and gradually building plot. By the last chapter, the reader has been inveigled into investing a great deal in the outcome of the story, particularly in the future of the collected characters. But this being a Le Carre cautionary tale, tied very much to political and social reality, the ending is neither simple nor wholly rewarding.
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