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The Company: A Novel of the CIA Paperback – Unabridged, 16 Nov 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1296 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Unabridged edition (16 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330372890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330372893
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 5.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 504,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'The American le Carre' New York Times; 'If Robert Littell didn't invent the American Spy novel, he should have' Tom Clancy

About the Author

Connoisseurs of the literary spy thriller have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks - along with John le Carre, Len Deighton and Graham Greene. Littell's novels include The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, The October Circle, Mother Russia, The Amateur (which was made into a feature film), The Once and Future Spy, An Agent in Place and Walking Back the Cat. A former Newsweek journalist, Robert Littell is American, currently living in France.


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HIGH OVER THE CITY, A RACK OF CLOUDS DRIFTED ACROSS THE hunter's mooon so rapidly it looked as if a motion picture had been speeded up. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Robert Littell has been called "our" (Yanks, that is) John Le Carre. The book bears the legend "a novel of the CIA". The former, I think even the British will agree, is more than accurate. The latter is a gross understatement. At close to 900, absolutely never dull, pages, this book, which essentially spans the entire Cold War history of the organization, is THE novel of the CIA. Always even-handed, always engrossing, this is not only a corking novel, but a brilliant history of our recent times. I am prone to recommend books I like as things people "should" read. This is, as they say in blurbsville, an absolute "Must" read for any serious spy novel afficianado.
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Format: Paperback
The size of this book, 1283 pages to be exact, is at first daunting. However, I was addicted after the first page. The plot is so complex, dramatic and exciting that I didnt want it to end. The fictious plot uses various historical cold war events and personalities in such a clever manner that I felt as if I were reading an actual account of the CIA. Littel is so clever at having centered his four main characters around momentous events in Cold war history, that you end up thinking if he himself is/were a CIA agent and this is his autobiography.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys edge-of-your-seat cold war thrillers. I have read many cold war novels and none of them compare to this book. This is the book that everyone is talking about, and don't be put off by its size, its worth savouring every page!!!!!!!!!
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Format: Paperback
I greatly enjoyed this book - it was genuinely one of those hard to put down, staying up till 2am page turners. And what a lot of pages there are, it's a huge book, nearly 900 pages in hardback. An overview of 40 years of CIA history, the book uses the device of focusing on a number of individuals, their successes and failures and particular operations they are involved in. Real characters (including numerous spies, presidents and generals) appear, and it's clear a lot of research has gone into the book - it's not completely fictional!

The powerful story takes in spymasters on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and it's nice to see a book which isn't just from the US side. A major theme in the book is the identity of SASHA, a mole in the CIA and there is a fair amount of detail about his handling from the Soviet side.

Unfortunately, the writing style isn't up to the excellent story. The dialogue and the love lives of the main characters is in large parts cliched/over dramatic. The main character in the USSR is portrayed as a paedophile and is a one dimensional character. A number of the othe rmain characters seem to be littl emore than cardoboard cutouts. (All the wives of agents blend into one, to be honest) And the twists and turns in the SASHA sub-plot are fairly predictable - with more than half the book to go, I knew who SASHA was and how he would be captured.

That said, it's a gripping read and the operational sections are fantastic. Would make a great holiday read, worth a look if you enjoy spy stuff but don't expect great literature.
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Format: Paperback
Personally, I found this book to be a page-turner of note. There is a disclaimer that factual characters are used fictionally and other characters are fictional... however a bit of easy cross-checking (eg with Spymaster) turns up the fact that a number of fictional characters are based on real people (eg Harvey Torriti is clearly based on Bill Harvey, apparently a CIA legend). While one is never quite sure what is fact and what is fiction, it is clear that a huge amount of the plot is drawn from fact. This is again easily cross-checked through other books, web searches and the History Channel!
As a lover of spy fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Yes, it's very long - the only problem you will face is trying to stay awake so you can carry on reading at 3am! I do agree with some of the other reviewers that important episodes seem to have been left out. On reflection, though, I prefer the detail with which the main episodes have been sketched. This book did for me what a really good book will do - it incentivised me to go and find out more about particular events such as the Hungary uprising.
Two caveats: the social and especially romantic lives of the main characters are a bit "soapy", and while the book doesn't really shy away from criticizing the CIA, it does so in a very guarded way. I do think a bit of wider reading should be done also just to put some of the things in perspective. Having said all that, the book is highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As a lover of spy fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Yes, it's very long - the only problem you will face is trying to stay awake so you can carry on reading at 3am! I do agree with some of the other reviewers that important episodes seem to have been left out. On reflection, though, I prefer the detail with which the main episodes have been sketched. This book did for me what a really good book will do - it incentivised me to go and find out more about particular events such as the Hungary uprising.
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Format: Paperback
A compelling read that had me ensnared from the first few pages. Despite its length (over 1200 pages), it feels much shorter as I was drawn into the plot and swept through 4 decades of cold war history seen through the eyes of the CIA. Not sure how much of it is based on reality but a fabulous book none-the-less.
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