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The Envoy [Kindle Edition]

Edward Wilson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Edward Wilson raises disturbing questions about America's superpower status in the world today, to thrilling conclusion.

Product Description


...a glorious seething broth of historical fact and old-fashioned spy story. -- Kate Saunders, The Times, 7 March 2008

...a sophisticated, convincing novel that shows governments and their secret services as cynically exploitative and utterly ruthless. -- Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph of the three or four best spy novels I've ever read...startlingly honest and insightful.
-- Mat Coward, Morning Star, 12 March 2008

Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph

...a sophisticated, convincing novel that shows governments and their secret services as cynically exploitative and utterly ruthless.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Books (24 Mar. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006WB2GYY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the career spy 1 Mar. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kit Fournier is a senior spy in 1950s London whose mission is to further American interests by wrecking Britain's relations with Russia, preventing her acquiring the H-Bomb, and thereby making her a more willing vassal of the USA. Although Fournier's nominal enemy is the Soviet Union, then, the majority of his double- and triple-crossing is directed at his own colleagues and allies. In the course of the book he blackmails one colleague, violently assaults a friendly agent to teach him a lesson, fraternises with the KGB and gratifies a sexual obsession with his cousin in the course of recruiting her to spy on her husband.

This book does an excellent, highly plausible job of evoking the bleak landscape of the career spy, and the landscape in question isn't just the physical landscape, but the mental and moral landscape as well.

To say these are awry in Fournier is to put the matter very mildly. One should thoroughly dislike him, but the book's achievement is to use his surroundings to explain his state of mind without labouring the point too hard. And as a result, you don't.

So Fournier's choice of home is a dive in the East End rather than the pleasant pad he could otherwise expect. Almost all houses are cold and unwelcoming. Trysts with his cousin occur in a grotty dilapidated boathouse. The main action and the defections occur in a coastal landscape that feels like the edge of somewhere. His lovers always betray him; the least trustworthy people in his life are his bosses and even his family; the most empathetic character is his KGB counterpart.

In effect, it comes down to whether Fournier's world is as it is because of his actions, or whether the bleakness of his world made him.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine spy story set in the 1950s 1 Dec. 2008
This is one of the best spy stories I have read in years. Set in the mid-1950s when the Cold War as at its height and Britain was humiliated over Suez, the book charts the cynical way in which - so the plot has it - the US sought to undermine Britain's attempt to pursue its goals of independent foreign policy, so as to make it possible for the US to station nuclear weapons on UK soil. Even if you think that the Soviet threat to the West was as serious as some Cold War hawks said it was - and I actually side with the hawks - Wilson's plot has lots of convincing detail.

As a person born near the Suffolk coast who was raised there and learned to sail boats in places such as the Orwell estuary, Woodbridge, Aldeburgh and further south, I loved the local details that were woven in to the plot. You can almost smell the mudflats.

I get the impression that the author is a man of fairly strong left/liberal views but he refrains, mostly, from ramming these down the reader's throat and he never quite falls into the trap of making out that somehow the NATO allies were "just as bad" as the former Soviet Empire. Only once or twice did I find the political tone of this book a bit grating. After all, when all is said and done, what Ronald Reagan called the "Evil Empire", with the Gulag, was indeed evil. But there can also be no doubting that the spying activities on all sides in that era were dirty; Britain was not above dropping its NATO allies into trouble, and vice-versa. I thought Wilson's portrayal of J.F Dulles was particularly chilling.

If you like Le Carre or Len Deighton, you will like this book a lot.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired disillusion 4 May 2008
I met Edward Wilson at his book signing in Aldeburgh. I knew nothing of his work, but his hint that he'd written a post Le Carre spy novel persuaded me to buy his book, and I'm so glad that I did. His account of the US's attempts to demolish Britain's fantasies of still having an empire, preventing the development of a British H-bomb but needing the territory as a base for nuclear assault or retaliation on Russia is as devastating as it is plausible. Dirty tricks abound and the protagonist (not exactly a hero!) Kit Fournier is no stranger to them. The story mainly moves between London and Suffolk (where Kit's glamorous, if kinky, cousin lives with her husband, a research scientist in Orford Ness) and both settings are admirably realised. I could hardly hope for a happy ending, but - well, I'll say no more except that Wilson transcends Le Carre in his cynicism! Masterly!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Envoy is a superior spy story that blends real world events and people with a fictional tale. It is complex, multi-layered, atmospheric, full of historical and political insight, and reveals deep insight into human relations. Wilson constructs a compelling and plausible plot that cleverly uses real events, such as the Ordzhonikidze incident in Portsmouth harbour, Britain's hydrogen bomb program, and the Suez crisis, and real personalities such as Allen Dulles, Jack Kennedy and Dick White. He recreates the social landscape of Britain and the wider political atmosphere and diplomatic games being played in the 1950s, providing a deep sense of historical realism (indeed, the bibliography at the end of the book shows that Wilson did a fair bit of research in plotting the book). In particular, Wilson captures the spy's world of deception, lies, betrayals, coercion, blackmail, state-sanctioned murder, paranoia, danger and constant worry, and that half the battle is the games within and between one's own organisations. His characterization is excellent, especially his portrayal of Kit Fournier as a self-reflexive spy racked with self-loathing, yet compelled out of duty and honour to play his role, and he does a good job at exploring the human condition and what drives and shapes people in particular circumstances. Overall, a very well told story, with a couple of nice twists and turns, and an excellent resolution that proves that nothing is as it seems, even to those that think they can see the hand that each party is holding.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A quality cold-war era spy novel.
The Envoy deals with the convoluted politics and espionage during, primarily, the `Cold War` of the 1950s ...... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Megabux
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed it
Published 1 month ago by Critic1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An excellent book for those born in the 50/60's in that he writes about events we can all remember!!
Published 2 months ago by J T Fomes
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and full of noirish paranoia. Very enjoyable. ...
Complex and full of noirish paranoia. Very enjoyable. I am enjoying the hints towards a Balzacian view of recurring characters...a prototype roman-fleuve.
Published 2 months ago by Graemec
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by d j o gregory
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark, dark tale
Its perfectly feasible. It is dark, brutle and really drives home to the reader what the real thing is probably really like. Read more
Published 4 months ago by George Webster
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Brilliant read, making the spy world believable.
Published 4 months ago by a m t
5.0 out of 5 stars nevertheless it was a great read, and I would recommend it
This book was different, as written in a different era, nevertheless it was a great read, and I would recommend it.
Published 6 months ago by mcmary
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good story wrapped around real events with a very good ending.
Published 6 months ago by G Lafferty
5.0 out of 5 stars I have just discovered the author and have been very ...
I have just discovered the author and have been very impressed by both the style and content of this work.
Published 7 months ago by Colin Evans
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