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The Ipcress File Hardcover – 1 Jan 1976

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (1 Jan. 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224012789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224012782
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,544,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in London, Len Deighton served in the RAF before graduating from the Royal College of Art (which recently elected him a Senior Fellow). While in New York City working as a magazine illustrator he began writing his first novel, The Ipcress File, which was published in 1962. He is now the author of more than thirty books of fiction and non-fiction. At present living in Europe, he has, over the years, lived with his family in ten different countries from Austria to Portugal.

Product Description

Review

‘A spy story with a difference.’ Observer

‘A master of fictional espionage.’ Daily Mail

‘The poet of the spy story.’ Sunday Times

‘The Ipcress File helped change the shape of the espionage thriller…the prose is still as crisp and fresh as ever…there is an infectious energy about this book which makes it a joy to read, or re-read.’ Daily Telegraph

‘The self-conscious cool of Deighton’s writing has dated in the best way possible…a stone-cold cold war classic.’ Guardian

‘Deighton is so far in the front of other writers in the field that they are not even in sight’ Sunday Times

‘Nobody now seriously doubts that Deighton is the most credible of all the spysmiths’ The Scotsman

‘Regarded as the cold war spy thriller that made all subsequent examples of the genre possible…however much of a classic the film is, the book is a completely different proposition. It’s more intricate and far superior…a must for anyone who likes this kind of fiction.’ Loaded

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in London, he served in the RAF before graduating from the Royal College of Art (which recently elected him a Senior Fellow). While in New York City working as a magazine illustrator he began writing his first novel, ‘The Ipcress File’, which was published in 1962. He is now the author of more than thirty books of fiction and non-fiction. At present living in Europe, he has, over the years, lived with his family in ten different countries from Austria to Portugal.

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 May 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Published more than fifty years ago, this was Len Deighton's first novel, and the debut of his anonymous secret agent anti-hero (named Harry Palmer in the film adaptions, which starred Michael Caine). He stands in contrast to the more glamorous James Bond (whose first film, Dr. No, appeared in the same year as this book), in that he's working class, shops in supermarkets, wears glasses and is hindered by bureaucracy. He also has a sharp eye (e.g. "The barman - a tall ex-pug with a tan out of a bottle and a tie-knot the size of a large garden pea - was rubbing an old duster around spotless unused ashtrays and taking sly sips at a half-pint of Guinness." [p72]), and a memorable turn of phrase. Here, for example, is his way of describing his discovery of the true nature of the man in the next seat on a flight to Rome, after he's picked his pocket and leafed through his wallet, discovering some photos [p30]:

"[They were of] a dark-haired, round-faced character; deep sunk eyes with bags under horn-rimmed glasses, chin jutting and cleft. On the back of the photos was written '5ft 11in; muscular, inclined to overweight, No visible scar tissue; hair dark brown, eyes blue'. I looked at the familiar face again. I knew the eyes were blue, even though the photograph was in black and white. I'd seen the face before; most mornings I shaved it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE on 8 April 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the grimy antidote to Bond where the lead character has the Burnley accent. Deighton's espionage world is full of crooks rather than spys on both sides. He portrays a world where the driving force is not a simple Left/Right ideology but rather out and out greed.

It has a Chandleresque prose style fitted into a UK setting; actually a very London-centric setting.It has an odd feeling of being written as a reaction to something and I can only assume it is Ian Fleming's stuff. It is very anti-Establishment and early 60's referring to Harry as 'he could have been a John Osborne hero'. This feeling goes with a general world weariness.

He gives a knowing wink at the real-life UK traitors but unfortunately he didn't quite know the whole story in 1962. This is not Mr Deighton's fault and does not weaken his valid premise that the spy world may have more to it than duffing up the Russkies.

Without giving away the plot there is also some prescient stuff on brain-washing and industrial espionage for which the author deserves credit.

Enjoyed this more than I expected. It has a curiosity value to see early 60's political attitudes, it offers a different kind of espionage raison d'etre typified by the 'Ipcress' concept and it keeps you turning the pages.
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By os TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Aug. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
`The Iprcess File' is all a reader of spy novels might expect - an insubordinate, wise cracking hero with a chip on his shoulder, a plot so impenetrable that it defies putting into synopsis and an exotic but well drawn crew of characters whose motives and allegiances are not all they seem. Add of course the use of location -mixing far-flung atolls with grimy backstreet offices and night clubs, the sudden twists and turns in the narrative and some interesting diversions on atomic bomb testing, interrogation methods and a little bit of science ,the recipe is made perfect.

Deighton is a master of tightly written prose and even tighter tension creation. His plots do not depend on the crude use of violence, sexual explicitness or extra ordinary co-incidence. The book works because the main driver of the story sounds like the sort of Cold-War stunt that either the West or East could happily have tried to perpetrate on one another.

Recommended: an excellent, page turning read
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this book as I'm a fan of Micheal Caine in the movies and thought I'd see how true he was in portraying the character written in this book. Harry Palmer ( not named in this book) is an educated complex character with a dry sense of humour all good, there are similarities with James Bond with the little jovial quips!
But I did find the storyline difficult to follow, the beginning fine with an understandable plot starting up, then it started to jump around and I found it a difficult read, a shame.
The ending I found all a bit wanting, with Harry summing up all the story filling in the blanks to a member of staff over a cup of tea type of scenario.
I don't think I will try any more of his books as I just found it all a bit confusing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Melmoth on 10 May 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were looking for a spy to contrast with James Bond, they couldn't have hit on a better one than Len Deighton's creation. Known in the film version as Harry Palmer and played with youthful cheek and a cocky, Cockney swagger by Michael Caine, in the book our spy is older, from the North and nameless - though he may once have been a "Harry" in one of the many guises he has adopted in his life as a secret agent. Nonetheless, in both guises the hero remains witty (in all senses of the word) and endowed with both a half-easy charm and a gift for medium-rare-to-overdone insubordination that makes him easy to warm to.

The events of the novel may be even lower key than in the film of the same name - no swirling, technicolour lights and spinning hypnotic discs, no "Now listen to me" - but they are just as gripping, if not more so. This is the Cold War game as played by men already hardened by their participation in the hot war that preceded it, mildly bemused by the webs of intrigue that surround them at the same time as they are embittered by the grey pettiness of the form-filling and chit-obtaining that form the rituals of civil service life. With this base for his dish, Deighton throws in neutron bombs, brainwashing and betrayal to create a fine novelistic dish, which feels real in a way Bond - even in Fleming's original novels - never managed and is suffused with moments of real humour and humanity Fleming's tales never possessed.
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