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The Ipcress file [Paperback]

3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007899726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007899722
  • ASIN: B001U4UYCO
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,689 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic spy drama 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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spivs not spys 8 April 2009
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Now listen to me ... 10 May 2009
By Melmoth
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but a little disappointing 18 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've not seen the film, but I know it's a classic. Therefore, I thought I'd have a read of this as it has some prominence. The first few chapters of the book were very promising and it had hope, but after that, I was dying to get to the end to finish it. I was expecting a fast paced spy thriller, but I was disappointed.

The style of writing took some getting used to. I often had to re-read paragraphs and some pages to follow the story - so, not the easiest book to read.

I've given this book 3 stars as the beginning and the end were up to what I expected, but the middle does lose it's way.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A late debut with great impact 19 Feb 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The movie inspired by Len Deighton (LD)'s The Ipcress File (TIF), first published in 1962, starred a very young Michael Caine as the nameless hero, modelled to some extent in the image of his creator. TIF is written in the I-form (first person singular) and readers are therefore drawn into his universe. Early in the book he is transferred from the UK War Office to an undercover counter-intelligence unit. His preferred consumables (Blue Mountain coffee, Gauloises cigarettes) suggest he has been abroad during and after WW II. Despite his lack of a classical upbringing (Eton, Oxbridge), he stands his ground against colleagues who did. At times he is insolent, flippant, ironic, even, sarcastic, then gradually, scared.
Because strange things are happening: UK scientists are disappearing and moved across the Iron Curtain. In the US, sensitive research data are leaked at an alarming speed and magnitude. What is going on? That is for the reader to find out. The book's venues are London and its periphery, Lebanon and the Tokwe atoll in the Pacific, a nuclear test site.
TIF was LDs debut. He has published some 40 books since, mostly on espionage during WW II and the Cold War (with 3 trilogies about spy Bernard Samson). His main interests in life show up in this debut: (1) its hero is a military history buff: LD later published a number of acclaimed books on WW II; (2) reflecting the hero's fondness for good food, LD wrote several cookbooks; (3) the nameless hero being a technology fan, LD's later books have always been at the forefront of espionage writing.
But fortunately, with LD technology never dominates, not now, not ever. TIF was prescient on the use of computers, ultra-high speed transmission, new uses of B-52 bombers and submarines, etc. TIF was a wonderful debut of a man who equals Le Carré impact on the genre in terms of atmosphere and English class issues, but sweeps him briskly aside on modern technology and its uses. A very influential debut.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the film
I quite liked the film but there's just so much more to the story in the book that the film doesn't capture and doesn't do justice to.
Published 6 days ago by Larry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
First Class
Published 15 days ago by Mr. Edward R. Addison
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great story from the master of post war spy thrillers.
Published 20 days ago by Ian S. Wells
1.0 out of 5 stars very weak thriller, though it was his first novel ...
very weak thriller , though it was his first novel so maybe his work improved with experience.
Published 1 month ago by Paul
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
It's very rare that I prefer the film over the book but this case I actually do. I have read other books by this author which were more compelling. Read more
Published 2 months ago by adamski
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Having seen the film many years before, I was rather reluctant to dip into 'Harry Palmer' territory. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Pugwash
4.0 out of 5 stars I spy
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... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jeremy Walton
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and readable fifty year old
If you liked the film and are now looking to read the same story, then this isn't the book for you as the plot is very different. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Wee Davey
4.0 out of 5 stars The name's Osborne, John Osborne
This novel was published 51 years ago. But it still seems fresh today and despite its subject matter it is not dated. The film version widely diverges from the written plot. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Paul T Horgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised to find that this was Len Deighton's first spy novel
I was surprised to find that this was Len Deighton's first spy novel, and that it was every bit as enthralling as his later 'Triple Trilogy' of Spy stories. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ginger Lee
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