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The Levanter Unknown Binding – 1 Jan 1973

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B001EODTH2
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,616,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. L. Price on 27 May 2009
Format: Paperback
The Levanter is a book I buy again and gain in order to re-read it, and of how many thrillers can one say that? Le Carré at his best writes this well. Chandler merits regular re-readings, as does Elmore leonard sometimes ('Glitz', 'La Brava'....). Who else?

The narrator of this story is a science graduate of the University of London, like Ambler himself, so the scientific detail is all accurate, unforced and down to earth. Ambler never wastes a word and yet somehow he manages to enter the mindset of the (anti-) hero who is blackmailed into joining a Palestinian terrorist organisation. He is not 'a man of violence' but in the end decisions have to be taken.

Ambler is a supremely cerebral novelist but that does not prevent him from writing very exciting stories. His characters are usually ambiguous which merely serves to make the stories more believable and indeed more enjoyable. When you've read this - and you must - try the 'Schirmer Inheritance', 'A Kind of Anger', 'Passage of Arms'. 'The Intercom Conspiracy'.......damn it all. Read them all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
This novel is set in Syria over a period of three months in the early 1970s. It describes how a businessman, Michael Howard, the head of a family business that has traded in the middle east for 70 years, is forced to assist a terrorist group in planning and enabling a major attack on Israel, and how the execution of that attack is eventually foiled.

It begins with an American journalist, Lewis Prescott, describing how he agreed to interview Salah Ghaled, the sadistic leader of a small terrorist group, the Palestinian Action Force (PAF). The interview itself is described in a later chapter. Then Howard tells the story of how he got sucked into the activities of the PAF. It starts with him negotiating with a junior minister, Dr Hawa, for a joint venture with the Syrian government to make batteries, and as a consequence he hired a chemist called Issa. Later, Teresa Malandra, who runs Howard's office, alerts him that chemicals have been purchased that are not used in making batteries. He suspects fraud, and one evening he and Malandra go to the plant to investigate. There he finds Issa giving bomb-making instructions to a group of young Arabs. Also there is Ghaled. He forces Howard and Malandra to co-operate with the PAF by threatening their lives. In a short chapter by Malandra we then learn more of Howard's personality, partly shrewd trader, partly engineer and partly wily politician. He is a complex man, and this helps us understand Howard's later actions, some of which are open to criticism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nickmoon42 on 24 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Perhaps this is only my own ignorance of the genre, but an unreliable narrator is not something I would have expected to find in a spy story. Not that this is exactly what we get, but still, the competing perspectives of the three narrators in this novel mean that central protagonist Michael Howell is nicely decentred, and we quickly learn that we shouldn't quite trust his opinion of himself. For depite what the back cover would have us believe, he is not really apolitical, being complicit with Syrian government officials long before the mechanics of the novel's plot involves him with Palestinian terrorists.

Nor is this exactly a spy story either, with the spies largely kept to the margins of the narrative, the focus remaining on Michael Howell, for whom the text is an attempt to exonerate himself from charges his unwilling involvement has brought about from the international community, and on the terrorist leader Ghaled. Ambler's depiction of Ghaled has the feel of an authentic portayal of a fanatic, a man who despite his devotion to his political cause is also clearly guilty of overweaning pride and arrogance, not only a terrorist, but also a manipulative gangster. He is neither a monster, but nor is there any attempt to 'explain' his murderous actions by resort to cheap psycologising.

Whilst Ambler is excellent at maintaining the ambiguity of his characters, and in conveying the details of Howell's business dealings, Arabic society and the Palestinian/Israeli confict as it then was in ways that rarely feel forced, if I have one criticsm it's that I didn't get much of a feel for the various locations where the story takes place.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was my first Kindle download - are they all this shabby? I've reported a typo on virtually every page, some simple punctuation errors, others are more fundamental, such as "bum" instead of "burn". Doesn't anyone proofread the text like a proper publisher would? It's enough to make you want to go back to physical books.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
To read or not to read the great espionage novels of Eric Ambler? That is the question most people ignore because they are not familiar with Mr. Ambler and his particularly talent.
Mr. Ambler has always had this problem. As Alfred Hitchcock noted in his introduction to Intrigue (an omnibus volume containing Journey into Fear, A Coffin for Dimitrios, Cause for Alarm and Background to Danger), "Perhaps this was the volume that brought Mr. Ambler to the attention of the public that make best-sellers. They had been singularly inattentive until its appearance -- I suppose only God knows why." He goes on to say, "They had not even heeded the critics, who had said, from the very first, that Mr. Ambler had given new life and fresh viewpoint to the art of the spy novel -- an art supposedly threadbare and certainly clich?-infested."
So what's new and different about Eric Ambler's writing? His heroes are ordinary people with whom almost any reader can identify, which puts you in the middle of a turmoil of emotions. His bad guys are characteristic of those who did the type of dirty deeds described in the book. His angels on the sidelines are equally realistic to the historical context. The backgrounds, histories and plot lines are finely nuanced into the actual evolution of the areas and events described during that time. In a way, these books are like historical fiction, except they describe deceit and betrayal rather than love and affection. From a distance of many years, we read these books today as a way to step back into the darkest days of the past and relive them vividly. You can almost see and feel a dark hand raised to strike you in the back as you read one of his book's later pages.
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