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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [Paperback]

John Le Carré
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

The Circus has already suffered a bad defeat, and the result was two bullets in a man's back. But a bigger threat still exists. And the legendary George Smiley is recruited to root out a high-level mole of thirty years' standing - though to find him means spying on the spies.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is brilliant and ceaselessly compelling, pitting Smiley against his Cold War rival, Karla, in one of the greatest struggles in all fiction.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy + Smiley's People + The Honourable Schoolboy
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444728172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444728170
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Product Description


'A great thriller, the best le Carré has written.' (Spectator)

'A stunning story' (Wall Street Journal)

'John le Carré is the great master of the spy story . . . the constant flow of emotion lifts him above most novelists now practising.' (Financial Times)

Book Description

Now a major film starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Old Fashioned Spy Thriller 8 Nov 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great change in pace against normal spy books. There are no wiz bangs and gorgeous women. It just revolves around old fashioned atmosphere and storytelling.

We follow the expolits of George Smiley, one of the Cold War's heroes, as he is tasked with finding a Soviet mole imbedded within MI6. He was ousted in a shake-up following the overthrow, and demise, of the previous "Control" of MI6 - another name for James Bond's M.

He is outside the current regime that the mole is part of and his search is therefore reliant on old fashioned techniques of infiltarion and intelligence gathering.

I hadn't read this in about 20 years but was swept back into Smiley's world. Le Carre has a reputation for outstanding work and this is one of his best.

I won't give the game away as I hate plot spoilers. If you want to read an authentic Cold War spy story then this is for you.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece 5 Aug 2005
By Donaldo
This is probably the finest of Le Carre's novels. His great creation, George Smiley, is repsonsible for finding a Soviet mole in the heirarchy of British Intelligence which has done immeasureable damage for decades. George is the most unlikely hero - ponderous, old, shy, retiring, but posessed of enormous compassion and iron will. This who-dunnit story plays against a general background of betrayal - the betrayal of the mole against the British state, the betrayal of the agents run by the mole, the betrayal of Smiley's wife's infidelity, the general betrayal of idealism in the Circus to the mundane self-serving ends of its leaders.
And then there is the setting - Britain in all its drab, mundane 1960's/70's glory. Drab colours, poor food, rain soaked days, steamed up car windows, snobbery and poverty. And the dialogue is second to none. So world weary, so wise. And the intelligence world rings true in this book too, it feels realistic, it feels about right. The moral ambiguity is embraced by Le Carre. Though there are heroes and villians in this book, the boundaries are fairly blurred.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philby 18 Sep 2009
An excellent book which transcends the spy genre and dissects brilliantly the moral condition of human beings in the iciest days of the cold war: an atmosphere of ethical and political confusion/ambivalence, petty ambition and careless treachery pervades the whole work and provides a convincing backdrop for the examination of the nature of patriotism and the defence of a limited and faulty but ultimately worthy western liberalism.

And yet it is a book in which very little happens - it feels like a collection of dusty papers, assiduously compiled reports found in a filing cabinet in the corner of a room in Whitehall two decades after the fact... The ponderously procedural and bureaucratic nature of intelligence work, and the consequent difficulty of accessing "truth" are very well manipulated by LeCarre who develops the plot as a series of episodic vignettes, hazily recollected by some unseen witness.

The characters, their conversations and innermost thoughts, the themes and the all-too real denouement are utterly convincing, precisely because Le Carre is able to portray the mundane, humdrum nature of intelligence work and, above all, the plain, bitter-sweet patriotism of his hero, George Smiley.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre at his considerable best 13 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not only is this probably Le Carre's best work, but I'd rate it as one of the best novels of the 1970s. It perfectly captures the feeling of Britain's post-war decline and nostalgia for a greater time. It is a beautifully written, highly convincing story of the hunt for a high-ranking mole in the British Secret Service, with the effect of this on the memorable central characters (not least unlikely hero George Smiley) subtly portrayed. A gripping, immensely satisfying Cold-War thriller. And a great novel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smiley read by John Le Carre 5 Jun 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I was hoping for the BBC Radio Drama starring Bernard Hepton as George Smiley but I think that is unlikely now they are planning a series of Smiley dramas with Simon Russell Beale. This is the book read by John Le Carre and there is a lot to be said for it, John Le Carre has a good reading voice and a real feel for his characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am glad to have it in my collection. I will also look out the BBC Radio Dramas. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Following in the tradition of Graham Greene, who wrote spy novels contemporaneous with his own, John LeCarre uses his experience in the foreign service and MI6 to add realism to his tales of espionage. Green, however, remained a friend of traitor Kim Philby and continued to send his novels to Philby after Philby defected to Russia. LeCarre, however, was betrayed by Philby to Russian agents, and his career was ended. This betrayal gives added realism to his novels, which show real disillusionment with the system and, sometimes, with its agents and officials.

Written in 1974, this novel draws on the real life LeCarre (real name David Cornwell) and many of his associates who were unmasked by Philby and the "Cambridge Five." Here LeCarre creates a vivid and morally sensitive story in which his hero, George Smiley, is called out of his enforced retirement to unmask a Soviet "mole" high in the British secret service, referred to as "the circus." Five men (as in the real betrayal) have been suspected. Drawing on his friendships with some of the agents who were dismissed when he was, Smiley investigates the security leaks which have led to humiliation for British intelligence and real danger for some of its agents. As he tries to identify the mole, he receives peripheral help from Sir Oliver Lacon of the British Foreign Office.

Written in formal and polished prose, the novel is full of Cold War complexities. Karla, the legendary head of Soviet intelligence, continues to control a small group of Soviet "defectors" and disillusioned Communists, whom the British mistakenly regard as double agents providing them with secret information. At the same time, British Control (who is never identified by name) is trying to uncover the Soviet mole (nicknamed "Gerald") within their own agency.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good quality item for fair price
Published 13 hours ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Classic spy, cold war intrigue at its most absorbing, subtlety is the watchword here.
Published 8 days ago by Frank J
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Quality Radio Adaptation
It is the mid 1970’s and the cold war is at its height. British Intelligence - The Circus, is struggling to shake off an atmosphere of failure and frustration. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Mr. Kenneth Beatson
5.0 out of 5 stars Tinker tailor soldier spy
Brilliant book keeps you riveted right to the end. I wish all spy novels where as well written with the detail and characters as this book is.
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
If you have seen the film then this is much better, very intricate storyline but very worth while sticking with it. A great read.
Published 1 month ago by James Dixey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant spy story.
I missed the TV series from this book but I purchased the DVD and watched it before I read the book. This was a good move as the story has many twists and turns. An enjoyable read.
Published 1 month ago by N. Hone
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic. I had to buy it again after ...
A classic. I had to buy it again after so many years because the original went missing. I have read all his books. He hasn't let me down till now.
Published 1 month ago by KostasP
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the greats
Whatever anyone says this is a great and subtle piece of writing, this does not involve high speed chases or James Bond, it involves the use of intelligence. Read more
Published 1 month ago by S M A S K
1.0 out of 5 stars Ttsp
Did not get this book at all.
Do not buy it's crap.
Rubbish rubbish crap crap crap crap crap.
Published 1 month ago by leon
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Best Quality
It is what is it, I went for cheap and that's what is looks like. Not a good gift to give.
Published 2 months ago by Jill Sandy
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