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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Old Fashioned Spy Thriller
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...
Published on 8 Nov. 2006 by J. E. Parry

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay if you know what's going on
I watched Film 2011 where they said that people had watched the film and were reading the book to work out what happened. I thought I would read the book first. Unfortunately I am now going to have to watch the film to try work out what happened in the book.

Very complicated, although The Tailor of Panama by the same author is a very easy read. I would also...
Published on 6 Nov. 2011 by John Meanwood


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - yet another classic production of this great book from the BBC, 29 Mar. 2010
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This is the second time the BBC have adapted John Le Carre's classic spy story `Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'. The previous version was for television, and featured Alec Guinness as Smiley, in perhaps the greatest performance of his career. Nothing much to live up to then...

In this radio production, Simon Russell Beale slips into Guinness's shoes, and doesn't find them too uncomfortable. His performance does resemble Guiness, but he manages to put his own stamp on the role.

This is the fifth Smiley adaptation for radio from the BBC starring Beale. You don't need to have listened/read to any of the previous of the previos Smiley adventures to get into this. After a disastrous operation in Czechoslovakia, there has been a clear out of the top brass in British Intelligence, there is a new order and George Smiley is not part of it. But it becomes clear that there may be a Russian mole in the heart of the service, and Smiley is brought in to investigate form the outside, without the knowledge of anyone in the service.

The plot twists an turns as Smiley rakes over old files and missions in the search for evidence. Just what was it about the Czech mission that was so damaging to Control, the old head of the service? And is there a link with the solid gold intelligence source that has gifted the new head his position? Slowly Smiley gathers the evidence and pieces his case together, finally finding the weak links and setting a trap to uncover the mole.

This is a really gripping tale, in which it is easy to get totally immersed and lost. Beale is just right as Smiley, and largely carries the production. Some cuts have been made from the book, inevitable when trying to cram it into a mere 3 hours, but these do not detract, and in some cases serve to keep the narrative flowing better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys good, thoughtful drama.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is real, isn't it?, 1 July 2009
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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Having seen this on TV/video/DVD enough times to mouth the script, I am embarrassed to admit that I have only just read this. Despite knowing the story inside out it gripped me from start to finish.

It is so overwhelmingly real that repeatedly you feel like you are reading a factual historical account. It is so exciting. It so typifies an end of an era. A world of dinosaurs, old-school, end of Empire, of those 'trained to rule but with nothing to run'.

Haydon is a much more rounded character in the book but Sir Alec Guinness just is Smiley. One tiny, tiny niggle is that I was always slightly disappointed with the Connie Sachs and Roy Bland characters in the film and, for me, this is actually re-emphasised in the book.

Even if you have seen the TV film buy this, settle down and drift away into a quite superb world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective, atmospheric spy thriller, 1 Nov. 2011
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Paperback)
For the first 100 pages of this book, even though I'd seen the film, I had very little idea what the hell was going on. There are numerous characters, many of them with more than one name, and very little indication of what their jobs might be and whether they were important. Moreover, the book is crammed with secret service jargon which is never explained. Call me stupid, but I was baffled.

However... perhaps perversely, this was actually one of the things I liked about it. The jargon and the complete lack of any practical explanation of Who's Who In Spying brings with it a feeling of real immersion in the murky, oddly down-at-heel world of George Smiley, the recently sacked intelligence officer re-recruited to dig out a mole from 'the Circus', as MI6 is known throughout the novel. After 100 pages of pleasant confusion, it suddenly clicked, and I felt as if I was eavesdropping on Smiley and his assistant Guillam as they in turn shadow the potential Circus traitors.

Written and set in the early 1970s, Tinker Tailor reads like something of a period piece now. The Cold War is very much a reality, the Iron Curtain is still solid and the idea of an office with a computer is laughable. These spies are middle-aged, largely unattractive characters, with dysfunctional personal relationships and distinctly unglamorous lifestyles - Prideaux, dismissed from the Circus after being unmasked and shot in Czechoslovakia, teaches at a shabby prep school and lives in a caravan. Smiley spends much of the novel hiding out at a seedy hotel where the proprietor's adult son listens at the doors of honeymoon couples. James Bond this ain't; Spooks this even ain'ter. There's very little action as such, Smiley being an introspective, thoughtful introvert rather than a man who chases around London waving guns, and the whole novel is bleak, pessimistic and ever so slightly grubby. These are real spies, who use dead letter drops and microfilm and miniature cameras and secret codes, and position single hairs over door jambs to ascertain if someone has entered secretly and speak fluent Czech.

And I loved it. I couldn't put it down. Perhaps because every character is so vivid and believable, and perhaps because it's just so much more than a spy novel. It's a novel about obsession, about betrayal, about futility, and the gradual drip-drip effect one one's psyche of having to trust nobody and largely living a lie. Smiley himself is unable to rid himself of his nagging fixation with Karla, his opposite number at the KGB; in a series of flashbacks, we learn how a sick, feverish Smiley had the opportunity to recruit Karla as a defector in India once but simply ended up pouring out his marriage woes - and indeed, Smiley is still being humiliated by his wife's indiscretions. Smiley's failed marriage becomes inextricably entwined with his attempts to uncover the Circus mole, and a strong sense of melancholy prevails throughout. I adored this book, it was almost a wrench to leave Smiley's Cold War world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC drama production at its very best, 27 Feb. 2010
By 
Ghostgrey51 (Britain) - See all my reviews
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Following the iconic BBC TV production of the 1990's was always going to be a difficult task, but the radio drama department was able to meet the challenge and add its own outstanding version of this powerful Le Carre novel.
The tale of Smiley's efforts to hunt down the destructive mole within the british secret service is well known; the skill and the art of this production is to bring across the foreboding air and mutual claustrophobic suspicion of the characters as the hunt begins. Colleague against colleague, the grey world of half truths and deceptions, the ever present threat of exposure by apparent friends all are brought across by a cast on peak form; it would be unfair to single one actor out; this is consummate work.
A particularly effective move was to bring Smiley's eternally unfaithful wife into his head; `the conversations' between them illustrating both his own aguish at her infidelity and the strain and self-doubts while hunting down the double agent.
This is to be recommended as an ideal answer to the dearth of quality TV programmes. Sit down of an evening with this in your cd player, you will not be disappointed (and if you are new to this tale, and do get a bit confused, you can always utilise the `repeat' button - or even listen to the whole drama again; this sort of work does not go stale).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Classic, 10 Aug. 2011
By 
Syriat - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Paperback)
I wanted to read this before the Hollywood version is released and I haven't seen the BBC TV adaptation either. What I have read though is a classic book that not only gives a portrait of Spying at the time (allegedly) but also of London and the shrinking Britain struggling in a post empire environment.

The premise is simple. A spy exists in the circus (named after its location in central London). Someone needs to brought in from the outside to identify the spy. George Smiley, having recently left the service under a cloud, is that person. What follows is a look back to why Smiley left and uncovering the spy. Its densely plotted and you need to pay attention. It is not an airport novel that you can just flick through. Its depiction of seventies London is striking in comparison to the modernity of London now. It really does evoke the place it used to be and the way people used to be.

The ending is satisfying and makes you want to real the other two following novels. It certainly delivers it fair share of twists. It does use trade terms sometimes which can be confusing and yes you do have to keep up and sometimes re-read a passage or flick back. However, its well worth the effort and is rightly hailed as a classic
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Adaptation, 26 Jan. 2010
By 
I've been a fan of the Smiley novels for some time and (unbelievably) didn't realise that they'd all been dramatised and were being broadcast.

Luckily, I managed to get on board with this, the first of the Karla Trilogy.

I've read the book a number of times but found that there were places where this adaptation actually made some points in the book clearer than before. For example, the fact that Karla knew about Jim's briefing by Control. I was disappointed that Jerry Westerby's interview with Smiley wasn't included as this gives a good lead in to the Honourable Schoolboy (though it doesn't detract from the plot of this story).

Simon Russell Beale is superb as Smiley. Occasionally there are echoes of Guiness - however I think this is more due to the nature of the part than any attempt at impersonation (le Carre himself said that Guiness was perfect as Smiley, so anyone else playing him should bear some similarity).

I also liked the mental dialogue between Smiley and Anne, for me this was a good way to hear what went on in Smiley's head during the hunt for Guillam.

All in all, this is a very atmospheric adaptation - I loved the paranoia of the walk across London heading for the safe house in Camden - with a great cast.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful reading which does full justice to the novel, 21 Sept. 2001
By A Customer
Having read the classic spy novel "Tinker, Tailor, Sailor, Spy",I was convinced that it could not be effectively transferred to any media besides screen. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the effective and erudite interpretation given to the tortured characters at the centre of this, perhaps one of the most poignant and "human" spy novels.
This is undoubtedly worth buying, as the reader evokes the full horror of the Cold War even more than the novel from which it is taken. Truly, it kept me awake at night.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay if you know what's going on, 6 Nov. 2011
By 
John Meanwood (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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I watched Film 2011 where they said that people had watched the film and were reading the book to work out what happened. I thought I would read the book first. Unfortunately I am now going to have to watch the film to try work out what happened in the book.

Very complicated, although The Tailor of Panama by the same author is a very easy read. I would also recommend Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: John Le Carre - You're on a damned long road George, supposing you don't reach the end?, 23 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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Published in 1974, this is the 7th novel from John Le Carre, and the 5th to feature his most famous creation, George Smiley. It is an absolute masterclass of the spy genre.

George Smiley is retired from the secret service, a victim of the shakeup that tried to clear out the dead wood after a disastrous operation launched by the old head of the service in Czechoslovakia. But despite the new regime, all is not well in the service, and news surfaces that there is a high level mole somewhere in the organisation selling secrets to the Russians. Smiley is brought in as an outsider by the highest authorities to investigate his old colleagues in secret and try to determine the identity of the mole.

Le Carre takes us through Smiley's investigation, as he links together the slenderest of facts and incidents from his own past that look odd when viewed with the knowledge that a mole is at work. He suspects that the mole is wrapped up with a new intelligence source that underpins the new regime, and he untangles a seemingly inextricable knot, with the London mole at one end and the fearsome Karla at the other. We are treated to a book full of atmosphere, as Smiley and his helpers can trust no-one as they investigate their own side. Le Carre gently peels back the layers, as Smiley investigates first the new intelligence source and then the failed Czech operation much to the annoyance of his superiors who fail to see the link with the mole. But Smiley gradually pulls all the threads together and weaves a story out of them that leads him to the truth. In as far as the truth is ever known in that world of lies and obfuscation.

As well as the investigatiom Le Carre shows us, in some depth, the characters involved and what makes them tick. It's as much about the characters as the plot.

It's a textured and multilayered read, no big bangs and explosions but tense and gripping nonetheless. As the crisis is reached I found myself totally engrossed in it and unable to turn away from the book. It's masterful.

A great book. 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: John Le Carre - You're on a damned long road George, supposing you don't reach the end?, 23 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Published in 1974, this is the 7th novel from John Le Carre, and the 5th to feature his most famous creation, George Smiley. It is an absolute masterclass of the spy genre.

George Smiley is retired from the secret service, a victim of the shakeup that tried to clear out the dead wood after a disastrous operation launched by the old head of the service in Czechoslovakia. But despite the new regime, all is not well in the service, and news surfaces that there is a high level mole somewhere in the organisation selling secrets to the Russians. Smiley is brought in as an outsider by the highest authorities to investigate his old colleagues in secret and try to determine the identity of the mole.

Le Carre takes us through Smiley's investigation, as he links together the slenderest of facts and incidents from his own past that look odd when viewed with the knowledge that a mole is at work. He suspects that the mole is wrapped up with a new intelligence source that underpins the new regime, and he untangles a seemingly inextricable knot, with the London mole at one end and the fearsome Karla at the other. We are treated to a book full of atmosphere, as Smiley and his helpers can trust no-one as they investigate their own side. Le Carre gently peels back the layers, as Smiley investigates first the new intelligence source and then the failed Czech operation much to the annoyance of his superiors who fail to see the link with the mole. But Smiley gradually pulls all the threads together and weaves a story out of them that leads him to the truth. In as far as the truth is ever known in that world of lies and obfuscation.

As well as the investigatiom Le Carre shows us, in some depth, the characters involved and what makes them tick. It's as much about the characters as the plot.

It's a textured and multilayered read, no big bangs and explosions but tense and gripping nonetheless. As the crisis is reached I found myself totally engrossed in it and unable to turn away from the book. It's masterful.

I have eulogised about Michael Jayston's narrations a few times before, especially those that he has done for the Adam Dalgleish stories, but here he raises his usually high game to a new level in this unabridged reading. It probably helps that he co-starred in the late seventies TV production that starred Alec Guinness. His delivery here is an absolute joy. With the merest light inflection of his voice he differentiates the myriad of different characters. In a stroke of genius he makes Smiley sound a lot like Guinness, with a very calm and reassuring tone. He narrates with a real feel for the rhythm of the book, and captures the atmosphere as the crisis is reached. It's a joy to listen to, and the hours just fly by. On ten discs it is nearly 13 hours long. The discs are in a spindle case. Liner notes are limited.

A great reading of a great book. 5 stars.
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré (Paperback - 2011)
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