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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Story
This is the second of Le Carre's Smiley trilogy. Following the Secret Services uncovering of a Russian mole Smiley is put in charge to rebuild the battered and demoralised service.

We follow the exploits of Gerald Westerbury as he sets out to uncover the destination of $500,000 of funds transferred to a trust account in Hong Kong by the Russians. Jerry has to...
Published on 30 Nov. 2006 by J. E. Parry

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK story, but they need an editor or a proof-reader`
I have two major problems with this book. One is the story itself. As a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy it lacks the pace of the previous book. The story is slow to get going and really drags in places. I understand that this book was never adapted for TV because they couldn't afford to film in the Far East. If they had tried to adapt it, they would probably have...
Published on 10 July 2012 by Cheerful Dragon


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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Story, 30 Nov. 2006
By 
J. E. Parry "Jeff Parry" (Pontypool, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This is the second of Le Carre's Smiley trilogy. Following the Secret Services uncovering of a Russian mole Smiley is put in charge to rebuild the battered and demoralised service.

We follow the exploits of Gerald Westerbury as he sets out to uncover the destination of $500,000 of funds transferred to a trust account in Hong Kong by the Russians. Jerry has to discover what this money is for.

There is cross and double cross by the main protaginists as there are several stories running in tandem. As Smiley plots he is under pressure from the Americans and the machinations of his own political masters. Does anyone know what is happening or who is planning what?

What is Drake Ho, the Chinese industrialist, up to? Who is Liese Worth? Did Ricardo, a drug running CIA pilot, die in Laos? What is the role of drake's dead brother in everything?

In typical Carre fashion the story is told in the third person, as though reminising after the fact. We are led through the events after they happened. We know that something major is waiting but not what exactly.

The hero of the piece is Westerbury. He is the old school spy, sent in as a journalist and left to run with little support. We see the efforts of a demoralised agency trying to rebuild and inject a new pride.

Another great story from the master of Cold War spying.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a Cold, Grey Day, 15 Feb. 2010
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I am working my way through the new BBC John LeCarre series and loving every minute of them. The production is crisp and clear, the acting exemplary and the adaptations convey all the drama and tension you want from a cold war thriller.

At three hours long this is perfect for a long car journey or, as I did, a long afternoon sitting in the chair as the cold grey skies rolled past outside the window. As they say, radio has the best pictures and these are better than most movies.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a most likable hero, 26 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This remains my favorite le Carre novel.It has everything you expect from him, being beautifully written,well paced and with a great feeling for the locations and people.But with this book le Carre has created a most likable hero in Jerry Westerby.Tough,romantic but essentially niave he is a perfect foil to the the fantastically corrupt asia of the last days of the Vietnam war. .The novel builds beautifully having introduced and combined plots,sub plots and a great cast of weird and wonderful bit players rouges, cynics and soldiers as Jerry faithfully follows the orders of his mentor George and plans to betray him.Great stuff.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely magnificent., 24 April 2000
This book, the second in the so-called "Smiley versus Karla" trilogy, is bar none, Le Carre's best novel. It is about a complicated ploy by George Smiley, now re-instated in the circus and it's new head, to gain revenge on Karla and Moscow Centre over it's decades long humiliation by the hands of a British spy. The novel is primarily based in the far east, mainly in Hong Kong and reaching out to war-torn Cambodia. The man on the scene, set to land the coup, is Jerry Westerby, a sometime news Reporter, a some time spy for the circus. Unfortunately for him, the cards are stacked against him from the outset. I would read Tinker Tailor before reading this novel, so as to have much of the background knowledge needed. But in my mind this is LeCarre's finest work. Pity the excellent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Smiley's People didn't have this gem filmed along with them as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK story, but they need an editor or a proof-reader`, 10 July 2012
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I have two major problems with this book. One is the story itself. As a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy it lacks the pace of the previous book. The story is slow to get going and really drags in places. I understand that this book was never adapted for TV because they couldn't afford to film in the Far East. If they had tried to adapt it, they would probably have cut or 'edited' huge chunks of it.

Which brings me to my second problem with this book - editing (or lack of it). Or perhaps the problem is proof-reading. A previous reviewer commented on words running together and blamed Amazon for lack of quality control. I'll place the blame where it should be - the publisher. Amazon can't check every book they sell and has to rely on the publisher getting things right. This is one case where the publisher got it wrong.

I've read Tinker, Tailor on Kindle and didn't have anything like the problems I had with this book. I'm hoping I won't have these problems with Smiley's People, which I also own on Kindle.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's a really good book hiding within the padding, 3 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (Paperback)
I'm pretty new to Le Carre. I read 'The Spy Who Came in from The Cold' and was blown away. It's dark, it's realistic - it's the dirty, unglamorous world of what you'd imagine spying must really be like.

I read 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and though it was a bit slow at times, I loved it. Great story - makes you really work at it but it's really rewarding too.

When I realised 'Tinker Tailor' was part of a trilogy, I thought I must read the rest.

'The Honorable Schoolboy' is the second in the trilogy and you must read 'Tinker Tailor' first. It's a good story, a good development of 'Tinker Tailor' showing how Smiley tries to rebuild a shattered service with little support or thanks from the political masters.

However.... it's 686 pages long. You're 80 pages in before the intrigue first starts to get opened up. You're 150 pages in before there's anything very exciting. It's split into two halves, the second of which is paced much better but he really drags his heals. I would love to edit this book - at 450 pages, it could be a very worthy sequel to 'Tinker Tailor'. As it stands, it takes an effort of will - or good skimming skills - to stay with it.

I bought the final one - 'Smiley's People' - and note it's only 450 pages long. Perhaps he had more confidence in himself by this stage to just get down to the meat and potatoes and cut the waffle. Fingers crossed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Adaptation, 4 Mar. 2010
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is one of a continuing sequence of Le Carre's Smiley novels set in the world of post World War II espionage as the cold war rages. The books have received a new lease of life through these exquisite Radio Four dramatisations, although they are also excellent in their own right. My husband and I have been listening from the beginning and it is fantastic that the audio cds come out so soon after the radio broadcast so we can listen again and again. Simon Russell Beale is superb as Smiley and his wonderful acting skills come across as well on radio as they do on stage and screen. This volume has an excellent supporting cast including the fantastic Hugh Bonneville, and they are a delight to listen to. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Karla story continues..., 25 Jun. 2010
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emma who reads a lot (London) - See all my reviews
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This is a nice present for those who love Le Carré's stunning trilogy about the hunt to identify "Karla", the Russian mastermind who has possessed George Smiley's mind (and lighter) for many years. But it's also great for people just coming to the Smiley books. It would be difficult to disagree with Simon Russell Beale cast as Smiley, and the whole thing has great atmosphere. My only objection, which I have made elsewhere as well, as that le Carré's absolutely masterful construction of plot has been slightly fiddled with in order to adapt for radio. These books are already so filmic, so concise, why does this need to happen? Anyway, a big sigh to that, and a hurray to being able to enjoy the book all over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre's Most Eloquent Response to James Bond, 14 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (Paperback)
The middle instalment of the `Karla Trilogy' is very different from the two books that take place either side of it, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's People. In both of those the central character, George Smiley, is a retired outsider investigating the mistakes and betrayals of other men. In The Honourable Schoolboy, we get to see Smiley doing what he is supposedly best at, running an intelligence service. It means we get to see him operating on a grander scale: from a tiny office in London, he is directing operations as far away as Hong Kong and Vietnam. But it also means that this time, the mis-steps are his.
Smiley is not the operative here, but the mastermind directing events. That means he needs a stand-in to do the field work, the titular Honourable Schoolboy -- and for that le Carre resurrects a character from the previous book, who seems here to have had something of an unaccounted character transformation. In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Jerry Westerby was a comic turn to alleviate the suspense as Smiley hunted down the mole in the Circus, a drunken upper class English buffoon with delusions of spying glory whose ego Smiley flatters in order to get information.
In The Honourable Schoolboy, Westerby is suddenly the real thing, a hardened intelligence operative who slips in and out of countries under the noses of passport officials, carries a gun, and hitches rides across war zones.
His sudden unexplained proficiency notwithstanding, it is Jerry Westerby who is the most arresting character in the book, not Smiley. In the early stages of the book, it's Smiley who engrosses us, as he fights MI6′s corner against rival government departments, and tries to trace Karla's operations with only a skeleton staff. But as the story progresses, Westerby increasingly steals the show.
He is, perhaps, le Carre's most eloquent response to the James Bond style of spy. Like Bond, he is a hard-drinking womaniser, an effortless charmer. Like Bond, he is a dyed-in-the-wool field operative, uninterested in the machinations and schemes of headquarters in London. But Westerby has a degree of self-awareness Bond lacks, he knows that, for all the women, he cuts a rather sad, lonely figure. And he knows that, unlike Bond, he is not always on the side of good.
Le Carre is at his most skilful in slowly transferring the reader's allegaince from Smiley to Westerby -- no mean feat, after he had made Smiley so sympathetic a character in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Here, we see a different Smiley, a ruthless spymaster, prepared to risk and even sacrifice the innocent in pursuit of his greater cause. It is Westerby, by contrast, who becomes the unlikely conscience of the book. At its best moments, there is an almost Graham Greene-like quality to this, as Westerby goes on relentlessly with his mission, all the while aware of its effects on the people around him, as if he is powerless to prevent them.
There is a Greene-like quality, too, in the evocative descriptions of south-east Asia, particularly during sequences in war-torn Cambodia. Less successful are the depictions of hard-drinking journalists in Hong Kong, where the character Craw, in particular, grows wearisome with his heavily stylised private slang.
The greatest disappointment, though, was the ending -- which I shan't spoil, except to say that it didn't quite come off for me. It was hard to see why Westerby made the choices he made at the end of the book, the more so because he had been so beautifully drawn up until then. Nevertheless a dazzling book, with all the pace of a spy thriller, but set in a real world where actions have consequences, not all of them pleasant, or even forgiveable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate, passionate, and only very slightly self-indulgent, 28 April 2012
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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If you loved Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and want to know what happens next, this is what happens. The Circus, rocked by the Bill Haydon betrayal, is placed in the hands of George Smiley, who brings back in Peter Guillam, Connie Sachs and old faithful the newspaper stringer Jerry Westerby, the 'Honourable Schoolboy' of the title. But the Circus charter and budget are dramatically curtailed, and there is a good chance that the Circus will not survive at all. Circus centres across the world are closed down, including the famous Hong Kong residence. British Secret Intelligence seems blind, and this is exactly the way Carla wanted it.

With a bare minimum of resources, Smiley starts to track Carla's 'handwriting', discovering a potential mole of the Bill Haydon type embedded in the Chinese communist hierarchy. With Westerby despatched to Hong Kong as the legman, Smiley begins a complex process of triangulating the elusive Nelson Ko, which eventually results in a magnificent sting which... well, enough of the spoilers. It doesn't end the way you expect it to.

This is by far the most expansive of the Smiley books, with Westerby traipsing through war torn South East Asia, escaping death often by no more than a whisker. Back in London, we see Smiley and his team in their element, doing all the things which we most wish they would be allowed to do, and leaving the Americans in the dust as they do it.

My only criticism of this book is that it tends a little towards self-indulgence, with old chums back running the Circus like what they should, with enough camaraderie and table-tennis to give the Famous Five a run for their money. However, it's a minor point, and most readers will lap it up, at least on the first time through. It's what Smiley deserves, after all.

This is immensely exciting, and moves towards the James Bond territory for once. It is an excellent counter point to the dangerous games of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the austere silences of Smiley's People.
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The Honourable Schoolboy
The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carré (Paperback - 26 Nov. 2009)
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