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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To whom did I lend this? If you are reading this then give it back.
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...
Published on 27 May 2009 by Mr. J. L. Price

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jinglish jungle
Dieses buch ist englisch nicht deutsch!
What's an English book doing on a German page??? That's the third book I got in the wrong language.
Published on 16 Jan. 2013 by Zilka


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To whom did I lend this? If you are reading this then give it back., 27 May 2009
By 
Mr. J. L. Price "doniago" (Crowthorne, Berks Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Levanter: 1 (No Exit Press 18 Years Classic) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent political thriller, 8 Feb. 2012
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Levanter (2nd Edition) (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.

The co-operation with the PAF consists of allowing the resources of Howard's business to be used to supply and test materials used in making bombs that will be used in an attack on Israel, and of altering the route of one of his cargo ships so that it passes close to the shore of Israel to enable the attack. From what he has seen, Howard deduces that this will consist of the detonation by a radio signal from the ship of large caches of explosives smuggled into Israel, coordinated with a rocket attack from a smaller boat that will `shadow' his own ship. Howard attempts to frustrate the plan by enlisting the help of Hawa, but this fails because of the Syrian government's dived loyalties. In desperation, Howard contacts the Israeli secret service and alerts them to the plot. He also arranges to travel on the ship with the small party of terrorists, which includes Ghaled. By altering the course of the ship, he is able to put Israel out of range and so thwart the attack. In the ensuing struggle Ghaled is shot and killed, probably by Howard, but this is never made clear, and in later court proceeding no mention is made of this.

The book ends with Prescott reviewing the events and interviewing Howard. The latter is angry that people do not understand what happened, that the Israelis have not said anything by way of explanation, having presented the incident as a simple highjacking by pirates, and that as a result his family business is finished in Syria and at great loss is having to re-establish itself in Italy.

This is a superb political thriller with an original plot that is totally believable. It captures the political atmosphere of Syria at the time, with deceit and intrigue everywhere, Howard not being exempt from this. It describes in a convincing way the difficult balancing act that had to be performed by anyone trying to do business in the region at that time. The portraits of not only the main characters, but also the many `bit players' are very well drawn. It is an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Terrorist and the Conman, 24 July 2010
This review is from: The Levanter: 1 (No Exit Press 18 Years Classic) (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. The cover of No Exit Press' edition is wonderfully evocative, but some of that was missing from a narrative which is otherwise a little terse, detail being conveyed as much through dialogue as through sometimes rather plain description. This could of course be considered a strength. Ambler has little time for cheap exoticism, but is instead chiefly concerned with the morality and actions of his deaply flawed central character, and with how Howell contrives to deal with the intricate trap which he has found himself in.

An interesting novel, which shows how Ambler was as much interested in probing the subtleties of character and motive as he was in composing a thrilling narrative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book appallingly presented on Kindle - buy the paperback instead, 13 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Levanter (Kindle Edition)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme Chose!, 25 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Levanter (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. In a way, these stories are like a more realistic version of what Dashiell Hammett wrote as applied to European and Middle Eastern espionage.
Since Mr. Ambler wrote, the thrillers have gotten much bigger in scope . . . and moved beyond reality. Usually, the future of the human race is at stake. The heroes make Superman look like a wimp in terms of their prowess and knowledge. There's usually a love interest who exceeds your vision of the ideal woman. Fast-paced violence and killing dominate most pages. There are lots of toys to describe and use in imaginative ways. The villains combine the worst faults of the 45 most undesirable people in world history and have gained enormous wealth and power while being totally crazy. The plot twists and turns like cruise missile every few seconds in unexpected directions. If you want a book like that, please do not read Mr. Ambler's work. You won't like it.
If you want to taste, touch, smell, see and hear evil from close range and move through fear to defeat it, Mr. Ambler's your man.
On to The Levanter. In this novel, we find Mr. Ambler operating at his full powers, combining remarkable character development with complex plots and delicious ambiguity. You will be reminded of Mr. Le Carre.
Uncharacteristically, his protagonist, Michael Howell, is a man of great intelligence, sophistication and subtlety. So he can take on a greater threat than anyone else. Fascinated by the problem of extracting his family's investments from Lebanon, he's been collaborating with the government in covert activities. This backfires in an unexpected way. How will he overcome this challenge?
Howell is one of Ambler's best characters, full of moral ambiguity. He's so good at looking out for his own interests, that he constantly is taking advantage even of those who are trying to take advantage of him. In this book, we get a sense of the mental and moral toughness of a trader. I found the book to seem immensely realistic.
The story telling is strengthened by varying the role of who the narrator is so that you see more dimensions of the plot. Part of the story is told by Howell, part by Lewis Prescott (a journalist hose attempting to sort out what really happened) and part by Teresa Malandra (Howell's co-worker in Lebanon). I'm sure that small businessmen in Middle Eastern countries still face the issues exposed in this plot, which makes the story chillingly timely, even though it is set in the late sixties.
Howell's solution to the problem is quite original and interesting. I think you'll enjoy it.
After you finish this story, think about where your principles are compromised by the actions of others who are outside your control. How can you ensure that those inadvertent compromises do no harm?
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme Chose!, 25 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Levanter/#7043 (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. In a way, these stories are like a more realistic version of what Dashiell Hammett wrote as applied to European and Middle Eastern espionage.
Since Mr. Ambler wrote, the thrillers have gotten much bigger in scope . . . and moved beyond reality. Usually, the future of the human race is at stake. The heroes make Superman look like a wimp in terms of their prowess and knowledge. There's usually a love interest who exceeds your vision of the ideal woman. Fast-paced violence and killing dominate most pages. There are lots of toys to describe and use in imaginative ways. The villains combine the worst faults of the 45 most undesirable people in world history and have gained enormous wealth and power while being totally crazy. The plot twists and turns like cruise missile every few seconds in unexpected directions. If you want a book like that, please do not read Mr. Ambler's work. You won't like it.
If you want to taste, touch, smell, see and hear evil from close range and move through fear to defeat it, Mr. Ambler's your man.
On to The Levanter. In this novel, we find Mr. Ambler operating at his full powers, combining remarkable character development with complex plots and delicious ambiguity. You will be reminded of Mr. Le Carre.
Uncharacteristically, his protagonist, Michael Howell, is a man of great intelligence, sophistication and subtlety. So he can take on a greater threat than anyone else. Fascinated by the problem of extracting his family's investments from Lebanon, he's been collaborating with the government in covert activities. This backfires in an unexpected way. How will he overcome this challenge?
Howell is one of Ambler's best characters, full of moral ambiguity. He's so good at looking out for his own interests, that he constantly is taking advantage even of those who are trying to take advantage of him. In this book, we get a sense of the mental and moral toughness of a trader. I found the book to seem immensely realistic.
The story telling is strengthened by varying the role of who the narrator is so that you see more dimensions of the plot. Part of the story is told by Howell, part by Lewis Prescott (a journalist hose attempting to sort out what really happened) and part by Teresa Malandra (Howell's co-worker in Lebanon). I'm sure that small businessmen in Middle Eastern countries still face the issues exposed in this plot, which makes the story chillingly timely, even though it is set in the late sixties.
Howell's solution to the problem is quite original and interesting. I think you'll enjoy it.
After you finish this story, think about where your principles are compromised by the actions of others who are outside your control. How can you ensure that those inadvertent compromises do no harm?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jinglish jungle, 16 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: THE LEVANTER. (Paperback)
Dieses buch ist englisch nicht deutsch!
What's an English book doing on a German page??? That's the third book I got in the wrong language.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme Chose!, 13 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Levanter (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. In a way, these stories are like a more realistic version of what Dashiell Hammett wrote as applied to European and Middle Eastern espionage.
Since Mr. Ambler wrote, the thrillers have gotten much bigger in scope . . . and moved beyond reality. Usually, the future of the human race is at stake. The heroes make Superman look like a wimp in terms of their prowess and knowledge. There's usually a love interest who exceeds your vision of the ideal woman. Fast-paced violence and killing dominate most pages. There are lots of toys to describe and use in imaginative ways. The villains combine the worst faults of the 45 most undesirable people in world history and have gained enormous wealth and power while being totally crazy. The plot twists and turns like cruise missile every few seconds in unexpected directions. If you want a book like that, please do not read Mr. Ambler's work. You won't like it.
If you want to taste, touch, smell, see and hear evil from close range and move through fear to defeat it, Mr. Ambler's your man.
On to The Levanter. In this novel, we find Mr. Ambler operating at his full powers, combining remarkable character development with complex plots and delicious ambiguity. You will be reminded of Mr. Le Carre.
Uncharacteristically, his protagonist, Michael Howell, is a man of great intelligence, sophistication and subtlety. So he can take on a greater threat than anyone else. Fascinated by the problem of extracting his family's investments from Lebanon, he's been collaborating with the government in covert activities. This backfires when he accidentally learns that one of his factories has been taken over by the Palestinian Action Force as a base for terrorist activities. Howell finds himself forced to help implement an anti-Israeli raid. How will he overcome this challenge?
Howell is one of Ambler's best characters, full of moral ambiguity. He's so good at looking out for his own interests, that he constantly is taking advantage even of those who are trying to take advantage of him. In this book, we get a sense of the mental and moral toughness of a trader. I found the book to seem immensely realistic.
The story telling is strengthened by varying the role of who the narrator is so that you see more dimensions of the plot. Part of the story is told by Howell, part by Lewis Prescott (a journalist hose attempting to sort out what really happened) and part by Teresa Malandra (Howell's co-worker in Lebanon and mistress). I'm sure that small businessmen in Middle Eastern countries still face the issues exposed in this plot, which makes the story chillingly timely, even though it is set in the late sixties. Howell's solution to the problem is quite original and interesting. I think you'll enjoy it.
After you finish this story, think about where your principles are compromised by the actions of others who are outside your control. How can you ensure that those inadvertent compromises do no harm?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme Chose!, 25 Jun. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Levanter (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. In a way, these stories are like a more realistic version of what Dashiell Hammett wrote as applied to European and Middle Eastern espionage.
Since Mr. Ambler wrote, the thrillers have gotten much bigger in scope . . . and moved beyond reality. Usually, the future of the human race is at stake. The heroes make Superman look like a wimp in terms of their prowess and knowledge. There's usually a love interest who exceeds your vision of the ideal woman. Fast-paced violence and killing dominate most pages. There are lots of toys to describe and use in imaginative ways. The villains combine the worst faults of the 45 most undesirable people in world history and have gained enormous wealth and power while being totally crazy. The plot twists and turns like cruise missile every few seconds in unexpected directions. If you want a book like that, please do not read Mr. Ambler's work. You won't like it.
If you want to taste, touch, smell, see and hear evil from close range and move through fear to defeat it, Mr. Ambler's your man.
On to The Levanter. In this novel, we find Mr. Ambler operating at his full powers, combining remarkable character development with complex plots and delicious ambiguity. You will be reminded of Mr. Le Carre.
Uncharacteristically, his protagonist, Michael Howell, is a man of great intelligence, sophistication and subtlety. So he can take on a greater threat than anyone else. Fascinated by the problem of extracting his family's investments from Lebanon, he's been collaborating with the government in covert activities. This backfires in an unexpected way. How will he overcome this challenge?
Howell is one of Ambler's best characters, full of moral ambiguity. He's so good at looking out for his own interests, that he constantly is taking advantage even of those who are trying to take advantage of him. In this book, we get a sense of the mental and moral toughness of a trader. I found the book to seem immensely realistic.
The story telling is strengthened by varying the role of who the narrator is so that you see more dimensions of the plot. Part of the story is told by Howell, part by Lewis Prescott (a journalist hose attempting to sort out what really happened) and part by Teresa Malandra (Howell's co-worker in Lebanon). I'm sure that small businessmen in Middle Eastern countries still face the issues exposed in this plot, which makes the story chillingly timely, even though it is set in the late sixties.
Howell's solution to the problem is quite original and interesting. I think you'll enjoy it.
After you finish this story, think about where your principles are compromised by the actions of others who are outside your control. How can you ensure that those inadvertent compromises do no harm?
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