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Absolute Friends Paperback – 21 Sep 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (21 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340923695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340923696
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 403,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

John le Carré's Absolute Friends is his best in years, capturing the verve and mastery of the magnificent early work. In fact, as a prelude to the book, you could do worse than reread The Spy Who Came in from the Cold again, and be forcibly reminded how le Carré transformed the spy thriller 40 or so years ago. And the consolidation of his achievement came with the George Smiley sequence (inaugurated with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). As the Cold War came to an end, le Carré seemed to be in need of a new focus for his literary universe, but this was soon to come as the author explored newer social threats, with The Constant Gardener utilising the power of the pharmaceutical companies as nemesis, and producing yet another critical and popular success.

Absolute Friends, even before publication, had some of the best word of mouth any le Carré novel had enjoyed, and every word of it was justified. As a penetrating character study, it's nonpareil, with the (very different) friends of the title brilliantly realised.

Ted Mundy is the son of a British Infantry officer who left India under a cloud after partition, while Sasha is the crippled son of a religious German family who became a star of Far Left politics in the 1960s, at which point he encounters the ungainly Ted, taught by his father--and a committed girlfriend--to loathe British imperialism and all its current offshoots. In the present, Ted finds himself acting as an eccentric tour guide at Ludwig's palaces in Bavaria. When the two men meet again, they once more become involved in clandestine activities--with lethal results. If the author's own anti-Blair/Bush feelings are sometimes foregrounded, this is still le Carré at his considerable best, and a reminder of what a great talent the UK has in this writer. --Barry Forshaw -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


This is le Carré with a twist, the Old Master developing new techniques for a new age (Raymond Seitz, The Times)

Thoroughly gripping (Sunday Times)

Absolute Friends is vintage John le Carré: complex, often sardonically funny, always galvanically written. (Daily Express)

[Le Carré] has found a worthy enemy, a target for his moral indignation. Moreover he has hit a contemporary tune again. This is an anti-war novel and, very fiercely, an anti-American one. It's written with passion. (Allan Massie, Scotsman)

Truly thrilling (Financial Times)

'The master has not lost his touch . . . one of his most enthralling creations.' (A.N. Wilson, Telegraph)

'A literary master for a generation' (Observer)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For some reason, I'd left this book on the shelf for around a year before I got around to reading it, but in some ways actually improves its reading. There are parallels here with some of Le Carre's other novels (The spy who came in from the cold; The perfect spy; Our game) and is a fine thriller by any standards. However what differentiates it from these and makes it a very important work is the obvious anger running throughout the book that the author feels regarding the current politics of fear eminating from the US and UK administrations.
Le Carre emphasises the climate of propaganda, lies and illegality of governmental decisions throughout the book. It was finished shortly after the Iraq war; a time in which one by one, the reasons given for the war in the first place have crumbled and its bloody aftermath lingers on and on.
A prophetic and very important book.
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Format: Hardcover
Is it still possible that a writer can create a so historically aware novel which is fiction and fabulation, but speaks directly to those who have experienced first hand the events and socio-political climates he weaves into his story? Le Carré is foremost a storyteller and his protagonists are fictious, albeit symbols. But to a person who demonstrated against the Vietnam war as a student, was there when Aldo Moro was kidnapped, lived through the Baader Meinhof era in Germany, and is proud of being a resident in a country where a stand was made about the intervention in Iraq, his book makes lots of sense.I disagree with other reviews about the end. Mundy and Sasha are two sides of the one coin united in a hopeless battle. Their demise is as symbolic as the rest of their very existence. They are incidental to the overall message. I revel in the clarity of the writing and the erudition which is a hallmark of le Carré's later writing. The Constant Gardner was his best book to date for me. This comes a close second. And I've read them all.
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Format: Hardcover
Smiley and Karla, Magnus and Rick Pym, now Ted and Sasha - Le Carre is at his best when he creates pairs of characters who lead each other to their fates, and in Absolute Friends he comes up with two true immortals.
Ted, in earlier Le Carre books, would've been a perfectly normal member of the espiocracy, the kind of dependable, solid agent who would've discharged his Circus duties without conscience or controversy. But contemporary le Carre characters have even more tangled depths - Ted's concern for justice and equality is rooted in a loathing of the mess that Britain left behind in India and Pakistan; this obviously leads him into anti-imperialism and the shadowy world of espionage. It is in Germany that he encounters the brilliant, disabled Sasha - firebrand politician and also committed to his own brand of liberty.
Absolute Friends shows two figures bound up into their systems striving to find their own individual justice, their own places in the world. States, systems, organisations are not to be trusted in the new Le Carre - loyalty is individual, morality is absolute. There are probably more overt attacks on Western liberalism and capitalism in this book than in the rest of his work put together; what was formerly presented as the "right" way is now merely the less repulsive of a set of fairly unpleasant alternatives.
Yet how can men like Sasha and Ted build a better world?
This is possibly Le Carre's finest book yet. It lacks the immediacy and some of the intimacy of "A Perfect Spy", although rivals it in scope. It lacks the intense intrigue and 'tradecraft' of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" though matches it for density and depth of tone.
It is a fine, mature and humane novel by a superb writer with an clear yet idiosyncratic view of honour, morality and duty. Wonderfully readable.
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Format: Paperback
As with any author you read frequently, you do often get the sense that the same type of book is just being written over and over again. Whilst I don't think this one is a world away from what Le Carre has written before, it is certainly different in that it is the bravest novel he has written to date. Whilst in other books he was content to snipe the odd remark at our leaders, or to puncture the western world's self-satisfaction at being less evil than the Soviet Union, in this book, it's an all-out political attack on the American Neo-cons, and the unquestioning, uncritical helpfulness of Blair and his chums towards our American friends. At the time it was published, this book had some pretty mixed reviews. A few were probably because the political climate of the time polarised people into for or against the war, and such a passionate, angry anti-war book was hardly going to find favour in the pro-war camp. But perhaps now we can look at it more dispassionately, as nearly everyone agrees the whole war was a total disaster anyway.

I think this is a strong work by Le Carre - not his best, but better than average. Post Cold War, Le Carre has been sniffing out issues that have been overlooked by the popular media, be it the struggle of the ethnic minorities in the Caucasus (Our Game), gangsterism being exported from the former Soviet Union, with the connivance of western financiers (Single and Single), or cynical pharmaceutical companies `testing' products on poor Africans who no-one cares about in the west anyway (The Constant Gardener). Absolute Friends feels slightly apart - more like Our Game or The Perfect Spy in its flashback structure. Some of it creaks a little, as other reviewers have pointed out - it feels a little bit artificial and inauthentic at points.
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