Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (George Smiley Series)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (George Smiley Series)

by John le Carré


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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 203 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
George Smiley and Control,the head of the Circus, have been disgraced and removed from Her Majesty's Secret Sercvice (A.K.A. The Circus)With a new group of bright young men running the operation, the quality of the Circus's product (Secret Information) has never been better or more consistent. But maybe that's the problem. Is the Circus's product just a little too good to be true? Information sufaces from a renegade Circus agent in Hong Kong that causes the very highest man of the Secret Service to look over his shoulder for fear of a mole. (A mole is a double agent planted deep in Circus's fabric by the Soviet Union.) George Smiley is called back from his forced retirement to root out the mole. You can't put the book down until you have reached the last page.
rdbks More than 1 year ago
I decided to reread this thriller because of the new movie version. I found the book as thrilling as the first time I read it. And I was glad I had reread it as it helped the movie make sense to me (and my friends whom having not read the book, needed some gaps filled in).
Ragu More than 1 year ago
I’ve only ever read one book from John le Carre before, and it’s entirely possible that The Mission Song is not representative of the rest of the author’s writing, but I was not expecting this book to be as good as it was. The skill with which Mr. le Carre worked this story into being is nothing short of amazing. The entire book feels like it was one big crescendo, building anticipation and constantly working toward a closing note that sounds resiliently. This is a book that I’ll definitely be suggesting to customers when they come in asking for a book to read, and I’ll also be seeking out some other books written by John le Carre. 4/5
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely marvelous book. Intriguing and clever, Le Carre deftly takes you through the role of George Smiley and the mysterious Karla. More twists than a roller coaster, it never gets boring. This is one book that should be preserved through history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend reading or rereading this absorbing trio of books: Tinker Taylor, The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People. These books offer insight into the Cold War period, particularly because they were written during the 1970s, only a decade or so before the fall of the Soviet Union and the toppling of the Berlin Wall. George Smiley and team are an engaging, if somewhat enigmatic group, and the complexity of the plots are quite enjoyable.
Arctic-Stranger More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in the 1980s, and enjoyed it immensely then. I just saw the recent movie, and went back to reread it, and was pleased to see it was as good as I remembered. LeCarre is the antidote to Ian Fleming. His characters are plodding, methodical but every bit as competent at what they do as the glitzy Mr. Bond. This is not an action novel, but it is a wonderful read.
SeamusRyan More than 1 year ago
Le Carre amazes me with how he develops and integrates his characters. He not only writes about the spy story but covers each of his characters with a very human brush. If one has ever followed the machinations of the Cold War this is a very real picture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fantastic book. Great characters, lot of tension, and wonderful twists. Le Carre is a master storyteller.
lacb More than 1 year ago
it was one of the best spy books that i have read.
SgtWalt More than 1 year ago
The book is set to correspond with the Kim Philby affair in Great Britian. Although fiction, there are a great many paralles as to how Philby might have been caught. It is a good book for any one who likes spy thrillersd.
Manmage More than 1 year ago
Thick plot, slow paced. Could get confusing with the story line switching back and forth in time, but that keeps the suspense and makes the plot a jigsaw puzzle. The ending however is abrupt.
ft14051 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed every morsel as I read them. Can't wait to read more Le Carre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, so it's hard to follow and is devoid of "action." But what amazing writing! If you can't appreciate that, you need to go back to kindergarten!
magentaflake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can't believe I've never read this book or seen the film. But with a new film coming out decided to read the book. Loved it but had to concentrate and it took me a few chapters to really get into it. Smiley has one complicated brainand it is razor sharp. Have visions of Alec Guinness in the role of Smiley but am going to read the rest of the trilogy.
ManipledMutineer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An astonishing, gripping tour-de-force. I cannot fault this book.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened via audio and my only regret was I was not reading it straight through. The characters are brilliantly portrayed, I enjoyed learning more about MI-6 and the inner circle via flashbacks and George Smiley was a character one could not help but admire. I highly recommend Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to anyone looking for an intellectually stimulating spy thriller.
kaipakartik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing book with a lot of depth. Takes the reader seriously. Many Many shades of gray. A masterpiece.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I've always been a bit in love with George Smiley. There's something so appealing to me about him - aging and ordinary-looking but with a brilliant mind. He makes sense to me as a spy who probably should be someone who can blend into a crowd.I read this series first when I was in high school and have re-read it about every ten years or so sense. I enjoy it immensely each time. This is the first in the series and it's smart, well-plotted, riddled through with paranoia and betrayal - appropriate to its times when you consider it was first published in 1974, but equally appropriate to these times.This whole series is le Carré writing at his best, reinventing the espionage novel, and creating a group of characters that will move into your heart and take up residence, knocking on the door occasionally to come outside and visit again.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nobody gets inside the mindset of spies like le Carré. The world of his characters consists of grim futility, uncertain loyalties, brutal betrayals, and fallible agents.le Carré creates detailed psychological portrayals of Smiley, his most famous character, and many others involved in the spy game. Smiley is a retired British intelligence officer tasked to discover the identity of a mole in the upper ranks of the secret service. One of four high-ranking officers is working for Karla, the chief of the Soviet Covert Espionage Bureau. Smiley operates completely undercover, to avoid alerting anyone that there is any suspicion, as he gathers and sifts through very complex information. le Carré draws from personal experience in the foreign service and MI6 so that his novels authoritatively evoke the psychology of Cold War paranoia.
Clara53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As much as I like John Le Carre, this is not one of my favorite novels. A little too dark and murky for my taste.
conformer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a mole hunt; but unlike other mole hunt stories, (like the first Mission: Impossible movie, whose main character was also called Hunt) the exotic locales, swashbuckling secret agents, and suave shoot-em-ups are either few and far between, inversed in their characterizations, or altogether absent. Le Carré's masterspy George Smiley is short, frumpy, and insecure, but; similar to Rex Stout's stout Nero Wolfe, his primary weapon is his sharp intellect and eagle-eye for detail, not to mention the seemingly superhuman ability to read the contents of file after file after file without going schizo.What Le Carré excels at the most is infusing even the most ancillary characters with dimension; from the nebbish schoolboy roped into assisting a blown agent, to the enigmatic Soviet mastermind Karla, who has no lines but still exudes an air of quiet menace.As a spy novel, this book is more of a mystery; pieces and players are put into place in the early chapters, and they're slowly moved towards the inevitable conclusion; while at the same time, fragments of tales from the backgrounds of Smiley and his fellow operatives are related in flashback, almost always in conversation, until the end story is revealed to be larger than the just the individual pieces.
Katie_H on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first in John LeCarre's Karla trilogy, this is considered to be the best espionage novel written. The superbly conceived mystery follows George Smiley, a retired British spy, in his quest to discover a mole within the Circus (British Intelligence Headquarters). "Tinker, Tailor, etc." is wording taken from a nursery rhyme that refers to the four men who have taken over the Circus, all of which are prime suspects in the case. The plot shows more similarities to an Agatha Christie novel than to modern spy thrillers, such as the Bourne series; there is very little action, but plenty of puzzles to solve. Knowing the reputation of this book, I really wanted to like it more, but I got extremely bogged down by the details. It was an extremely difficult read for this genre, and there were so many characters, events, and places, that I felt like I needed to take notes to keep track of them all. In the end, everything tied together very well, but it took quite a while for me to understand what was happening. I'll try LeCarre again at a later date, when I have fewer distractions.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To be honest Tinker Tailor was one of the most confusing books I have ever tried to read. For starters, it's one of those start-in-the-middle-of-the-plot books. The only successful way to catch the reader up on what has been missed is a series of flashbacks. I kept getting the flashbacks confused with the here and now. Another thing I kept getting confused was the language. le Carre has a whole series of secret words to describe the Cold War spy game. For example, a babysitter is really a bodyguard.The plot itself is really straightforward inasmuch as an espionage thriller could be. George Smiley is pulled out of retirement as a British Intelligence officer. He is recruited to uncover a Russian mole deep in the BIA's ranks. Of course, that it the simplest, dumbed-down plot synopsis I could make. Many reviewers have called Tinker Tailor "complicated" and I would have to agree.
uvula_fr_b4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book in the Karla Trilogy (which includes The Honourable Schoolboy [1977] and Smiley's People [1979]; all three books were collected in omnibus form as The Quest for Karla in 1982) and the fifth novel featuring John Le Carré's "fat spy" George Smiley, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a quietly gripping, intelligent spy thriller that drops the reader in media res into the grim jockeyings of Britain's foreign intelligence service (MI6, here styled "the Circus") and the Soviet Union's KGB and the officially retired Smiley's hunt for a highly-placed Soviet mole within the Circus that is being run by his opposite Soviet number, Karla. Much of the action unfolds in the form of flashbacks and third person narratives; though there is even less conventional thriller-type action here than in the first of Len Deighton's Bernard Samson trilogies (the Game, Set and Match trilogy), I found it to be no less gripping: Le Carré does an excellent job of plunking the reader into the mind of three borderline paranoid schizophrenics (though, in fairness, this mindset is almost certainly a job requirement), forever unsure of whom to trust, whom to support, in both their professional and personal lives, and always uncomfortable at the way that they seem to bleed into each other. Le Carré's intellectual heft isn't ostentatious -- his glancing references to John Buchan, Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen and Rupert Brooke may be safely ignored without missing over-much -- but they do add a dimension to the narrative (and, in the case of Buchan, a bit of meta-commentary, given that Buchan's "boy's own" tales of derring do in the service of His Majesty's Government are usually regarded as predecessors to Ian Fleming's James Bond thrillers; there's a reason that Le Carré didn't name-check Eric Ambler or Graham Greene) if the reader is already aware of them, or willing to spend a few minutes flipping through a decent set of encyclopedias, or switch-hitting between Google and Wikipedia, to fill in the blanks. Le Carré's morally ambiguous world is paralleled by the works of Deighton, the late, lamented British TV series The Sandbaggers, and the latter's most obvious tribute-cum-heir apparent, Greg Rucka's Queen & Country series, which is bound to perplex, if not infuriate, readers looking for more conventional thrills, or a more starkly black-and-white weltanschauung. (Le Carré notes that "Smiley had always been a little embarrassed by protestations of anti-Communism" [p. 150] -- this in spite of Smiley having no illusions about the niceties of life in the Soviet Union -- while one of his superiors at the Circus, Bill Haydon [a cousin and lover of his wayward wife, Ann], refers to some of "the cousins" [i.e., the CIA], as "Fascist puritans" [p. 132], a description that is exactly right, given how beholden the CIA was to Nazi Generalmajor Reinhard Gehlen's ORG well in to the 1960s for grossly misleading "intelligence" on the U.S.S.R.'s activities, capabilities and intentions.) Then too, the irreverent aside regarding the vagaries of intelligence work that a character gives Smiley's apprentice, Peter Guillam, will also perhaps put certain readers off: "'Cheer up, Peter, old son. Jesus Christ only had twelve, you know, and one of them was a double'" (p. 187). In short, those looking for the next Ian Fleming (or, Allah forfend, Ted Bell....) should give Tinker, Tailor a pass; all others -- perhaps particularly those fed up to the gills with sophomoric schoolboy twaddle -- should give it their best attention.
neurodrew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was inspired to read this by the BBC television series, sometime in the late 1980¿s. I understand that John LeCarre is now upset that everyone pictures George Smiley as Alec Guiness, and in the Folio Society edition I have the author asked that no faces be depicted in the illustrations. I picked up the book idly, when the new edition came, and re-read the last half, eagerly. LeCarre tells a complex tale of spying, and his characters are unforgettable. The ousted spy George Smiley is recalled to duty when a minor agent becomes embroiled in a love affair, and becomes certain that the death of his girlfriend means there is a mole in the British intelligence service. Smiley gradually and carefully exposes the mole. The atmosphere is cold war, and the spy tradecraft is lovingly described.