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Editorial Reviews

"No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times." ( Guardian) "John le Carré is as recognizable a writer as Dickens or Austen." ( Financial Times) "When I was under house arrest I was helped by the books of John le Carré...they were a journey into the wider world.... These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind." (Aung San Suu Kyi)

Publisher's Summary

'Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.'

The Pigeon Tunnel, John le Carré's memoir and his first work of nonfiction, is a thrilling journey into the worlds of his 'secret sharers' - the men and women who inspired some of his most enthralling novels - and a testament to the author's extraordinary engagement with the last half century.

The listener is swept along not just by the chilling winds of the Cold War or by the author's frightening journeys into places of terrible violence but, most importantly, by the author's inimitable voice.

In this astonishing work, we see our world, both public and private, through the eyes of one of this country's greatest writers.

©2016 John le Carré (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Best audiobook of the Year

Would you listen to The Pigeon Tunnel again? Why?

Fantastic story, beautifully read by the author himself. Very entertaining and I laughed out loud in many places.

What did you like best about this story?

The honesty of David Cornwall, his insight into both himself, his family and his colleagues and acquaintances. His descriptions of his larger-than-life father are hilarious.

What about John le Carré’s performance did you like?

His voice is strong, Can imitate voices authenically and beautifully

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

An Author Reminisces

Any additional comments?

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

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Thank you John le Carre

Having read and enjoyed so many of le Carre's books, hearing this, in his own voice, was a grand treat.
The book is delivered in segments not strictly chronological, peppered with personal anecdotes and descriptions, observations of events and places. This is not a fireside chat and in it's own way does shed light albeit a passing ray of light, on some very influential people and major world events of the time. In its own way this book traces the background of le Carre's books and what has influenced the focus of his writing.
The wonderful description of his mission to Paris as his father's envoy at age 16 is just one glimpse into 'another world'.
It is the kind of book I could dip into again and again. However the advantage of hearing the author reading it to me as an audio book far outways the convenience of bookmarks in a hard copy.

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  • Caroline brown
  • 11-14-16

As enjoyable and thought provoking as ever

The truth of his fiction shown through his experiences. I think a fan of his works would not be disappointed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 11-18-16

Scratching the surface?

Not an autobiography, rather a series of anecdotes and very little revealed about the man himself, other than, perhaps as a distorted reflection of his extraordinary father. He reads it beautifully, though, a lovely voice which I could listen to for many an hour

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Lee Rudd
  • 11-17-16

Enjoyable and Interesting life story

Enjoyable read through stories from the authors life in its different guises - Intelligence, Author - and how life inspired fiction. And where it didn’t.

Written as a series of short - and not so short - chapters capturing a particular period or aspect of his life. This format worked quite well for me, and was easier to digest in small chunks.

The audiobook is read by the author. In this case it works as it sound like he is telling the listener about the particular episode in his life, and with his voice adds emphasis to the personal nature of the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Film_Strip
  • 11-15-16

Nobody Does it Better

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - each sitting is like having tea with the most fascinating uncle in the world.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Pigeon Tunnel?

The author's recruitment to the Service and recollection of infamous events within it.

What does John le Carré bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

He is understandably skilled in engaging people and mesmerising them with language. A supremely precise performance with some great impressions and characterisation.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A C.
  • 11-02-16

An absorbing tale brilliantly told

This is my fist experience of John le Carré's books and I loved it. A fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary life. It's left me hungry for more of his story telling.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard J
  • 10-28-16

illuminating

If you could sum up The Pigeon Tunnel in three words, what would they be?

Some astonishing revelations

What other book might you compare The Pigeon Tunnel to, and why?

None to compare

Have you listened to any of John le Carré’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Not yet

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh at times,but nothing in the secret services surprises me

Any additional comments?

A must of read,or a listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • SnapWriter
  • 10-20-16

Highly recommended, and much enjoyed.

The Pigeon Tunnel is one of the most enjoyable (and play-again-able) autobiographies I have read/heard in a long time. I would rank it higher, even, than Forsyth’s.

The name dropping, the casual interaction with men and women of history shows them in a truly human, honest way (with the exception of Thatcher, who, as we all know, was neither--even an author like Le Carre can do very little; had he, it would count as fiction) in which the media and, aptly, the intelligence engineering behind it, works to recast.

Brilliantly read, it is not merely a ‘readers guide to the novels’ but a life that highlights many of the origins of his novels and characters. A fan of the BBC radio dramas (available here on Audible), I have a new desire to persue the many remaining novels.

A comfortable and endearing addition to my library.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • william
  • 10-13-16

An autobiography?

What did you like most about The Pigeon Tunnel?

More revelations about a fascinating but very private man.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Pigeon Tunnel?

I have read all le Carre's novels, and the recent biography, and it was interesting to discover the origins of many of his stories. Yet, while appearing to reveal that his private life is the basis of many of his books, I still feel that he is a very private person for whom fiction and fact overlap.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, in that it is semi autobiographical, but I still do not think that an author is the best person to read his own books

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

An increasing curiosity about a favouriter author.

Any additional comments?

I shall continue to re- read his books, and anything new that he writes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Roger
  • 10-03-16

Brilliant and well read

I don't usually read autobiographies, but was intrigued to listen to John Le Carre reading his own. I was impressed by the self-effacing style and by the insight into the author's life and way of writing. My only reservation was the very long chapter dealing with the author's father which, whilst fascinating, seemed a touch over indulgent to me.
Having listened to The Pigeon Tunnel, I am now encouraged to work my way through all of Le Care's books

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nike
  • 09-13-16

Very good

Thoroughly enjoyed the narrative. Thank you very much indeed. I have always enjoyed intelligent books. This is one of the best.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • ELIZABETH
  • 08-06-17

Exquisite

What did you like most about The Pigeon Tunnel?

The amusing anecdotes

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ron. JLC's dad was a writer's dream

Have you listened to any of John le Carré’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Can't remember

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Many hilarious and gobsmacking anecdotes

Any additional comments?

Le Carre is obviously a highly damaged character, but we have all benefitted from his angst. He hides it well. Amused that he doesn't think he owes anything to his father.

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  • Heather
  • 01-06-17

Read the book? You’ll love listening to it.

Where does The Pigeon Tunnel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I’m a big le Carre fan so I’m probably a bit biased, but this has definitely been my favourite so far.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well there aren’t really characters as this is a sort of memoir, but if I had to pick my favourite person from the book it would obviously be le Carre.

Have you listened to any of John le Carré’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven’t but I’ll definitely be checking them out. He narrates very naturally and it’s like he’s there with you telling you a story - you can hear him turning the pages as he reads and it was just wonderful.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, but only because I wanted to make it last.