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Publisher's Summary

Tell Max that it concerns the Sandman....

A very junior agent answers Vladimir's call, but it could have been the Chief of the Circus himself. No one at the British Secret Service considers the old spy to be anything except a senile has-been who can't give up the game - until he's shot in the face at point-blank range. Although George Smiley (code-name: Max) is officially retired, he's summoned to identify the body now bearing Moscow Centre's bloody imprimatur. As he works to unearth his friend's fatal secrets, Smiley heads inexorably toward one final reckoning with Karla - his "dark grail".

In Smiley's People, master storyteller John le Carré brings his acclaimed Karla trilogy to its unforgettable, spellbinding conclusion.

©1980 John le Carré (P)2011 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The conclusion to the famous Karla trilogy, in which George Smiley attempts to entrap his Soviet counterpart and settle old scores, is magnificent on audio.... Through the narration of British actor Jayston, layers of interpretive sound collide in fantastic verisimilitude.... His European and Russian dialects are convincing, enhanced as they are by sensitive pacing, clear enunciation and vocal moods so appropriate that the listener enters the text completely. A wonderful performance." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 07-27-12

NEAR Perfect Ending for One Best Trilogies Ever

Like with the Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley's People on its own is perhaps a 4/4.5 star novel. It is fantastic, but taken as an entire work, the Karla Trilogy is simply amazing

A near perfect ending for one of the, if not THE, best trilogies ever (LOTR perhaps). Is there a better summation for the place we find ourselves HERE and NOW in this the 21st century? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a fantastic spy novel that owed a lot to Graham Greene; The Honourable Schoolboy was another fantastic spy novel that owed lots to Joseph Conrad; but with Smiley's people, after reading/listening to it, you realize John le Carré owes nobody nishto now. He owns the genre.

Michael Jayston does an amazing job narrating le Carré. He belongs in the top shelf of audiobook narrators. His variation for voices is different enough to distinguished the characters, but subtle enough to not distract from the flow of the narrative or the melody of le Carré's prose.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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extraordinary reading

What did you love best about Smiley's People?

Michael Jayston has a remarkable way with subtle changes to his voice; I have been familiar with his acting work since I lived in England in the 1960s. I watched him in the original BBC production of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where he played Guillam. In this reading of Smiley's People, his vocal work as the excitable Pole Toby Esterhaze is memorable. He gets JUST the right amount of twisted English to reflect the man's origins even though he has lived in England for many years. And his voice for George Smiley is perfect. One can see Alec Guiness's face (the original Smiley of the BBC classic) as Jayston speaks his lines.

What does Michael Jayston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The VOICES which are perfect!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Solid Smiley, Solid le Carré

This is the seventh book of le Carré's that I have read in the last six months or so, most on audiobook. And it is definatly in the top half. Not sure the exact position, but le Carré seems to get the right balance of telling the reading what we need to know, but keeping us just enough in the dark to keep the mystery present.

Smiley's People is better than the Honorable Schoolboy and I think a great conclusion to the Karla trilogy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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nice round up of the Karla set

excellent and well written, i enjoyed the entire Smiley series even though technically he's not the main character in some of them and only pops up intermittently.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • murray
  • LOS ANGELES, CA, United States
  • 04-09-13

the best

What did you love best about Smiley's People?

smiley the character is one of the most enjoyable characters in fiction - he's a hero and so common at the same time

What was one of the most memorable moments of Smiley's People?

interrogation of gregoriev

Which character – as performed by Michael Jayston – was your favorite?

smiley

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

karla in dehli jail

Any additional comments?

the reader jayston is just so good

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Final Showdown

A hard-hitting novel with the typical Le Carre existential moral dilemmas I have grown to love and expect. The final book of the Karla trilogy exquisitely narrated by Jayston who makes all of these Le Carre novels a masterpiece. I give no spoilers. Just hearty encouragement to listen to the entire Trilogy. Well worth the time investment.

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High water mark for espionage fiction

This is the last book of the “Karla” trilogy, follow The Honorable Schoolboy (book 1) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (book 2). This entire trilogy is a pure delight generally and Michael Jayston narration is superb. This trilogy, along with all of LeCarre’s other works, are a mandatory right of passage for this genre and represent some the genre’s best and most intelligent works. Others in mandatory reading list are Charles McCarry, some of Frederick Forsyth (Day of the Jackel, among others), Len Deighton (game, set, match trilogy, among others), Phillip Kerr (Bernie Gunther line), Alan Furst (starting with Night Soldiers), Charles Cumming (Trinity Six), Olen Steinhauer (starting with The Tourist), David Quammen (The Soul of Victor Tronko), Thomas Perry (starting with The Butcher’s Boy) and a few modern ones, including Tom Woods (Victor the Assassin series, first ones better) and the Jason Matthews excellent series starting with Red Sparrow (can’t, won’t see the movie - entire book series is top shelf)

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  • Edward
  • Brooklyn, NY, USA
  • 03-18-18

A performance worthy the text he is reading.

What made the experience of listening to Smiley's People the most enjoyable?

Plot as complex as a double agent's address book involving wonderful characters like the multi-dimensioned Toby, the tragi-comic Connie and the under-estimable George Smiley. It is a trip through the dirty places of the cold war.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I like the secondary players with whom I can identify. John Le Carre has them in plenty and in depth. A scoundrel named Otto adopts "Leipzig" as his second name because the prison in that city was the best he'd ever stayed in.

Have you listened to any of Michael Jayston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Jayson's George Smiley makes you think you might be listening to Alex Guinness. When he does women he doesn't go into a screechy falsetto but renders femininity within his own register. He uses at least ten different voices consistently. In particular his Peter Guillam sounds familiar and if you root around you discover that he played Guillam in the BBC production of the book.

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

Moscow rules; I have two proofs.

Any additional comments?

I have no patience with fiction. This though, is a book I can listen through multiple times.

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  • Linda
  • Bowie, MD, United States
  • 03-08-18

Smiley Is the Quinessential Spy—Read These In Orde

Michael Jayston is terrific narrator. Even better that he played the role of Peter Guillam in the DVD series. I’ll tell you these books are not for the faint of heart. The complexity of le Carre’s writing requires concentration but it is worth it. You must read these books in order to get the full impact. This book especially requires you to know the background on the Moscow Central agent and how long Smiley and ‘Karla’ have been adversaries. The Cold War games were real and Smiley played them better than anyone. He had his trusty group of contacts over the years and his wife, Ann, was instrumental in making him the way he was. I can say that I’ve read the books 1-7 now and will continue. The Legacy of a Spy got me started and that is Book 9. All are excellent. I prefer the Audio version and Michael Jayston is a terrific narrator. He also played the role of Peter Guillam in the DVD versions.

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Perfection!

Michael Jayston has become one of my favorite narrators . He captures the expected tone of George Smiley in all alliterations-- the quietly cunning spymaster , the up right patriot , the calming presence to an agitated Connie Sachs--- and the wounded loving husband . This is an excellent medium to experience Le Carre's Smiley.