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Publisher's Summary

It would have been an easy job for the Circus: a can of film couriered from Helsinki to London. In the past the Circus handled all things political, while the Department dealt with matters military. But the Department has been moribund since the War, its resources siphoned away. Now, one of their agents is dead, and vital evidence verifying the presence of Soviet missiles near the West German border is gone. John Avery is the Department's younger member and its last hope. Charged with handling Fred Leiser, a German-speaking Pole left over from the War, Avery must infiltrate the East and restore his masters' former glory.

Darkly compelling and brutally Machiavellian, The Looking Glass War is a stunning accomplishment by one of today's most remarkable and enduring literary writers.

©2013 John le Carre (P)2013 Penguin

What listeners say about The Looking Glass War

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

With nuance le Carré dissects a dying animal.

A minor le Carré on par with 'A Murder of Quality' and 'Call for the Dead', 'the Looking Glass War' explores the pathetic ineptitude, personal and professional betrayals, and the amoral universe of a former military espionage department that has seen better days. With nuance le Carré dissects a dying animal.

At times it felt like a strange combination of Philip Roth (see 'The Dying Animal') meets Robert Littell (see 'The Sisters'). By the end the reader feels betrayed, humanity feels soiled, and nothing at all has really changed.

20 people found this helpful

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Good but Smiley very small bit player

this is very good and again a stand alone type story though it does peripherally tie in with Smiley. I like the fact that not everything is spelled out for you, you have to think and pay attention. and the ending is a little ambiguous. there isn't a lot of shooting and blowing things up, it's more of a realistic chess game approach. hard to top In From the Cold. on to Tinker...

4 people found this helpful

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Character writing

It's sort of like Le Carré looked at Bond novels and said to himself, "I'll do the opposite of that." I approve of the results.

3 people found this helpful

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le Carre and Jayston a perfect fit

Michael Jayston pulls you into le Carre's captivating and painful description of the destruction that vain, small man leave in their wake as they try to recapture past glories.

3 people found this helpful

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Prepare for Driveway Moments

My favorite Smiley novel by a nose, though Smiley hardly appears in it. Jayston's narration is perfect.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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take a happy pill already!

this outdoes A Spy Who Came in from the Cold for futility and bleakness to a degree that is straining credulity, patience and interest. we get it: the UK is small potatoes and the farmers are all fighting over the last few... the reader was competent, but I really didn't see the point of this book. i enjoy books driven by character, or 'slice of life' or plot-driven, but this failed to provide any point of ingress..

4 people found this helpful

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so so for le carre

just not a complete story compared to his other works. did not buy into the plot. characters not developed. couldn't connect with any of them. they were not believable . also, qa no real sense of drama either. also, smiley seemed kind of week.

1 person found this helpful

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Spying through the looking glass

This is le Carré's fourth novel, published in 1965. The cold war rages but the action of WWII is within the memory of the protagonists. They look back upon it with nostalgia and try, with a combination of posturing and naiveté, to reanimate those past times of easy clarity when spying could be a matter of loyalty and of love. Which is not to say that there is a hint of sentimentality coming from the narrator. Quite the contrary. Ultimately, this is a tale of betrayal on so many levels. Le Carré is a writer of subtlety and nuance, and those qualities are on display in this novel. Michael Jayston's reading is superb. Those who remember (as I do) the TV miniseries of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Smiley's People," will recall that Jayston played Peter Guillam opposite Alec Guinness' George Smiley. In Smiley's lines, Jayston has caught Guinness' speech patterns and intonations beautifully. It's subtle, but it's there. The effect, for anyone familiar with those superb dramatizations, is to add texture to an already fine recording.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Le Carre novel.

Moving study of the adverse effects of the need for status and human connections on uncritical institutions. As author intended, LOOKING GLASS WAR critiqued incompetence , less tragic than the ruthless pragmatism of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD and related flaws depicted in later Le Carre novels. Although later books included portrayals of incompetence, LOOKING GLASS WAR is only one I can remember in which the layered causes and effects of incompetence are central. Compelling due to rich descriptive language of places, characters, and technologies, the latter including many that are out of date. Important contribution to Le Carre's thematic examination of individuals, institutions, and societies seeking meaning and gratification in Cold War and post-Cold War world

1 person found this helpful

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Liked the previous books in the series more.

This is a slow moving story, that never really takes off. Glad to have read it, but hoping the next is a bit more like the earlier books in the series.

1 person found this helpful