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Publisher's Summary

After the Berlin Wall comes down and opens up new changes in Eastern Europe, John le Carre's stunning novel, The Secret Pilgrim, takes us behind the scenes into the former Cold War world.

Nothing is as it was. Old enemies embrace. The dark staging grounds of the Cold War, whose shadows barely obscured the endless games of espionage, are flooded with light; the rules are rewritten, the stakes changed, the future unfathomable. John le Carre seized this momentous turning point in history to give us the most disturbing experience we have yet had of the frail and brutal world of spydom.

The man called Ned speaks to us. All his adult life he has been in British Intelligence - the Circus - a loyal, shrewd, wily officer of the Cold War. Now, approaching the end of his career, he revisits his own past. He invites us on a tour of his three decades in the Circus, burrowing deep into the twilight world where he ran spies - 'joes' - from Poland, Estonia, Hungary.

©1990 David Cornwell (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What members say

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

A Classic That Only Gets Better

For fans of LeCarre's Smiley character, The Secret Pilgrim will be a great trip down memory lane. I read all of the Smiley novels, however, I don't remember this one. So when I saw it on the Audible list I quickly downloaded it. I was not disappointed at all. The story was classic LeCarre and Jayston's narration was phenomenal - it was as though Smiley was sitting in the room with you. A great audio experience.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 01-09-13

Finish Line & NOT Starting Point for George Smiley

A final wrap-up to le Carré's George Smiley series is a chronological narrative of short-stories framed around the memories of spy Ned, and the stories of George Smiley, given to a group of trainees selected for the Secret Service. The stories span the 40+ years of the Cold War, and capture the gradual disillusionment of Ned and the ambiguity of the sagacious/perceptive George Smiley.

While this is not the best in the George Smiley oeuvre, it is a nice victory lap. It allowed le Carré the opportunity to publish a few pieces he had worked on, but not yet turned into novels...while also revisiting the themes of morality/love/individual vs amorality/duty/institutions he constantly addressed and returned to in his Circus/Smiley novels.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Tempe, AZ
  • 03-18-13

Great fun to revisit George Smiley

Would you consider the audio edition of The Secret Pilgrim to be better than the print version?

If you enjoyed the George Smiley books, this series of short stories, that include the Smiley character, will be a pleasure to read. Michael Jayston was the perfect narrator for these stories about the world of British spies.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Pure Brit

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

I cannot really rank this since I am a huge fan of Le Carre. Suffice to say it is excellent.

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

Jayston is a fine actor, whom I saw often in BBC dramas. He gets the nuances and idiosyncrasies of British upper class speech perfectly, as well as the other characters that Le Carre creates so vividly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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a great cap to Smiley series

I went through all the Smiley novels in a couple weeks and was never bored. Smiley is a great character, very human and troubled but a little brilliant like Sherlock or Poirot. This is a set of short stories, some lengthy, concerning various missions mainly remembered by the other character who is listening to Smiley talk to a group of students but each story is in itself a little gem and as with series deals with much more than just the "spy" aspects. the people are very real and human and suffering and you feel for many of them even if they are on the "wrong" side. looking forward to more LeCarre.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Worth it if you've read all that come before

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This one is really good but not as a stand alone, the short story format of this book is quite different than the others, but if you're already in love with Smiley's world...it's an extra dollop of whip cream on top to indulge in. Jayston is truly gifted and so consistent throughout all the books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best listen in the past ten years !

This Cold Warrior was mesmerized by the tales of moral ambiguity ; especially the stand alone short stories in Parts 8 and Ten.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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exceptional

Gripping and widely varied short stories masterfully interwoven into the "Smiley" universe.
Eccentric (and often poignantly tragic) characters are sensitively and subtley portrayed against the backdrop of the intelligence community and it's surreal mode of life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Fun Read

I enjoyed this book. The way le Carre can so easily get into the mind of his characters.

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  • Linda
  • Bowie, MD, United States
  • 07-29-18

George Smiley Regales The Nursury With his Past

You must read the entire set of books about George Smiley before reading this one. This is a collection of stories about George Smiley told by George Smiley when he agrees to give a lecture at Ned’s class of potential future spies, known as The Nursury. George shows up and is introduced by Ned to the class of boys and girls (girls only recently allowed to join the ‘elite’ group of spies to be). You must know the characters and the stories about Smiley to understand this book. I must admit that after finishing the book I had to go back and listen to the first chapter to remind myself of how the book had begun. le Carre is a master of espionage. He is the watcher of the entire British network and add nuances that make it very complicated and shed light on the entire British system and how the spies see themselves as the top echelon of British pecking orders. This is a great novel and one every fan of espionage must read BUT only in the order of publication. These are so nuanced that the avid reader will enjoy them over and over again. I’m sure that I will be listening to Michael Jayston narrate these stories several more times. There is that much new to hear because you can’t possible remember it all. The accents of the different spies and their mistresses and mistakes. So, buy the complete set of 9 Smiley books and put your feet up in front of the fire and enjoy the British espionage and Russian counter intelligence at its best.