Who wrote this book and when?
John le Carre (the pen name of David John Moore Cromwell) published this novel in 1963.
Has there been a film version?
Yes, an award winning film version made in 1965.
Who are the main characters?
Alec Leamas- an aging British spy
Mundt – the head of the Communist spy network
Fiedler – a hardcore Communist spy
Control – the head of British intelligence
Liz Gold – Leamas’ girlfriend of sorts, a Communist librarian
What’s it about?
Alec Leamas is a member of the Circus – the British external Intelligence Agency – who is due to retire. His last good man, Karl Riemeck, has just been killed by Mundt, the head of the Communist network of spies in Germany. Leamas is relegated to a desk position and his life begins to slowly spiral downward as he takes to alcohol and falls into debt.
He then agrees to take on one last mission to bring down Mundt – which is okay with him considering Mundt is the person he hates the most in the world.
Why is this book a classic?
It is heralded as one of the best spy novels ever written.
Why should I read this book?
It’s not long, it’s intriguing, reminiscent of James Bond but without all the needless aspects of the Bond movies when it comes to espionage. This is a realistic spy story.
Why did this book make your list?
It was on the “Top 100 British novels” list.
Has it won any awards?
“We shall be constantly in one another’s company. I know that is distasteful to you, and I apologize.” p 152
John le Carre is the man who wrote “The Constant Gardener.” He is a retired spy for MI6, was a consultant on the James Bond movies, and turned down a knighthood.
Yet another example of a book I disliked until the very end. Partly because I had no idea what was going on – most likely because it was an espionage novel and you aren’t supposed to know what’s going on. Most of the reason I like books like this is because unlike TV shows, where it sometimes only takes me a few seconds, novels don’t let me figure out the ending before it actually happens. I did not – NOT – like Leamas as a character whatsoever. I’m not exactly sure if you were supposed to. In fact, the only character I did like was Fiedler – the Communist spy. His sense of humor and straightforwardness appealed to me.