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What happens when an ageing agency, adherent to rules of another era, races against a better-equipped modern one? This John le Carre work explores many hidden facets of professional spies from different times as they try to work together and apart. A good Read.
The ego fueled stupidity of old government servants is constant worldwide. This was a hilarious book. But again, there wasn't as much Smiley action as there was in Books #1 & 2, although it was more than Book #3. This is a clever little book and really hilarious at times.
Although some reviewers have commented that 'The Looking Glass War' is not one of Le Carré's best spy novels, it is still hugely enjoyable. Not only is it a wonderfully written Cold War story, but it is also an excellent counter-balance to those spy thrillers where all the emphasis is on high-speed action or a fiendishly clever plot. Instead Le Carré presents us with a tale of fallible people whose personal ambitions outweigh their ability to take wise, rational decisions. The exception is of course the admirable Smiley, who has a relatively brief but significant part to play in this sorry tale of the fallibility of the British intelligence establishment.
Having read the synopsis for this I was excited to learn more about the rival organisation. Sadly this is not an exciting book, and whilst it is good in places it is overall quite dull. You could probably miss this one out of the first four books and not loose the plot. I wouldn't recommend.
Although this is a Smiley book, don't expect to see too much of the famous spy. Although his role ultimately proves to be quite significant, he's more in the background this time. The stage is mainly occupied by relatively minor players on the British Intelligence scene, who are for the most part less important, less capable, or both. They are very well-drawn, though, and their efforts to be useful will keep you reading, even if you wonder from the beginning whether what they are trying to do will really add up to much. And I wasn't convinced by how one character essentially went off the rails towards the end of the book, but the bleak description of the grim life most people led behind the Iron Curtain is gripping.
Definitely worth reading as part of the Smiley series, but not suitable as a starting point for new readers.
Branded these days as "The fourth George Smiley novel" but he's barely in it, to be honest, if that's not a howling spoiler! Le Carré's tone is pretty dark in this one, reminding me of Mishima in his relentless exposing of his characters' pyschopathology. In this book the early 1950s seem a doggedly dismal place and the 'spies' are mostly so incompetant that the book is one step away from being a black comedy.