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John le Carre: The Pinnacle of Spycraft


With the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I’ve recently gotten back into reading John le Carre’s books. I had already loved and greatly enjoyed Tinker Tailor and its two sequels The Honorable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. To be honest I definitely did feel the movie did the book justice it was just to intricate to be summed up in 2 hours, but hats off to them for trying.Since the movie I’ve read two more of his books.

The first A Perfect Spy. This book delves into why Magnus Pym went into the intelligence business and also why he disappeared from that world. Unlike most spy stories this isn’t a true thriller, it is much more a psychological exploration of the character of Pym and is told through a few different voices and we get to see how Pym views himself, how his wife saw him and even through his boss Jack Brotherhood’s perspective. All of this interpretations are slightly and subtly different. With this novel you are left with no doubts as to why le Carre is trumpeted as bringing spy novels into the ranks of literature instead of just fiction.
The book also apparently carries a semi-autobiographical themes as le Carre had a similar upbringing and was brought into the service in similar way.


A Perfect Spy
by John le Carre
ISBN:978-0143119760

The other book by him I just read was The Tailor of Panama. These two books were about as different as could be. The Tailor of Panama was about an ex-con turned tailor getting black mailed to spy on his clients. The tone is much lighter and felt comedic. The book was a ton of fun and is certainly perfect for a day at the beach or for a flight.

The Tailor of Panama
by John le Carre
ISBN: 978-0345420435

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Fiction

 

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Conspiracy and Churchill: a Review


I have a lot to thank the BBC for it has led me to a lot of fine television. A few months ago it introduced me to my new favorite show The House Of Cards, a political satire/thriller featuring the most cutthroat of politicians the fictional Francis Urquhart. The show was a based off of a set of novels by Michael Dobbs. Michael was at one point an adviser for Margret Thatcher and after a particularly harsh day he sat down to write and blow off steam which all centered around a message from his main character’s initials F.U. Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on The House of Cards novels. I did research the author further and found another book of his Winston’s War.

This book is filled to the brim with conspiracy, treachery, cigars and brandy. You are really brought into the trials of Churchill as he stormed his way through the system and was thrown into political exile for his steadfast belief that Britain had to go to war with Hitler. By no means is this a light read, it is as thick as the man himself and equally as fascinating. If you enjoy politics, conspiracy, the witticisms of Churchill or studying history, you need to read this book.

Michael Dobbs also starts this book with a very lovely disclaimer.
“This is unashamedly a novel, not a work of history. Yet if it inspires its readers to dig more deeply into the events and personalities of that extraordinary time, and to decide for themselves not only what happened but why things happened, then both the truth and Mr. Churchill will have been well served.”

After finishing this book I then went on to read a few WWII nonfiction books, which by Mr. Dobbs standards means the book serves the truth and Mr. Churchill very well indeed.

Winston’s War: A Novel of Conspiracy
by Michael Dobbs
published by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN- 978-1402217746
http://michaeldobbs.com/uk/

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Fiction

 

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Mr Sebastian… by Daniel Wallace


While working as a bookseller this was a title I always tried to put into people’s hands. When reading it I was completely blown away by the writing and how it was a truly unique book, one very much unlike any I had read before. However I always hit one road block along the way.

That roadblock being the full title. Mr Sebastian and the Negro Magician. I don’t know what it is but the word Negro instantly and without fail turned people off the idea of reading it. I believe they were afraid that if someone saw them reading it, the reader would instantly be branded a racist. This is entirely unfair to the book. I can’t deny there is racial tension in the book, and that there is prolific use of the “N” word. This is in the South during the Great Depression, of course there are some racists running around. The book however is not a hate book at all, it is one of the most enjoyable reads you can get your hands on.

The main thrust of the story happens after the title magician disappears, and an investigator takes the case to find him. He proceeds to question all the members of the tired and broken down circus our magician worked for. Each chapter is then written from the prospective of one of those circus members, during their stories everyone contradicts each other on almost every front. They can’t agree on anything not even if the magician had magic or not.

I will say this, if you need a straight narrative this book is not for you. If you want a very fresh and inventive way to tell a story, and a book that you won’t encounter again except by rereading. then this book is for you.

I really don’t believe I can recommend this one highly enough.

Mr Sebastian and the Negro magician
by Daniel Wallace
published by Anchor
ISBN-978-0307279118
http://www.danielwallace.org/home.cgi

Daniel Wallace was also the author of Big Fish, which was made quite famous by that Tim Burton fellow.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Fiction

 

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