Customer Reviews for

The Mission Song

Average Rating 3.5
( 26 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

a reviewer

Twenty-nine year old half-British half Congolese Bruno 'Salvo' Salvador earns a lucrative living as an interpreter of several African dialects. He is married to an upper crust Englishwoman Penelope and is in demand by corporations and the government for his language sk...
Twenty-nine year old half-British half Congolese Bruno 'Salvo' Salvador earns a lucrative living as an interpreter of several African dialects. He is married to an upper crust Englishwoman Penelope and is in demand by corporations and the government for his language skills in Swahili and lesser known East Congolese dialects. Salvo lives a comfortable life at the top of London thanks to his roots of a missionary father mating with a Congolese villager. However, he also feels shallow as he enjoys the good life while he ignores the plight of his maternal people.-------------- At a black tie gala honoring his wife, a renowned tabloid reporter, Mr. Anderson sends Salvo from the party to work a covert mission. Salvo flies to a remote island to serve as interpreter for a group of African nationals who apparently plan to overthrow the corrupt Congolese government and bring needed stability to the region. Frightened by what he hears and fearful the plotters may eliminate any witness, Salvo wants to decamp, but also wants to help his people, but is not sure what is best for them.---------------- This is a terrific thriller that condemns attempts to ¿westernize¿ other regions of the world especially Africa while at the same protecting western business interests at the costs of the locals. The story line is action-packed but also contains John Le Carre¿s biting humor as he lampoons those who insist western democracies will save the world Mr. Le Carre pushes that first you must feed the person before you can teach them to fish so they can feed themselves. This is a great work starring a terrific protagonist with feet in two distinct words.---------------- Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on December 9, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Fiction as Platform for Propaganda

Le Carre, once again, has written political propaganda disguised as a spy thriller. I did not finish ¿Absolute Friends¿ because it was so obviously propaganda but, being a longtime Le Carre fan, I picked up ¿Mission Song¿ and began reading, hoping that he had returned t...
Le Carre, once again, has written political propaganda disguised as a spy thriller. I did not finish ¿Absolute Friends¿ because it was so obviously propaganda but, being a longtime Le Carre fan, I picked up ¿Mission Song¿ and began reading, hoping that he had returned to his previous style. Instead, I found another political ¿lesson¿ thinly disguised as fiction ¿ and not very good fiction at that. He¿s turned himself into a Taylor Caldwell or Ayn Rand, who wrote to convince others of their political beliefs. Le Carre¿s name will no longer be an automatic read for me.

posted by Anonymous on January 16, 2008

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Twenty-nine year old half-British half Congolese Bruno 'Salvo' Salvador earns a lucrative living as an interpreter of several African dialects. He is married to an upper crust Englishwoman Penelope and is in demand by corporations and the government for his language skills in Swahili and lesser known East Congolese dialects. Salvo lives a comfortable life at the top of London thanks to his roots of a missionary father mating with a Congolese villager. However, he also feels shallow as he enjoys the good life while he ignores the plight of his maternal people.-------------- At a black tie gala honoring his wife, a renowned tabloid reporter, Mr. Anderson sends Salvo from the party to work a covert mission. Salvo flies to a remote island to serve as interpreter for a group of African nationals who apparently plan to overthrow the corrupt Congolese government and bring needed stability to the region. Frightened by what he hears and fearful the plotters may eliminate any witness, Salvo wants to decamp, but also wants to help his people, but is not sure what is best for them.---------------- This is a terrific thriller that condemns attempts to ¿westernize¿ other regions of the world especially Africa while at the same protecting western business interests at the costs of the locals. The story line is action-packed but also contains John Le Carre¿s biting humor as he lampoons those who insist western democracies will save the world Mr. Le Carre pushes that first you must feed the person before you can teach them to fish so they can feed themselves. This is a great work starring a terrific protagonist with feet in two distinct words.---------------- Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008

    Fiction as Platform for Propaganda

    Le Carre, once again, has written political propaganda disguised as a spy thriller. I did not finish ¿Absolute Friends¿ because it was so obviously propaganda but, being a longtime Le Carre fan, I picked up ¿Mission Song¿ and began reading, hoping that he had returned to his previous style. Instead, I found another political ¿lesson¿ thinly disguised as fiction ¿ and not very good fiction at that. He¿s turned himself into a Taylor Caldwell or Ayn Rand, who wrote to convince others of their political beliefs. Le Carre¿s name will no longer be an automatic read for me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    Doesn't Disappoint

    Several of LaCarre's latest novels have been less engaging than his earlier ones. This isn't one of them. It was intriguing, unusual and thoroughly enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    mediocre for la carre

    It read fast and was short. It was not nearly as deep as many of la carre's books. I did like it, though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    Typical John Le Carre

    As usual, the plot sounds so interesting, then he gets bogged down in the details. I havent' finished the book yet because it is so hard to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Mission Song Not Up to Le Carre Standards

    I have always enjoyed Le Carre but I did not find this to be as engrossing as his previous works that I have either read, listened to or watched. I found myself straining for the end of the story as I kept getting sidetracked easily while listening. I believe that some of my lack of interest came from the reader and not the story content. The one thing I did find this was very topical and current. It was right on for todays world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2008

    One of the worst reads this year

    I was excited to be reading a new LeCarre. What a disapointment. I had to plod through to even finish the book. I felt as if John LeCarre had regressed to the language of a six year old who just learned new swear words. The plot was fragmented and hard to follow. At the end I was shaking my head as I felt that he got tired of writing and just was trying to figure out a way to get out of this mess of a book. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    I picked up Mission Song and had not expected it to be much more than a semi-interesting read. However, with every page turn, I became more and more attached to the novel, and actually found it very difficult to put the book down. Since reading this book, I have highly recommended it to all my friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    Doesn't Le Carre know that his country is called 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northgern Ireland' and NOT 'the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland' as Salvo writes on p. 1? Or did we miss a joke?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    BRITISH ACTOR GIVES FIRST-RATE NARRATION

    A British actor of Nigerian descent, David Oyelowo is making waves in the theatrical world. He is the first black actor to play an English king in a major Shakespeare production, and for that he won the Ian Charleson Award. His film credits include Kenneth Branagh's 'As You Like It.' A more perfect voice could not have been found to narrate Salvo's story. It is rich in timbre with perfect enunciation and a compelling quality that bids attention. Among his numerous authorial attributes John Le Carre also has the ability to create affecting, unforgettable protagonists - add Bruno Salvador, known as Salvo, to that list. Born 'the accidental son' of an Irish Catholic missionary and a teenage Congolese woman, he was consigned as a baby to the care of Carmelite nuns. Shortly after, his mother decided that three months of the nuns' tough love were more than enough for her, so she escaped 'at dead of night by way of the bath-house roof.' She returned to her family all of whom were soon killed by an enemy tribe. Life, merely existing was a challenge for Salvo but he gained an education at a mission school and later, with the help of his mentor, Brother Michael, learned how to be a professional interpreter in minority African languages. As our story opens he is in England, married to Penelope, an upper class white woman and a star reporter on a major newspaper. It was not a match made in heaven as 'Illegitimate sons-in-law of mixed race do not merge naturally into the social fabric of wealthy Surrey, and Penelope's parents were no exception to this time-honoured truism.' Penelope is often busy, tracking a lead story, too busy it seems to Salvo. That's not the case with Hannah, a lovely, sympathetic Congolese. Salvo is pleased when he's assigned to translate at a top secret conference between leaders in the Congo and a mining syndicate. It is here that he learns of the machinations and politicking that go on in closed door sessions. He realizes that the information he has gleaned could mean further disaster for the country of his birth. But, what can he do? The Mission Song is a captivating story written by a master. It is rich in achingly lovely pictures of Africa and chilling in descriptions of torture. His characters are unforgettable, etched in our minds by the pen of an author who, as someone has said, 'raised the contemporary spy novel to the level of fine literature.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2007

    Not up to his reputation

    The plot is puzzling, certainly not a 'spy story' you would expect from LeCarre. I kept thinking it would get better so I kept reading but it did not -- too much detail about rendering translation. Too detailed about Eastern Congo tribes, customs, etc. unless perhaps you are Congophile.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A SPY NOVEL THAT IS FINE LITERATURE

    Among his numerous authorial attributes John Le Carre also has the ability to create affecting, unforgettable protagonists - add Bruno Salvador, known as Salvo, to that list. Born 'the accidental son' of an Irish Catholic missionary and a teenage Congolese woman, he was consigned as a baby to the care of Carmelite nuns. Shortly after, his mother decided that three months of the nuns' tough love were more than enough for her, so she escaped 'at dead of night by way of the bath-house roof.' She returned to her family all of whom were soon killed by an enemy tribe. Life, merely existing was a challenge for Salvo but he gained an education at a mission school and later, with the help of his mentor, Brother Michael, learned how to be a professional interpreter in minority African languages. As our story opens he is in England, married to Penelope, an upper class white woman and a star reporter on a major newspaper. It was not a match made in heaven as 'Illegitimate sons-in-law of mixed race do not merge naturally into the social fabric of wealthy Surrey, and Penelope's parents were no exception to this time-honoured truism.' Penelope is often busy, tracking a lead story, too busy it seems to Salvo. That's not the case with Hannah, a lovely, sympathetic Congolese. Salvo is pleased when he's assigned to translate at a top secret conference between leaders in the Congo and a mining syndicate. It is here that he learns of the machinations and politicking that go on in closed door sessions. He realizes that the information he has gleaned could mean further disaster for the country of his birth. But, what can he do? The Mission Song is a captivating story written by a master. It is rich in achingly lovely pictures of Africa and chilling in descriptions of torture. His characters are unforgettable, etched in our minds by the pen of an author who, as someone has said, 'raised the contemporary spy novel to the level of fine literature.' - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Fascinatgi

    Le Carre's still the best!

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Thouroughly enjoyable read

    This story is so well put together and beautifully written that it was music to my readers "ears". Salvo, the narrator and protaganist is sympathetic and embracable. You don't have to be a lover of "spy" novels to appreciate this one. You don't even have to get involved with the idea of "politics", "propaganda" and "anti-American message" some reviewers seem to find fault with. Just get to know the characters, let the story unfold and enjoy to fluency, emotion and craftmanship.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Superb writing...but...

    I had not read a John Le Carre novel in some years prior to this one. In my younger days, I was a devout reader of his work, and considered him without peer in writing modern novels. Over the last 15-20 years, however, he seems to have become personally addled and virulently anti-American. So I stopped reading.

    I am glad I read this book. Once again, his prose seems to be a cross between poetry and literature, and he surely is without peer. A very compelling story, told in a way that has you reading into the wee hours of the night. A good read, definately worth doing.

    However, once again his current colors come out. It takes until page 206, but he has to get in an eeeevil American plot underway by neoconservatives et al, though Brits are equally at fault for bad behavior. Really, Mr Le Carre..give it a rest. It detracts from your work.

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    Captivating!

    I loved this book. It was intriguing and brought up very real issues in terms of how dominant countries can influence and interfere in the politics of third-world countries for the purposes of money and power. This denies the reality of the lives of the less fortunate. This is also an interesting exploration of the interracial reality of the main character. It is very touching on many levels. Listening to the book rather than reading it really brought to life the main character, as it was read by a man with British and African heritage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    Book is Great, Audio Disappoints

    We like to listen to audio books on long car trips, and I bought this one with great anticipation. The story line is enthralling, and I liked the actor's facility with dialects and language nuances. However, there were far too many abrupt changes in volume. We were either straining forward to listen to the sub voce or blasted backward by the high energy, not very safe or fun in an automobile.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "Who's the pretty zebra anyway? The interpreter guy in the linoleum jacket?"

    I like John Le Carre as much as most readers. But there is, frankly, another author that comes to mind more than Le Carre: Graham Greene. If you liked Greene's OUR MAN IN HAVANA and A BURNT-OUT CASE, then Le Carre's Africa novel, THE MISSION SONG, is for you. ***

    I don't think that THE MISSION SONG is a parody or send-up of Graham Greene. It is rather a loving tribute from one British author to another. Here are some of the Greene elements: boys and girls educated by nuns and priests; sin as a necessary stage into sainthood; the Congo as a metaphor for the general human mystery of iniquity; a Catholic slant on everything; the bumbling good will of British intelligence services. ***

    The forces at work in THE MISSION SONG: Britain's national interests as pushed by a mysterious government organization; a religious leader, the Mwangaza (Enlightener) who will, when installed by a planned coup, bring peace and justice to Eastern Congo; the Syndicate, a western commercial group that can draw on armed mercenaries; the Alliance, three native groups around Lake Kivu and its tourist cities of Goma and Bukavu; and a little nobody, the novel's narrator, half-white, half-black ("zebra") Bruno Salvador aka Salvo. Salvo is a master of all Eastern Congo languages. Her Majesty's Governent recommends him to the Syndicate to interpret for a secret conference in northern Europe. There, if all goes well, pens will meet paper as all parties to a coming armed coup in Kivu reach agreement: the Syndicate, the Mwangaza and the Alliance. ***

    Naive young (age 29) Salvo begins his interpreting willingly in the hope that the Mwangaza, idolized by his Congolese nurse girlfriend, will impose his "middle way" on Kivu, bring peace and justice and assure that more of Kivu's mineral wealth reaches poor people by way of infrastructure, schools and hospitals. Meanwhile, as the corrupt national government in Kinshasa does nothing, 1,200 Congolese a day are being butchered in an endless war -- largely about control of boundless Eastern Congo/Kivu minerals. But Salvo quickly grows disillusioned, especially when Alliance leader Haj is tortured by the Syndicate to bring him into line. Is there a chance that Salvo can wreck the evil machinations of all parties to yet another rape of Kivu? To find out, read THE MISSION SONG. Watch as well the bonding and love/hate that develop between Salvo and Haj, the most difficult of the Alliance representatives for the Syndicate to corral. Haj's first private conversation with other Alliance delegates is secretly taped. And listen to what Salvo hears Haj say about Salvo: "Who's the pretty zebra anyway? The interpreter guy in the linoleum jacket?" ***

    This book deserves second and third readings. It is a masterly dissection of good and evil in Everyman's soul. -OOO-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    READER AND AUDIO

    POOR

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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