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Our Game

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Very poor and irresponsible

    From Martin Fredricsson: Very disappointed. I am a big fan of Le Carre, and that was one of the reasons I read the book (ok, listened to the unabridged audio version) to the very end - after all, his writing is, as always, excellent. Or maybe I simply enjoyed the narration by the brilliant Frederick Davidson. However, the plot is rather weak and totally unrealistic. It is definitely not a thriller. And, most importantly, Le Carre, probably unknowingly, but definitely unwisely, became a mouthpiece for Islamic insurgents. It is very clear that the author, just like his main characters, was brainwashed by the Ingush propagandists. Anyone who knows Caucasus can see that. He tells only one side of the story, and he heard it from the Ingush insurgents, not bothering to talk to the others, like the families of their many victims. It is obvious from the detailed descriptions that Le Carre visited the region, but he only listened to one side. The author glorifies and romanticises their "fight for freedom", while undeservedly demonising their neighbours, including the Ossetians, the most peaceful people on the whole of Caucasus, bullied for hundreds of years by Ingush, Chechens and Georgians. Some of the elements of the book are simply ridiculous, like the killing "Forest". He wrote the novel in 1995, when it was fashionable to compare Ingush and Chechens to the peoples that won independence from the Soviets only few years before that, like Estonians and Latvians. Well, the Ingush are no Estonians. Estonians sang their way to freedom. The Ingush were cutting people's heads off and torturing hostages, later moving on to a more efficient way of killing - terrorism. In fact, only in the last decade the terrorist acts either conducted by the Ingush (like explosions in Moscow airport or Vladikavkas market), or launched directly from Ingushetia (like the horrific Beslan school siege in Ossetia), killed more people than IRA and Hamas killed in their history - combined! Granted, most of this violence happened after Le Carre wrote "Our Game", but I still hold him accountable for being so irresponsible, allowing himself to be duped by the militants and becoming the mouthpiece for those who became the most dangerous violent Islamic extremists in the world. The Ingush (and Chechens, their close relatives) are a society traditionally based on violence and hatred, with medieval practices virtually legalized, like the blood vengeance or kidnapping of brides. Though we can argue about their history in the Russian empire (it is important to remember that Russian expansionism was always based on the need to secure the borders, unlike Western colonialism, with European powers colonizing countries thousands of miles away, purely for their resources), it is clear that Ingush were subjected to a brutal collective punishment by Stalin, who relocated them to Central Asia for mass collaboration with the Nazi forces (compare that with internment of Japanese-Americans, even though the enemy never even came close to the US mainland). 12 years later the Ingush returned, and they got back most of their land, and were compensated for the lost land both with new land and other benefits, including the right to resettle in North Ossetia's Prigorodny Rayon, mentioned in the book. During Gorbachev's reforms Ingush became the darlings of the human rights community, simply because of their history, and from then on they felt th

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2007

    Great read

    First, out of most of the spy novel writers le Carre does the best research, and not just his facts, more importantly he has a good understanding of the problems he describes as the background of his plot. Second, his novels aren't entertainment in the usual sense of the word - clearly cut good guys beating clearly cut bad guys for a happy end - he asks some tough questions that might rub some people the wrong way, and that is admirable. In this book, he challanges his readers to take a stance on an issue that most of us haven't heard about, but also he tries to draw a parallel to other similar situations, where our interests, although indirectly, might be involved. Third, I loved the Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' pattern towards the end of this book - just like Marlowe, Cranmer travels to some remote corner of the world looking for a man he doesn't really know, when all along he is looking for himself. The reason I gave this book four starts is because the narrative was a bit slow at times and hard to keep up with, but that maybe my shortcoming as a reader. I definitely recommend this one to anybody who enjoys thought-provoking books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    Game, Set, Match

    John Le Carre is simply a superb writer, unique in his ability to make the richness and revelation of character a page turner before anything has actually happened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2006

    Flawed but Entertaining

    As with everything that Le Carre has written, Our Game is enjoyable, topical, and beautifully written. Its greatest flaw is that, by virtue of the fact that he wrote it, it must inevitably be compared to works like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and The Constant Gardener. It is simply not that good. Like most of Le Carre's post Cold War novels, it reveals his frustration (perhaps rage?) at the way that the West has, in his opinion, squandered the peace by continuing to support oppressive regimes that suit its economic interests. Like most of his best novels, it features characters torn between idealism and cynicism (Leamus, Smiley, Justin Quayle). And like most of Le Carre's novels, it is compelling, deftly sweeping the reader through, with just enough pause to enjoy his beautiful prose. Unfortunately, like his lesser works, it is not quite compelling enough to get away with some of the more contrived elements of its plot, which seem to me to offer extremely false dichotomies. In this sense, Our Game reminds me of Single and Single, but where the latter book seemed derivative of the previously published A Perfect Spy, Our Game seems like a blueprint for The Constant Gardener, which is one of the best books that I have ever read. That is, perhaps, its strongest recommendation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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