“Le Carré . . . at the top of his form.”
The Secret Pilgrim (George Smiley Series)by John le Carré
Nothing is as it was. Old enemies embrace. The dark staging grounds of the Cold War—whose shadows barely obscured the endless games of espionage—are flooded with light; the rules are rewritten, the stakes changes, the future unfathomable. John le Carré has seized this momentous turning point in history to give us the most disturbing experience we have yet had of the frail and brutal world of spydom. The man called Ned speaks to us. All his adult life he has been in British Intelligence—the Circus—a loyal, shrewd, wily officer of the Cold War. Now, approaching the end of his career, he revisits his own past—an intricate weave of suspicion, danger, boredom and exhilaration that is the essence of espionage and of his own sentimental education. He invites us on a tour of his three decades in the Circus, burrowing deep into the twilight the Circus, burrowing deep into the twilight world where he ran spies—"joes"—from Poland, Estonia, Hungary, men and women to whom he gave his most profound love and hate. Along the way we meet a host of splendid new characters and reacquaint ourselves with the legendary old knights of the Circus and the notorious traitor, Bill Haydon. Telling the story of his own life's secret pilgrimage, Ned illuminates the brave past and the even braver present of George Smiley—reluctant keeper of the flame—who combines within himself the ideal and the reality of the Circus. Smiley, Ned's mentor and hero, now gives back to him the "dangerous edge" of memory which empowers him to frame the questions that have haunted him—and the world—for thirty years, and that haunt us still. The Secret Pilgrim holds us galvanized by its storytelling genius, by its perceptions of the moral conundrums at the heart of our society, and by its singular grasp of the myths and fantasies underlying the conflicts of nations. It is John le Carré's most magnificent novel.
“Le Carré . . . at the top of his form.”
“Powerful . . . remarkable . . . a grand summation of all John le Carré’s themes.”
“As the greatest spy novelist of our times John le Carré has always used as the bedrock of his craft the strange ways people are bound to each other.” - Calgary Sun
“In a world where villains can bleed tragedy and heroes may not be so heroic, le Carré is still our keenest arbiter.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“No other contemporary novelist has more durably enjoyed the twin badges of being both well read and well regarded.” - Scott Turow
“Le Carré, always an intriguing blend of patrician and populist, gives voice to all our contempt for hot-money deals.” - Independent (UK)
“I would suggest immortality for John le Carré…. May he write forever!” - Chicago Tribune
“A literary master for a generation.” - Observer (UK)
What People are Saying About This
“Le Carré…at the top of his form.”—Los Angeles Times
Meet the Author
John le Carré was born in 1931. After attending the universities of Bern and Oxford, he taught at Eton and spent five years in the British Foreign Service. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, his third book, secured him a worldwide reputation. He divides his time between England and the Continent.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Le Carre is the master spy novelist of our time. (Most notable for 'The Russia House' which became a blockbuster movie with Sean Connery and Michelle Pheifer.) He has inspired many a writer that may have never picked up a pen--or found the courage to admit doing so. In 'Secret Pilgrim', George Smiley breaks the mold of flashy spies, such as Bond, and opens the door into the reality that the average citizen can accomplish remarkable feats. It's a lesson in humanity through the success and failure of our unlikely hero. This style of writing has allowed for amazing success of Le Carre's unique blend of mystery, suspense, and the examined sufferage that we all share. A must read for any and all spy novel enthusiasts.
This book really is a literary oddity. Although it describes the life of a globetrotting secret agent during the heady days of the cold war, the book never glamourizes the profession. It describes the life of a secret agent attempting to discover his true identity, or whatever the Circus (British secret service) hasn't stripped him of. Through his meetings with different characters in diverse cold war locales from Bangkok to Berlin to Bethlehem, he discovers the true meaning of being a spy. Very entertaining novel, a masterpiece by a true artist. Henry Sblaza