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A Small Town in Germany  By  cover art

A Small Town in Germany

By: John le Carré
Narrated by: Michael Jayston
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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of A Legacy of Spies.

"Haven't you realized that only appearances matter"? The British Embassy in Bonn is up in arms. Her Majesty's financially troubled government is seeking admission to Europe's Common Market just as anti-British factions are rising to power in Germany. Rioters are demanding reunification, and the last thing the Crown can afford is a scandal. Then Leo Harting - an embassy nobody - goes missing with a case full of confidential files. London sends Alan Turner to control the damage, but he soon realizes that neither side really wants Leo found - alive.

Set against the threat of a German-Soviet alliance, John le Carré's A Small Town in Germany is a superb chronicle of Cold War paranoia and political compromise. With an introduction by the author.

©2013 John le Carré (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about A Small Town in Germany

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    4 out of 5 stars

Recollects the Tension, Jingoism and Polarization

Would you consider the audio edition of A Small Town in Germany to be better than the print version?

Michael Jayston is an excellent narrator. Some years ago I heard this same novel read by the author. Jayston's performance is much superior, and he helps to bring the story alive. His English dialects make the characters extremely vivid. Jayston is a professional actor (he played the role of Peter Guillam in the excellent British mini-series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and his ability to read life into the book's characters is very enjoyable.

What did you like best about this story?

Although not a part of the George Smiley/Circus series of novels, this story could certainly take place in that world. Occurring mostly in the British embassy in Bonn, West Germany, the story has a claustrophobic quality not unlike The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. Harking back to Le Carre's earlier books, this is as much of a mystery as an espionage story, and the intriguing melding of the two genres will be perfected in his later masterpiece, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Class prejudice, bitter memories of the UK's past glories, fear of being caught in the middle between the extremes of America's mindless popular culture and the USSR's drive to dominate Europe, and simple human misunderstanding all play their part and make this story an examination of what drives an individual to make drastic and even self-destructive decisions.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Le Carre isn't known for his happy endings. However, I always leave his work with a feeling that I've come to know real people with real feelings and motivations. Their fates may not be happy, or even particularly deserved...but isn't life itself ambiguous?

19 people found this helpful

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All power corrupts.

"All power corrupts. The loss of power corrupts even more."

Throughout most of this early le Carré novel, I was convinced I would probably rate it three stars. It was interesting, but plodded at times. It seemed a little provincial, a bit dated, ended up being historically incorrect, and seemed almost like le Carré was writing a Henry James ghost story more than a le Carré thriller.

However, by the end I loved it. Chapter 17 (Praschko) right before the Epilogue (a conversation between Praschko, Turner and Bradfield) was absolutely genius. It was one of the most powerful chapters in any book I've come across that wasn't originally written in Russian.

19 people found this helpful

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very good spy/mystery

i must preface this review by saying that I came to this straight after listening to the entire Smiley series and thoroughly enjoying all of its intricacies and Smiley himself is a great character and so I didn't quite enjoy this as much as i should perhaps. it is again well written, well narrated, well plotted etc and I enjoy the more cerebral spy novels without all the shooting and blowing things up. the mystery aspect and chess game maneuvering is great in LeCarre, but this one is a touch reminiscent of Forsythe's Odessa File near end, which came first i don't know. still enjoyed it but maybe i need to break from LeCarre for a bit and come back and get a little distance from Smiley, as I keep hoping he will somehow pop up in one of his cameo's.

11 people found this helpful

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A surprisingly entertaining, if obscure, LeCarre

I’ve read every LeCarre book but two, and so listened to this, one of his least well known novels. George Smiley does not appear, and MI6 is not involved, but this is a very entertaining book nonetheless. This is mostly due to LeCarre’s masterful prose, particularly his dialogue, but also due to an unexpectedly interesting story, set in the West German capital, Bonn, circa 1968, when the UK was trying to join the Common Market, and the Allies were enticing Germany to join NATO. It’s a manhunt, by the protagonist, Alan Turner, of the Foreign Office, and it proceeds slowly, but gathers speed towards the end. Beautifully read by Michael Jayston.

3 people found this helpful

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Even minor LeCarre is still good but...

I admire and adore LeCarre, but this was not one of his best, very speechy, too long. Yet still worth listening to, and the end is chilling.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant book brilliantly read

This might be the most poetic and most atmospheric of LeCarre's books. And perhaps the most philosophical. I read it years ago but the reading still astounded and surprised me all these years later.

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Not very good

I like suspense novels, I like military, CIA, espionage books. This book stunk, don’t waste your $$

2 people found this helpful

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Depth, complexity and style beyond imagination

I’ve read roughly half of Le Carre’s work so far and I expect that at the end of the day, for my money, this will be his masterpiece.

1 person found this helpful

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Slow start, good mid to end. Worthwhile and good.

Good le Carre character pairing as always, on built on on a good plot. All entertaining.

1 person found this helpful

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A Four Hour Story Crammed Into 13 Hours

le Carré's style is quite verbose, but this was excessive. Conversations that go on 20 minutes longer than necessary and irrelevant lengthy descriptions move the story along at a snails pace.