• Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

  • A George Smiley Novel
  • By: John le Carré
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 12 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (3,180 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The inspiration for the major motion picture Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.

The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue.

The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement - especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla - his Moscow Centre nemesis - and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

The feature film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and features a cast that includes Gary Oldman as Smiley, Academy Award-winner Colin Firth (The King's Speech), and Tom Hardy (Inception).

©2011 John le Carre (P)2011 Penguin

What listeners say about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Viscous and Bottomless but Great

This is the only book I've ever encountered in which I could never really keep straight the endless characters but never felt that such confusion impinged on my ability to understand the gist of things. Despite the profusion of characters and backstories, the narrative is terse and economical and the author has an expert grasp on pacing and tone. Moreover, the language of the novel casts knowing darts outward from the ostensible spy story toward enduring themes of love, society, democracy, friendship, and institutions in ways more effective than most "deep books". The reader was the best ever. I have already replayed this novel as background music, which is a first for me.

30 people found this helpful

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the best

Can't get enough of this author. My favorite of the Smiley trilogy. Very good narration.

23 people found this helpful

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Challenging for the mind

Any additional comments?

Keeping all the characters strait was a challenge. I tried to read this book but was getting hopelessly lost. After listening to the book I was able to go back and finish reading it ...enjoying it a second time. I also moved on to the Honorable School Boy (the follow up book) Both good books with engaging stories.

8 people found this helpful

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Worst spy book ever!!!

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Written for a person who prefers a spy book writen at a painfully slow pace without any violence or action of any kind.

Would you ever listen to anything by John le Carre again?

Honorable School Boy was a good listen but I have to say that I will never listen to any of his books again.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator did a good job at reading such a terrible novel.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Angry that I wasted my Audile credit on this very disappointing book. I am sure I have listened to at least a hundred thrillers over the past few years that I mostly download from our public library and I have never felt the need to ever write a review until now.

6 people found this helpful

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The Best

This is the absolute best audiobook I have listened to. I love the print book and have read it many times. The narrator could not have been better.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Hard to get into

I had a hard time getting into this book, by the time I started enjoying it, the book was over. I didn't give up on it because it's one of the books on my 100 book bucket list. I am going to try reading it instead of listening to see if I enjoy it more.

5 people found this helpful

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excellent & cerebral spy novel

i was discussing with a friend what i liked so much about this series and Le Carre in general thus far and there are a couple of points. 1. there is a sophistication to the style and story that elevates it. 2. the intellectual, chess game aspect as opposed to the blow-em-up style that is invigorating. not everything is spelled out and the motives are murky and convoluted and and you have to think. very nice. complicated but worth it if you let yourself enjoy the writing and get immersed in the world of the Circus. I still have to put In From the Cold above this, but loved Tinker. I keep thinking of Greene's Human Factor also, one of the best.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not for the commute.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader pronounced every nuanced vowel in a way that didn't feel effortless, but forced. I would have preferred a different reader.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story was good, and I could see it being a great read...just not a great listen.

Any additional comments?

I listen to audiobooks in the car commuting to work and although I wanted to like this book, I couldn't focus on DC traffic and hold the story at the same time. I found myself having to re-listen to chapters because I had no idea what was going on. For me, the story had too many characters with too much jargon for a semi-passive listen - it requires more focus than I could give it while driving.

5 people found this helpful

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Can't miss this Cold War classic

This book has a sentimental significance to me as my dad (a WWII veteran) was an avid reader of LeCarre and all things Cold War. I put off listening for all these years, until having seen all of the televised adaptations and known the story in its general components. I'm glad I finally listened, though. The book delivers on its promise as the cornerstone of the genre. It's such an interesting combination of sharp and blunt - the meticulous details and razor-sharp storytelling, and the blanket of ambivalence and moral grey area that the story inhabits. So good. The narrator is spot on. An extremely satisfying read in my opinion.

4 people found this helpful

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Spy story that really holds your interest

While its set in the "old days" of the cold war, this Le Carre novel's subtext about the inner motivations of cold warriors, what makes them tick, their doubts, their cynical calculations and justifications, is really refreshing.

This is not a battle between "good" and "evil" as we see so often from the jingoistic media these days, but a battle between flawed but determined opponents playing out a convoluted struggle for power and control.

I enjoyed it very much.

4 people found this helpful

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