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The Little Drummer Girl
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The Little Drummer Girl

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  5,682 ratings  ·  228 reviews
You want to catch the lion, first you tether the goat. On holiday in Mykonos, Charlie wants only sunny days and a brief escape from England's bourgeois dreariness. Then a handsome stranger lures the aspiring actress away from her pals-but his intentions are far from romantic. Joseph is an Israeli intelligence officer, and Charlie has been wooed to flush out the leader of a ...more
ebook, 560 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”What would it be like really and absolutely to believe? (...) To know, really and absolutely know, that there's a Divine Being not set in time or space who reads your thoughts better than you ever did, and probably before you even have them? To believe that God sends you to war, God bends the path of bullets, decides which of his children will die, or have their legs blown off, or make a few hundred million on Wall Street, depending on today's Grand Design?”

 photo LittleDrummerGirl_zpsb6d741d2.jpg
Joseph proved to be more than just a
Erik Simon
In my twenties, I had a fair number of one-night stands. Each was terrific in its own way even if none was particularly profound in any lasting sense. I never regretted one or thought there was something I could have been doing better with my time. They were fun. By the time I got to my thirties, those one-night stands tapered off. They were still fun, but it was a fun in which I was increasingly less interested. For what they were, I had no complaints, but what they were started to feel hollow, ...more
I found this novel extremely disturbing, and the movie version starring Diane Keaton even more so. Perhaps it's because I'm half-Jewish, and family discussions regularly circle back to Israeli/Palestinian politics. The basic scenario in the book is that Mossad are concerned about a successful series of bombings carried out against Israeli targets by a Palestinian terrorist group. They want to infiltrate the organization, and recruit a young actress to help them. There are two scenes near the beg ...more
An amazing novel. I was a le Carre fan coming in, but this book's explorations of identity and morality blew my mind while simultaneously blowing up lots of other stuff. It's a story about Zionists, Palestinians, and bombs. And love and identity and morality. It's complex as hell; the identity stuff is on a PK Dick level, but goes there without drugs. The morality issue may be closer to common, as we are given Palestinians and Zionists and why they are who they are, but le Carre never overtly po ...more
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: espionage, novel
A young actress, Charlie, is recruited by an Israeli spymaster, Martin Kurtz, to try to locate a Palestinian terrorist by the name of Kahlil, who zeroes in on Jewish targets, mostly in Germany. Internal conflicts arise for Charlie, whose character is probably loosely based upon Vanessa Redgrave, because she is an anti-Zionist working for Israelis. She falls in love with her case officer, who closely resembles Kahlil's brother. As the plot spirals inward, the pressures on Charlie consistently inc ...more
John le Carrè’s The Little Drummer Girl is much more than a spy novel. At its heart is a compelling relationship – which just happens to be between an agent and her agent runner (or case officer) amid a fascinating plot to stop a terrorist bomber. But it’s the genius and complexity of the relationship that raises The Little Drummer Girl to heights far above the limits of the spy genre.

An intricate fiction is planned in order to infiltrate the bomber’s network and bring him down. Michel, the bom
Tom Marcinko
I have a vague memory of a column by George Will, back when I used to read him, about this 1983 novel. If memory serves, Will was upset that le Carré depicts the Palestinians as having a point of view, or maybe of just acknowledging that they exist. He likened the book to a Harlequin romance. He hated the dust jacket, and the typeface.

I don’t like any of the choices we’re given in the Middle East: choose one side or another, or say “a plague on both your houses,” or ignore it altogether. Le Car
my first le carre book in decades. n am reminded why, he takes a long long time to get to the point, then you realize, there is no point really. but interesting and fairly even-handed treatment of palestine and the occupying nazi..oops, east german...opps dang it, israel, and their battles both on 'battle fields' and on innocents.
so this thriller told mostly from a mossad side, infiltrating terror bombing family and setting up a big sting. success! sadly, the situation in 1983 and 2015 is still
This is one of the hardest books for me to get through. I'm still working it out, and it's worth it. I don't like slow reads normally, and this one started out all over the place. Boring, but if you get through the first several chapters, it gets much better. I AM interested in the girl's downslope into terrorism, if that is really what it is. I will let you know. My usual style is to finish a book in two to three nights. This one is taking forever! I cant give up on it though. There is a good s ...more
The plot revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than Le Carré's familiar milieu of the cold war. That said, he does kinda fit his plot into his familiar cold war devices - and this is essentially a story of espionage. This initially caused me a few reservations, as I'd expected it to be less like his previous novels than it appeared on first flush - there's an analogue for Smiley, and even for his occassional cadre of misfits; he returns again to England-on-the-wane than. But d ...more
N. Jr.
One of his best. I enjoyed this book on many levels. Le Carre does a good job in developing the character of Charlie, a cut-rate actress with radical left leanings suffering from low self-esteem, who is recruited as a mole to ferret out a terrorist bomber. The Mossad operatives are also well portrayed as cold and vengeful.

Events in the story are disturbingly realistic showing the ruthlessness required for the counter-terrorist game. The author spent a lot of time researching this book in Lebanon
Having read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amount of stress. He ratchets up drama by putting his characters in extremely difficult situations and then continuing to crank up the stress level. Of his novels that I have read, the previous epitome of these super stress levels was The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. However, I think the stress in The Little Drummer Girl tops even that work.

The title c
Where does reality become fiction? Where does fiction become reality? Can they exist together? The spy novel genre is not usually one that I choose to read. I was impressed, though, with Le Carre's wealth of knowledge with the inside workings of the world of espionage. How does he know so much and in such detail? On the one hand, I applaud the story's intricacies, the slow reveal of each and every plot detail. At times, I had a hard time hanging on to the intended growing suspense. I felt like I ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 2001.

This novel is a departure from the spy stories which were the norm for le Carré, and a more successful one than The Naive And Sentimental Lover, because more along the lines of his usual writing. It is about a spy infiltrating an organisation, but not the KGB or the British secret service - this is a Palestinian terrorist cell intent on attacking Jewish targets in Europe. The infiltrator is a British actress, Charmian (known as Charlie), who has
Mike Sgier
This is the second of John le Carré's novels that I've read, and I'm once again impressed. The story takes a while to set up, but once it does it reveals itself with equal parts mystery and tension.

Due to the subject matter of the book (the Israeli-Palestinean conflict), the politics of the book are emotional, and the author's introduction addresses these issues better than I can. More than anything, le Carré is a keen observer of the language, customs, and hallmarks of spycraft, double agents,
Jim Leckband
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.
Titles reveal much about a book once you sit down and think about it. Some are obvious (One Hundred Years of Solitude), some are obscure until the end (The Crying of Lot 49) and some make sense only when you compare the title reference to what is happening in the book, say like East of Eden. "The Little Drummer Girl"
By no means a bad novel but very confusing and convulated. Some things don't make sense. How does Charlie fall in love with a man she has never met? And it is permamenently unclear which side she is operating on because at the end she suceeds at bombing a university but also at finding a wanted terrorist for the Israelis. A further complaint: The plot of the novel could be summarized in a couple of sentences. Why does it take le Carré so many pages to let the story unfold? Certain passages are m ...more
Thomas Strömquist
In his genre he's hard to beat. So if you want to read a suspenseful spy thriller and are willing to put in some effort (a bit slow and thorough storytelling and often complicated (sub)plots) then you can't go wrong with this one.
This one was a bit of a battle. I had such high expectations, Le Carre is said to be 'the master' in the realm of spy novels, but I guess I have different criteria, because I was confused and bored most of the time, and indifferent during the last third. Maybe this just wasn't the right book to start with, but I wanted a newer, possibly my fault. But I just found it too long and with characters, who despite being painstakingly described, fell somehow flat. The plot was somewhat clever, ...more
I was loving LeCarre. He was batting .1000 as far as I was concerned and then I hit this one. I like a story that unfolds slowly and has a nice payoff, etc. But this one took too long to get there. I'm getting older and I'll never be able to read all the books I'm going to want to read before I die and I think slogging through 50% of a book to get to the good isn't fair to the reader. That's half of the book wasted when it could have been 100% awesome. Kind of bummed...but he's written enough go ...more
Tio Stib
Le Carre’, John, The Little Drummer Girl, Audio Book, 1983

Genre: spy/espionage thriller

This is a book of layers. Layers of plots. Layers of politics and cultures. But mostly, layers of human character. Yes, it’s a spy thriller and there is certainly suspense in this story, but it is so much more.

I’d seen “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” with Alec Guiness years ago and sensed that Le Carre’s style was more introspective than Ian Fleming’s action oriented 007 thrillers. I was not prepared, though,
Peter Auber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mel Allred
John LeCarre has the capacity to emote deep emotional involvement with his characters, causing the reader to agonize over the inherent dangers, paralyzing fears, and myriad of possible outcomes that the players in his political dramas face each moment. And each moment as you read you are eager to find the hopeful outcome to the extent that you want to skip pages to get answers, but you dont dare miss any of his words.
His best, and for me that's saying a lot. Intricate, atmospheric, penetrating and going to a gripping climax. The love interest in The Night Manager is less manipulative, and I like that book better as a romp, but Drummer Girl is exceptional in its politics and its Shakespearian psychology.
Prophetic, visionary and historically sensitive this LeCarre novel gets to the heart of the matter regarding European radicalism/terrorism during the 1970's. A tour de force that uses the Mossad as a Stanislavsky based theatre company that recruits and gets the best out of a middle class English Rose withering with uselessness. It is the political brand of terrorism...PFLP, Carlos, Baader Mienhoff, Red Brigades...not the Religious terrorism many younger readers will envision. Great locations, go ...more
Despite the title which makes it sound like a children's book, this book is about Moslems and Jews blowing each other up. The characters were not at all likable though they were probably very true to form as terrorists go. I think they are probably immoral and cruel like they were portrayed. This is another in my quest to be ready for my trip to Jerusalem. This is one of those books that you should really make a note of every character as they come up because you will lose track as they come and ...more
I know this book is highly rated and John le Carre is revered, but I have to admit that I didn't like it much. It was a bit of a slog. I was bored for about the first 200 pages and I almost gave it up, but it did get better so I'm glad I stuck it out. The intricate plot was powerful and the climax was intense. There's a ton of dialogue that didn't really advance the action, but it occurs to me that this probably a more accurate reflection of real espionage work than fast-paced thrillers. Lots of ...more
Sherrill Watson
See review -- very good! It's SOMETHING to read a novel by a master!

Schulmann -- Kurtz -- Marty -- was seen by Dr. Alexis as having "a deep and abiding hatred;" his war goes on. "If you would catch a lion, you first must tether the goat."

Marty's partner is Simon Litvak; Gadi Becker is Marty Schulmann's boss -- I think! Yanuka, and his sister, Fatmeh are the bad guys, but they are little fish. Marty is after A Big Fish. Charmian -- Charlie-the-Red, is The Little Drummer Girl. She is an actress,
Upgraded today from one star solely on the basis that he had the good judgement to decline to be part of the Booker Prize announced today.
Good lord, how prescient can a writer be--
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John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than forty years where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.
More about John le Carré...
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Smiley's People The Russia House The Constant Gardener

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“Everyone who is not happy must be shot.” 17 likes
“What would it be like really and absolutely to believe? (...) To know, really and absolutely know, that there's a Divine Being not set in time or space who reads your thoughts better than you ever did, and probably before you even have them? To believe that God sends you to war, God bends the path of bullets, decides which of his children will die, or have their legs blown off, or make a few hundred million on Wall Street, depending on today's Grand Design? (ch. 14)” 3 likes
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