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The Little Drummer Girl

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  7,085 Ratings  ·  293 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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(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 29, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, book-to-film
”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
...more
Rob
Sep 09, 2009 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Manny
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
mentor&muse
May 23, 2013 mentor&muse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Tom Marcinko
Jan 29, 2013 Tom Marcinko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Maureen
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel, espionage
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
Denise
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
Tuck
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
...more
Darwin8u
Jul 23, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
What happens when a woman loves two righteous men? Two feuding nations? A woman who is struggling with both her inner and outer world; her inner and outer dialogue. ''The Little Drummer Girl'' is the second best spy novel I've ever read, but I NEVER give first prizes. Charlie is a woman who incubates in the womb of her mind the warring ideals and pitiful trails of two imperfect people(s). We all have both angels and devils in our nature and the irony is that when we try to invent one, we end up ...more
Franti
Aug 30, 2016 Franti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seconda esperienza con LeCarré dopo La Casa Russia e mi rendo conto di conoscerlo da sempre. Avido divoratore di adattamenti cinematografici quale sono i due libri che ho letto di questo autore mi confermano che la sua prosa è lo stampino perfetto per sceneggiature di film di spionaggio fuori dal comune. O è così o ha un avvocato agguerritissimo che gestisce le sue royalties poiché gli adattamenti sono sempre molto rispettosi dello stile dell'autore. L'ossessione per i dettagli nel costruire i p ...more
Selina Kyle
There is no fear like it. Your courage will be like money. You will spend and spend, and one night you will look in your pockets and you'll be bankrupt and that is when the real courage begins.

This book is possibly the most complex le Carré novel I've read to date. This is the story of Charmian ("Charlie" to her friends, though she doesn't keep them for long). She's a talented British actress who, like many other talented artists, is penniless and jobless. She follows her abusive boyfriend from
...more
Robert Spencer
Sep 16, 2015 Robert Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know, I guess you either love him or he leaves you cold. This to me is one of his stronger novels. Yes, it's a slow burner, but all his best ones are. The question is whether or not it builds the slow burn to an intense heat (ref The Honourable Schoolboy) or just smoulders away to a damp fizzle (ref Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). I think the first piece of advice I would offer is not to think of any of Le Carre's books as "thrillers". They are character studies that happen to be about spies ...more
Matthew
Feb 28, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first time to read John le Carre. I watched "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (the movie) and felt hopelessly lost. But if I never pick up the Smiley novels, at least I read "Little Drummer Girl." A young woman delivers a suitcase bomb to the home of an Israeli diplomat in Bonn, Germany, an act of Palestinian terrorism that sets in motion an elaborate Israeli plot to recruit a double-agent who will infiltrate PLO ranks and settle the score.

I would give this book 5 stars, except that the fi
...more
N. Jr.
Sep 14, 2014 N. Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Matt
Mar 16, 2013 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Malia
Jul 04, 2013 Malia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 one...so, 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
Javier
This is a tragic story that sees a radical actress kidnapped by Mossad and recruited into operations aiming to assassinate Palestinians.
Jim Leckband
Jul 21, 2013 Jim Leckband rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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"
...more
Jim
Feb 25, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy
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
...more
Simon Mcleish
Dec 03, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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
...more
Stephen
Jul 03, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Sgier
Aug 28, 2013 Mike Sgier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Mesh Flinders
May 07, 2016 Mesh Flinders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've often felt le Carre transcended his genre but this really proves it. Also, a fascinating read in light of the recent attacks in Brussels and Paris. Written in 1983, about a pro-Palestine bombing cell and the recruitment of an English actress by Mossad to crack it, there are uncomfortable similarities in the planning and execution of the attacks, and recent headlines. le Carre refuses to come down on either side of the Palestine / Israel conflict but instead draws you in tight and close to c ...more
Adrian
Jul 07, 2009 Adrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aimee
Aug 01, 2014 Aimee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
Jack
Aug 14, 2016 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another LeCarre masterpiece, in my judgment, right up there with the best of the Smiley/Circus series. Given the broad spectrum of characters here (from Israeli intelligence agents to young members of the '70s counterculture to Arab guerrillas to European Marxist revolutionaries -- all of whom are worlds apart from Smiley's British "espiocrats"), I predict that this will go down as LeCarre's most ambitious project. Also, LeCarre somehow manages to create truly chilling scenes that take place in ...more
TheGraeme
Sep 05, 2016 TheGraeme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was as mind shattering to me as a reader as were its events to its characters. The whole time I was reading it (and it's a long slow read) I was irritable, worried, and often just downright sad. Yet this didn't seem like a bad thing; the horror and suffering in the book, and the incredible change undergone by the protagonist just felt so real and ring so true even today. The reader is drawn along with our protagonist and has their face thrust right into worst ugliness of all sides in t ...more
Betsy
Jul 15, 2016 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: earlier, spy
I read this some years ago and don't remember the plot at all. What sticks with me is the carefully told story of the effect of manipulation of a young woman who has been recruited into the world of espionage. By then end of the novel neither the woman nor the reader is sure where her loyalties really lie. I would rate this as John LeCarre's best novel and, consequently, the best spy novel I have ever read.
Mel Allred
Oct 12, 2012 Mel Allred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Yana Shevkirova
Jun 05, 2015 Yana Shevkirova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book slightly different from the rest of le Carre's works, maybe because of all the romance. Nevertheless it was brilliant (as everything he has ever written) and I wonder how I wasn't let down by now by none of his stories. He builds up an entirely different world and manages to describe his characters while simultaneously developing the plot and making unexpected turns. Absolutely marvelous, worth reading every line.
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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 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
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“Everyone who is not happy must be shot.” 20 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)” 6 likes
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