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Smiley's People

(George Smiley #7)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  30,816 ratings  ·  901 reviews
John le Carre's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him -- and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim.Rounding off his astonishing vision of a clandestine world, master storyteller le Carre perfects his art ...more
Paperback, 397 pages
Published November 26th 2002 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1979)
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Popular Answered Questions
David Talley No. Maybe read Bk 1 (Tinker, Tailor,...) to establish the characters and premise but Bk 2 adds very little to the overall story.
Jack No, there is no indication that Lauder Strickland leaked information to the Russians.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Like an archaeologist who has delved all his life in vain, Smiley had begged for one last day, and this was it."

Smiley’s People is the extremely satisfying conclusion to John le Carré’s Karla trilogy. Having finished the first in the trilogy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) in March and the second (The Honourable Schoolboy) in April, I was able to sink into this installment with reasonable ease. Although once again presented with a fairly large cast of characters, I was more readily able to wrap
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
If you have ever been curious about exploring John Le Carré’s writing, this Trilogy (titles listed in order in the next paragraph) from his George Smiley series would be a great place to launch from. I learned in the author’s notes that his intention was to continue the conflict story between George Smiley and the head of Russia’s most top secret intelligence agency for several novels. However, T.V. and movies got in the way – the key characters had become so closely associated with the actors w ...more

What is so exhilarating and fulfilling about reading le Carré is the sense of genuine intelligence at play, both in the characters and in the author. There are different ways of trying to convey great cleverness in a literary character: one approach is to give them superhuman deductive skills à la Sherlock Holmes, you know – I perceive, sir, that you have recently returned from a hunting excursion in Wiltshire and that your wife's tennis partner owns a dachshund called Gerald — But my dear fello
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: Ted Graf
Note for completists: This is the third of the Karla books, preceded by first Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and then by The Honourable Schoolboy. While it is possible to read these books out of order and still enjoy them, the later books are informed by the events that come before and definitely spoil salient plot points of those novels.

Life has not been overly kind to George Smiley. Devoted husband to a faithless wife, dedicated servant to a government that does not admit he exists, archnemesis
Nov 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
The conclusion of the trilogy that starts with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; but, while that book is about betrayal, this one is about manipulation. The heartbreaking message is that, when you want to manipulate someone, the most effective approach is not to try and exploit their weaknesses. Needless to say, that can work too. But the very best way is to exploit their kindness, their decency, and the things that make them a worthwhile human being.

It's been done in many other books too, of course,
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my life. My dad, sick of hearing me make fun of his spy novel proclivities, bet me $50 that I would love this book. It was a safe bet, too. If I loved it, I owed him nothing other than the smug satisfaction of having been right. If I hated it, he'd give me $50.

I loved it. I love the entire trilogy, in fact, but since I read this one first, out of order (tsk tsk dad) it has the special place on my favorites shelf.

And even though I now own THREE copies, this edition was my fathe
Lewis Weinstein
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best of the best ... everything a spy novel could possibly be ... Smiley vs Karla ... a weakness, a mistake, a brilliantly orchestrated response ... and of course the bridge into West Berlin.

Smiley's People is also a master class in writing ... when to expand, when to move quickly, setting a scene, using peripheral characters. I think I'll read it again. But for now, I will go into my class next week at Oxford - British Spies in Fact and Fiction - as prepared as I can be and ready to learn m
Abubakar Mehdi
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smiley’s People is the last book in the “Karla Trilogy”; a series that describes the world of espionage during the Cold War. The story starts with a revelation by a ‘lost-agent’ recently resurfaced that at the very top of Circus (British secret service) there is a KGB agent, a mole spying for the Russians. And he is there for decades. Dangerous, resourceful and one of their own, this double-agent is capable of wrecking havoc if he isn’t caught immediately and off-guard. Here Smiley is called bac ...more
Jason Koivu
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spy, fiction
Smiley comes out of retirement was his people come under attack in this aptly named conclusion to the Karla trilogy.

This is fantastic stuff! Taut tension, high stakes, personal vendettas...ah, it's all wonderful. The characterizations and conversations are finessed with an admirable subtly. The Cold War settings descriptions put you in the middle of these depressingly drab locations. John le Carré is on fire in Smiley's People!

It's far more cerebral cold war spy novel than say Fleming's stuff. T
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-spy
The last book of le Carre's Karla series might be the best. I turned to this book after watching the recent -- and excellent -- film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (I read the book many years ago). I don't know why it took me so long to finish this series, since I also loved the second book, The Honorable School Boy. Maybe I just didn't want the series to end. In this chapter Smiley finally goes on offense against his nemisis, the Soviet spy master, Karla. But it takes him over half ...more
Normally pretty stingy with handing out 5 star ratings but this was a terrific read and a satisfying conclusion to the Karla trilogy.

Such an interesting character George Smiley, a master spy wonderfully depicted in this conclusion. An espionage novel that ticked all of the boxes that I look for in this genre.

A novel of disillusionment, betrayal and love. Another from the Boxall 1000 list, time and money well spent.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've been watching Roberto Rossellini's The Age of the Medici this afternoon. Or about the middle two and a half hours of the four hour long 'mini-series'. I've been really enjoying it and surprisingly I haven't gotten too distracted watching it (this is something of a rarity for me in the past two years or so, I can probably using my fingers and toes all of the movies I've been able to make it through since the start of 2009). It's made me wonder though why the thought of watching movies leave ...more
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it

Revisit via film

Description: John le Carre's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him -- and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim.Rounding off his astonishing vision of a clandestine world, master storyteller le Carre perfects his art in "Smiley's People."

In London at dead of night, George Smiley, sometime acting Chief of the Cir
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my absolute favorite le Carre novel--and in my view the best of the Karla Trilogy. All the cerebral incisiveness of Tinker, Taylor, married to a well-constructed, suspenseful, and active plot. A real crescendo of a novel.
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Some faces, as Villem had suggested this morning, are known to us before we see them; others we see once and remember all our lives; others we see every day and never remember at all.

And, so it is with literary characters, some are so like us that we know them instinctively; some are not like us at all but completely unforgettable; and others are forgotten the moment we close the pages of the book. George Smiley is of the second sort, he wiggles his way into your sensibilities and lodges him
Roman Clodia
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Karla had descended the curse of Smiley's compassion; on Smiley the curse of Karla's fanaticism. I have destroyed him with the weapons I abhorred, and they are his. We have crossed each other's frontiers, we are the no-men of no-man's-land.
My first comment on this - the third part of the provisional 'Karla trilogy' - is the utter and beautiful restraint of le Carré: not so much in the writing which is detailed and precise, but in the depths of what is not said. Le Carré shows complete con
From IDMb:
Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what happened. He begins to follow up the clues of his friends past days, discovering that the clues lead to a high person in the Russian Secret service, and a secret important enough to kill for. Smiley continues to put together the pieces a step ahead or a step behind the Russian killers.

A movie was made bas
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel, espionage
By the time I reached the end of this book, I cared so deeply for the characters whom John LeCarre had created that I could not believe it was over. I immediately started reading it again. This is definitely a book not to be read out of sequence, because the deeper nuances of the characters will be lost without having read the earlier books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Soviet history fans, mystery-lovers, Smiley lovers
Okay, sorry 'bout the all caps, but you cannot possibly read this book in isolation and enjoy it in the way that it was meant to be savored and enjoyed. This is the ultimate book in a trilogy, and all the pieces come together, characters deepen, brief glimpses of characters and places make sense, and the hard work that you've done to get to this point because of le Ca
This is probably the most fulfilling of the Smiley stories. But it does follow the usual format.
Something happens. Smiley is pulled out of retirement. He talks to his old contacts/colleagues. He reads a lot of files. There are lots of words as the story rolls slowly along. Then in the last 20 pages the denouement occurs where the final act is not known till the last page.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'Smiley's People' is wonderful. Having been a little disappointed in the previous book 'The Honourable Schoolboy' (George Smiley #6) (1977), I am delighted to report that 'Smiley's People' is a return to peak Smiley.

My experience is that the more Smiley appears, the better the book, and so it is with 'Smiley's People’ which is about 90% Smiley.

'Smiley's People' is also the final part of the Karla trilogy. Smiley, now in his twilight years, displays his customary thorough, cerebral, unrelenting
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was stunning - quite possibly a perfect novel. It would almost be an insult to describe it as a great example of its genre, for le Carre is such a splendid writer that he elevates his tales of espionage to the level of true literature. While other of his works exhibit the slight flaw (in the case of Tinker, Tailor it was more than slight) of an overly-complex plot, here le Carre keeps things just simple enough that the reader can keep up without too much difficulty. The "tradecraft" is stil ...more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just re-read this one after many years. I forgot how awesome this book is. Le Carre was at the top of his game.

First, there's Smiley, his heavy-lidded contemplation of what makes people tick. Then there's his people--the lamplighters, the mothers, the housekeepers and the wranglers.

The lead-up to the big catch is perfectly done. It's funny, and suspenseful and gives you a thrill without big shoot-em-ups or special effects.

Maria Ostrakova is a wonderfully drawn character who carries the early p
Bradley West
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thrillers, favorites
I've read a couple hundred spy novels, and this is my all-time favorite. Maybe it's because of the build up from the predecessors, "Tinker, Tailor" and, to a lesser extent, "The Honourable Schoolboy" but actually it's because le Carre is at the top of his game. He masterfully introduces the bit players via other bit players one instrument at a time until the orchestra is roaring away.

By this late date, George Smiley (operating as "Max") and Alec Guinness were interchangeable in both le Carre's
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A stunning work, even better than the excellent Tinker, Tailor.

Smiley's intelligence is portraid in the cracks in between action. The progress of his investigation is subtle; this isn't anything like a modern spy thriller. No car chases, no galavanting around the world.

Although this is a book that's ostensibly about the cold war, its themes still resonate. How far is too far when it comes to pursuing enemies? What really differentiates us?

I don't want to say too much, but I can't recommend thi
***2018 Summer of Spies***

In the spy genre, if James Bond is a boxing match, then George Smiley is a chess game. Lots of planning ahead, knowing your opponent, and biding your time to make the right move. Smiley and Karla match wits again, but George has a new advantage—Karla can no longer manipulate him via his wife.

Fans of fist fights and gun battles may find this boring. People like myself, who have spent many years researching and working within libraries and archives, will find ourselve
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
There is really nothing to add to all the reviews that have been written except to say that this is probably the best of the sequence...

The last of the sequence of George Smiley tales in which Smiley acting alone achieves a sort of resolution by using Karla's methods against him.

The way in which this tale unfolds is masterful. Le Carre has his total command of his characters and the interplay and unfolding of the plot is a joy to behold.
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, thriller
My favourite le Carre ever. I was completely engrossed as Smiley starts his investigation and with amazing doggedness, rigor and an ability to see the connections between between seemingly small anomolies brings him to his arch rival.

Could not recommend more highly.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One great quote, Lacon to Smiley after a long dinner:

"You know, George, if Ann had been your agent instead of your wife, you'd probably have run her pretty well"
Dillwynia Peter
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This completes the trilogy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honourable School Boy; Smiley’s People) often known as the Karla Trilogy. Each novel concentrates on a different espionage trait: betrayal, trust and loyalty; and manipulation. This novel is the ultimate manipulation against Smiley’s bete noire. It has become an obsession for him, an unhealthy one that can easily go pear-shaped; for some characters it does.

Of the three I enjoyed this one the most. Tinker et al is the most popular, but
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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

Other books in the series

George Smiley (5 books)
  • Call for the Dead (George Smiley #1)
  • A Murder of Quality (George Smiley #2)
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • The Honourable Schoolboy

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