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The Little Drummer Girl

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  8,752 ratings  ·  402 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 unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

In this thrilling and thought-provoking novel of Middle Eastern intrigue, Charlie, a brilliant and beautiful young English actress, is lured into "the theatre of the r
...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Pocket Books (first published 1983)
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 17, 2014 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
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Matt
“[W]e want to offer you a job. An acting job…The biggest part you ever had in your life, the most demanding, the most difficult, surely the most dangerous, and surely the most important. And I don’t mean money. You can have money galore, no problem, name your figure…The part we have in view for you combines your talents, Charlie, human and professional. Your wit. Your excellent memory. Your intelligence. Your courage. But also that extra human quality to which I already referred. Your warmth. We ...more
Fergus
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
When spy novelist John le Carré broke off from George Smiley’s complex world long enough to pen this terrifying thriller in 1979, it announced a New World of Terror.

So said The Guardian in October of this year: they say that this one book predicted our present paranoia.

Be that as it may, for me it was the stimulus that drove me to bury myself safely in a grey world of existential psychology.

For ‘the world (was) too much with (me)!’

Yes, with this novel the safety of my world was no longer guaran
...more
Rob
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Tom Marcinko
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Quirkyreader
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this story LeCarre takes us on a trip into the schizophrenic world of creating legends and running spies.

It was set during the early 1980's when terrorist bombings had become common place in Europe. And there were characters in this story that reminded me of the BaderMinehoff(sp?) Group.

Even though some of the elements in this story are dated, it is still a powerful novel.

And after a spate of reading not so great Le Carre novels, this one was very refreshing.
Darwin8u
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, aere-perennius
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
Laura
Germany, 1979. When a bomb goes off in the diplomatic quarter of Bonn, senior Israeli intelligence agent Martin Kurtz flies in to investigate. A series of similarly deadly attacks targeting prominent Jewish figures across Europe have been carried out in recent weeks, and Kurtz now believes there is a Palestinian revolutionary at the heart of this pattern. Kurtz sets in motion a brilliant and elaborate plan to catch the kingpin, Khalil.

Meanwhile in London, passionate young actress Charlie is trea
...more
Annette
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Unputdownable. One of his best novels and his female main protagonist is brilliantly realised. In awe of the writing craft displayed in this novel. Le Carre's skill at weaving backstory with a love story with a gripping political thriller is unique. Every time I read him I'm reminded again that he is a real novelist.

Those saying it is slow are idiots and clearly have short attention spans and are of low intellectual ability - try one of those gaming game thingys where everyone gets k
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Jack
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
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
Maureen
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Raven
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Little Drummer Girl is a page-turning story of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict, and I found it significantly different in tone and composition to the George Smiley series, and his other spy novels generally, which I am more familiar with. I think its no exaggeration to say that Charlie goes on an emotionally and physically draining journey during the course of this book, quickly maturing from an outspoken, incredibly dislikeable, and shockingly naïve you ...more
Patricia Williams
I do not want to rate this book because I've given up on reading it and I know this author is greatly admired and read all over the world. I just could not get into the book and am moving on.
Denise
Mar 08, 2009 added it
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
Mike
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing. It literally starts with a bang (Palestinian terrorists set off a bomb in Germany), but then Le Carre takes his wonderful sweet time setting up the plot. The recruitment and training of a young British actress by Israeli counterintelligence takes up two-thirds of the book. Her actual mission kept me on the edge of my seat for the final wrenching 150 pages. This 1983 book was Le Carre's first to leave Smiley behind and not center around British intelligence, and it's far and away one ...more
Stephen
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Franti
Jul 30, 2016 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
N. Jr.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Malia
May 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-suspense
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
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.
Estcavi
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, junio-18
solo se puede decir una palabra: novelaza¡¡¡¡¡
la novela se centra en el conflicto palestina-israel, con sus espias, sus ataques terroristas... y quienes creen que son de los suyos igual no lo son tanto.
Charlie es una actriz de segunda que le interesa en el tema de palestina, pero se vera envuelta en un guerra en la que no quería intervenir.
interpretara el papel de su vida en un teatro de lo irreal.

Robert Spencer
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mike
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You expect a certain amount of sexism in a John le Carre novel. Rightly or wrongly, it's usually the kind that you can dismiss by saying, that was just what it was like back then. This is not that kind of novel. The eponymous character is a woman who defines herself by the men who capture her: "She hardly cared. They wanted her. They knew her through and through; they knew her fragility and her plurality. And they still wanted her. They had stolen her in order to rescue her." Or using sex as a m ...more
Matthew
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Bettie☯


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 unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

In this thrilling and thought-provoking novel of Middle Eastern intrigue, Charlie, a brilliant and beautiful young English actress, is lured into "the theatre of the real" by an Israeli intelligence officer. Forced to play her ultimate role, she is plunged into a deceptive and d
...more
Matt
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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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
“Everyone who is not happy must be shot.” 25 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)” 8 likes
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