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The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,751 ratings  ·  596 reviews
“Recounted with the storytelling élan of a master raconteur — by turns dramatic and funny, charming, tart and melancholy.” -Michiko Kakutani,The New York Times

The New York Times bestselling memoir from John le Carré, the legendary author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; andThe Night Manager, now an Emmy-nominated television series starring
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Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  3,751 ratings  ·  596 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, spies
”These are true stories told from memory--to which you are entitled to ask, what is truth, and what is memory to a creative writer in what we may delicately call the evening of his life? To the lawyer, truth is facets unadorned. Whether such facts are ever findable is another matter. To the creative writer, fact is raw material, not his taskmaster but his instrument, and his job is to make it sing. Real truth lies, if anywhere, not in facts, but in nuance.”

 photo John20le20Carre_zps4hjkv0an.jpg

I’ve had many discussions over the
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Will Byrnes
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a liar…born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist. As a maker of fictions, I invent versions of myself, never the real thing, if it exists.

…We all reinvent our pasts…but writers are in a class of their own. Even when they know the truth, it’s never enough for them.
John le Carré spent several years as an intelligence officer, with both MI6 and MI5. When his third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, became an
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Manuel Antão
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2016
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


"It strikes me now that everything that happened later in life was the consequence of that one impulsive adolescent decision to get out of England by the fastest available route and embrace the German muse as a substitute mother.”

In "The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life" by John Le Carré


Schiller’s “Die Deutsche Muse” epitomizes what I call the German Soul (taken from my own copy of the “Schiller Sämmtliche Werke” :

Kein Augustisch
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Darwin8u
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"if you were reporting on human pain, you had a duty to share it"
- John le Carré, quoting a dictum of Graham Greene, in 'The Pigeon Tunnel"

description

First, a disclosure, I was given this book by Viking Books. These types of offers I typically refuse. I don't like feeling under obligation to review or even read a book just because it was given to me. I might do it for friends, but even then, I am VERY picky about what I read. I have thousands of unread books and thousands of others I that are on my radar
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Trish
These stories are pure enjoyment. David Cornwell makes up for all those years he refused interviews, answering questions we never got to ask. If he doesn’t quite “bare all,” within are things we may have felt strongly about at the time, but now excite us just for the pleasure of hearing a different voice tell us indeed, we may have been right all along.

The written word is fine, but I am going to urge readers to consider the audio of this memoir which is read by the author himself. He is quite
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Diane
This is an absolutely delightful memoir from the great John le Carré.

The author's real name is David Cornwell, and this memoir is a loose collection of stories from his experience, including everything from his research trips to Russia to his interactions with Hollywood. There are also tales of tense interactions with other spies who are angry about his books, and of the awkwardness that has occurred when government officials assume le Carré is a master spy, rather than just a bestselling author
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Emma
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Considering I've never read a word of le Carre, it might well be thought a surprising choice to read his autobiography. But I am well acquainted with his works from 10 years in bookselling and from watching the excellently done recent BBC production of The Night Manager. Besides, stories from someone who was both writer and spy...who could resist?

In not resisting, I heard (in the Audible version read by the author himself) one of the most interesting set of tales one could ever hope to. I say
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HBalikov
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Cornwell, writing as John le Carré, is one of the most celebrated authors of espionage novels. This is essentially a memoir and I listened to the audio book, which was read by le Carré.

I understand that there is some controversy about this book. Some say that the author has undercut Adam Sisman who had written a biography (with le Carré’s assistance) less than a year previous to this book. Some say that le Carré deals with “the truth” about events in less than a rigorous manner. He uses
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Quirkyreader
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though I still have five more books to go in Le Carre’s back catalogue, I decided to read the memoir. And yes there are spoilers in it. But that is beside the point.

I was able to read about what parts of his life inspired his stories. So while I was reading the memoir I was like this part inspired this and this part inspired that. And it gave me a greater insight to Le Carre’s “shadowy” past.

Now I am anticipating the rest of his novels even more.
Jay Green
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elegantly recounted meta-capers (i.e. capers about capers, anecdotes about plots, etc.). Would have liked to have seen more beans spilled, but Le Carré is too much of a gentleman for that, suggesting that he still retains something of the ethos that rendered him suitable for recruitment all those years ago. Fun, and a little mischievous, although not sufficiently so for my tastes.
Bettie
BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07tzrwc

Episode 1: One time at a party Denis Healey says: 'You're a communist spy, that what you are'. Plus a memorable lunch with Alec Guinness to discuss his character George Smiley.

2/5: Yvette Pierpaoli, a business woman who once worked out of Phnom Penn. We discover how her character and actions went towards creating Tessa in the novel The Constant Gardener.

3/5: At sixteen he was sent by his father Ronnie to Paris, to meet with Count Mario da Bernaschina
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Ammar
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre is not a full autobiography or a memoir. This book is a collection of stories that range from his childhood to this age of terror.

There is a full biography by John that was released last year. This book could be a sort of a companion to it.

There are no top secrets here, no scandals or spies. Just vignettes of a long lived life, anecdotes, stories and recollection: some are true and some are hazy.

An enjoyable read that any Le Caree fan would enjoy immensely.
John Farebrother
I was given this book together with Le Carre's latest novel, the long-awaited sequel to The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. I have been a fan of Le Carre's writing for many years, and the said sequel delivered again. But I am in two minds about the author's autobiographical work - as I feared before opening it, familiarity can engender disappointment, if not contempt. The book certainly explains the genesis of many of his characters, incidents, and dilemmas - but that much was evident anyway. ...more
Christine
Le Carre’s book is more a collection of essays that may or may not be true (at least according to his disclaimer). The essays range from the very personal (about his father) to the funny (about a credit card) to the historic (about Philby). There are stories about the development of his novels for movies – including stories about Burton and Guinness. There is a funny bit about Robert Redford.
But Le Carre’s boo isn’t just name dropping, or to be more exact, it’s not about name dropping at all.
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Lorna
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life was a delightful, entertaining and very personal memoir written by one of my favorite spy novelists, David Cornwell, best known by his pen name of John le Carre. As you settle in to immerse yourself and listen to one of our greatest raconteurs, it becomes clear that the life of David Cornwell as a British spy for Britain's MI5 and MI6 was just as exciting as the spies in the novels written by le Carre. It is also very interesting to see how his mystery ...more
Steve
About midway through David Cornwell’s (John le Carré) introduction to his fine autobiography The Pigeon Tunnel , the author, now in his 80s, reflects on the nature of memory itself:

These are true stories told from memory – to which you are entitled to ask, what is truth, and what is memory to the creative writer in what we may delicately call the evening of his life? To a lawyer, truth is facts unadorned. Whether such facts are ever findable is another matter. To a creative writer, fact is raw
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Jean
This autobiography/memoir by John Le Carré is a series of short stories told from memory. He also states in the book the following: “I’m a liar…born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist. As a maker of fictions, I invent versions of myself.”

Le Carré tells of being inducted into MI5, as a junior officer in 1956, at the age of 25. He moved to MI6 in 1961 and left the service at age 33. Le Carré tells of friendships with poets,
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Laura
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
John le Carre with five recollections from his writing life, abridged by Katrin Williams:

1/5: One time at a party Denis Healey says: 'You're a communist spy, that what you are'. Plus a memorable lunch with Alec Guinness to discuss his character George Smiley.

2/5: There was Yvette Pierpaoli, a business woman who once worked out of Phnom Penn. We discover how her character and actions went towards creating Tessa in the novel The Constant Gardener.

3/5: At sixteen
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Jaksen
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intricate look into the writing, imagination, and mind of one of the world's great living writers. Of spy novels, and more.

Using his expertise and connections, gained when still a young man, while working in the secret service of Great Britain, le Carre crafted an entire series of novels which are among the finest ever written. Yes, I said it. And he's still working at it. And though he insists he was only a lower-level 'spy' and was never really involved in anything other than utilitarian
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Martin
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comments based on advanced copy. I've only read The Honorable Schoolboy and just watched the BBC version of The Night Manager. This literary memoir is brilliant. The author's life reads like his fiction and the candor and transperancy is exceptional. I suspect I will be on a LeCarre binge for the immediate future. This is the best 2016 release I've read thus far this year.
Brandon Petry
Having only read five or six of Le Carre books and being a big fan of the adapted television movies and films I thought I'd be ready for this book. And while I certainly enjoyed it, part of me (the completists/slight OCD part of me) wishes I had read more of his novels before taking part in this autobiography (it's more a loose collection of various memories and stories each chapter reading more like an essay or story).

But the man, at 84 years old, is one hell of a writer. So that even when I
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Martin
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by Le Carre. A wonderful memoir. I plan on reading more of his books.
Liz Fenwick
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book narrated by the author. The narration is brilliant...as if you were lucky enough to be sitting with a master story teller. Each chapter is a exploration...of his past...memories and ultimately what is truth and what is a lie. I love the way he speaks of his characters...how real they are to him. I can’t recommend this audio book highly enough.
Rachel
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, audiobooks
I read this in a combination of print and audiobook read by the author. I loved le Carre's narration and found the stories within to be fascinating. The end was a bit of a surprise, and I turned the page expecting more. So, the way it ended was a bit disappointing. I enjoyed the details of events and people who inspired some of his novels. A great read for fans.
Dayle (the literary llama)
RATING: / 4 fascinating stars!

REVIEW: I grew up with thrillers, mysteries, and espionage novels. They were, and still are, some of my mother's favorite genres. So it makes perfect sense that I would be interested in a memoir from what of literature's kings of spies. John le Carre's list of titles would probably surprise many. I was certainly unaware of a couple that were popular names to me only through cinematic means, completely unaware that the book it was based on was a le Carre. But
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Austin Zook
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of John le Carré's work for a little while now, having started with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and then graduated to The Night Manager. Someday I'll read one of his novels that hasn't been adapted for the screen, but that's for Future Me to get around to. Today, I'm firmly entrenched in the reality of le Carré, fresh off the thoroughly enjoyable, intimate, and sharp collection of short essays that is The Pigeon Tunnel.

From the book's opening
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Mark
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, memoir

“…We all reinvent our pasts…but writers are in a class of their own. Even when they know the truth, it’s never enough for them.”

“I’m a liar…born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist.”

David Cornwell, aka John Le Carre, is no armchair author. He has lived the life and in this beautifully written memoir, by one of the best spy novelists of our time, he takes the reader on a journey, that touches down in many historical and personal
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Jacob Overmark
This is first of all the autobiografi of the author John le Carré, and secondly some background provided by David Cornwell.
Where some may be looking for more personal stuff, John le Carré has his focus on what shaped him as an author.
Clearly David Cornwell do not expect to ever come at ease with his Ronnie-issues, but choose early to let John le Carré handle the issues as best he could.
Hence Ronnie deserves his place in the book, as inspiration as well as "the ghost of your father".

It was a
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John of Canada
The best book I've read this year.It does a nice job of showing how obtuse people in the spy world,and politicians really can be.We are introduced to artists and politicians,some of them famous,and heroes,many of them unknown until now.The author gives insight into how his characters are created,most of them based on real people.Le Carre is briliantly funny and very honest in describing himself.His descriptions of people who suffer at the hands of self important bureaucrats and leaders,whether ...more
shanghao
Sep 03, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly presented excerpt from the guardian folks:

How I Write by John Le Carre
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5,724 followers
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
“These are true stories told from memory – to which you are entitled to ask, what is truth, and what is memory to a creative writer in what we may delicately call the evening of his life? To the lawyer, truth is facts unadorned. Whether such facts are ever findable is another matter. To the creative writer, fact is raw material, not his taskmaster but his instrument, and his job is to make it sing. Real truth lies, if anywhere, not in facts, but in nuance.” 1 likes
“and the wood smoke will roll out of the fireplace on to the carpet we paid too much for on that rainy afternoon in Interlaken in the snowless winter of whenever it was,” 0 likes
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