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Agent Running in the Field

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  11,941 ratings  ·  1,419 reviews
Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bri ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published October 17th 2019 by Viking
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Trevor Dennis Oh dear. I do hope that cool breeze did not put you off. I get through at least three books a week, and have read all of Le Carré's previous books at …moreOh dear. I do hope that cool breeze did not put you off. I get through at least three books a week, and have read all of Le Carré's previous books at least twice, and in my opinion this was one of his very best. It was the sort of book that leaves you bereft when you get to the end, and made me want to go straight back to the start and read it again. It might be because I do all of my reading via audio books nowadays, and think that Donald Trump is despicable, Brexit a mess, and that I am also a strong atheist. By all means go back and read some or all of his other books, but you don't need to, and you most certainly should not deny yourself the pleasure of this book.(less)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, spies
”I possess a rugged charm and the accessible personality of a man of the world. I am in appearance and manner a British archetype, capable of fluent and persuasive argument in the short term. I adapt to circumstance and have no insuperable moral scruples. I can be irascible and am not by any means immune to female charms. I am not naturally suited to deskwork or the sedentary life, which is the understatement of all time. I can be headstrong and do not respond naturally to discipline. This can b ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John le Carre is one of those authors that I have been reading for years, and spy novels he offers stay with me for many years. I have not read all of his books but those which I have I can still remember rather well.
'Agent Running in the Field' is very much in le Carre's writing style and storytelling. The nuances and niceties cannot be presented better if you are looking for a novel telling you about the art (?) of spying and at the same time you are interested in human nature. The fragility
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, sociology, war
The Camel’s-Back Syndrome

Democracy is inherently amoral; certainly more so than dictatorships which tend to have rigid codes of behaviour and predictable (if often unpleasant) relationships. Nothing about a democratic society is stable or reliable. That’s it’s hidden cost, which from time to time unhides itself in phenomena like Trump and Brexit. The Catholic Church recognised this explicitly in a string of 19th century encyclicals that have never been taken off the books. Agent Running in the
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
"Nothing endures that is not fought for."
- John le Carré , Agent Running in the Field


OK Boomer.

First, amazement. I can't believe JlC is still writing great fiction at 88. There are several writers who I feel the weight of time heavy on (John le Carré, John McPhee, and Robert Caro). They all happen to be some of my favorite writers ever, so anytime one of them writes something new it is like oxygen on my reading fire.

This novel feels a bit like the 3rd* major interation of le Carré. His first n
Feb 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. Boring. Senseless. 0 of 10 stars
Elizabeth George
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recomended-reads
I hate the stars. Always ignore them and read the review instead. This is vintage LeCarre, so for his longtime fans and readers (count me among them), it's a good read. But one of the things LeCarre always does is what I call taking no prisoners in his books. What I mean by this is that he has a tendency to throw an enormous cast of characters at you with the expectation that you will remember them. Your choice is either to keep a list or continue to flip back to recall who each person is. Or yo ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the age of eighty-eight, there is no doubt that the John Le Carre that I revere is fully present. The narrative voice employed in this novel is fantastic, as we follow a middle-aged spy who has come in from abroad and is stationed in a dead-end job in London (think a more serious version of Mick Herron's Slough House). And interesting questions are raised about what loyalty to country means in the age of Brexit and Trump. But Le Carre does not hit a home run with every book; the story told he ...more
Tea Jovanović
Maestro of written word... Ingredients of this spy novel are all current goings on... It's hard to be objective for someone who has been his Serbian editor for years... Pure spy novel pleasure mixed with lingustic pleasure...
Roman Clodia
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a slightly slow start, this turns around at about the 50% mark and suddenly becomes utterly gripping - in a I-can't-sleep-till-I've-finished-this kind of way. And when I say 'slow' about the start, I mean slow in a good way, not dull and crawling.

We're no longer in Smiley's world and while some of the old skool types are still around, The Office (no longer The Circus) is far more inclusive (to some extent): we have female Florence, our narrator has a Guardian-reading lawyer/activist wife,
Dana Stabenow
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book last night and went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it and it's been a while since a book made me think this long or this hard. It reminds me of Robert Heinlein's novella "If This Goes On." Heinlein's novella is more of a prequel to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale but Le Carre's novel is the same kind of "if this goes on this is what happens next."

Le Carre is looking at Trump and Brexit through the eyes of spies and if this goes on what happens next
Agent Running in the Field is the latest book from one of my favorite British authors, John le Carre. It was as sharp as all of his previous espionage novels, and one just needs to hang on for a lot of thrilling twists and turns, but I promise that it will make sense as we see all of these disparate threads come together in such a satisfying ending. You must just trust that John le Carre is a master storyteller and he will bring us all along in a most dramatic way. It is a very contemporary plot ...more
Manuel Antão
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Englishness: "Agent Running in the Field" by John le Carré

After more than 10 years attending the British Council I feel only half English now at best and even that is waning. The other half I associate with things like football hooliganism, small mindedness, nationalism, old white blokes spouting shite in decaying working men's clubs, establishment rabble rousers and middle England (those have always been very English things, and I pro
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Much has been made about this novel--set in 2018--being John le Carré's Brexit and Trump novel, and the fury with which it was written. And, while that is true to a certain extent, and even plays a crucial role in the plot, it isn't a scathing polemic on the matter. What I believe will happen is left-leaning reviewers will praise it, and right-leaning reviewers will condemn it, solely on political grounds. What you won't be hearing in all the hubbub, though, is a lot of praise for its literary m ...more
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to rate books by my favourite authors a bit more harshly than usual, so a le Carré 3* is probably worth a 4* by another author. As with the rest of his oeuvres, I devoured this quickly and relished that JlC brand of intrigue bubbling under the surface. That said, I felt that this book ultimately fell short in a number of aspects.

There were moments of greatness: enjoyable tradecraft, simmerings of wider conspiracies and twisty-turny character motivations that kept you guessing. But I don'
Linda Bond
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With everything that’s going on in our world today, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to put together a great spy story that takes it all in. But, of course, John Le Carré is up to the task. He gives us a mid-life agent who thinks he’s semi-retired, except he’s not. Instead he has to take on the task of running a slightly off-kilter enclave in London that’s about to get itself into very hot water. Nat and his wife Prue, plus energetic devotee Florence, are about to follow the angry Ed down ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the worst JlC books I've read. More of a rant against Trump and Brexit, not that I'm for either of them, but I didn't pick up this book to be treated of a further dose of Twitter.
The tradecraft is too shallow and the end too open ended to be of any satisfaction.
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a story about the everyday work of unsung intelligence gathering agents. No guns are raised or fired. It is not set in WWII or the cold war. It has a contemporary plot.

Nat is a seasoned spy who, near retirement, returns to London to a role in running a lackluster unit of, presumably, MI6. Playing badminton (of all sports) has been helpful to his spy career. At his somewhat exclusive club he meets Ed, who is intense about his anti-Trump and anti-Brexit politics as he is about his game.

Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
John le Carré is one of those authors who’s work I recognize by name and reputation only. I know he writes spy novels, starting with his Cold War espionage thrillers featuring George Smiley. I know he was a former British intelligence officer before switching to writing full-time. I know many of his books have been adapted into miniseries and film. I also know he’s really old. For the sake of this review I looked it up: he’s 88.

While probably not the book most le Carré fans would recommend start
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you’re a spy, not paying attention to the little things, the details and the subtle insinuations can get you killed. Of course in the old espionage game there are many other things that could get you killed as well: cyanide capsules, a razor-edged bowler hat swooshing across the room, the shark-infested booby trapped floor of Ernest Stavro Blofeld, and of course a diet high in cholesterol. But paying attention to the small clues is vital. This could also be said of John le Carré’s newest no ...more
John Farebrother
Great read, another classic Le Carre. So classic indeed that it would be refreshing to see him depart from his bog-standard (middle class) individual-against-the-establishment spy drama from time to time. At least this one has a relatively happy ending for a change. And as usual, his portrayal of the civil service as largely populated by incompetent fawning careerists who don't hesitate to shit on the few members of staff who actually do something strikes a chord with me.
Having said that, it is,
I really enjoyed this latest book by the master. It's very relevant and topical as it occurs in a post-Brexit and rapidly intolerant world. It accurately reflects the anger of people who were invested in the European project and the close ties of countries to keep things peaceful globally.

I also really liked going back to the world of the British Secret Service and how it works. It very much felt like comfort food for the brain. I am glad that le Carre is still putting out quality work like this
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
I love John le Carré. I love his voice. I love his people. I love his nuance. I love his wisdom. I love his subtle humour. I love his moral outrage. I love his books.
I loved this book too and was entirely gripped by it for as long as it took to read it. So, as I love all his work, does this one really rate five whole stars? Perhaps not; not for any lapse in quality, but it is a slighter book and while I understood the rather abrupt ending, it left me wanting more.
So the final star, which should
Jack Horan
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man's still got it
Kathleen Gray
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn about this latest from the best espionage writer ever. On the one hand, there's considerable pleasure in reading the complex mystery Le Carre has created. He's nailed it, once again, on the details of espionage, counterintelligence, counterespionage, internal politics, and so on. On the other, the subplot of how awful Donald Trump and Brexit are and that this is a reason to commit treason left me cold. Yes, it's a legitimate and no doubt real reason for some but it made this less escapi ...more
Bill Kupersmith
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply knowing that John le Carré is still producing good stories at nearly ninety impels me to keep going. And as much as I enjoyed A Legacy of Spies, it was obvious that the old gang at Cambridge Circus was ready for the knacker’s yard. We now have a new agent runner, or running agent - the title is delightfully ambiguous - a keen 47 year old intelligence officer being put out to pasture at a substation for spies surplus to requirements called The Haven - very much like Brixton in Tinker, Tail ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Nat is an aging spy with three passions, the work he loves, his family, and badminton. His wife, Prue, a respected attorney, has stood by him through all his faraway postings, staying home raising their daughter and building a solid career.

Now back in London, at 47 Nat is afraid he will be put out to pasture. He thrives in the field, has let his work take him away from his family for years as he concentrated on Russia. It was dangerous work that he thought relative to Britain’s national securit
When I was reading this book, a friend asked me what I thought of it. I said it wasn't as good as the Smiley novels but was better than the Constant Gardener.

But that was before I got to the part where he takes shots at Putin and Trump, so I'm not sure how to describe it.

There are parts of this book that do not quite work. Nat's interest, for instance, in his female staff member who resigns does not quite make sense, especially since care is taken to illustrate that it is not desire. I get that
David R. Dowdy
John le Carre gets the job done in writing Agent Running in the Field.

ARITF is a first-person account of Nat who’s had a successful career as a spy but is now washed-up. He’s transitioning to retirement and takes a new assignment that keeps him somewhat involved in secretive state work.

We see a little bit of every part of his world. There’s Pru his lovely and supportive wife who started out as a spy and quickly yet wisely slunk back to less stressful work practicing before the bar. His daughte
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to John le Carré's latest book, Agent Running in the Field (2019), as a long term admirer of his work. He's a consumate storyteller and his work transcends whichever genre pigeonhole he gets shoved into. Long term readers will already know about JLC's pro-European mindset and it quickly becomes clear just how disbelieving and despairing he is about recent political developments in Britain.

The first person narrative gives Agent Running in the Field an immediacy missing from most of his bo
Paul Bartusiak
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Le Carre Takes a Side or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Service

It's a play on Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove , for the not quite initiated. Of course Kubrick loved war no more than Cornwell (d/b/a Le Carre) loved the warped sensibilities of a frustrated, weathered, compromised secret service.

But Le Carre's taken a side. He even dropped the words "Deep State" into the mix. It's fascinating to contemplate. In my line of work I've been personally involved in matters that have been repor
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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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