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Agent Running in the Field

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  5,594 ratings  ·  700 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 ...more
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published October 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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Larry Fontenot As Nat watched the conversation between Ed and the Russian Valentina/Gamma, he realized that Ed was mistakenly thinking he was still dealing with the…moreAs Nat watched the conversation between Ed and the Russian Valentina/Gamma, he realized that Ed was mistakenly thinking he was still dealing with the Germans, a nationality he loves. He had no idea that Valentina was faking as a German. So once Florence finishes clueing Ed in, Ed will ccertainly not continue as spy for Russia. Nat, in turn, tells nothing of his suspicions to Bryn. Instead, he plots with Prue and Florence to create a way for the newlyweds to at least temporarily escape the clutches of the Russians or British secret service. What I had hoped in the end (and will probably occur "off stage") is that Nat fills Bryn in on Ed's mistake and Bryn realizes that Nat is still brilliant and puts him in place of Dom, especially if Nat figures out a way to inform Bryn on how Dom's wife scuttled the Rosebud plan.(less)
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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
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, thriller
”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 ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, british, sociology
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
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...
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 ...more
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
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
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
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
Elle Rudy
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
Mean Drake
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.
Jack Horan
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man's still got it
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
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 ...more
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
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
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
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
...more Mystery & Thriller
John le Carré, the bestselling author of more than two dozen Cold War-era spy novels, rose to fame in 1963 with the creation of the British secret agent George Smiley in THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. This bombshell novel was promptly turned into a movie (still available for streaming) starring Richard Burton. His filmography contains more books-to-movies and TV series over decades than we can list here, starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Who better to cast a discerning eye on
A new novel from John LeCarre! This fall is shaping up to be a great reading period! The book pubs October 22, 2019.

Just started and it's already good, of course..... There was so much going on in November, I didn't get much reading time. Did finish it and it was another good read from Le Carre.
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
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a good book. I think I read one of his spy books a long time ago. If you like a really fast paced and action filled book then this is not the one for you. I liked most of he characters in the story and I thought it was even going to be more over the top crazy filled with paranoia and weirdness-it fell short on that end. I just felt that it pulled bac and could have been better-like Argo the movie. I do think it got bogged down a few times but that is his style and I was not ...more
Lynn Horton
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fully 4-plus-star read for me, but I'm bumping it up to 5 because of the author's age and general quality of work.

It's simply this: with all the dreck being published today—by traditional, independent, and self-published authors—THIS is what a professional manuscript looks like. It's spare. Well-edited. Each word and chapter has earned its right to be on the page. It's nuanced and timely. No emotion is wasted, and the author never intrudes (except in his political opinions).

I cared
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short book for Le Carre. It was interesting to read a spy story set in the post-Brexit/post Trump era though, to be honest, UK history has moved on so in the past year that the book felt, well, set in the past.
Good relationships, characters and a plot before the rather silly ending.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is grand fun, a wonderful contemporary espionage caper from author John le Carré.
I like it when things change up, and this is definitely a fresh change from his wonderful spy thrillers of the past.
There will be badminton, healing of a marriage, wacky tribunals at the Office, Russian and German spies and some heroic bravery.
cool breeze
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, not even those on the Left jonesing for a cheap fix of anti-Brexit / anti-Trump porn
John le Carré was consumed with apoplectic rage against America after 9/11 and didn’t recover sufficiently to write another decent novel until 2017’s A Legacy of Spies. I wondered in 2017 whether he would have another rage stroke over Brexit and Trump. He did, and his writing has again gone into the toilet. He is 88 now and won’t survive another 16-year convalescence.

It takes very few pages to see the signs, and they are not subtle. Some of the diatribe, in order of appearance:

[begin le Carré
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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
“It is my considered opinion, that for Britain and Europe, and for liberal democracy across the entire world as a whole, Britain’s departure from the European Union in the time of Donald Trump, and Britain’s consequent unqualified dependence on the United States in an era when the US is heading straight down the road to institutional racism and neo-fascism, is an unmitigated clusterfuck bar none.” 2 likes
“If a traitor doesn’t surprise the shit out of us, he’s no bloody good at his job.” 1 likes
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