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Legends

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,061 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
For his new novel, Legends, Littell focuses on the life of one great agent caught in a "wilderness of mirrors" where both remembering and forgetting his past are deadly options.Martin Odum is a CIA field agent turned private detective, struggling his way through a labyrinth of past identities - "legends" in CIA parlance. Is he really Martin Odum? Or is he Dante Pippen, an ...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published April 21st 2005 by The Overlook Press (first published 2005)
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Lukasz Pruski
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Robert Littell's "Legends" is a pleasantly offbeat spy novel. It aspires to a degree of depth by attempting to investigate psychological effects of assuming different identities for different undercover assignments, but despite the pretentious subtitle "A novel of dissimulation", it does not quite work. The title word, 'legends', refers to fictitious life histories made up for an operative of a spy agency when preparing for a mission.

Martin Odum is a private detective in Brooklyn, who - in his e
...more
Kinga
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I didn't read it, I listened to it. I can still hear the voice of the man, as he switched between accents and genders.
The author has definitely a handle on details.
His story is not drawn in pastels, but rather in pen with all the details clearly visible. It is the details themselves that sometimes make the narrative dry - on the other hand it is the details that make the book good. Go figure.
I never tought people can lie so much - is the first thought that jumps into my head when
...more
Evelyn
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Odum is a former CIA agent with some memory issues and a few former aliases--called legends in agency parlance--that continue to haunt him. Now out of the game and working as a private detective based in Brooklyn he's unable to recall large swathes of his adult life, and most of his childhood. He's not even sure if Martin Odum is his real name.

When he gets hired to find a husband who skipped out on his wife without giving her a 'get' (Jewish divorce decree), he unknowingly stirs up a horn
...more
F.R.
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
It’s interesting reading Robert Littell’s ‘Legends’ at this particular moment of time. The world news is full of those Russian spies arrested in the US, while the British papers claimed this weekend there are about 300 Russian spies in this country. (What they’re all doing here, I don’t know. The reports have had the odd effect though of making me think of every Russian person I’ve ever met in the UK and then trying to calculate how suspicious they are.) This is very much a modern cold war novel ...more
Nico
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Spy who lost his minds"

I admit what made me pick up this book it the TNT television series starring Sean Bean..

Surprise, surprise the book is entirely different from the series and the only common denominator seems to be the main characters' name and occupation...

That being said I find the book an engaging and an entertaining read, however if you expected a thriller a la "Jason Bourne" as Sean Bean's character in season one or a more classical spy story a la "John Le Carre" as in Sean Bean'
...more
William
Aug 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because I've been enjoying the television series, but this is nothing like what is on TV except for the title and the name of main character. In fact, there is so much repetition that a good editor could probably knock off a hundred pages from the novel without any loss. There are numerous typos and misspellings, unusual for a Penguin book. The one thing that WAS clever was that the main character has multiple personalities, thus allowing the author to be totally inconsiste ...more
Mike
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I gave "Legends," by Robert Littell, a marginal second star because the last third pulled together somewhat, but I found it to be a deeply flawed book.

Let's back up. "Legends" is the book that the recent TNT show with Sean Bean was based on. Yet other than a few names in the TV series that carry over from the book, there is almost NO similarity to either of the vastly different seasons of the TV series. Season one of the TV show was very "American" and season two was re-booted to be very "Europe
...more
Ian Wood
Sep 19, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
...more
Tony
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Littell, Robert. LEGENDS. (2005). *****.
Mr. Littell writes excellent espionage novels. He is often considered to be the American LeCarre. In this story, he has outdone himself. Our protagonist is a retired spook who has opened up a detective agency in Brooklyn. His name is Martin Odum; or is it? In the course of his work for the CIA over the years, Martin has taken on several identities – referred to as legends in his group – and now is confused as to who he really is. Who is he really? Is he s
...more
Laurie
I picked this up because I watched the first season of the tv show and always like a good spy thriller. It didn't take long to realize the show was only extremely loosely based on the book. It's like they took only the concept of the character and select names, took away the specific plot and plopped him in a very current America instead of the 90's. Honestly, it sounds reasonable to me so they could make a tv show that's current. It plays better to today's audience to have had him be in Afghani ...more
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An American author residing in France. He specializes in spy novels that often concern the CIA and the Soviet Union. He became a journalist and worked many years for Newsweek during the Cold War. He's also an amateur mountain climber and is the father of award-winning novelist Jonathan Littell.
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“Should you start with a hypothesis and analyze data in a way that supported it, or start with the data and sift through it for a useful hypothesis?” 1 likes
“If you are stupid enough to dine with the devil, for Christ’s sake use a long spoon.” 1 likes
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