G.P.'s Reviews > The Looking Glass War

The Looking Glass War by John le Carré
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's review
Jan 20, 2012

liked it

Le Carre claims to have written this book in part as a reaction against the fame he garnered for writing the Spy Who Came in From the Cold. He felt that his fantastic portrayal of the genius of Control and Smiley in Spy had been over the top; an unrealistic portrayal of the intelligence world as he understood it. In the Looking Glass War he looks to set the record straight, portraying a dying agency full of self-important bureaucrats desperately cleaving to a bankrupt ideology, ignoring the mounting costs of their actions in pursuit of dubious goals. If possible, this book paints a darker portrait of post-war England and medieval East Germany than does Spy, without providing the reader with one likable character. Also, unlike Spy, the reader will absolutely see the end coming, like a freight train that can't be dodged.

All in, I would not recommend this one to someone looking for some espionage escapism.

All that said, there is something very true in Le Carre's exploration of human motives and relationships; the interplay between people under organizational and physical strain, the bleak debunking of mythologies men construct to justify their pursuits.

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