The Looking Glass War

The Looking Glass War

Book - 1965
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Focuses on a former military espionage department in London and its attempts to train an agent for a mission in East Germany.
Publisher: New York, Coward-McCann [1965].
Edition: 1st American ed.
Characteristics: 223 p. ; 22 cm.

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gogo12127
Jan 20, 2018

It would have been an easy job for the Circus: a can of film couriered from Helsinki to London. In the past, the Circus handled all things political while the Department dealt with military matters. The department has been moribund since the war, however, its resources siphoned away. Now one of their agents is dead, and vital evidence verifying Soviet missiles near the the West German border is gone. John Avery is the Department's youngest member and its last hope. Charged with handling Fred Leiser, a German-speaking Pole left over from the War, Avery must infiltrate the East and restore his masters' former glory. (Description/synopsis is edited from the paperback edition and presumably provided by the publisher.) This edition includes a forward and an introduction by John le Carré.

I'm initially gave this book a four star rating. I am increasing that to five stars. The reason: The Looking Glass War followed The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, generally considered one of the best spy novels of all time. It would difficult for the next book – in this case, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – to better that. It's not that I think The Looking Glass War did surpass The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but I think that that's an onus it should not have to overcome. The Looking Glass War is a superb spy novel in its own right, and it deserves five stars. Additionally, like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War has what I refer to as The Grapes of Wrath ending – a haunting and memorable end to a superb novel.

Mark_Daly Sep 09, 2014

A fading rival to the Circus mounts its own spy operation in this melancholy (and slightly overwritten) novel.

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sarahknits
Jan 02, 2015

The current LPL summary for this book appears to be incorrect. The Looking Glass War is Le Carre's 4th book. Main themes are still intelligence gathering during 1960's Cold War Britain with George Smiley appearing in his usual unassuming role. Focus in this book is more on military intelligence as the story revolves around the possibility of Soviet missiles placed near the German border. The story brings to mind The Bay of Pigs which occurred 4 years before this was written.

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