The Looking Glass War
Infobox Book |
name = The Looking Glass War
John le Carré
language = English
publisher = William Heinemann (UK) &
release_date = June 1965
media_type = Print (
Hardback& Paperback) & Audio Cassette
pages = 246 pp (hardback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-434-41200-7 (UK hardback edition)
ISBN 0-698-10218-5 (US hardback edition)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
A Small Town in Germany
"The Looking Glass War" (1965), by
John le Carréis a spy novel about a British Intelligence agency, known as 'The Department ' and its attempts to infiltrate an agent to East Germany.
John le Carré has stated that (i) this novel is his most realistic portrayal of the intelligence world as he knew it and (ii) that may have been one reason for its relative lack of success. Le Carré's most famous character,
George Smiley, appears in the book, but only in a supporting role.
An undefined Intelligence organisation, based in
Blackfriars road, London and named throughout the book as "The Department" had much success running agents against the Nazis during the Second World Warbut has been resting on its laurels since, with such tasks being taken on by the more favoured and experienced Circus, led by "Control" and his right hand man George Smiley. The Department expends most of its energies on administrative tasks and on a bureaucratic turf war with the more professional "Circus."
After The Department comes across rather uncertain and weak evidence that Soviet missiles were being placed near
Rostock, on the West German border, the head of the Department, LeClerc, seizes the opportunity to re-live old times, and decides to send an agent across the border to discover the truth without involving the Circus, thus trying enhance the Department's status. The Department reactivates one of its WWIIagents, a naturalised Pole called Fred Leiser. Leiser is retrained and infiltrated across the border into East Germany to investigate the missiles.
However, the clumsiness of the inexperienced Department's operation, coupled with errors on the part of Leiser (including his killing a young East German border guard and taking far too long over transmissions), lead the East Germans to determine almost immediately that security had been breached and set out to find Leiser's location. As a result, Circus agent George Smiley informs LeClerc and his colleagues about the killing of the East German sentry and that the East German Security were looking for Leiser. He tactfully convinces LeClerc to abandon this operation, with Leiser still trapped in East Germany. The story comes to its tragic but inevitable end when, Lesier, not knowing the fate of the operation, continues with his mission and as a consequence of Smiley's intervention, receives no response to his transmissions. He follows the 'War Rules' and plays out the losing game to the end, and due to his prolonged and slow transmissions, the East German Security determines his location and captures him. Leiser's fate is unknown, although disowned by the British and following the killing of the East German guard, and illegally entering East Germany, it can be assumed that he would be executed.
Characters in "The Looking-Glass War"
*Fred Leiser – British spy of Polish background, main protagonist
*LeClerc – head of "The Department"
*Avery – LeClerc's younger assistant
George Smiley– Circus officer
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
*1965, UK, William Heinemann ISBN 0-434-41200-7, Pub date ? June 1965, Hardback
*1965, USA, Putnam Pub Group ISBN 0-698-10218-5, Pub date ? June 1965, Hardback
*1965, USA, Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, Book Club Edition, Hardback
*1966, UK, Pan, ISBN0-330-20210-3, London, Paperwork
*1985, UK, G K Hall & Co ISBN 0-8161-4040-5, Pub date ? April 1986, Hardback (Large Print)
*1991, UK, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd ISBN 0-340-55813-X, Pub date 21 November 1991, Hardback
*1991, UK, Hodder & Stoughton (Coronet) ISBN 0-340-55446-0, Pub date 21 November 1991, Paperback
*1992, USA, Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-37736-2, Pub date ? March 1992, Paperback
*1999, UK, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 1-84032-108-3, Pub date 22 February 1999, Audio Cassette (read by John le Carré}
*imdb title|id=0066001|title=The Looking Glass War
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