A Legacy of Spies by John le CarrePeter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.
Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carre has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carre and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre
For good measure, a familiarity with his second-most-famous novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , will add immeasurably to the intense pleasures to be derived from this compelling tale of Cold War duplicity and manoeuvrings in the British secret service. A Legacy of Spies acts both as a prequel and as a coda to The Spy. The Cold War is at its chilliest, but with no Berlin Wall erected yet. It was all an elaborate act of disinformation. Leamas was ruthlessly used in the set-up and is shot dead, along with his communist girlfriend, Liz Gold, at the Berlin Wall which went up in as they try to escape back to the West.
This happens occasionally with books or movies: Our images of the old South are inseparable from the way it was portrayed in Gone With the Wind. How do you improve on perfection? And he has chosen as his protagonist not George Smiley who is a Yoda-like presence offstage for most of the book but his chief lieutenant, Peter Guillam. But who was Guillam? Like Toby Esterhase, another beloved secondary character, he had suspect foreign blood: Guillam was half-French. He was a womanizer and a drinker, too, but he left the brooding and the guilt to his mentor, Smiley.
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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold changed the spy novel for ever. A Legacy of Spies is a literary thriller that lives up to the enormous expectation we have of the author. The novel is piercingly intelligent, evocative and intriguing. A book for the heart and the head; emotionally mature and insightful of human behaviour. This novel is an energetic and moral examination of a world that is still closed off to scrutiny.
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Immensely clever, breathtaking. Peter Guillam, former disciple of George Smiley in the British Secret Service, has long retired to Brittany when a letter arrives, summoning him to London. The reason? Cold War ghosts have come back to haunt him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of the Service are to be dissected by a generation with no memory of the Berlin Wall.