Read The Russia House by John le Carré Online


John le Carre's bestselling classic is a timeless spy thriller about the Iron Curtain and the tense relationship between Great Britain and Russia.John le Carré has earned worldwide acclaim with extraordinary spy novels, including The Russia House, an unequivocal classic. Navigating readers through the shadow worlds of international espionage with critical knowledge culledJohn le Carre's bestselling classic is a timeless spy thriller about the Iron Curtain and the tense relationship between Great Britain and Russia.John le Carré has earned worldwide acclaim with extraordinary spy novels, including The Russia House, an unequivocal classic. Navigating readers through the shadow worlds of international espionage with critical knowledge culled from his years in British Intelligence, le Carré tracks the dark and devastating trail of a document that could profoundly alter the course of world events. In Moscow, a sheaf of military secrets changes hands. If it arrives at its destination, and if its import is understood, the consequences could be cataclysmic. Along the way it has an explosive impact on the lives of three people: a Soviet physicist burdened with secrets; a beautiful young Russian woman to whom the papers are entrusted; and Barley Blair, a bewildered English publisher pressed into service by British Intelligence to ferret out the document's source. A magnificent story of love, betrayal, and courage, The Russia House catches history in the act. For as the Iron Curtain begins to rust and crumble, Blair is left to sound a battle cry that may fall on deaf ears....

Title : The Russia House
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743464666
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Russia House Reviews

  • Candi
    2019-06-07 13:29

    3.5 stars rounded down"Spying is waiting."I don’t typically read spy ‘thrillers’ anymore, and I would say the word ‘thriller’ is used loosely here. Spying may be waiting, and waiting is what I did for about one-third of the book before becoming nearly fully absorbed. It starts off slowly, and likely due to my ignorance of ‘spy’ jargon, I was a bit lost. Quite a few characters were introduced, and I had trouble distinguishing between several of them. I even struggled to determine the role of the first person narrator. Eventually, however, something clicked and I was off and running to the conclusion. "A Soviet friend of mine has written a creative and important work of literature. It is a novel. A great novel. Its message is important for all mankind." British publisher Scott Blair, otherwise known as Barley, has been entrusted with this piece of ‘literature’ which has been passed to him from a Russian physicist through the hands of the beautiful and self-sacrificing Katya. Of course, this is not just any work of writing; it contains some of the greatest intelligence secrets of the Soviet Union. The time is mid- to late 1980s during a significant period of reform nearing the end of the Cold War. The manuscript, however, manages to get into the hands of the Russia House, a branch of the British intelligence agency, before reaching Barley’s desk. He quickly becomes an unlikely instrument in the game of espionage. Barley also has a keen interest in women, alcohol, and jazz; and it’s not unusual to find him in some club playing his saxophone with a drink at hand. Although I never became smitten with this guy, I did find him very intriguing and likeable enough. He sort of grows on you throughout the book. The plot is slow-moving, but kept me interested once I got over the first hurdle. Ideas of nuclear disarmament and the role of the various intelligence agencies, including the CIA, kept my attention. There is of course a romance which inevitably brews between Barley and Katya. I’m not certain I totally bought into this, and wonder if it comes across more convincingly in the screen adaptation. I love learning about Russian geography and culture, so was captivated by the vivid descriptions of Moscow and Leningrad. "A low cottonwool sky hung over the imported palaces, making them dreary in their fancy dress. Summer music played in the parks but the summer clung behind the clouds, leaving a chalky Nordic mist to trick and tremble on the Venetian waterways. Barley walked and, as always when he was in Leningrad, he had the sensation of walking through other cities, now Prague, now Vienna, not a bit of Paris or a corner of Regent’s Park. No other city that he knew hid its shame behind so many sweet facades or asked such terrible questions with its smile."This is my first le Carré novel, and overall I enjoyed it. 3.5 star-worthy, but I am going to round it down with the hope that my next by this author (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) will go up from there.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-06-19 07:18

    "The old isms were dead, the contest between Communism and capitalism had ended in a wet whimper. Its rhetoric had fled underground into the secret chambers of the grey men, who were still dancing away long after the music had ended."I love 'The Russia House'. I love the anger; the way the novel seems to capture all the threads that le Carré had woven in most all of his cold war novels and noose both sides. I love it for its humanity. In some ways it reminded me of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: with the bureaucracies/grey men of both sides of the Cold War desperate to continue the fight, desperate for an enemy, desperate for perpetual fear for the greater good. While I was knocked over by Orwell's GREAT novel, I never cared for Winston Smith quite the same way I cared for Scott Blair. Le Carré's genius is making you absolutely love his sinners and fear his saints, and then making you forget which is which and who is who. The West is mirrored by the East. We have become what we feared, what we fought.. Ultimately, le Carré's characters become like family. Yes, they are flawed. Yes, they are giants. Yes, they are petty...and, utimately they are you.

  • Jake
    2019-06-07 07:59

    I think it's instructive to read one of Graham Greene's spy novels back-to-back with one of John le Carre's— because, surprisingly, it's instantly clear that le Carre is the better writer. It's not just his plotting, which is always tight and suspenseful- it's the actual strength of his writing- the descriptions of places, the dialogues, the constructions of his wounded and noble characters. One concern I had with this book was that it was written in 1989- after the golden age of the Cold War, which was a time that Le Carre shined as an espionage author. But that concern was unfounded- if anything, he's better in the age of glasnost, with all its moral vagary and shifting alliances. And what's more, he has learned to edit himself- this book weighs in at a slender 340 pages, compared to 600+ for most of the Smiley novels.

  • Robert
    2019-06-09 05:09

    The Russia House is a love story wrapped in a spy story. The love story is somewhat less convincing than the spy story, but more compelling. Le Carre is a strong storyteller nonetheless, achieving vivid atmospheric effects (Moscow, London, an island off the coast of Maine, Leningrad) and driving scenes forward with deft, spirited dialogue.The peculiar satisfaction of the book lies in the main character, Barley, shaking off the chains he's been wrapped in by the British and American intelligence agencies, so that he can set his Russian lover free--from her own doomed Russian lover and the claws of the dying Soviet state.Less satisfying is the appeal Barley exerts over Katya, his Russian co-conspirator. After all, he is a man who customarily drinks ten plus glasses of scotch a day. This qualifies as an alcoholic, and in my experience, heavy-duty alcoholics are not as charming as they think they are.Inevitably, a spy thriller published in 1989 will seem dated, but this one, based on revelations about the rottenness of the Soviet state, must have seemed quite clairvoyant. At the time of its release, the USSR was, in fact, crumbling under the weight of its inefficiencies.The spycraft and tediously restrained spymasters are realistic--human beings constrained by their bureaucratic procedures, yearning to be impetuous (like Barley) but not daring to be, yearning to chuck their marriages and run off with an exotic lover, but not daring to do so.Viewed as a study in international relations, The Russia House is a parable about the futility of the arms race between two superpowers whose competition gave a taste of global greatness they couldn't spit out to save their souls. Viewed as a study in human relations, the book is thinner but entertaining. Le Carre writes with spirit, pace, and detailed knowledge of his settings.But I still have a problem with Barley the Boozer ending up with his intriguing Russian amour.

  • Olivia Kienzel
    2019-06-04 10:07

    i just finished it two nights ago, and what a book! thanks, ted, for turning me onto le carre. he is a master of characterization, he has intricate, exciting, and utterly believable plots, and he has the added bonus of actually knowing what the hell he's talking about, having been on the inside of all this himself.even if you don't like spy fiction, there's much to admire here. i can see why he's regarded as a grand master. far and away better than ludlum, whose stuff has become dated in my opinion.

  • Jim
    2019-06-13 11:18

    I noted on Facebook before I left for holiday that I have a habit of selecting crap books to read on it, but I always take Le Carre as a standby. John, John, just when I needed you most, you let me down. A painfully slow, slight tale of the ending of the Cold War that made me wonder where Le Carre found the motivation to persisit with the novel when he knew where it was going - to an end not with a bang nor a whimper. It felt like an elongated subplot from one of his better thrillers. The writing was still good enough to pull me through, but it was, like the flight home, a long haul.

  • Calvertjones
    2019-05-31 08:16

    This is a good, solid Le Carre, but as is often the case, the novel needed editing. The story concerns a Soviet physicist with information that Soviet nuclear technology is less advanced than the world thinks, who communicates this information through a manuscript that he asks a friend, Katya, to pass on to a British publisher, Scott Blair ("Barley"). British intelligence intercepts it, and then recruits Barley to go back to Moscow and try to recruit the scientist to find out more Soviet secrets. Things, as usual, don't go exactly according to plan, and as frequently happens with Le Carre, there is some strident, over-the-top moralizing about the importance of being a decent human being and so on as opposed to following bureaucratic rules and regulations.It's a fun, pleasantly complex story, and the writing is often brilliantly witty, especially in the beginning when Le Carre really gets going in describing and mocking the intelligence folks. The relationship portrayed between the British and the American intelligence community is hilarious and probably revealing. Barley is also a great, world-weary, charismatic character, and Katya is amusingly Russian, prone to complaining in an understated way about poor state services ("It is not convenient"). Problems include the cliched narrator who serves no purpose--Le Carre has to have his old, depressed, lovesick man watching and telling the story. This is common to many of his novels, and it gets "old" as they say. He's often musing about his love for some woman lost, Hannah. This interrupts the flow of the narrative, and is quite pointless. There's also a heavy-handedness, again a common Le Carre problem, a certain naive smugness that can get on the reader's nerves, the main lesson seeming to be, "If only everyone could behave like decent human beings." And then, there are very long interludes that repeat the same essential points and jokes, which should have been edited down. But, still fun, esp. if you like Le Carre. And, the movie is surprisingly good--Sean Connery as Barley, Michelle Pfeiffer as a shockingly good Katya.

  • Hilary Mak
    2019-06-21 12:14

    I haven't read much of Le Carre- but enjoyed what I have so far. This was quite complicated, with lots of characters, and I found myself having to re-read bits to check who people were and what was happening. However, its beautifully written, and even now, so many years after 'glasnost', it offers a fascinating insight into changes in Russia, and the spying industry in general. Overall a rewarding read but not one to skim over.

  • Colin Flaherty
    2019-06-24 06:01

    If you've never ready any le Carre, the Spy Who Came in From the Cold is a great place to start. I also enjoyed Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Russia House is good, though my guess is the Cold War fiction is probably suffering a bit in popularity.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-06-25 05:13

    I loved this!:O)

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-05-25 12:28

    Some le Carré novels are deeply satisfying. This is not one of them. Here we are on the cusp of the Cold War ending - glasnost and perestroika have been put in motion - yet among the insiders, the spycraft continues. Of course, the Cold War was the agar for spy novelists. Did le Carré get a sick, sinking feeling in his stomach as he watched the Soviet empire crumble? As a reader, I felt like there wasn't much here to bite into. The story line wasn't terribly compelling. We're supposed to fall in love with the charming, roguish, saxophone-playing drunkard Barley, a British book publisher roped into carrying military secrets to the West. But I never felt anything for Barley, and the occasional snippets of sparkly prose weren't enough to prevent the feeling of relief I got when the book ended.

  • Lesley
    2019-06-10 11:09

    In my reading, this book was all about the challenges, perils and rewards (if any, in this case) of nuclear disarmament. It's a world-weary view of the subject, though, especially in le Carre's take on experts. From a conversation between Barley, the British publisher, and Goethe, the Russian scientist: "Experts are addicts. They solve nothing! They are servants of whatever system hires them. They perpetuate it. When we are tortured, we shall be tortured by experts. When we are hanged, experts will hang us. Did you not read what I wrote? When the world is destroyed, it will be destroyed not by its madmen but by the sanity of its experts and the superior ignorance of its bureaucrats."This book was written in 1989, but passages like that are sadly resonant in our post-911 age.

  • wally
    2019-06-25 12:20

    finished this one today...took me some time, things happening, here, there, i did not have time to enjoy the story. don't believe this is one that you can...i could not...pick it up and read some, put it down...come back to it time permitting, this that the other. maybe you can. i can't i did but...ummmm.just not into it. i liked it...i have enjoyed any "spy" stories i've read, fiction or fact. that is all. over and out.

  • Chris
    2019-06-01 09:05

    So this is the BBC adapted radio play. The voice acting is good, but I don't buy the whole romance, great love, sub-plot. Pfeiffer and Connery could sell it, but the voices don't.

  • Brent
    2019-06-11 09:07

    It's 1989 or so, and a bookseller is the protagonist. The Russia House is an office of the British foreign intelligence service. LeCarre rocks. Just read it.

  • Gram
    2019-06-17 05:05

    An amateur spy - down-at-heel English publisher Barley Blair - is given a few weeks training by the British and then, backed by the USA, he's sent to Moscow to receive documents from a highly placed but anonymous source which will prove the Soviet's nuclear missile capability is based on lies. The go-between is the beautiful Katya and Barley complicates matters by falling in love with her.Meanwhile, le Carre details how the joint British-American operation is set up, with the Americans gradually taking over and dominating proceedings. There are some wonderful rants - from all sides - about communism, capitalism, hawks and doves in the Pentagon and the Kremlin and depressing details about the emergence of the Russian people from decades of repression into the promises of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika with Russia's gangster-like oligarchs waiting in the wings, ready to return the country to the days of the Czars. The author's dry humour permeates the story but his observations on the hypocrisy of all sides involved in "The Cold War" show that his anger is never far from the surface.As the "experts" plot each move in their bid to recover Soviet secrets, Barley Blair sticks a joyous spanner in the works which will make (most*) readers cheer him on.*(the hawks and doves of the left and right will not agree with this statement)

  • David
    2019-06-09 05:04

    A good companion piece to A Perfect Spy. Barley Blair and Magnus Pym share many similarities —and, I’ve just realized, Aldo Cassidy may be a “brother” here as well. As is Le Carré’s wont, he employs a narrator who is, like Christ encouraged the disciples to be, in the world but not quite of the world. The narrator may be a bona fide member of The Circus, but he is also in some way detached from full conformity to its norms. The protagonist, then, is always seen (at least partially) from a vantage point outside his own limitations. The complexity of the “secret” world is not significantly different from the complexity of “ordinary” life, which, I think, is Le Carré’s genius, the thing that lifts his work above being “mere” genre fiction.

  • Craig Pittman
    2019-06-12 07:23

    I am late to reading John le Carre', and only now getting around to his non-Smiley books such as this one. Because it's set in the heady days of glasnost and perestroika, I thought it might seem dated -- but given what's been going on in the news today about the Russians trying to tilt our presidential election, it turned out to be far more timely than expected. It was also a compelling read, despite lacking the nail-biting suspense of his "Call for the Dead" or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."The story starts off with a droll and mocking anecdote. At a book fair, a Russian woman named Katya has handed over a manuscript to a British publisher to pass along to the man she intended to deliver it to, and who didn't show up. The manuscript turns out to be a hot property -- the work of a Russian physicist who works on the Soviets' missile tests. The publisher can't find the intended recipient, a roguish Englishman named Barley Blair, and realizes how important this information might be, but then has a hard time convincing anyone in British intelligence to take it from him. Once he succeeds in handing it over, though, they freak out and go through about six kinds of hell tracking down Blair. He turns out to be in Lisbon, shacked up with a lady, getting drunk at a bar. Blair, you soon realize, is the unlikely hero of the story, as he's drafted by British intelligence to go to Moscow and contact the physicist -- a chance acquaintance from a prior trip to Russia -- and verify that the info he's passed along is valid. They train him in spycraft, then begin questioning whether he or his physicist friend are already involved in doubling them to pass along bogus info, and in the process tie themselves and their CIA partners in knots.The narrator le Carre' has drafted to tell this story, by the way, is not Blair himself, but a chess-playing attorney working for MI6 who has his own sense of humor and his own guilty secret. For a while I found his occasional mentions of his shame annoying, but eventually it pays off because you see why he comes to regard the boozy, sax-playing Blair as heroic as he works to save some innocent victims from being hammered by the forces gathered around the physicist known as Goethe.The villains are the intelligence operations of Britain, the U.S. and Russia as le Carre' mocks them, comparing their banal yet brutal political games to the high-minded physicist who only wants to make the world a better place by exposing his employer's dirtiest secret -- namely, that their missile systems don't actually work. The story contains amusing elements of farce right up until about halfway, when at the behest of the CIA one of the livelier Brits is suddenly booted from the operation because they perceive him as a security risk solely based on his personal life. Then you realize how deadly serious the whole thing is.The book is not a classic thriller. There are no chase scenes to speak of, no shoot outs, no corpus delecti to be examined. But it's extremely well-written and involving as watch Blair decide that saving someone he loves is worth turning his life upside down, ditching his lazy old habits to become a better man, if not one who brings a better world.

  • Morris Graham
    2019-06-12 05:09

    I had difficulty at first with the main character. He was an unlikely spy, recruited first unwittingly by the KGB's disinformation agency, then by British intelligence, then the CIA. A book publisher with failed marriages, a drinking problem, a womanizer who used women and then discarded them, a businessman who operated his publishing house in the red. You might say, a loser who becomes everyone's pawn. I had difficulty becoming invested in the story until about page 95, mostly because I found the main character not likeable. Barley seemed to morph before me as someone who was looking for a reason to be noble, and then later, betrayed his country to save someone whom he grew to love with a purity and selflessness he had never known before.Enter the beautiful Katya, a Russian beauty who Barley falls in love with, and gives everything in exchange for here life, and the lives of her family. It is a novel of politics, the world and workings of spies in the period of perestroika and glasnost, in a nervous world of a crumbling Soviet Union, in a dangerous age of nuclear weapons. The credentials of the author, having once being in British Intelligence himself, lent authenticity and credibility to the tale. The grasp of the politics of the day and the authentic use of the places and culture plays well to the story. The book was often hard to follow, probably because there were so many characters on the British Intelligence side, it was difficult to see individual characters as unique due to their number. Also I was often confused by the use of the first person narrative of which I was never quite sure the identity of that person. The book's ending was a surprise to me.I would give this three and a half stars but this is not possible, and it seems a shame to give it three.It is, and entertaining read.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-27 08:10

    This is almost perfect Le Carré — world weary but romantic; cynical but whimsical. The setting is a world thrown into confusion by Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika. And I guess much like spy-novelists, the spies are unsure whether to pull up stumps and congratulate each on a 'good game' or to dig in for the inevitable double-cross. With such a rich and complex milieu, it is perhaps understandable — forgivable? beneficial? — that the plot is more straightforward than his earlier works. That's not to say it lacks excitement, but at times Le Carré is actively deflating the tension — hinting at what will transpire — as if he (through his proxy, the equivocating legal council to the secret service, with a faint whiff of regret and reluctance) no longer wants to participate in the inflationary hyperbole of the cold war of words, which supported the ever-accelerating arms race. All that said, this is very recognisable Le Carré, with strong echoes of some of his best work. It acts as a wonderful, questioning, almost absurd (with its protagonist of a alcoholic, jazz sax-playing, minor publisher) punctuation mark to a long phase of his career, wrestling with the practice of and theory behind the cold war. Perhaps because of that, it is a very thoughtful book, and offers no easy answers (though Le Carré's leanings certainly come through). Beautifully written, with some marvelous bon mots. I fully expect to re-read this at some point.One final note — I was amazed to see that the shabby, dissolute publisher is played on film by Sean Connery; I had pictured him as a glasses-wearing cross between Christopher Hitchens and Peter Mannion from The Thick Of It.

  • D.T.
    2019-06-22 10:10

    A beautiful Russian woman brings a manuscript to a book agent at a Russian book fair to forward to Barley Blair, a UK publisher. The manuscript is not a creative work, rather, it contains detailed information about Soviet nuclear capabilities. When the agent can't find Barley, he turns the documents over to the British authorities. They recognize the value of it and find Barley and send him on missions to find the author of the manuscript and to verify that its contents are accurate.This was a really great story. Barley Blair is a fantastic character. He's a terrific example, in my mind, of a "larger than life" character that is still realistic. He's witty, somewhat clumsy, he drinks too much and he falls in love easily. He's not a natural spy, he's awkward, gets scared and is unsure. He really carried the story for me. Blurring of morality, right/wrong, etc are explored as always in LeCarre novels. My one criticism, and the reason that I don't give this book the full 5 stars is that I found it hard to read. Yes, the language use is beautiful, but sometimes I had no idea what was going on because the language wasn't direct or the time point wasn't specified (yes, I know the indirectness of these novels can be a strength but I found it detracted from the story at times). Nonetheless, I still love how LeCarre's spies are men first, and that is what makes them interesting.

  • Chip Masters
    2019-06-16 07:03

    The Russia House is the kind of top notch spy thriller we've come to expect from the great John Le Carré. That is to say it is a compellingly readable and suspenseful procedural that exposes the dirty, deceptive world of espionage tradecraft in all its conspiratorial and ambiguous glory. The bureaucrats are officious, the case officers are ruthless, the analysts are cynical, the assets are coerced, the targets are idealistic, and everyone is an alcoholic. Written and set in the years when the end of the Cold War was tantalizingly just within reach yet the foot soldiers remained compelled to set traps upon each other to keep the fragile peace, today The Russia House should be read as a cautionary tale of the paranoia and desperation that accompanied the efforts of nations facing off by threatening a nuclear holocaust. That threat has never really left us, of course. But for the last twenty five odd years it has remained dormant or relegated to threats posed by so-called rogue state or non-state actors. But now with the Obama Administration green lighting a $1 trillion modernization of the US nuclear arsenal, and the idiotic president-elect Trump waxing nostalgic about wanting to bring back the good old days of the nuclear arms race, well now would be a good time to reacquaint ourselves with the old anxieties that await us in those halcyon days.

  • Carolina
    2019-06-25 13:01

    Mais um excelente thriller de espionagem ao bom estilo de John Le Carré. Aqui, os espiões não andam armados de gadgets saídos de histórias de ficção científica, mas de inteligência e das capacidades de observação e manipulação. Durante todo o romance há um intenso jogo de influências, mentiras e meias verdades. Ninguém é realmente honesto e todos camuflam as suas verdadeiras intenções nas entrelinhas.Quando, nos fins da Guerra Fria, chega a Londres informação sobre o armamento soviético, há que determinar a sua veracidade. A informação obtida, a ser correcta, promete abalar as convicções e interesses do ocidente e levar uma autêntica reviravolta nas tensões Ocidente-Oriente.O escolhido para esta missão é Barley Blair, um editor sem qualquer experiência de espionagem que se vê involuntariamente atirado para esta trama. E assim começa um romance de espionagem enrolado numa história de amor que mostra uma lado muito real deste conflito travado nas sombras, celebrando as experiências individuais face à pressão do colectivo.

  • Alistair
    2019-06-04 10:04

    this is a spy novel set at the end of the cold war and beginning of perestroika . it is brilliant on the grey men in the intelligence services and their thought processes and on the smoke and mirrors of spying and trust . the world weary conclusion , that the bluff and counterbluff between Russia and the West were essentially empty , seems to ring true .the scenes in Russia were great , although the Ruskies seemed a little bit stereotyped or perhaps absolutely everyone there really drinks and is soulful . i was not totally convinced how Barley Blair was turned from shambolic freewheeling publisher into a dedicated and focussed spy nor for the basis of his love for Katya for whom he turned sides but i suppose Le Carre deals in small triumphs in an imperfect world .

  • Chris
    2019-06-09 13:27

    Strangely, it's closest to a thriller in genre but there were no swerves in the plotline -- you pretty much see everything coming before it happens. I don't view that as a flaw in the book, more that le Carre is offering a point of view on the world of spying. ("Spying is waiting," he writes.) For about half the book, I wished the first character we met, Niki Landau, was the main character. Barley isn't particularly likeable, but I took that as intentional as well. My only real complaint is how boring the meeting scenes were. They were a little too realistic for me... they tended to go on at length with very little actually happening.

  • Paul S
    2019-06-21 10:17

    My first Le Carre book, and I will read many more. I've heard Le Carre described as "too slow"; I would say instead that he's very deliberate. I can handle deliberate if the author/narrator say enough interesting things along the way (see Nelson DeMille). And while it does feel as if it's developing slowly at times, by the time you're done it's clear that he's packed an awful lot into just 353 pages. Great characters and scene descriptions, some absolutely brilliant turns of phrase, and a solid ending make this an easy recommendation.

  • Maureen
    2019-05-28 11:18

    With his deep familiarity with both the world of spies and Soviet Russia, John LeCarre presents Barley Blair, who may be the most improbable secret agent in the history of espionage. This is classic LeCarre, both in plot and setting. After reading this book, I felt that I could navigate through parts of Moscow without a map. I recommend this book not just for the scenery, but because LeCarre's uses espionage as a canvas to paint very large pictures on the universal themes of life and death, honor and betrayal. fealty and treachery. Highly recommended.

  • Cathay
    2019-05-29 12:27

    This was one of those books I had put off for many years. I finally got to it (probably motivated due to a recent trip to Eastern Europe). le Carre's writing is fabulous; the tension and human innuendos, the patterns of those who are involved with spying versus those who would rather just live and love, and Mr. Barley's place in both as a reluctant hero sets the probably-realistic tone for the glamorous gray life of secret service.

  • Thomas
    2019-06-24 05:05

    One of le Carre's best novels. A good enough thriller, but more importantly, audacious in its telling, from a Watsonian perspective -- first-person observer, with the main character not the narrator. I like that, and I like that le Carre cared about thrillers enough to experiment with form. When it comes to spy novels, you could do a hell of a lot worse than just reading le Carre and skipping everyone else.

  • Rosemary
    2019-06-23 08:10

    Smiley's People is my absolute favorite by this author, but Russia House runs a close second. When it came out, the central idea of the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed like very big stretch of the facts. Now, of course, it just seems like history. One of the most charming heroes ever created by Le Carre and one of the happiest endings.