I'd like to start by saying "woah" and various other exclamations of surprise and wonder. This was a book that completely changed the way I view spy novels. My previous prejudice stems from quite an obvious source - Ian Fleming - who never gave me anything much of what I would want to read about or what I even find remotely interesting. Big guns, fast cars, hot girls... surely every teenage boy's wet dream, but not what tends to be my cup of tea.
Fleming, like most writers of spy novels, caters exclusively for the straight male reader. His books were never intended to be read by women because in real life women don't fall back with their legs in the air for every guy in a tux who says "shaken, not stirred". Laughable.
And, yes, there is a point hidden somewhere amidst the waffle... John le Carre is a genius, an inventive and wonderful writer. I effin loved this book... it was gripping, sad and funny! Alec didn't waste his time drinking martinis and shagging his way through the women of Europe, he had emotion and he had personality. Alec Leamas would run rings around James Bond any day and in every way possible.
Written in 1963, it was inevitably entwined with the Cold War and the darkest side of East German Intelligence. There's nothing like fiction with aspects of historical and/or political truth! And I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I simply adored it... and I want more of John le Carre right now. Highly recommended, even to you chick-lit lovers who will automatically think "no thanks", trust me you want to give this one a chance.