The Pigeon Tunnel
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The Pigeon Tunnel : Stories from My Life

4.06 (1,903 ratings by Goodreads)
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THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER'Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.' From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, John le Carre has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carre is as funny as he is incisive - reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he's writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire, or visiting Rwanda's museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide, or celebrating New Year's Eve with Yasser Arafat, or interviewing a German terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev, or watching Alec Guinness preparing for his role as George Smiley, or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in his The Constant Gardener, le Carre endows each happening with vividness and humour, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carre gives us a glimpse of a writer's journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.'No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times' Guardian'John le Carre is as recognizable a writer as Dickens or Austen' Financial Times'When I was under house arrest I was helped by the books of John le Carre ... they were a journey into the wider world ... These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind' Aung San Suu Kyishow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 25mm | 326g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241976898
  • 9780241976890
  • 4,007

About John Le Carré

John le Carre was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. His recent novels include A Most Wanted Man, Our Kind of Traitor and A Delicate Truth.show more

Review quote

Fascinating, important, pithy. Anyone interested in le Carre and his significant contribution to the literature of the 20th and 21st centuries will want to read these engaging meanderings through his life and career.He has plenty to say about Kim Philby, the movie business, fellow spooks and Russian defectors, encounters with the great and good, and his intrepid travels to research his novels -- William Boyd * Guardian * Vintage le Carre ... [he] remains a magician of plot and counter-plot, a master storyteller * Observer * John le Carre is as recognizable a writer as Dickens or Austen * Financial Times * When I was under house arrest I was helped by the books of John le Carre ... they were a journey into the wider world ... These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind * Aung San Suu Kyi * No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times * Guardian * A smashing read -- Richard Davenport-Hines * Wall Street Journal * Offers thrills of recognition as le Carre's archetypes spring to life... The 84-year old novelist discards extended narrative and writes in elegiac fragments with linking harmonies, like the late works of that other German Romantic, Beethoven -- John Gapper * Financial Times * Exceptionally well-turned and enjoyable -- David Sexton * Evening Standard * Grippingly written, it is revealing in ways the author never intended it to be * Sunday Telegraph * Cagey, clever, revealing * Daily Telegraph * le Carre is a master of the art... fascinatingly readable * The Times * Frank and fascinating * Daily Express * The Pigeon Tunnel is a delight... a collection of highly polishes oddments from a life, assembled to entertain and inform...fabulously funny * Radio Times * A snapshot of a story that is, truly, as extraordinary as any of his fiction * Daily Mail * For me The Pigeon Tunnel just confirms the enigma... extremely humorous... at no point do I feel that I knew one tiny bit more than he wants me to know -- Susanne Bier, director of The Night Manager He has written an uproarious, darkly poignant and precious book -- James Naughtie * New Statesman * A beautiful book. The great glory of it is it comes close to unlocking the central mystery of le Carre -- Tony Parsons As enthralling as his fiction * Woman and Home * Le Carre is such a good writer . . . Though urbane and detached, there is rage simmering not far below the surface of both le Carre and his new book. But then, nothing, absolutely nothing, is what it seems * Daily Mail * A deeply personal and touching account of le Carre's life ... it has undeniable power * Prospect * Explosive * Daily Mail * le Carre's The Pigeon Tunnel is exquisite -- Hugh Laurie I savoured the gravelly, quietly insistent voice of a master storyteller examining his own life -- Michela Wrong * The Spectator * the entertaining recollections of a raconteur -- Neil McCormick * Telegraph * Elusive and frank and witty by turns, the spy master gives away just as much of himself as he wants to in The Pigeon Tunnel, tracing the story of his life through his walk-on parts in the history and mythology of the cold war, and the shape-shifting discipline of his imagination -- Tim Adams * Guardian Biographies of the Year *show more

Review Text

Fascinating, important, pithy. Anyone interested in le Carré and his significant contribution to the literature of the 20th and 21st centuries will want to read these engaging meanderings through his life and career.He has plenty to say about Kim Philby, the movie business, fellow spooks and Russian defectors, encounters with the great and good, and his intrepid travels to research his novels William Boyd Guardianshow more

Rating details

1,903 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 36% (679)
4 41% (773)
3 19% (368)
2 3% (66)
1 1% (17)
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