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Absolute Friendsby John le CarrÃ©
"Absolute Friends is not merely another spy story destined for the 'Action' shelf of the local library, although many will ask no more of it than that, and will have no reason to be dissatisfied with what they get. Le Carré clearly hopes that this work of imagination will win readers over to his own hostility towards United States policy....Or does he?" James M. Murphy, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire Times Literary Supplement review)
"Le Carré, alas, uses Sasha as his spokesman for his opinions (all of which are well-justified, but that's beside the point) about Western imperialism....What a shame it is to have to say that a book by a writer as subtle and probing as le Carré is such a preachy and didactic bore." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
"Character, and the lack of depth, are important elements in the failure of le Carré's latest book....'I only ever cared about the man...I never gave a fig for the ideologies,' George Smiley once said. Le Carré, in this humanly implausible and ideologically enraged novel, appears to give a fig for neither." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
A ferocious new novel from the master: when a man's good heart is his worst enemy...
By chance and not by choice, Ted Mundy, eternal striver, failed writer, and expatriate son of a British Army officer, used to be a spy. But that was in the good old Cold War days when a cinder-block wall divided Berlin and the enemy was easy to recognize.
Today, Mundy is a down-at-heel tour guide in southern Germany, dodging creditors, supporting a new family, and keeping an eye out for trouble while in spare moments vigorously questioning the actions of the country he once bravely served.
And trouble finds him, as it has before, in the shape of his old German student friend, radical, and one-time fellow spy, the crippled Sasha, seeker after absolutes, dreamer, and chaos addict.
After years of trawling the Middle East and Asia as an itinerant university lecturer, Sasha has yet again discovered the true, the only answer to life — this time in the form of a mysterious billionaire philanthropist named Dimitri. Thanks to Dimitri, both Mundy and Sasha will find a path out of poverty, and with it their chance to change a world that both believe is going to the devil. Or will they?
Who is Dimitri? Why does Dimitri's gold pour in from mysterious Middle Eastern bank accounts? And why does his apparently noble venture reek less of starry idealism than of treachery and fear?
Some gifts are too expensive to accept. Could this be one of them? With a cooler head than Sasha's, Mundy is inclined to think it could.
In Absolute Friends, John le Carré delivers the masterpiece he has been building to since the fall of communism: an epic tale of loyalty and betrayal that spans the lives of two friends from the riot-torn West Berlin of the 1960s to the grimy looking-glass of Cold War Europe to the present day of terrorism and new alliances. This is the novel le Carré fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages.
"No reader, whatever his politics, could fail to be moved by the passion and intelligence of le Carré's latest. For those who feel as he does about the war and its consequences, this book will be a special gift." Publishers Weekly
"[T]he novel never becomes the author's soapbox. The human story remains paramount, even if the chilling message is that human stories don't stand much of a chance in the world as we find it." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)
"[L]e Carré brings the thriller face to face with contemporary politics and...has once again demonstrated his mastery of his chosen genre while at the same time giving lesser, ordinary novelists a masterclass in taking nothing for granted." Robert McCrum, The Observer (U.K.)
"Despite a piercing, compassionate portrait of a decent man struggling to keep up with a world in the throes of constant change, le Carré seems this time outpaced by...the layers upon layers of real-life duplicity in the world since 9/11." Kirkus Reviews
"Le Carré relates all this with his accustomed skill....History can decide whether le Carré is right or wrong...but no one can deny that for the world's leading spy novelist...to take on the White House with such ferocity is a political event of note..." Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Book World
"[A] masterful exploration of character....A little preachy and long-winded as he moves into the here-and-now, this is nevertheless among the most easily digestible of [le Carré's] novels." Margie Thomson, The New Zealand Herald
"Absolute Friends is le Carré's best work in years and suggests that he's finally solved the puzzle of how to integrate the world he knew so well into one in which the enemy is not political ideology but economic globalization." Steven E. Alford, The Houston Chronicle
"[U]ntil he self-destructs near the end, [le Carré] is not only comfortable again, but positively triumphant....All of this le Carré conveys with the deftest of touches. In the '60s Berlin scenes...he even displays a flair for comedy." Dan Cryer, Newsday
"Absolute Friends establishes that there is plenty of shady life left after the end of the Cold War....Moody is one of le Carré's delightful, droll protagonists..." Randy Michael Signor, Chicago Sun-Times
"What [began as] a masterful, elegiac character study in the mould of...A Perfect Spy becomes an angry disquisition on contemporary geopolitics....Where once there was a subtle knife, here there is only a blunt stick." Steven Poole, The Guardian (U.K.)
"Absolute Friends is one of [le Carré's] worst. The master of the Cold War has stumbled over the Iraq war. The poet of ironic detachment has turned shrill." David L. Beck, The San Jose Mercury News
"Absolute Friends is mostly classic le Carré and that means fiction of a very high order....Even if its message were not true and important, Absolute Friends would be a fine novel." Roy Hattersley, The Independent (U.K.)
"What's fascinating about Absolute Friends, in fact, is how deliberately awkward its narrative technique is, how adamantly le Carré refuses to be glib or ingratiating." Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review
This epic tale of loyalty and betrayal spans the lives of two friends from the riot-torn West Berlin of the 1960s to the grimy looking-glass of Cold War Europe to the present day of terrorism and new alliances. This is the novel le Carr fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages.
About the Author
John le Carré is the author of numerous classic, bestselling novels, including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Little Drummer Girl, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Several of his novels have been made into major motion pictures, including The Tailor of Panama and The Russia House. In the 1950s he worked for British Intelligence. He lives in Cornwall, England.
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