NONFICTION

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

Viking. Sept. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780735220775. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780735220799. LIT
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OrangeReviewStarNow in his mid-80s, le Carré has been a best-selling spy novelist for more than half a century, beginning with the 1963 publication of the classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Looking back on a life rich enough to spawn multiple globe-spanning novels (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; The Constant Gardener, etc.), le Carré showcases his grand, cinematic sense of place and, over the book's 38 pieces—many of them sharp-eyed vignettes, others fully formed memories (including a long remembrance of a rocky relationship with his father, Ronnie)—the ineffable quality that defines a professional raconteur. It doesn't hurt that le Carré's reminiscences include a host of political leaders, writers and artists, and movers-and-shakers: Graham Greene, Margaret Thatcher, Alec Guinness, Yasser Arafat, Rupert Murdoch, and Francis Ford Coppola among them, as well as many whose identities remain hidden in the shadows. The inviting, drinks-beside-the-fire style from a master of the craft never overtakes the details of le Carré's remarkable life or his strong insider's opinions on issues of geopolitical import since World War II.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in the history and evolution of the spy trade and political intrigue from a participant's perspective; le Carré's voice still resonates. [See Prepub Alert, 3/28/16.]

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