Read Absolute Friends by John le Carré Online

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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 touA 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 Carre 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 Carre fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages....

Title : Absolute Friends
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ISBN : 5769045
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 453 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Absolute Friends Reviews

  • Andrea
    2018-12-05 10:22

    i am convinced le carre is a genius. he sets full scenes in just a few sentences. and his characters are thoughful and consistent. consistent: so that their actions reflect their personality. that seems to be a hard one for many to capture.

  • Joni Dee
    2018-11-29 08:58

    If you follow my reviews you know by now that i'm a le Carré fanatic ... In Absolute Friends Le Carré returns to the same formula that has worked in so many of his books, with one distinctive above all - a perfect spy. In this excellent spy thriller, we learn about the relationship between Ted and Sasha (operator-agent as well as friends) through their years old relationship as students, through their cordial correspondence, and at the end through current events.Le Carré is demonstrating the American monopoly over the war on terror, with a blunt disregard to human rights, while he is weaving the long lasting relationship between the two individuals, which survived through the cold war, the iron curtain and the new espionage world.an enjoyable Le Carré that will get a grip over you, until you reach the (somewhat) disappointing conclusion (that prevented me from awarding the book 5 stars).

  • Susan Emmet
    2018-12-11 03:27

    Maybe a "5" is too high a rating...amazing?...maybe not.But I give it a 5 for Le Carre's tightrope walk from fiction to non-fiction. This novel rings all kinds of bells, historic and political.And he takes 'em all on - the pseudo-liberals and conservatives, Islamist terrorists, the CIA, the British Secret Service, communists, the HUGE money corporations with hands in pies everywhere - all the stuff that was - and has - "come true" sadly, but expectedly.Keep thinking about Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex and the squelching of radical viewpoints and the "spin" of journalists beholden to governments or ideologies.So struck by Ted Mundy (the man of many Mundys) and his "absolute friend" Sasha as they navigate years of espionage and inquiry and idealism and failure - as they are handed from one handler to the next.Many reviewers object to the last ten pages. I don't. They couldn't have ended up anywhere but dead by the hands of Ultimate J, just as they are supposedly embarked on forming an alternate, radical new form of education, the Counter-University. There are books, but the online piece is key.I so fear the online piece of modern life and learning. All the little children wed to their phones and pads and laptops, tapping away to gain knowledge with no knowledge or desire to test the sources they find. Maybe that's the key: the ability to challenge, to question, to ask many times over what is truth - and lie.

  • Jim
    2018-11-18 05:17

    Read it and weep, Robert Harris. This is how to write a spy thriller. Le Carre's strength, or one of them (and there are many) is his characterisations which, in less skilled hands, could be the ludicrous caricatures I mentioned above. He makes them believable though. As he does the situations. You really begin to believe that the world of espionage works exactly as portrayed here. His heroes tend to be offbeat misfits who can't seem to settle in a normal life and, from the novels I've read so far, tend to end up dead in the end. As he did here. The only thing I dislike about reading Le Carre is my inability to find authors who are writing with similar panache. It really does highlight the shortcomings of Robert Harris, Robert Wilson and the like who are undoubtedly good authors but don't reach this kind of level. And I couldn't tell you why.

  • Mark
    2018-11-24 10:14

    Calling John le Carre a spy novelist is liking calling Shakespeare a jingle writer. Nevertheless, there was something about this book that bothered me enough to knock one star off my otherwise high regard, and I think I can discuss it without issuing a spoiler alert.First, the basics: Ted Mundy is a Brit who almost falls into the spy trade after he renews his acquaintance with old student friend, the enigmatic and charismatic Sasha. Together, they had played street revolutionaries in Berlin in the 60s, and when Mundy meets Sasha again years later, a meeting Sasha has cleverly arranged, he discovers Sasha has become a spy for the East Germans (though he's a double agent) and Mundy becomes his one and only go-between for years thereafter.In the process, gentle Ted loses his wife and his son and all manner of other normality while leading his double and sometimes triple life. The buildup of Ted's and Sasha's relationship and the umbilical connection they have is wonderfully described and propels the novel along nicely. But the real question le Carre wants to ask is: What happens to two old spies when the reason for their existence no longer exists (i.e., the crumbling of the Berlin Wall)?The answer he comes up with is gripping, mysterious, but in the end, I thought, a little over the top. In some ways, this novel seemed as much a way for le Carre to express his disgust with the Iraq war through his characters as it was a story driven by its own imperatives. Nevertheless, I recommend it.

  • Stefan
    2018-12-05 10:13

    Absolute Friends was the story of a complicated friendship spanning much of the twentieth century. The psychological depth of this friendship was reason enough to read this novel. The issues discussed, events mentioned and locations described gave me much food for thought. The intelligent, well-paced and insightful story was gripping and authentic in the way few thrillers are today . But I was most touched by the power of the story’s cynical conclusion: it forced me to soberly consider the tremendous unforeseen implications of the War on Terror. Well worth rereading.

  • Christine Zibas
    2018-12-01 08:24

    The old spy game is taken up a notch in Le Carre’s “Absolute Friends.” Here the intrigue and spying are not merely about competing Cold War ideologies, but the friendship of two men who came of age and connected as friends amidst the radical student movement of the 1960s in West Germany. The friendship continues throughout the novel, as the friends meet and drift apart again over the years, but never lose the ultimate bond (estranged boyhoods and youthful idealism) that united them in the first place.As this political thriller opens, Sasha (the crippled son of a German traitor whose life he is always trying to atone for) comes looking for his old friend Ted Bundy (son of an old Colonial officer serving in India during the time of the partition with Pakistan). By now they are middle aged men and have a long history together. After setting the scene of the present day, the book harkens back to their shared past, recounting their early days as radical college students in Germany.After they part company in West Germany, Sasha leaves with his radical theories for what he believes is a more egalitarian society, defecting to the East. As he learns more of his own father’s history and experiences the brutality of life in East Germany, Sasha soon realizes his defection is an ideological mistake, and thus decides to correct it by becoming a double agent for the West, while “working for the Stasi (East German intelligence).”Meanwhile Ted has returned to England and found a good life for himself--a wife he loves, the birth of their first child, and a job with the British Council, working with traveling arts groups who journey across the Iron Curtain in a gesture of friendship and cultural exchange. Just as he comes to recognize his own happiness with life as he knows it, he is recruited into the world of intrigue and deception by none other than Sasha himself. True to the friendship, Ted too, soon becomes a double agent, ultimately succeeding brilliantly and becoming a valuable asset to British intelligence, even as his personal life falls apart.With the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changes yet again, and the two friends, no longer needed in the roles they played as Cold War spies for so many years, drift apart again. When Sasha comes looking for Ted this time, it’s with a proposition that appeals to both their idealistic tendencies…but is it legit? Sasha has always been blind-sighted by his own idealism, and Ted is finally reconnecting with a new family life as an ex-pat, working in Germany as a guide to British tourists after the failure of his English school.Ted is wary of the offer, and he soon discovers he’s in too deep. More than that, he keeps trying to discern whether Sasha, too, has changed and is lying to him. As with any true spy story, there are multiple layers to all these situations, but when the one true friendship is tested, there’s no going back.Le Carre has brought this spy tale up to the present day and the Iraq War for his finale, and shown just how dated the rules of Cold War spying have become. The enemy is no longer the “other,” and what does friendship and loyalty mean in the end? Le Carre tackles the big questions, never shying away from what makes us uncomfortable as a society. He’s as meaningful and brilliant a writer as ever, and “Absolute Friends” proves that.

  • Yvann S
    2018-12-12 09:19

    "Leaving the envelope to mature for a week or two, therefore, he waits until the right number of tequilas has brought him to the right level of insouciance, and rips it open."Ted Mundy, Pakistan-born English major's son, Germanophile and student rebel, has just about settled into mediocrity at the British Council when a trip in his guise as head of Overseas Drama and Arts (particular responsibility: Youth) becomes an exercise in secret police evasion. A figure from his past appears and he is recruited into double agency.I got to page 260 out of 400 of this. The first 200 pages were really promising - fascinating character development, a cold open that leaves us desperate to get back to it, great student riot atmosphere... and then we get into the spying proper and it bored me to anger. Seriously, I got so angry with the dull plot, dire characters and chronically self-indulgent writing ("redux" 4 times in 2 pages??) that I decided I would rather play Bubble Shooter on my phone than continue reading it. Scathing criticism indeed.The writing is exceptional and so consistent that I struggled to find a quote for the top of this review and shan't waste more time trying to find any more - rather than good writing with exceptional one-liners, this is excellent writing with an unfortunate dollop of smug. The page that finally made me lose my temper was one in which Ted was named "Mundy redux" 5 times over a double page. I don't know what redux was supposed to mean, given that we are already so hopelessly entrenched in Ted's multiple personalities, but it struck me as so pompous, so "I require my readers to have advanced degrees, otherwise they're not good enough", that I was genuinely angry.The characters are impossible to relate to - Ted is dull, mediocre, apathetic; no wonder his wife finds someone else. Sasha is fiery and contrary, but implausibly so. And no one else gets much of a look-in, as this is about the two absolute friends and not anyone else. So character development for the support cast is woeful.And as for the plot - Ted's childhood: fascinating. Student days: engrossing. Berlin riot participation: page-turning. Settling into middle-class mediocrity in Britain/spying: urgh. Bubble Shooter was more exciting.

  • Gwen
    2018-11-26 11:14

    I decided to read other reviewers here on Goodreads before I gave my stars. Turns out they didn't change my first instinct to give it a solid four. Was hard for me to buy the (spoiler alert) probability that Mundy would take up with Sasha a THIRD time in response to his appeal to save the world having had two prior undesirable outcomes. But I could get past it in view of so many salient themes to the modern setting. I found it interesting that it was copywritten 2003, which explains all the references to the Iraq war being declared "over," is if it was fair to render some hindsight in novel form. If those characters only knew...... One thing missing in the reviews I've read (admittedly only a few): Didn't anyone notice the recurring aspect of Blackwater-esque elements in the wars? And the anarchist's horror at the capitalism therein? Corporate mercenaries involving themselves in--or downright sponsoring--wars between states for the sole purpose of their bottom lines, is portrayed here with all the poignancy and disgust appropriate to a war trumped up on false pretenses. Yes the main characters are flawed, human, and compelling, as they can only be in the translucent world of spyhood and survival. Which makes the rather whiplash ending so tragic and affecting. Few works have left me with a sense of futility and despair so complete. Brilliant.

  • Jeff
    2018-11-29 04:57

    I’m going to do the same review for “The Mission Song” and “Absolute Friends” because these books have so much in common. They both show a great writer having stumbled on his own frustration at international politics. Both books are suffused with anger that does not characterize Le Carre’s other works, and this anger impedes the storytelling and changes thematic representation to Neanderthalic proselytizing. In the past Le Carre has dealt with subjects before that he finds offensive (“The Night Watchman” and “The Constant Gardener” are excellent examples) without going over the top. His two latest works are clumsy in their indictment of society to the extent that Le Carre has ceased to be a great writer and has become an average polemicist. This is a shame. His works would be much more powerful and effective if he didn’t take his rage to extremes. When one goes too far in any direction most people stop listening, and I’m afraid that Le Carre has lost his voice. Hopefully he will continue writing and his next work will contain the trenchant social and political analysis that his earlier works had.

  • Laura
    2018-12-08 11:14

    I listened to this long book on CD on a trip and, though I found it interesting enough to finish listening to it, am pretty sure that, had I read it in book form, I wouldn't have had the patience to finish it. Starting out with the appealing depiction of a British spy living happily in retirement with a Turkish woman and her son while working as a tour guide in Germany, the main character--Ted Mundy--winds up being called back into action by his old friend and fellow spy, Sasha. The flashback which recounts their radical youth in Cold War Germany and then their career as spies for the British government and the Stasi, is extremely lengthy, made even longer perhaps by the fact that Sasha, though as important to the plot as Mundy, never becomes a fully-realized or sympathetic character in the book. Fast forward to the American war against Iraq after 9/11: Ted Mundy reluctantly reconnoiters with the still-idealistic Sasha to fight global imperialism as spies once again. The outcome is disastrous for the two men, but gives Le Carre the opportunity to vent his rage at American imperialism, the war in Iraq, and the complete moral bankruptcy of spying when, if you believe him, all world powers are in collusion against the forces of good.

  • David Highton
    2018-12-07 06:00

    Another demonstration of how good a writer John Le Carre is - a narrative which spans forty years from the late Sixties onwards. The novel features Ted, a Pakistan-born Englishman who moves though a minor public school and a year at Oxford to join with student anarchist Sasha during a gap year in Berlin. In a later phase, Cold War espionage provides their continued relationship, and after a gap of 15 years they meet up again in a confusing alliance against US imperialism.

  • David Lowther
    2018-12-01 06:15

    Absolute Friends is one of Le Carré's best 21st. Century novels. Spanning a life time from the blood soaked streets of India and Pakistan after partition to the freezing Cold War before settling into the horrors of the war against terror, the narrative follows the fortunes and misfortunes of one Ted Mundy, Oxford drop-out, 60s anarchist, unqualified schoolteacher, British Council guide and spy. Mundy is a man you can't help liking, for all his shortcomings, yet you feel throughout that it won't end well for him.What were his politics, left. right or centre? and who were really his masters? and was he a double or even triple agent? Much of the latter part of the story takes place against the backdrop of the US/UK led invasion of Iraq in 2003, reminding the British reader of the lies and tragedies which followed that most unnecessary of wars.Mundy is not dim but neither does he have a spy's instincts and we spend pages, wondering like him, what is really going on? Le Carré, the finest writer of espionage fiction since the middle years of the 20th. century uses his acerbic prose with its usual ingredients of wit and sarcasm, to enthral us with a morality tale for the ages.David Lowther. Author of The Blue Pencil, Liberating Belsen and Two Families at War, all published by Sacristy Press.

  • Tim
    2018-12-16 11:18

    Absolute Friends is almost autobiographical; Le Carre, himself an agent of Cold War espionage, made a career out of writing spy thrillers and must have been as shocked as anyone by the sudden collapse of the Iron Curtain. Like the protagonist, the English ex-spy Mundy, he must have struggled at first to find himself in this wholly changed landscape, and perhaps struggled to come to terms with it. This book covers that transition from Cold War to War on Terrorism, looking at the world through eyes of complex and confused characters from the world of espionage. At times a gripping spy thriller, at times a slow pontification on 70s-era radicalism, but always brilliantly written and absorbing.

  • Teressa
    2018-11-20 10:14

    As a huge fan of 1984, I appreciate many of the Orwellian themes Le Carre develops here. It was also interesting to read about Iraq from the position of hindsight (Le Carre published this in 2003). I enjoyed the careful character development of both Sasha and Mundy as much as I enjoyed the author's excellent, terse prose. Really, the man is a wonderful writer!So why did I give this a three instead of a four? Or even a five? Le Carre's anger was palpable, to the point I felt he was proselytizing. A little restraint would have went a long way. I got tired of listening to long philosophical and political polemic,especially in the middle of the book, where I was sorely tempted to put the book down for good.Happily, it was the only thing I had left to read at the beach, so I stayed committed. Although I had guessed the ending by the early 300's, I still loved the denouement of the final chapter. There are so many salient criticisms of our current cozy military-industrial complex that would make Orwell proud. Good food for thought for all Americans. Rarely has a book left me such a feeling indignation, despair, and futility. I'm a sucker for a realistic ending, but if you like happy, fairy tale endings or clear distinctions between good and bad, this is probably not the book for you. If you like to explore moral, political, and philosophical grey areas-- and you can get past Le Carre's mini-tirades--then you will probably be a fan with some reservations, like me.

  • Robert Hill
    2018-11-22 09:57

    As always, I found Le Carre' quite entertaining. I often wondered what Le Carre' turned to after his Cold War thrillers. This book was great it had a surprise ending. The thesis of this thriller is that the War on Terror can be an excuse for the conservative political powers to seek out and destroy "innocent" liberals. Even though those liberals might be intellectual revolutionaries. The title comes from a friendship between two such liberal "revolutionaries". Le Carre' tracks them from before the end of the Cold War. At one point the protaganists are decorated by the "authorities" for their espionage work against the Stasi of the GDR. At the end of the book, the "villain", who orchestrated the demise of our liberal heroes, winds up in the Witness Protection Program. It starts slow, but packs a punch.

  • Gina
    2018-11-29 04:27

    Absolutely heartbreaking. Le Carre at his best--on a par with The Honourable Schoolboy, Little Drummer Girl, and Perfect Spy. Set in Berlin of the '60s, East Germany just before the fall of the Wall, and in the unified Germany just after the invasion of Iraq. Ted Mundy and Sasha, the friends of the title, find out that the rules of the game, post-Cold War, have irrevocably changed.

  • Amyem
    2018-12-11 08:09

    http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/1...I own a copy and bookcrossed a copy

  • Dexter Meyers
    2018-12-04 03:58

    John LeCarre could absolutely be my friend

  • Clara
    2018-12-05 08:58

    1.5The very first pages and the last ones were the best. But the middle was just meh. It was entertaining enough to keep me reading, but I thought about DNF it like four times. It reads fast though.I didn’t like the characters, I wasn’t interested in what they talked about and I wish some things were explained better.But I was told this isn’t his best books, and that some are great. So I’ll give them a shot.__________________________________________________Las primeras páginas y las últimas fueron las mejores. Pero todo el medio me pareció meh. Fue lo suficientemente entretenido como para seguir leyendo, pero pensé en dejarlo como cuatro veces. Lo bueno es que se lee rápido.No me gustaron los personajes, no me interesaba lo que hablaban y me hubiera gustado que algunas cosas hayan estado mejor explicadas.Pero me han dicho que este no es el mejor de sus libros, y que tiene algunos excelentes. Así que les voy a dar una oportunidad.

  • Goatboy
    2018-11-16 09:59

    It's no secret that John le Carré is a master storyteller that manages to use measured yet laser-focused writing to describe story lines that would be treated in a much more hyperbolic manner by other authors. He continually manages to make the exciting mundane, and by doing so to make the mundane even more exciting and believable. This wasn't my favorite of his novels, but it was completely gripping and fascinating as it covered different territories and times than others of his that I have read. The story of Sasha and Mundy's friendship was beautifully described, and the ending was superbly executed to add an unexpected extra dollop of emotional depth.

  • Margaret
    2018-11-29 06:09

    This one was up there with the Karla books. Phenomenally well-executed.Le Carré’s books aren’t spy stories, they’re stories about spies. They’re for those of us who have wondered what it is like to live a life of deception and intrigue, a life that is not your own. The answer is compromise, dissonance, loss of self. Le Carré's characters are all forced to develop identity after identity for the sake of survival and the cause they have been caught in. They find themselves in the same position as Mundy, who is "made up of all the odd bits of of his life that are left over after he has given the rest of himself away." Good side, bad side, there are no winners. Le Carré makes this painfully clear time after time.

  • Kenneth
    2018-11-24 05:06

    I rate this novel as "average" considering the body of work accomplished by this master.The story friend of the rekindled friendship between the two main characters held my interest, but the whiny politics of the two was rather grating.I found the end came crashing down hard, but I wasn't complaining as that meant that the book was over.

  • Jim McCoy
    2018-12-15 06:02

    this book was back and forth. i started to get into the story then there were times it was dull and put it down for a while. the long philosophical monologues and stream of consciousness of Mundy lost my attention. The ending was redeeming, in typical le Carre style the story really hits its stride the last 75 pages or so.

  • Edwin Lang
    2018-12-13 05:02

    Absolute Friends is an espionage tale of two friends, Sasha, charismatic and impressionable, and Mundy a phlegmatic and an uprooted not-quite-complete Englishman. I did not find the story too well told, with much of it superficially about their friendship during post-War and the Cold War years ending abruptly and inconclusively after 200 or so pages with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Absolute Friends lacked the thrill that one associates with spies, and throughout there is a feeling that Mundy and Sasha, in spite of their intelligence, passion and overall likeability are quite boring: at the end of the day they make little impression on life, scant contribution to its betterment and similarly little impact on the lives of those around them. We get to kind of like Mundy – maybe we feel sorry for him – and although John Le Carre does a reasonable job developing his characters, there is always something quite fundamental missing, something more we want to learn and experience about Mundy, Sasha and others for that matter – why are they so seemingly broken and aimless in spite of having been given quite a bit of what the good life can offer – and so it all remains too superficial. I also did not like the cynical tone of the book. It seemed a rant against Western culture, against the United States quite specifically. The story seemed to lack an element of humanism that one expects from an author, that is to really see people in their element and individuality, as opposed to some nameless and stupid mass of low IQs that governments and businesses can easily conspire against and manipulate. I was mentioning to someone that yesterday (December 23rd) I began my day at a 530 AM Filipino-sponsored (Catholic novena i.e. 9 days of Mass at 530 in the mornings preceding Christmas) Mass followed by a supposedly modest breakfast spread at which I discovered a passion for Filipino cassava cake and sweet bread; this followed later on during a visit to the Mall for Christmas shopping with a drop-in to a Chinese tea shop where with a wonderful 80-year old Chinese lady I sampled and sipped $160 tea according to the fairly sophisticated tea tradition; and later on, while walking my dog for the last walk of the day before bed came upon an Iranian neighbour celebrating the festival of fire (Nowruz?) on their front lawn. All this made for a wonderful day – and my point is that Le Carre‘s story does not convey any of this joy that we can see in the very simple actions and beliefs and cultures of our neighbours. There is an element of the depressing in his stories and I would keep these books away from children.In a way John Le Carre writes with impunity, in the comfortable knowledge presumably that we of the cash cow world that is the West will not imprison him for what is essentially a diatribe against the United States, against the West and against the majority of us whom he describes as little more than pawns. The reality is that we Westerners are actually quite great: most of us try to live lives that are characterized by decency, courage and honor, and that are love-filled, generous, life-giving and engaged. So I think John Le Carre’s world view kind of sucks, and at least for those of us lucky enough to live in the West neither truthful not accurate. There is almost an evil in how he presents the world: that we of the West, and our politicians, our institutions, even our capitalists are corrupt. It is not so. I think what makes the West (and Westerners) - whether on the American continent, or in Britain or in Europe, or in Australasia – is that we are fundamentally good. And that we really value life, so much so that few of us will run away even there is a threat to our freedom: we will tolerate the Republicans and in Canada the Conservatives for a while with their love of guns, violence and war, with their hatred of Obama and all things liberal and kind, with their desire to impoverish us and the world and our oceans: but at the end of the day we are not like those who run away. That is the paradox of the West – we will die to live. John Le Carre dies not get this at all and that is why there is a element of the evil in his writing, that he wants to deny us this grand vision we have of the world and ourselves, to be instead small and frightened people.Thus speaks the idealist. But a fact screams at me: 4% of those in our midst are psychopaths, people without conscience and without feelings, who enjoy doing evil partly because it makes them feel alive. So in this light John Le Carre’s grim tale rings quite plausible, that it is possible for relatively good but lost souls to get caught up in the evil schemes of others. I grew up wrestling with the sorrow of John F Kennedy’s assassination and witnessed how conflicting and plausible evidence was shouted down by those in authority, by our most revered institutions and that whole affair leaves one wondering. Edwin

  • Rob
    2018-11-19 08:12

    For those unfamiliar with Le Carre, do not expect a happy ending!! He has a bleak view of the worlds of politics, espionage and internationl relations. Having said that, Le Carre is a master of characterisation and a highly skilled practitioner of plot. "Absolute Friends" is one of his best novels in terms of both.The book revolves around two characters, Ted Mundy, a rather bumbling, apparently shambolic Britisher who, in the course of the book, becomes an long term, highly effective spy, and Sasha, a refugee East German and Mundy's 'absolute friend'. The story evolves through the latter period of the cold war into the modern era. It works in many of the themes that have informed British and European politics from the 1990s onward. Le Carre brings his characters to life. They are (typically) flawed and very human. The author is a sympathetic illustrator of souls, and he excels in this novel. The plot is also typical of Le Carre. It has unexpected and (for me, at least) unanticipated twists. It careers to a climax that I found surprising, shocking and, ultimately, quite devestating. This is an enjoyable and highly readable novel that ends unforgettably. I recommend it thoroughly to anyone who enjoys political thrillers, strong characterisation and brilliant writing. BTW - this just screams 'film script'. It has all the elements required of a block-buster film.

  • Gerald Sinstadt
    2018-12-11 06:05

    John Le Carré didn't invent the espionage novel - Eric Ambler was not least among his predecessors - but he undeniably lifted it to a new intelligent level. From The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, he went on to develop an engaging series of variations on the theme.By 2016, with Berlin wall log ago demolished and the cold war behind us, it might be thought that the genre was played out. Absolute Friends is evidence that, in the hands of the master, much remains possible.Edward Mundy, the son of a major serving in India, moves more less seamlessly through public school and university, with a diversion along side a radial anti-establishment group in Berlin in t eh sixties, into British Intelligence. Thereafter, his path through the decades is inextricably linked with a contact from the Berlin squat. This is one Sacha. He and Mndy are the absolute friends, thought nit always apparently on the same side.The ending is downbeat, the author's viewpoint bleak, but the story-telling is everything is as compelling as ever.

  • Sistermagpie
    2018-12-12 04:14

    It continues to be interesting watching Le Carre carry his world into the present, leaving the Cold War behind. I wasn't sure of the friendship between Mundy and Sasha, the pair of the title, right up until the end. This being a spy novel, I kept expecting one to betray or have betrayed the other. Instead both men are bound to the flaws that seem to haunt all spies. Ted Mundy is another interesting creation, a man with a history of shaky identities and changing locals. The one stable thing in his life is his friend. As time goes by Mundy becomes more and more of a ghost to the people in his life, while those people come to seem like ghosts in the narrative. Secrets become the truest proof of friendship in a friendship that is, itself, a secret. Early on, when Mundy and Sasha first met, I had a hard time understanding the friendship. The idea of being stuck in an uncomfortable building with dozens of strident college students just seemed like a nightmare, but by the end of the book I remembered those scenes with the same kind of nostalgia Mundy and Sasha would have done.

  • Charles
    2018-11-29 04:27

    An excellent & absorbing read that reviews a lot of current politics from the 60's to the present, on the background undergound world of espionage & counterespionage. The 2 central characters ( absolute friends)are Mundy who is recruited to the British secret Service, and Sasha who ends up as a double agent for the British, under the guise of working for Stasi, the East german intelligence agency, when he becomes disallusioned by the Communists whose ideals he espoused. Their collaboration aids the collapse of the Communist regime in East Germany, and the fall of the Berlin wall. Later in the novel, they cooperate against American industrial-military imperialism, but are overwhelmed & both are killed in an American "antiterrorist"operation, which is propagandized as such in the media. The truth, published by a former head of British intelligence, is discredited by the US & British governments- very well written, and an excellent read.

  • Jered
    2018-12-12 07:11

    After one false start I picked this novel up again and was almost immediately hooked. This is high-level entertainment beefed up with some nutritious and timely philosophical questions about national and international loyalties, responsibility to God, King, and Country, and the sometimes-fine-line between duty and righteousness. Do the means justify the ends? Does anyone even know what the "ends" are anymore? Not as crisp, terse, and razor-sharp as The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, but a truly fun and thought provoking novel. In the wake of the Cold War, MR. ARNOLD as spymaster makes a great counterpoint to old George Smiley. And Jay Rourke, that bastard, I thought I could like his lazy Boston gait and Dublin suits!