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The pigeon tunnel : stories from my life / John Le Carré.

By: Le Carré, John, 1931- [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: [London] : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2016Description: vii, 310 p. ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780241976876; 0241976871.Subject(s): Le Carré, John, 1931- | Novelists, English -- 20th century -- BiographyGenre/Form: Autobiographies.DDC classification: 823/.914 Summary: "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 Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré 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 Carré 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 Carré 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"--Publisher's description.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

"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 CarrU has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le CarrU 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 CarrU 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 CarrU 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."

"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 Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré 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 Carré 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 Carré 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"--Publisher's description.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

The octogenarian spy novelist who was once a spy himself was catapulted to celebrity with his third novel, 1963's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Half a century of best sellers and film/TV adaptations cemented his iconic status and opened the world's doors, and all the while le Carré made detailed mental notes. With a storyteller's craftsmanship, he recounts escapades with a list of notables-and his own frayed family-in British intelligence, as a writer, deep-background researcher, teacher, linguist, illustrator, and adventurer. Why would a listener choose le Carré's memoir when Adam Sisman's thorough and recent John le Carré: The Biography is available? Because this life story is read by the person who lived it, rendering it intimate and personal. In fact, if only one format of The Pigeon Tunnel could be purchased, it should be the audiobook. Not only is it delivered with the zest of a raconteur, but le Carré animates voices and inflections with an actor's finesse, whether the speaker is Yasser Arafat or Margaret Thatcher. One need not be a le Carré devotee to be captivated by this vivid memoir. VERDICT Will appeal broadly to le Carré fans, history buffs, movie aficionados, and readers of biography and intelligent fiction of various genres. ["Highly recommended for readers interested in the history and evolution of the spy trade and political intrigue from a participant's perspective": LJ 9/15/16 starred review of the Viking hc.]-Judith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

In this assortment of memories from a master storyteller, le Carré reminisces about his posting as a young British intelligence officer in post-WWII Germany, his time in Gorbachev's Russia, and research trips for his novels. People, places, times, dates, and events are jumbled together in no particular order, but manage, overall, to fit together and form an engaging and often insightful narrative. Le Carré proves a natural raconteur of his own work. His reading is smooth, conversational, and totally absorbing. He speaks easily of meeting with presidents, prime ministers, rebel fighters, and a variety of other people from around the world, giving most expertly rendered vocal characterizations that are as enjoyable for the listener as they are unexpected. Whether le Carré is describing being under fire from the Khmer Rouge, remembering his stint as a spy with MI5, or recounting the time he smoked dope in an opium den, his storytelling makes for fascinating listening. A Viking hardcover. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When John le Carré was writing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), he made a mistake that would change his life. Working from an outdated guidebook, he described a pursuit by ferry across the straits between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, not knowing that a tunnel had been built under the sea connecting the two points. Appalled, he swore that he would never again set a scene in a place I hadn't visited. As a result of that vow, le Carré's readers now have the opportunity to enjoy what is both a meditative look at the writing life and an exciting, anecdote-rich travel memoir. We follow, for example, in the writer's footsteps as he recalls staying at Beirut's legendary Commodore Hotel in 1981, researching The Little Drummer Girl (1983), and realizing that for the timid, Beirut did fear round the clock. It was also in Lebanon that le Carré met with Yasser Arafat and encountered a Palestinian boy who held a Kalashnikov to the author's head and asked for help in getting to Havana to study international relations. As le Carré recounts his travels from one global hot spot to another, the reader makes the connections between books and life, whether it's A Tailor of Panama or The Constant Gardener or The Honourable Schoolboy or numerous others. There is a long, moving chapter about le Carré's father, but overall, the author avoids his strictly personal life. This is a book about writing and traveling and the ways in which the two feed off one another, especially for someone who, like le Carré, loves writing on the hoof. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: le Carré's devoted audience, built and sustained over decades, will be lining up as one for this glimpse at how those beloved books came to be.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2016 Booklist