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The friends of the title are Ted Mundy, a British soldier's son born in 1947 in a newly independent Pakistan, and Sasha, the refugee son of an East German Lutheran pastor and his wife who have sought sanctuary in the West.
The two men meet first as students in riot-torn West Berlin of the late Sixties and again in the grimy looking-glass of Cold War espionage. When they meet once more, in today's unipolar world of terror, counter-terror and the war of lies, they become involved in clandestine activities - with lethal results.
Absolute Friends is a superbly paced novel spanning fifty-six years, a theatrical masterstroke of tragi-comic writing, and a savage fable of our times.
Tessa Quayle has been horribly murdered on the shores of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has disappeared.
Her husband, Justin, a career diplomat and amateur gardener at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. His quest takes him to the Foreign Office in London, across Europe and Canada and back to Africa, to the depths of South Sudan, and finally to the very spot where Tessa died.
On his way Justin meets terror, violence, laughter, conspiracy and knowledge. But his greatest discovery is the woman he barely had time to love.
Aldo Cassidy is the naive and sentimental lover. A successful, judicious man, he is wrenched away from the ordered certainties of his life by a sudden encounter with Shamus, a wild, carousing artist and Helen, his nakedly alluring wife.
Cassidy, plunged into a whirlpool of recklessness and spontaneity, becomes a man bewildered and agonised as he is torn between two poles of a nature more complex than he had ever imagined.
It is a beleaguered and betrayed Secret Service that has been put in the care of George Smiley. A mole has been uncovered at the organisation's highest levels - and its agents across the world put in grave danger. But untangling the traitor's web gives Smiley a chance to attack his Russian counterpart, Karla. And part-time spy Jerry Westerby is the weapon at Smiley's disposal.
The Honourable Schoolboy is remarkable and thrilling, one of three books (together with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People) to feature the legendary clash between Smiley and Karla, two brilliant spymasters on opposite sides of the Cold War.
George Smiley, who is a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy.
The scene which he enters is a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. Smiley's mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed thirty years deep into the Circus itself.
At a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and Congolese warlords, an interpreter finds his conscience re-awakening.
Bruno Salvador has worked on clandestine missions before. A highly skilled interpreter, he is no stranger to the Official Secrets Act. But this is the first time he has been asked to change his identity - and, worse still, his clothes - in service of his country.
Whisked to a remote island to interpret a top-secret conference between no-name financiers and Congolese warlords, Salvo's excitement is only heightened by memories of the night before he left London, and his life-changing encounter with a beautiful nurse named Hannah.
Exit suddenly, the unassuming, happily married man Salvo believed himself to be. Enter in his place, the pseudonymous Brian Sinclar: spy, lover - and perhaps, even, hero.
Magnus Pym, ranking diplomat, has vanished, believed defected. The chase is on: for a missing husband, a devoted father, and a secret agent. Pym's life, it is revealed, is entirely made up of secrets.
Dominated by a father who is also a confidence trickster on an epic scale, Pym has from the age of seventeen been controlled by two mentors. It is these men, racing each other, who are orchestrating the search to find the perfect spy.
Described by the author as his most autobiographical work, John le Carré's eleventh novel masterfully blends wit, compassion and unflagging tension with the poignant story of an estranged father and son.
The murdered man had been an agent - once, long ago. But George Smiley's superiors at the Secret Service want to see the crime buried, not solved. Smiley will not leave it at that, not when it might lead him all the way to Karla, the elusive Soviet spymaster . . .
Smiley's People is a thrilling confrontation between one of the most famous spies in all fiction and his Cold War rival, Karla. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy, it is as tense and unforgettable as only le Carré's novels can be.
A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa.
Poignant, compassionate, peopled with characters the reader never wants to let go, A Most Wanted Man is alive with humour, yet prickles with tension until the last heart-stopping page. It is also a work of deep humanity, and uncommon relevance to our times.
Charlie, a brilliant and beautiful young actress, is lured into 'the theatre of the real' by an Israeli intelligence officer. Forced to play her ultimate role, she is plunged into a deceptive and delicate trap set to ensnare an elusive Palestinian terrorist.
The Little Drummer Girl is a thrilling, deeply moving and courageous novel of our times.
Published: 6 Sep 2018
The most difficult and often savage relationship in 20th century western Europe was between the French and the Germans. Twice, cataclysmic wars were fought out on their borders, successfully by the French in 1914-18 and unsuccessfully in 1940. Both wars led to military occupation--for the large block of northern France behind the German trenches in the First World War and ultimately the whole country in the Second.
Richard Cobb's extraordinary book is a meditation on the whole idea of occupation. How do you survive? When do you collaborate? What moral compromises are necessary? Above all, it is a book about the way that history gives a shape and rationality to events which for those living through them are completely mysterious, and terrifying. For those trapped under German rule--frightened, confused, malnourished--what is the right course of action? French and Germans, Germans and French recreates, with a brilliant mix of wit and sympathy, the story of one of the modern era's great dramas.
Over the course of his career, Tomas Tranströmer - a poet who could look on the barren isolation of Sweden's landscapes and seascapes like no other, and find in them something hauntingly transcendent - emerged as one of the 20th century's essential global voices. By the time he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011, his luminous, almost mystical work had been translated into more than 50 languages.
Gathering his poems from the early, nature-focused work to the later poetry's widening of the scope to take in painting, travel, urban life, and the impositions of technology on the natural world, and stirred throughout by the poet's profound love of music, The Half-Finished Heaven is a unique selection from Tranströmer's work. It is also, in its way, a deeply intimate one: the poems hand-picked here are not only the most beloved, but also those which were translated in the course of Tranströmer's nearly thirty-year correspondence with his close friend and collaborator, the American poet Robert Bly. Few names are more strongly associated with Tranströmer's; and few people have understood not only his poetry, but the processes behind it, more profoundly. The result is perhaps the best English-language introduction to this great and strange poet's work that there could be.
Published: 30 Aug 2018
If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.
A little black girl opens her eyes in 1930s Harlem. Around her, a heady swirl of passers-by, car horns, kerosene lamps, the stock market falling, fried bananas, tales of her parents' native Grenada. She trudges to public school along snowy sidewalks, and finds she is tongue-tied, legally blind, left behind by her older sisters. On she stumbles through teenage hardships -- suicide, abortion, hunger, a Christmas spent alone -- until she emerges into happiness: an oasis of friendship in Washington Heights, an affair in a dirty factory in Connecticut, and, finally, a journey down to the heat of Mexico, discovering sex, tenderness, and suppers of hot tamales and cold milk. This is Audre Lorde's story. It is a rapturous, life-affirming tale of independence, love, work, strength, sexuality and change, rich with poetry and fierce emotional power.
Published: 5 Jul 2018
Published: 5 Jul 2018
'Football is a pleasure that hurts'
This unashamedly emotional history of football is a homage to the romance and drama, spectacle and passion of a 'great pagan mass'. Through stories of superstition, heartbreak, tragedy, luck, heroes and villains, those who lived for football and those who died for it, Eduardo Galeano celebrates the glory of a game that - however much the rich and powerful try to control it - still retains its magic.
'The Uruguayan whose writing got right to the heart of football ... readers were never in doubt of the warmth of the blood running through his veins' Guardian
'Galeano can run rings round our glamorous football intelligentsia' When Saturday Comes
'Stands out like Pele on a field of second-stringers' New Yorker
Take a ringside seat next to A. J. Liebling at some of the greatest fights in history. Here is Joe Louis's devastating final match; Sugar Ray Robinson's dramatic comeback; and Rocky Marciano's rise to heavyweight glory. The heated ringside atmosphere, the artistry of the great boxers and the blows and parries of the classic fights are all vividly evoked in a volume described by Sports Illustrated as 'the best American sports book of all time'.
'A rollicking god among boxing writers ... before Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson were out of diapers, Liebling was taking his readers on excursions through the hidden and often hilarious levels of this bruised subculture ... the Master' Los Angeles Times
'Nobody wrote about boxing with more grace and enthusiasm' The New York Times
George Orwell's moving reflections on the English character and his passionate belief in the need for political change.
The Lion and the Unicorn was written in London during the worst period of the blitz. It is vintage Orwell, a dynamic outline of his belief in socialism, patriotism and an English revolution. His fullest political statement, it has been described as 'one of the most moving and incisive portraits of the English character' and is as relevant now as it ever has been.
The moving portrayal of life in the trenches in WW1, now a new film from the director of Suite Française, starring Sam Clafin, Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham and Asa Butterfield
Set in the First World War, Journey's End is the story of a group of British officers on the front line, in a dugout in the trenches in France. Raleigh, a new eighteen-year-old officer fresh out of English public school, joins the besieged company of his friend and cricketing hero Stanhope, and finds him dramatically changed. Laurence Olivier starred as Stanhope in the first performance of Journey's End in 1928; the play was an instant stage success and remains a remarkable anti-war classic.
'Its unrelenting tension, and its regard for human decency in a vast world of human waste, are impressive and, even now, moving' Clive Barnes