NPR goes to bat for John le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:
You see, le Carre wasn’t merely a better writer than Fleming, but a reaction against him. Where 007 fought amusingly acronymed groups like SPECTRE, le Carre conjured a Cold War hall of mirrors in which spy craft wasn’t about knife fights and hot sex, but about gambits and machinations in which it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad.
His masterpiece was 1974’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — not merely the greatest spy novel ever written, but the source of a 1979 BBC adaptation that’s the greatest spy show ever made. In anticipation of a new film version that’s coming out in a few weeks — the story, you see, is irresistible — the series has just been re-released on DVD, along with its sequel, Smiley’s People. Watching again, I found it every bit as gripping as the first three times I watched it.
Definitely going to try and read the book before the movie adaptation comes out. Can’t tell you how excited I am for the movie.