A Cold War thriller from the master of spy fiction, John le Carré's The Looking Glass War is a gripping novel of double-crosses, audacious bluffs and the ever-present threat of nuclear war, published in Penguin Modern Classics.
When the Department - faded since the war and busy only with bureaucratic battles - hears rumour of a missile base near the West German border, it seems like the perfect opportunity to regain some political standing in the Intelligence market place. The Cold War is at its height and the Department is dying for a piece of the action.
Swiftly becoming carried away by fear and pride, the Department and her officers send deactivated agent Fred Leiser back into East Germany, armed only with some schoolboy training and his memories of the war. In the land of eloquent silence that is Communist East Germany, Leiser's fate becomes inseparable from the Department's.
If you enjoyed The Looking Glass War, you might like le Carré's The Secret Pilgrim, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'A devastating and tragic record of human, not glamour, spies'
New York Herald Tribune
'A book of rare and great power'
%%%During the Second World War, the Departmnet made a name for itself, running agents and missions behind enemy lines. Twenty years on, it is obselete, run down and in fear of its very existence when the suspicious death of an agent in Finalnd and the loss of some vital film bring a stay of execution.
Convinced that they have stumbled on an undiscovered Soviet military installation, the Department's men decide to mount an operation in East Germany. Terrified that they will be ordered to hand the case to the more modern, larger service that threatens to engulf them, they strive desperately to keep their decision secret.
Re-recruiting Fred Leiser, a German-speaking Pole and former wartime agent now in his forties, they train and equip him, and infiltrate him by night across the Iron Curtain into East Germany. But are the leftover men of the Department marching to the music of the old war rather than the new.