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I think he was just being cagey. The character in "Spy Story" has a former boss, Dawlish, who was "Palmer"'s boss (Dawlish isn't in AEPTD) and when they run into each other after some years it's clear that "Patrick Armstrong" is simply a cover name like "Edmond Dorf" or "Liam Dempsey" had been in FIB and BDB when Dawlish says

"Armstrong. It's a good name. Did you consider "Louis" to go with it?"

I'm paraphrasing from memory here. Our old friend Colonel Stok turns up as well, and it's clear that he and "Armstrong" know each other. I therefore think there's strong textual evidence for "Armstrong" being simply a name chosen by "Palmer" when he leaves W.O.O.C. (P.).

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OK I better look for that one too. If Dawlish and Stok are in it, then its gotta count as part of the series.
Stok is a bit like our General Gogol, except way more funny and dangerous.

Last edited by caractacus potts (21st Jan 2020 01:08)

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ajb007/biggrin   That's a good way of describing him!

Actor Derren Nesbitt as Colonel Stok in the film of "Spy Story"-
https://i.postimg.cc/Mvf67FPH/images.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/TK8RCJF9/spy-story-br-1976-derren-nesbitt-date-1976-K3-P2-HK.jpg


I much preferred Oscar Homolka!

https://i.postimg.cc/cK4PmKxh/8167-6928-1.gif

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I'm also reading a bit of Deighton at the moment - I'm just past half way through Spy Hook. I'm really enjoying my return to the Bernard Samson series, revisiting many of the familiar characters from the first trilogy (Game, Set and Match). The juxtaposition of the domestic and the professional elements of Bernard's life are one of the things that I find really interesting in these novels and I love Samson's acerbic comments and observations.

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Barbel wrote:

I think he was just being cagey. The character in "Spy Story" has a former boss, Dawlish, who was "Palmer"'s boss (Dawlish isn't in AEPTD) and when they run into each other after some years it's clear that "Patrick Armstrong" is simply a cover name like "Edmond Dorf" or "Liam Dempsey" had been in FIB and BDB when Dawlish says

"Armstrong. It's a good name. Did you consider "Louis" to go with it?"

I'm paraphrasing from memory here. Our old friend Colonel Stok turns up as well, and it's clear that he and "Armstrong" know each other. I therefore think there's strong textual evidence for "Armstrong" being simply a name chosen by "Palmer" when he leaves W.O.O.C. (P.).

This blog article from the Deighton Dossier might be of interest in this conversation regarding the protagonist of Spy Story. I haven't read the novel myself, but I nonetheless find the whole discussion quite intriguing. While there seems to be evidence to suggest that Armstrong might be "Harry", Len Deighton's quote in an introduction written for a re-printing of the novel is that ""Patrick Armstrong is not the man from The Ipcress File, although he's obviously a close relative."

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The Samson series I read along with the Bride and a sister-in-law (not all at once- we passed the books around) and thoroughly enjoyed. However, I don't fancy reading them all again which is unlike the unnamed agent series- I've read them many times and hope to do so again eventually.
Methinks Deighton doth protest too much as to the exact identity of his anonymous protagonist(s). There are times when it is clearly a different man (eg "Yesterday's Spy") and times when if it isn't then why (as above)? Unless of course there is a rights issue as caractacus suggests above.
I'd compare it to Fleming writing a book about a British agent who drinks vodka martinis (shaken not stirred), uses a Walther PPK, answers to a boss called "M", and then denying that it's about James Bond.

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Golrush007 wrote:

This blog article from the Deighton Dossier might be of interest in this conversation regarding the protagonist of Spy Story. I haven't read the novel myself, but I nonetheless find the whole discussion quite intriguing. While there seems to be evidence to suggest that Armstrong might be "Harry", Len Deighton's quote in an introduction written for a re-printing of the novel is that ""Patrick Armstrong is not the man from The Ipcress File, although he's obviously a close relative."

That website is a really good resource, and its basically official, with lots of input from Deighton himself. It complements the style of his books, that not only do we have to read appendices and decipher chapter headings to balance out the unreliability of the narrator, but we should also be consulting this website. And some of the Deighton quotes in one part of the website contradict other quotes. like its not just the unnamed protagonist who's the unreliable narrator.
Plus of course lots of great graphics and background detail on the publishing history of the books.

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And Then We Went Fishing by Dirk Benedict.

"You're in the wrong business... leave it to the professionals!"
James Bond- Licence To Kill

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caractacus potts wrote:

That website is a really good resource, and its basically official, with lots of input from Deighton himself. It complements the style of his books, that not only do we have to read appendices and decipher chapter headings to balance out the unreliability of the narrator, but we should also be consulting this website. And some of the Deighton quotes in one part of the website contradict other quotes. like its not just the unnamed protagonist who's the unreliable narrator.
Plus of course lots of great graphics and background detail on the publishing history of the books.

If you haven't listened to the Spybrary podcast I highly recommend you give it a listen. The first episode was an interview with Rob Mallows who runs the Deighton Dossier. He spoke quite a bit about how he came to have Len's endorsement and meet him on a number of occasions. He's also appeared on a number of subsequent Spybrary episodes, although these discussions have been quite Samson-centric and not so much about the unnamed spy.

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Has anyone read Ben Macintyre's new book "The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War"?
I wasn't aware of it until ten minutes ago, but he writes very well on topics I like. This one is about a KGB defector who revealed several of their agents in the West, including one with a great name who's story reminds me of Vesper Lynd.
Is the book as good as it should be?

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"Upheaval. Turning points for nations in crisis" by Jared Diamond.
The author  is an American geographer, historian, anthropologist, and writer best known for his popular science books. Perhaps "Guns , germs and steel" is still his best known work.
This book is about nations who faced crisis and how they handled them (Japan, Finland, Indonesia, Chile, Australia, Germany)
Challenges like Finlands relationships with the USSR after WWII, Australia's change from trying to be an all-white European nation on the other side of the globe and Japan's transformations after brutal meetings with the outside world are discussed.
The last chapters focus on the strenghts and problems USA are having right now and the problems the entire world is facing.
In Diamonds opinion the biggest problem in USA today is the lack of will to compromise in politics. He mentions President Reagan and the oposition leader Tipp o'Neil back in the 1980's. Obviously they had different political views, but both understood the other had the right to have their opinions and compromise often is the best way to get things done in a democracy. This wisdom is almost gone now. In Obama's first term the Republicans used the filibuster more times than the total number of filibusters in the previous 220 years. They blocked as many of his nominations to offices as they could. Not only obviously politically important officies like Supreme Court judges, but even leaders of scientific offices. The will to cooperate and compromise hasn't improved during the Trump administration. Compromise is a key factor in a Democracy, so this is bad news.
The low voter turnout in elections (why is there still voter registration in the US? Surely being a citizen of the right age should be enough?), the escalating  cost of election campaigns and the importance of money in politics, increasing economical differences in the population and the low economic mobility (People in the US has the lowest chance of going from rags to riches than people in any other major democracy) and finally the low government investments in education, infrastructure and scientific research. The author is worried the US democracy may be under treath.
This is a well-written and thought-provoking book on very important issues. Diamond has the ability to write about important and complex issues in an entertaining and understandable way. Highly recomended.

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Moonraker, by... er... I'm sure the name will come to me.

For no reason whatsoever, I decided to take a break from working my way through George R.R. Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" series (it's bleedin' huge. Longer than "Lord Of The Rings") so I picked up an old favourite.
...and was glad that I did. It's one of Fleming's best, as I'm hardly the first to say, with a top-notch villain, insights into Bond's daily life, a classic gambling scene, M's most extensive part (in the books- SF perhaps beats it), etc.
It's been too long since I've read the Bond novels- time to do them all again... Fleming, anyway.

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Number24 wrote:

"Upheaval. Turning points for nations in crisis" by Jared Diamond.

I'll have to look for this one. I liked Guns Germs & Steel, and Collapse.
In fact, I been thinking about Guns Germs & Steel these past couple weeks, what with coronavirus and all, and the recent ebola scare. That epidemiology's interesting stuff, these little microbes using us oh-so-smart humans as their raw materials to cross oceans and conquer the world.

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Barbel wrote:

Moonraker, by... er... I'm sure the name will come to me.

I'm sure if I think for a few minutes I will be able to remember the author's name.  ajb007/biggrin

I've also been slowly returning to the Fleming books over the last 18 months or so, revisiting them one a time. This time though, I've been doing so via audiobooks and Moonraker was one of the ones that I listened to not longer ago. A real classic novel, and still thrilling after several read-throughs over the years. The increased presence of M in the first section of the novel is a great strength of the book. Also, I think Drax is one of my favourite Fleming villains.

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caractacus potts wrote:
Number24 wrote:

"Upheaval. Turning points for nations in crisis" by Jared Diamond.

I'll have to look for this one. I liked Guns Germs & Steel, and Collapse.
In fact, I been thinking about Guns Germs & Steel these past couple weeks, what with coronavirus and all, and the recent ebola scare. That epidemiology's interesting stuff, these little microbes using us oh-so-smart humans as their raw materials to cross oceans and conquer the world.

Jared Diamond is great! But a friend of mine who knows Norse Greenland well and has written a critically aclaimed novel about it says there was a mistake in "Collapse". The Greenland Norse did eat fish (they have found fish bones in settelment ruins), contradicting what Diamond wrote.

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Our Game, by John Le Carré

Published in 1995, Le Carré's first novel after The Night Manager tells the tale of Tim Cranmer, a retired British spy who gets pulled back into the game, in this case because his former star operative Larry Pettifer has disappeared with a large sum of the Russian government's money.  Under suspicion from his ex-bosses at MI6 (for being in on the money theft) and from the Bath police (for being involved in Pettifer's disappearance), Cramner follows a trail through an arms dealer in Macclesfield to Paris and ultimately to North Caucasus, where local ethnic groups are fighting off Russian brutalities.  Suffice it to say, it is not a happy story.

I missed this one when it came out, so it was an interesting read 20+ years later.  The plot structure is quite familiar (ex-spy gets sucked back into unofficial service through no choice of his own) but the backdrop of chaos in post-Cold War Russia was fascinating.  I remember reading about places like Chechnya back then, but as an American who was only half paying attention (starting a family, working insane hours, etc.) I lumped a lot of it together with the mess in the Balkans that was going on at the same time.  Obviously, they are completely different places, even though the festering tensions have many of the same underlying roots, most notably religion.

All to say, while this is not Le Carré's best (and not as good as The Night Manager, which I read upon publication in 1993), I enjoyed the history refresher.  Alas, these conflicts probably are not as much "history" as we might wish.

Hilly...you old devil!

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John le Carre: Agent running in the field (2019)

The story is about and agent in MI6 named Ed near the end of his career. I'm not going to say much more about the plot other than Britain's relationship to the US during Trump's presidency are themes. I found the novel entertaining, but not very tense. I also found it less bleak than what I've read from le Carre earlier.

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Number24 wrote:

John le Carre: Agent running in the field (2019)

The story is about and agent in MI6 named Ed near the end of his career. I'm not going to say much more about the plot other than Britain's relationship to the US during Trump's presidency are themes. I found the novel entertaining, but not very tense. I also found it less bleak than what I've read from le Carre earlier.

I found Agent Running in the Field a pretty enjoyable novel. One aspect that interested me from a Bond perspective was Nat's sojourn in Karlovy Vary which was the shooting location for Montenegro in Casino Royale. The hotel that doubled as the Hotel Splendide (Granhotel Pupp) even gets a mention in Le Carre's novel. I wonder if Nat had dinner at Bond and Vesper's table?

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I forgot to mention that part. Le Carre mentions the town is partly owned by and  often frequented by rich Russian gangsters.
I also think I can guess le Carre's position on Brexit and Trump, and I bet you can too.  ajb007/biggrin

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More Le Carré...this time Single & Single from 1999.

This novel never gets much discussion among his other works, but it was excellent.  Those of you who know the author's story well will remember that his father Ronnie Cornwell was an inveterate con man, moving from one scam to another, with prison terms often in between.  Le Carré's 1986 classic A Perfect Spy is semi-autobiographical in this regard, as the main character's father is modeled on Le Carré's own.  In Single & Single, he poses an interesting question: what if, contrary to what actually happened, his father had gotten away with his schemes and landed himself in the upper crust of society that he so craved?  The scammer here is Tiger Single, proprietor of the House of Single, banker and fixer and launderer to an assortment of shady characters.  His son, recently graduated from law school, has recently been named a co-partner, but when he discovers the crooked business his father is involved in, he sours on things -- considerably -- and ends up working for Her Majesty's government to root out the corruption.

I won't say too much more, except that it was nice to read a Le Carré novel that had all the familiar structural elements but for once did not include British Intelligence among the players.  I found the main character (the son) to be very appealing, something not always the case in Le Carré's work.  As always, the quality of his writing is just amazing.

Next up...The Constant Gardener.

Hilly...you old devil!

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this is getting to be the le Carre and/or Deighton thread! which is OK by me.

Number24 wrote:

John le Carre: Agent running in the field (2019)

Does this book have characters or plot-lines returning from earlier books, as the early ones did, or is it wholly self-contained?

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Sir Hillary Bray wrote:

Those of you who know [Le Carré's] story well will remember that his father Ronnie Cornwell was an inveterate con man, moving from one scam to another, with prison terms often in between..

now this is interesting.
Yes I too am in the middle of a le Carré, which I'll tell yall about shortly. Still got about 300gs to go, and I wanna let le Carré tell the story at his own leisurely pace.

Anyway, the protagonist claims when she was a child her father was imprisoned for swindling investors, and that shame is what turned her to radical leftist politics (until that too turns out to be a  lie. The fact she she believes her own lies is one reason she is of value to the spymaster).

if you recognise which story I'm reading from that clue, shh, don't tell. but I would not have guessed this detail is actually autobiographical, so thanks Hillary. adds yet another layer to the multiple layers of deceit in this particular tale.

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caractacus potts wrote:

this is getting to be the le Carre and/or Deighton thread! which is OK by me.

Number24 wrote:

John le Carre: Agent running in the field (2019)

Does this book have characters or plot-lines returning from earlier books, as the early ones did, or is it wholly self-contained?

I've only read a few le Carre novels so I can't speak about the characters, but the plot seems self-contained.

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thanks 24.
I've been tempted to read the new one, but didnt want to break the sequence if there still is one after Smiley's people.

At my present rate of reading (4 pages over morning coffee before starting work) I should have my next book report ready in, oh, about two and a half months.

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That's not much progress. You work in EON by any chance?   ajb007/lol