Book Review: Absolute Friends by John Le Carré

Absolute Friends by John Le Carré tells of the story of Cold War espionage and explores the philosophical question: does the end justify the means in a war against terror?

Is the plot going to be an adrenaline pumping page-turner or a highly editorialized and dragging spy novel?

📷 @powerpens Scanned copy of the paperback edition.

First Impression

Being a book lover, it is very rare for me to be critical of what I am reading. Almost always, I have nothing but acclaim for books I have read. I find reading as a pleasant experience akin to an outdoor adventure. It is a necessary escape from the mundane.

It is my first time to read John Le Carré's work. Having no idea of his literary style, I allow myself to make my first impression. Half-way through the book, I am still underwhelmed. I do not have any expectations. I just find it a little too bland for a spy novel.

Later on, as I progress through the final pages, I realize that it does not intend to be riveting. It aims to induce quiet contemplation. It is highly political in its rhetoric. And perhaps, ever so timely, it inspires actions.

The thought-provoking pictures the novel paint, resemble what is happening in our present society. If you look around to see what our politicians have gotten our country into, it makes you relate the timeless truths that the novel convey.

War of lies

The novel was written around a decade ago yet it resonates what is happening today. It brings us to the cold war era when lies and propaganda proliferate. It is chilling, when you think about it, that we are repeating history yet again. In the Philippines, 2016 marks the rise of lies. And it continues until today! Everyday, on your Facebook and Twitter feed, you are bombarded with a barage of fake news. The well-funded and well-orchestrated fake news propagation has successfully altered the course of the nation's history and has benefited infamous politicians. It has helped install the usurpers into positions of power. Thanks to the army of well-paid trolls and impressionable keyboard warriors.

The bigger picture

Teddy and Sasha (the protagonists) are absolute friends as they live different versions of themselves on opposite sides of the wall. They have established themselves as first rate spies during the cold war. Later they would realize that they are just pawns in the grander scheme of things. In a war against terror, they are the collateral damage, the convenient sacrifice to further the propaganda to strengthen the strong-man culture.

Le Carré may not have the Philippines in mind while writing this novel but why are the scenes so familiar?

I said at first that I don't like this novel. I changed my mind.


This is the first book I reviewed this year. Reading is a journey of learning. Next up: I will be posting new words I've learned from this book as well as my favorite quotes.

#ProjectPassItOn 📚

Books are wonderful source of useful information. Knowledge is too precious to hoard and confined to shelves to gather dust. If you are in BGC, Philippines, I can give you my copy of Absolute Friends for free. After you are done reading it, you may pass it on to others who may also find value in it.

Just visit my Instagram Bookshelf at @powerpens and comment on the book you want to read.

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