A Legacy of Spies Summary & Study Guide

le Carré, John
This Study Guide consists of approximately 58 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Legacy of Spies.
This section contains 487 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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A Legacy of Spies Summary & Study Guide Description

A Legacy of Spies Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Legacy of Spies by le Carré, John.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Le Carré, John. A Legacy of Spies. Viking, 2017.

In A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré, retired agent Peter Guillam tries to protect the Circus, the secret service agent for which he worked, against itself. He is called for interrogation about Windfall, an operation that revolved around a source so secret only a select few members of the service knew about him. Without understanding what sort of source the service was trying to protect, Windfall seemed to be a flawed operation that left many spies dead in its wake. As one of those sworn to secrecy about Windfall, Peter tries to handle the questions young people who know nothing about the Cold War era throw at him. Realizing the only way to explain his behavior is to tell the truth, Peter escapes to locate Smiley, his former boss, who orders all secrets about the operation be released.

Peter is enjoying his retirement on his family farm when he receives a letter calling him back to service headquarters for questioning. Once he arrives, Peter learns the interrogation will focus on Windfall, an operation about which Peter still has nightmares. He begins by pretending to remember nothing about Windfall. When Laura tells Peter she has found financial documents about Windfall stating there was not only a safe house assigned to that operation but also a housekeeper and dedicated security guard that Peter begins to share some of what he knows about the operation including the location of the safe house. Peter also shares with Bunny and Laura how he, Smiley and the others hid files containing information about the operation in the books in the library of that safe house.

Because one key fact about Windfall, the fact that a high ranking German official had been coerced into working as a spy for the British, was known to only a few select members of the service, it appears the operation was foolish. Without being able to tell Bunny and Laura the truth about the murder of Tulip, a German informant killed on service grounds, Peter is not able to explain why Alec was placed in a position to be a double agent for the English, a position that resulted in his death. Peter’s lawyer stumbles on the truth, that Hans-Dieter Mundt was sent to kill Tulip and make it appear a suicide, that she tells Peter if he is able to produce proof that this high ranking German official was Windfall, a lawsuit being brought against the service will be dropped. Peter locates Smiley, his former boss and the only one with the power to release the documents that prove what Windfall was really about. Themes in the novel include interrogation techniques, the treatment of Tulip as an asset instead of a person and the reasoning behind Peter’s lies.

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This section contains 487 words
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