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Showing posts from December 20, 2020

Rip John LeCarré

This summer I re-read a lot of John LeCarré novels from his prime years – the 1960s and 1970s – and read a few from his decline – the 2000s. The George Smiley epic, even if you already know how it turns out, does everything right, suspense and clue wise. The ones in the 2000s, though, show the machine is rusty – the suspense is eminently leavable – it is the kind of novel you dogear on page 154 and never return to. The fate of all too many summer novels. LeCarré is a spy novelist, which means he is a political novelist. The period he achieved his peak in was also a peak and terrible time for Western Intelligence agencies. From Guatemala to Indonesia, from Malaysia to Kenya, Western Intelligence agencies tortured, bribed, trained fascists and generally oversaw misery on an unprecedented scale – Indonesia alone witnessed half a million dead. On the other side, nothing that the Intelligence agencies did , with all their vast holdings of dark money and networks, dented in any way the Sovie