R.I.P., John le Carré (and George Smiley)

Two of the many John Le Carré books I’ve read over the years.

We keep losing George Smileys while the Karlas of the world dig in like ticks.

John le Carré, a.k.a. David Cornwell, wrote a couple dozen books before he finally set down his pen forever, and I read most of them. I especially loved the Smiley stories; in another life his rumpled little man with an eye for detail, plodding doggedly along in the shadows, could’ve been a newspaper copy editor, so no doubt I felt some kinship there.

And le Carré was none too keen on Adolf Twitler, who reminded him of the other fella, the original fascist gangster. Probably compromised by the Russians, too, he thought.

Speaking with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” back in 2018 he said he thought it possible that Il Douche “was taken into what I call a honey trap — that he had ladies found for him, and he misbehaved in Russia.” But the real trap, he thought, may have been laid by the orange nitwit himself.

“I think the kompromat, if it’s taken place, has taken place very largely through Trump’s own endeavors to raise money in all sorts of dark places,” le Carré said. “And together, all those efforts amount to a self-compromising activity, which the Russians have embraced. I think they have him by the short hairs.”

Le Carré raised his money the old-fashioned way, by working for it. His final book, “Agent Running in the Field,” was published in October 2019, when he was 88.

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6 Responses to “R.I.P., John le Carré (and George Smiley)”

  1. JD Says:

    Surely the loss of an icon in that genre of writing. RIP!!
    For those who enjoy the world of (historical) fiction espionage/geopolitical intrigue, may I suggest also Daniel Silva. Quite educational from an arts/Mid-East/historical geopolitical perspective and always relevant to today’s front page headlines.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve not read Silva, JD. Can you recommend a jumping-off point? I’m always looking for new stuff.

      Lately I’ve been working my way through Ivan Doig, but I took a break to revisit “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White. That’s such a lovely read.

      • JD Says:

        PO’G: I enjoy Silva’s Gabriel Allon series (plenty of them) so would suggest starting with the first one: “The Kill Artist”.
        Or, if you want recency and relevancy, try “The New Girl”.
        Silva always does a good job of explaining the characters and their history should you not have read the whole series.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Thanks, JD. If you like the occasional offbeat detective whodunit you might have a peek at the late, great James Crumley. “The Wrong Case” is a good starting point. “The Last Good Kiss” is another fine one.

        Crumley got a little off course with his last couple books, which took on Rambo-esque overtones. But the first few about the dissolute dicks Milo Milodragovitch and C.W. Sughrue are really something else.

      • Dale Says:

        Think I was in High School when I skipped class and watched “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”. That movie confused my adolescent mind and possibly was a trigger to more critical thinking.

  2. R.I.P., John le Carré (and George Smiley) – THE FLENSBURG FILES Says:

    […] R.I.P., John le Carré (and George Smiley) […]

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