Actually this is the report on a twofer/Marathon:
First, “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold,” and then “A Legacy of Spies,” both by John LeCarre.
“Cold” is 40-plus years old, JLC’s first big hit; “Legacy” is a brand-new sequel/followup/reconsideration.
Both are gloomy to the point of hopelessness. I might have read “Cold” many years ago, and surely saw the movie, but remembered little of it. It tells of a Cold War operation in which the good guy characters are sold out to Communist killers by their (allegedly) good guy superiors for the (purportedly) Greater Good of (what used to be called) the “Free World”.
In “Legacy,” just out this week, that now ancient case rises like a slime-covered swamp creature from the mud and mists in which it was thought to be sunk forever. It rampages among survivors, culpable & not alike, loosing nightmares, desperation, regrets, parliamentary snooping and –god help us–lawyers.
I sought out the books after reading a recent joint interview with JLC & another, younger author who writes respected nonfiction about the intelligence world.
The nonfictioneer insisted that JLC has written the real “truth” about that world via his fiction.
His elder accepted the praise patiently. LeCarre is now mid-80s, likely beyond the reach of flattery. Besides, this truth as he has disclosed it comes down to endless lies, betrayal & blood in the service of “causes” all but consumed by the cost of their illusions. A job well-done, surely, yet hardly the fodder of smug self-satisfaction.
JLC seemed, in both the interview & in “Legacy,” perhaps more mindful of the whisperings of Ecclesiastes 12:12: “Of the making of books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh (& the spirit).”
No question, LeCarre’s themes resonate for me. Though I don’t believe it was his “Circus,” or even the CIA, despite all the damage they’ve done, that brought us to our present desperate plight; no, this current mess is at bottom our own malign creation. And so far, even the spooks seem to have no clue about how to “exfiltrate” us. (Which is probably for the better.)
I finished “Legacy” Friday, while Hurricane Irma continued to stalk us, but seemed (this morning) to be turning sharply away from North Carolina toward Tennessee. So I felt relief.
Survivors guilt may kick in after a few days. Or, as LeCarre also shows, maybe not.