Reading: John Le Carré, A Delicate Truth, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Canada, 2013: a Review
Likely to go down very well in Canada
John Le Carré, A Delicate Truth, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Canada, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-670-06716-9
This riveting read is by a best-selling author whom the Globe and Mail has recommended for the Nobel Prize for Literature. (And why not?)
As fiction, it is hard to put down, and in that sense shows the writer's craft to impressive effect.
The plot is fairly straightforward: secret, joint US-British, covert action claimed as anti-terrorist goes horribly wrong; but not only so, an ensuing cover up rewards participants at varying stages of being 'in the know', with what amount to expensive bribes to buy their silence or else hangs out to dry those whose consciences are troubled by the shedding of innocent blood and the perverting of legal processes.
At a deeper level, this novel seems to be a commentary on the state of US-British relations. While the writer does seem to focus almost wholly on the covert warfare and extra-judicial aspects of those relations, the book will — or ought to — make for uncomfortable reading for uncritical students of relations pursued with the US by recent British governments. Here we have an intriguing plot, against the background of the semantic minefields around concepts such as 'extraordinary rendition', 'collateral damage' and the practice of secret trials, with hand-picked jurors, designed not to embarrass either the US or British governments.
Of course this is likely to go down very well in Canada. My guess is that at 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, the headquarters of Penguin Canada, there is considerable satisfaction at accolades for this novel.
It's fiction, of course, But so often the sort of fiction that a novelist's readership appreciates is a variety which informs one's preferred vision of reality. This book would no doubt be the sort of title on Lloyd Axworthy's reading list.
This is Le Carré at his best; and my two Canadian cents' would be to endorse the Globe and Mail's Nobel Prize recommendation.
October 29, 2015
Other of my reviews may also be of interest
- Reading: Ben Macintyre, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, New York: Random Hou
The mid-20th century saw the eruption of controversy around the first alleged, then confessed, spying activities of Kim Philby, affable British diplomat and MI6 operative.
- Reading: W. H. Thompson, Sixty Minutes with Winston Churchill, London: Christopher Johnson, a Review
Recollections from Churchill's bodyguard which reveal incidents, including an event which could have led to the firing of Churchill from the War Cabinet - not unlike the Maxime Barnier affair in 2008
- Reading: Sarah Bradford, George VI, London, England: Penguin Books, 1989: a Review
A conscientious King in tune with the spirit of the constitutional monarchy, who weathered the storms of World War Two and a dynastic upheaval.
- Reading Peter Edwards, Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron, Toronto, Ontar
The spy was seemingly driven by the desire for money; whether also motivated by a sense of justice is less clear. The spymaster was driven by police duty and antipathy toward Irish nationalists.
- Reading: General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First, Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd., 20
General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First, Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd., 2009 ... There is much in these memoirs of retired Canadian General Rick Hillier to which I warmed. These aspects must surely include his sense of pride in...