John Le Carré

John Le Carré Cover Image

K.A. Bachus

November 14, 2023

In a blog series about great spies and spy masters, I must include John Le Carré, the best ever espionage writer. He hooked me for life with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I recently re-read that book after thirty years and discovered the foundation of my own work. To say I was heavily influenced by Le Carré is understatement.

My Frank Cardova shares a number of physical characteristics with George Smiley, though both characters are quite distinct in my mind.

John Le Carré always insisted, because he had to, that he was only a minor diplomat in the British Foreign Service. Once the expiration of his responsibility under the Official Secrets Act allowed it, he owned up to his experience in both MI5 and MI6 and to his real name, David Cornwell. As a post-war German linguist, he was, no doubt, in the thick of Cold War clandestine operations.

But it’s his writing that most inspires me. His characters, plots, and prose immerse the reader in a bewildering world where the most important questions of life and death dwell within story so real and raw, it demands personal, moral reflection. When does the end justify the means? And for those invested in the overall theme of my Charlemagne Files, What does it mean to be a warrior against the slaughter of innocents?

This has been a long introduction to a book recommendation. Le Carré’s 1995 novel, Our Game, is a must read in 2023. For anyone who wonders about the human propensity to kill and resist being killed. For an appreciation of the struggles against slavery and oppression and for preservation of the best of human culture. For a visceral understanding of genocide and vengeance. Read this book.