By: John le Carre
(Hardcover / 400 Pages / Little Brown & Company / ISBN: 0316000647 / $26.95)
Description: Le Carr‚ may have changed publishers, but his latest novel remains as resolutely up-to-date as ever. In place of the old Cold War games, his recent books have dealt with the depredations of international arms merchants and the impact of predatory drug manufacturers on the Third World. Now his eloquent and white-hot indignation is turned on what he sees as a duplicitous war in Iraq and the devious means employed to tarnish those who oppose it.
Verdict: Le Carre's latest masterpiece spans three historical periods. The hero, Ted Mundy was born in Pakistan when the British Empire was crumbling, got a public school education in a changing England, went to Oxford and then on to Berlin where he met his fellow radical Shasha, forming an "absolute friendship". He and Shasha eventually formed a highly successfull spy pair during the Cold War, a period of ideological clarity as to what was right or wrong. After the fall of the Berlin war Ted finds himself a partner in a language school and, after this fails miserably, he works as a tour guide in one of Mad Ludwig's castles in Bavaria. Shasha reappears and they find themselves involved again, this time in a war-in-Iraq related operation. Only now things are not clear as to what is right or wrong. To quote Shasha, "... the coalition has broken half the rules in the international law books, and intends by its continued occupation of Iraq to break the other half". Le Carre is [rightly so] highly critical of what the coalition is doing in Iraq, his thoughts full of the wisdom of a man whose life spans the same periods with the book's hero. This is not only a superb story of friendship, a historical novel, a well written spy thriller but also a cry of anguish of an educated citizen of the world caused by the post 9/11 state of world affairs.
Reviewed by CJ Masters