Life Is Complicated

I know about interrogation. I’ve done interrogations, and I can tell you this: by extracting information under torture, you make a fool of yourself. You obtain information that isn’t true, you receive names of people who are supposedly guilty and who aren’t, and you land yourself with a wild-goose chase and miss what is being handed to you on a plate, and that is the possibility of bonding with someone and engaging with them. — John le Carré in an interview


I have just read the New York Times obituary of spy novelist John le Carré and hasten to recommend it. The headline “Author of Cold War Thrillers / Defined by Moral Ambiguities” over the portrait of his life and works by Sarah Lyall (great last name for someone writing about le Carré) only begins to do it justice.

The obituary and others should sell untold millions more of Le Carré’s books and spur a like number of borrowings of them from libraries.

Naturally, I wonder what he thought about the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, how they were crafted, who “did it.” The extent to which Le Carré touched on matters related to “9/11” or the waves of murder ignited by it may (or may not) be found in his later novels. With luck, this will lead readers to buying and borrowing books that, unlike his, never get reviewed in newspapers or displayed in bookstores.

— Mark Channing Miller

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