A Most Wanted Man (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
If author John Updike was correct when he asserted wishfully in 1995 that the end of the Cold War would put an end to Cold War thrillers, John le Carré’s career as a writer of international intrigue should have come to an end with the publication of his novel Our Game (1995). However, Updike’s term “Cold War thriller” is not appropriate even for le Carré’s early novels, from Call for Dead (1960) to The Secret Pilgrim (1991). The spy thriller dramatizes the conflict between “us” and “them” and operates in a clearly defined moral and ideological landscape, where the Western democratic forces clash with various “axes of evil,” after World War II identified with the Communist Soviet Union and its satellites. This conflict tolerates no equivocation or indifference: 5 percent evil negates the other 95 percent of virtue or human weakness.
Even in his first novels but particularly in his first major success, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), as well as in his Karla trilogy (1974’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 1977’s The Honourable Schoolboy, and 1980’s Smiley’s People), all set against the background of the Cold War, le Carré leaves the confines of genre fiction and elevates his novels of espionage into the realm of the mimetic. His protagonists are not...
(The entire section is 1770 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 22 (August 1, 2008): 8.
Library Journal 133, no. 14 (September 1, 2008): 119.
New Statesman 137 (October 20, 2008): 53.
The New York Times, October 7, 2008, p. 1.
The New York Times Book Review, October 12, 2008, p. 1.
People 70, no. 16 (October 20, 2008): 51.
Publishers Weekly 255, no. 31 (August 4, 2008): 43.
The Times Literary Supplement, September 26, 2008, p. 22.
The Wall Street Journal 252, no. 88 (October 13, 2008): A17.
(The entire section is 44 words.)