Pouting

Karl Miller

  • BuyA Delicate Truth by John le Carré
    Viking, 310 pp, £18.99, April 2013, ISBN 978 0 670 92279 6
  • BuyThe Man Who Was George Smiley: The Life of John Bingham by Michael Jago
    Biteback, 308 pp, £20.00, February 2013, ISBN 978 1 84954 513 6

John le Carré has now published 23 books, the Great Bear of that night sky being the series of novels lit by the round English gentleman, spymaster George Smiley, he who wipes his glasses with the thick end of his unfailing tie. Among the features of these spy stories is a concern with patriotism and uncertainty, not least with the uncertainties of patriotism. There are passages which can be hard to follow. Some are touched with the complexities of spyspeak; some, after all, are offered as spyspeak. Another feature is the sharp criticisms made of those at the deadly end of the dear old British civil service.

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