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mag 05

Le Carré’s Latest ‘A Delicate Truth,’ by John le Carré

“I have a theory which I suspect is rather immoral,” George Smiley said in John le Carré’s 1974 classic, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” “Each of us has only a quantum of compassion. That if we lavish our concern on every stray cat, we never get to the center of things.” This concept of necessary, if lamentable, sacrifice in the face of the Soviet monolith helped define the espionage masterpieces of the cold war. Such statements gave fans a rush of pleasure, partly aesthetic, partly clandestine — the feeling they were gaining a bit of secret Machiavellian wisdom.

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