Take those who remember little to nothing about the Cold War . .. Put them in charge of the files from the Cold War … Mix together with current views of war, violence, and subterfuge … Add in Le Carré’s cast of Cold War Warriors … You can’t help but have a nasty mash up.
And that’s what A Legacy of Spies is. The train wreck that occurs when modern sensibilities examine the behavior of those engaged in life-or-death decisions at a time when nothing seemed certain, but that every decision might make the difference in survival of life as we lived it.
Were all of those fears realistic? Was all of the posturing and intrigue necessary? Who knows. Better yet – Who cares.
The people who put their butts on the line and did what “had to be done,” did what they did with the full backing of their governments and the implicit backing of the people in those countries. To second guess them now is unconscionable. Yet. That is just what takes place in Le Carré’s latest tale.
George Smiley remains absent – in the physical sense – while being present in every turn of the plot. As Peter Guillam stands up the accusations and questioning, a full picture of Operation Windfall forms. With so much at stake, it was inevitable that things would go very wrong. Just how wrong unfolds in the telling.
Le Carré’s latest book is a must-read for those who love Cold War intrigue. It’s also a must-read for those interested in the ways that history is vulnerable to re-writing by later generations with vastly different sensibilities – sensibilities, one might say, they have the luxury to hold precisely because of what “those” people did in their time.
I give this book a 5/5. And yes, I’m a huge Le Carré fan.