Berlin Wall's Fall (1989)

John le Carré is back in fine form — with George Smiley — in 'A Legacy of Spies'

John le Carré is back in fine form — with George Smiley — in 'A Legacy of Spies'

Our understanding of espionage was forever changed in the 1960s with the arrival of George Smiley, John le Carré’s “breathtakingly ordinary” spy who toiled at MI6, a.k.a. “the Circus,” Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. It was a contrast to the espionage tales of author Ian Fleming, whose novels centered on James Bond’s dark, cruel good looks, his sexual escapades and a clear-cut demarcation of Good versus Evil, the British “us” versus the Soviet “them.”

Le Carré’s novels weren’t notable just because his protagonist wasn’t handsome. What set Smiley and his colleagues apart was the moral ambiguity of their exploits, which often placed them at odds with their own...

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