A Delicate Truth is spy thriller virtuoso John le Carré’s 23rd novel, and it’s a meditation on the War on Terror that was launched on Sept. 11, 2001. The debate ever since has centred on how far one should go to fight terrorism.
Is torture acceptable, if it’s called an “enhanced interrogation technique”? What about when prisoners are classified as “enemy combatants”, and as such aren’t covered by the Geneva Convention?
Le Carré worked for British intelligence in the 1950s and ’60s, which may well have fed his distrust of those who amass too much power. In contemporary times, the U.S. has gone mad, Le Carré wrote in the Times of London back in 2003: “The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams.
“As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.”
He opposed the Iraq War: “How [then-US President George] Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America’s anger, from Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history.”
Yet Le Carré was no fan of Hussein; rather, he condemned the criminalization of dissent and the triumph of private gain over public good.
Readers will be happy to know that – whether right or wrong — the angry polemicist has allowed the story to take the upper hand in 2013’s The Delicate Truth, while still tackling the essential questions of power without boundary and whether a right-thinking individual can gum up the works.
Wildfire is an off-ledger operation orchestrated by a private security firm that uses a British diplomat as a point-man in the illegal kidnapping of a jihadi – a scenario which brings to the fore worries about the privatization of state power and capitalism’s ethical excesses. Years later, the now-retired diplomat wants to soothe his conscience, and tells all to Toby Bell, whose worst suspicions are confirmed, but who in turn has some difficult decisions to make.
Those unfamiliar with Le Carré might first want to check out such classics as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People, to start, then move to The Delicate Truth, which reviewers are calling the writer’s best book in years. In fact, starting with Le Carré’s older works might be a necessity: A Delicate Truth isn’t yet available.
It’s one of the dozens of new books that you can buy to donate to the library next month. The Adopt-A-Book wine and cheese is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2 at the Lennoxville Library, corner of Queen and College (yes, the date was wrong in the last Good Reads; please forgive your lowly scribe). If you’re busy Wednesday, Adopt-A-Book continues during regular library hours through to Saturday, Oct. 5. Plus, you get to be the first to take the book home to read!
SEUSS, MUNSCH, DAHL, WIMPY KID, PERCY JACKSON
Scientific studies and surveys and polls and so on and so on are so dreary… unless we like what they have to say. And here’s one that will get a thumbs-up from librarians the world over: It’s good to read to your children. But close to half of parents stop reading to their kids once the young’uns celebrate a seventh birthday. That’s according to a poll for the U.K.’s Oxford University Press.
However, reading to them through primary school encourages children to read more on their own, which leads to better marks in everything from English to math, according to the report.
The best part? The Lennoxville Library has a large and diverse collection of books for all age groups, both fiction and non-fiction.
Library memberships are free to those who live in Sherbrooke. Make a library visit a regular part of your routine!
– Eleanor Brown, Sept. 20, 2013