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Month: August 2018

The Spy Looking over My Shoulder

Learning from John Le Carré

John le Carré at the “Zeit Forum Kultur” in Hamburg on November 10th 2008. CC 3 Attribution: KrimidoedliKr

I owe David Cornwell, a.k.a. John Le Carré, big time. He has led me from the literary wilderness to the promised land of Almost Fit to Print. Without his unbeknownst tutelage, I would never have gotten even this far. This is my humble homage to his humbling genius.

When, nearly three years ago I set out to write a novel about a multi-ethnic leftist international conspiracy from the perps’ point of view, I had urgent motivations but knew nothing about genre. As I spend much more time writing than reading for pleasure, there are a lot of books that might inform mine I’ve managed to miss. Truth be told, my literary tastes gravitate to non-fiction, mostly research material for articles. Over six decades, I doubt I’ve read more than 100 novels that weren’t assigned in some long-ago class. A year could pass before picking up a new one, rarely a thriller. I had but the vaguest idea of how to proceed after conjuring up quirky characters and a wisp of a plot in a land I had never visited. It would have to be a thriller, that much I knew. Having read few but seen a lot of spy movies, I figured I knew enough to do this.

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Guest Post: What Russia Understands about Trump

Trump doesn’t qualify as an accomplice to Putin because he’s too unreliable. But he’s clearly under the strongman’s spell, not quite a dupe but close to one. If you want to understand Trump’s relations with Russia, you need to know how the Russian establishment views him, which is pretty much as a useful idiot, according to Michael Weiss‘s recent New York Review of Books article reblogged here.

Trump’s Russia connections go back to the dawn of klepto-capitalism in the Motherland, and he’s been carefully cultivated and curated by Russian intelligence ever since. What Weiss discloses doesn’t rise to a level that might enable Robert Mueller to indict Trump for treason, but it surely demonstrates that for all his blustering, Trump’s strings can be easily pulled by any tempter or temptress savvy enough to stroke his fragile ego.

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