"What a man thinks is his own business. What matters is what he does."
This quote seems fairly elementary in substance, and I can’t help thinking how m"What a man thinks is his own business. What matters is what he does."
This quote seems fairly elementary in substance, and I can’t help thinking how much this seems to reflect the basic expectation of the intelligence agents in this novel. A man or woman is given a set of orders, and those orders should be followed through with no exception. Associations with other human beings and emotions should not come into the equation. They do not belong in the world of espionage. Stopping to question certain morals is a major blunder. A bit of a fairy tale, I think, because when you insert a human being into the lives of others, not everything is black and white. That gray area in between can be quite confounding and rather perilous at times.
The Honourable Schoolboy is the second book in John le Carré’s Karla trilogy. After rooting out a Russian mole in the British intelligence agency, George Smiley is trying to pull his team back together and pick up the pieces of a broken service. A picture of Karla, his archenemy in the Russian service, hangs in his office serving as a constant reminder of his greatest objective – to remove this plague from not just the world at large, but from his own tormented mind.
"Smiley perceived in himself the existence of a darker motive, infinitely more obscure, one which his rational mind continued to reject. He called it Karla, and it was true that somewhere in him, like a left-over legend, there burned the embers of hatred toward the man who had set out to destroy the temples of his private faith, whatever remained of them: the service that he loved, his friends, his country, his concept of a reasonable balance in human affairs."
While I thought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was my favorite le Carré thus far, I’d have to say this one exceeded even that! Admittedly, starting out, I struggled just a tad, but more as a result of my own decreased attention span given some external distractions. These books demand your full concentration. You don’t want to miss a beat! Eventually it was a full sprint to the end and I couldn’t read fast enough. Here we are taken into Southeast Asia in the early 1970s. Jerry Westerby, newshound and sometime-British secret agent, is plopped down right in the midst of a hornet’s nest. Danger lurks in every corner. The energy and glamour of Hong Kong and the turmoil-ridden landscapes of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are remarkably depicted. The threat of Red China to the interests of the rest of the continent is a major force to be reckoned with. The settings alone were enough to hold me captive; then throw in the rapid pace and exceptional characterizations and I was completely ensnared. What I particularly appreciate in this series of ‘spy’ novels (they are so much more than just that) is that we get to spend time in the gray area I mentioned above. Exploring the psyches of these characters is a major part of the attraction for me. I loved it!
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world."...more