Joyce's Reviews > The Russia House

The Russia House by John le Carré
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's review
Feb 11, 2012

it was amazing
Read in February, 2012

I loved this book. It's classic le Carre: espionage at it's boringly detailed, beautifully written self. Don't know why it sat on my shelves for such a long time, but I'm glad to have more of his "post Smiley" books waiting to be read.

In my reading, this book was all about the challenges, perils and rewards (if any, in this case) of nuclear disarmament. It's a world-weary view of the subject, though, especially in le Carre's take on experts. From a conversation between Barley, the British publisher, and Goethe, the Russian scientist: "Experts are addicts. They solve nothing! They are servants of whatever system hires them. They perpetuate it. When we are tortured, we shall be tortured by experts. When we are hanged, experts will hang us. Did you not read what I wrote? When the world is destroyed, it will be destroyed not by its madmen but by the sanity of its experts and the superior ignorance of its bureaucrats."

This book was written in 1989, but passages like that are sadly resonant in our post-911 age.

After the deception is unearthed and the various agencies re-shuffle, re-blame, re-organize and paper over who did what and why... another modern comment: "Papers written, feuds waged. Promotions, sackings, pensions, medals, lateral postings and downgradings. But no consensus. Just the usual triumph of the fattest, disguised as rational deduction." le Carre could not have known just how applicable that last sentence is to the world we live in in the year 2012.

Did I mention that I loved this book? I did? Ok, then. You should read it.

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