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The Honourable Schoolboy (George Smiley #6; Karla Trilogy #2)
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NonFic & Reality > the 1963 coup d'etat in South Vietnam

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message 1: by Feliks, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 727 comments Mod
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1963_So...

Just an astounding, real-life incident.

Pay particular attention to the relationship of the two brothers.

I don't know when John LeCarre began planning 'Schoolboy' (this political brouhaha evolved just around the time of the release of his smash hit, TSPWCIFTC) but somehow I can't help but think that this startling Far-East news story did not fail to make an impression on him, as far as its dramatic potential. Incredible.


message 2: by cool breeze (last edited Oct 11, 2017 04:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

cool breeze (cool_breeze) | 36 comments Feliks wrote: "I don't know when John LeCarre began planning 'Schoolboy'..."

In The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, Chaper 11 "Bumping Into Jerry Westerby", le Carré reveals that Jerry Westerby's "cameo part" in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was "loosely descended from... one Gordon, an upper class drifter of vaguely aristocratic origin whom my father had relieved of his family fortune".

Le Carré continues "So that was the Jerry of my imagining, and that - in surely one of the eeriest encounters of my writing life - was the Jerry I bumped into at Raffles Hotel in Singapore: not a pen portrait, but the man himself". "It was Peter Simms. He was a veteran British foreign correspondent and also, as is now generally known, though at the time I knew it no better than anyone else, a veteran British secret agent."

Le Carré eventually invited and paid Peter Simms to accompany him around "the stickier corners of South-east Asia" while he researched The Honourable Schoolboy and that was how he "complete[d] the full color version of the Westerby that I had lightly sketched in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy". "What Peter did, incurable romantic, generous to the last, was seize hold of Jerry with both enormous hands and make him boisterously his own."

Looking at this timeline, research on The Honourable Schoolboy would therefore have had to occurred sometime between 1974 and 1977 (probably largely finishing by 1976, to allow time for writing and editing).

The Pigeon Tunnel is worth reading for serious le Carré fans, but probably not casual ones. If you would like to know the backstories behind much of his work, it is worth at least getting it from the library.

The 1963 South Vietnamese coup plays a far more prominent role in Charles McCarry's Paul Christopher espionage series, especially The Tears of Autumn.


message 3: by Feliks, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 727 comments Mod
Well done. Yep. 'Tears of Autumn'. I was recalling that too.

It's just amazing how little the US is ever informed on international issues and events. We're given the kiddie version of the news, then and now.


Bradley West (bradleywest) | 15 comments Two of my favorite books featured, and now The Pigeon Tunnel to add to the to-be-read list.

Thanks for posting!


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