A Legacy of Spies (George Smiley, #9) A Legacy of Spies discussion


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As I read it, cont.

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Nguyen Xuan A Legacy of Spies is partly The Spy Who Came in from the Cold revisited.
Smiley made to Guillam an astonishing confession: "[he] counted on Mundt's ruthlessness, but [he] underrated it."
Mundt was his ally. Relying on a ruthless ally is not a wise thing to do. Relying on his ruthlessness is even more foolish. But relying on a ruthless ally's ruthlessness while you are not sure how ruthless he is is sheer heresy.
Smiley also said "[he] was not pitiless. We were never pitiless. We had the larger pity." Could "the larger pity" mean no pity ?


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Nguyen Xuan As I read it, cont.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold revisited, cont.
MI6 vs. the Stasi. Mundt. The Stasi knew about Doris Gamp's plan to defect and did nothing to prevent her from doing so. It even went to great lengths to help her succeed because it had its own plan - having her killed once she'd got to Britain, a supposedly self-inflicted death "that [would] cause the greatest possible dismay in the enemy camp."
But Smiley had his revenge. Mundt, who had been charged with the killing, was caught and had to accept to spy for Britain before he was allowed to get back to the GDR.
Mundt subsequently rose through the Stasi ranks to the position of head of special operations even if his rise cost the life of MI6 agent Leamas and a defenseless young woman. But his career was short-lived. Soon after the death of the two British citizens "[he] was summoned to a power conference in Moscow, never to be seen again."


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Nguyen Xuan As I read it, cont.
Smiley revisited.
"I want you to befriend a girl for me, Peter," " Oh my goodness, not to accommodate any needs on my part ... Strictly for operational purposes."
That was how Guillam became "the wicked Romeo who stole a poor girl's heart away and led her to the slaughter."
Markus Wolf was not alone in his trade.


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Nguyen Xuan As I read it, cont.
MI6 vs. Stasi
Within a short time, two young women and a man a little older made a journey to hell, conveyed by joint effort between the Stasi and MI6, each of them survived, by a queer coincidence, by a very young child. A pitiful legacy - or was it a pitiless one ?


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Nguyen Xuan EditMY ACTIVITY
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Review A Legacy of Spies by John leCarre
As I read it (cont.)
A passage in A Legacy of Spies clearly shows how vivid the Cold War and its cruelties and occasional inadequacies were in John leCarre’s work and mind until the end of his life. It aptly depicted the exfiltration of Tulip, a Stasi employee, wife of a high-ranking Stasi official and not so secret lover of another, both ruthless bullies, by British spy Alec Leamas, under the supervision of British master spy George Smiley, as it was narrated by Leamas.
« Rv north of Dresden. Deep countryside. She’ll have to bike despite the weather, gone a distance, then ditched her bike because they know she bikes. Then taken the local train, then hiked or bummed a ride to the rv with orders to hunker down for as long as it takes. »
« I’ve never met the bloody woman, knew her from photographs, that’s all. » Leamas was supposed to be « Gunther Schmaus. Welder from Saxony, » and Tulip « [h]is dear wife, Augustina. »
A surprise, though, at the rv : « there she is, standing in the doorway with a grinning six-year-old kid on her hand. » « And she says, it’s Gustav my son, and he’s coming with me. And I say, like fuck he’s coming with you, we are a childless couple, and there’s not going to be any hiding under a bloody blanket when we reach the Czech frontier. »
But Leamas was resourceful. « [A]s soon as it’s half light I shove [mother and son] in the Trabi and we drive back to the village I passed the night before, because I’d seen a bus stop there. And by the grace of God there are two old nellies standing there in black hoods and white skirts, and baskets of cucumbers on their backs, and God bless them they are Sorbs ... Slavic minority scattered up and down the Spree. » They were to take the bus to Lubbernau, then train to the Ostbahnhof in Berlin, and they accepted to take the boy to Berlin if Leamas bought their cucumbers.
Leamas persuaded the boy to get back to Berlin with the women, and Tulip to go on without him, after he « [swore] blind into her face that [he’d] get her boy traded in an agent swap if it’s the last thing [he does] on earth. »
« The day was darkening » and they were « huddled in the Trabi in freezing cold » when « Tulip, half asleep with her head on [Leamas]’shoulders, languidly described her hopes and dreams for her new life with Gustav in England. » (She would be killed in England before her son got a chance to be reunited with her.)
The passage may raise some questions.
Is it likely that Tulip talked about her hopes and dreams about her new life with her son in England when she was not even sure he would get safely back to his father in Berlin? The answer is that normal people happen to nurture the most foolish hopes and dreams when they are in the deepest despair. One cannot help wondering, however, how Smiley could not have known or thought about Tulip’son when he planned her exfiltration. (less)

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Nguyen Xuan Nguyen Xuan As I read it.
Legacy of Spies partly reads like ... a spy novel - the tragic end of Doris Camp.
Doris, a strikingly attractive young woman, GDR citizen and Stasi employee, was married to a prominent Foreign Service official and a mistress of a prominent Stasi one, both ruthless bullies, She dreamed of another life in England with her five-year-old son and spied for Britain, code name Tulip. When she wanted to flee from GDR, MI6 agent Alec Leamas was charged with helping her attain her goal.
The escape route was scheduled to start at a place north of Dresden, deep in the GDR countryside, a disused car body workshop at the roadside. To get there, she had to bike, take a local train, then she had to jam a baby's mitten on a fence to signal she was safely inside, and wait. His task was more complicated. It implied getting disguised as a British army officer riding a Land Rover, then a welder from Saxony driving a specially equipped Trabant, name Gunther Schmaus.
Leamas was faced with an unexpected problem when they met: Doris was with her son and wouldn't go anywhere without him. It took Leamas vigorous persuasion to make her change her mind and they were lucky two women at a bus stop were willing to take the boy back to Berlin and his father, at a price.
From now on they were Gunther and Augustina, husband and wife. Next destination: a point between Prague and Prague airport.
The escape route was not uneventful. First the car broke down and it was on foot that the pair got to their second rv. Then no embassy car showed up as expected. But a German man from Leipzig driving a lorry was charitable enough to take them to the city. Another surprise was in store at the Embassy: Doris was persona non grata and all the couple deserved was servants' area.
But Doris's fate suddenly took a new direction: under the name of Venla Lessif, a Finnish citizen and nutrition expert, she arrived at Hotel Balkan in a car with CD plates, then on the arm of the French Cultural Attaché. Waiting for her was Adrien Lessif, from the University of Rennes, who just arrived from France to belatedly attend a conference sponsored by the French Communist Party. Another surprise: Lessif was none other than Doris' former MI6 contact in Moscow and occasional secret loner in Bulgaria, Peter Guillam.
Doris' exfiltration was complete when, after the conference was closed, Professor and Mrs. Lessif boarded an Air France flight for Le Bourget. On arrival, Guillam, aka Lessif handed Doris over to MI6 Paris Section Head who then rode with her and his female assistant to an aircraft hangar where a twin-engined RAF plane was waiting for them.
They arrived at Northholt with no landing formalities. Doris Camp never legally entered the UK. She was directly driven by closed van to Camp 4 in Salisbury.
Some time later, Guillam was sommoned at five in the morning to Camp 4, to be told that Doris had died. He then successively learned that she hanged herself, was hanged by a tourist from Switzerland, and finally by Hans-Dieter Mundt, a Stasi agent coming from the GDR, a well kept secret among only a handful of MI6 executives.
Doris was cremated as Tulip Brown, a Russian woman who had fled the USSR.


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