A review from our very own Professor (not of literature) John Walsh.
I have eventually managed to wade through (apologies to Hon Chair) ‘The spy who came in from the cold. For me, my edition was 249 pages too long, a four page summary would have been more than enough. The first quarter-third of the book was interminable; more filler than Homebase! At this point it was on a score of 3. Early in the last third it could have rallied to a ‘foyve’, but ultimately it didn’t.
In the early stages of the book I was thinking cowboys and Indians (thought crime? ed), so was pleased to have this confirmed by Leamus in chapter 25 when he likened it all to cowboys and Indians. Parts of the plot couldn’t hold more water than a broken pisspot (apologies to Fred Trueman); more Clouseau than Intelligence Service. It did have a few more twists and turns than the straighter parts of the Fosse Way, but they didn’t go anywhere that was sufficient to merit reading.
I can’t believe how much critical acclaim the book is said to have had; since Graham Greene said it was the best spy story he ever read, we can only assume it was the only one he ever read! The seven (and a bit) pages of the ‘Fifty Years Later’ postscript in my edition was marginally more interesting than the book.
I give it 4.
John le Walshé
The more one reads ‘Heart of Darkness’ the more one realises just what a brilliant interpretation ‘Apocalypse Now’ was.
If you are equally obsessed with some of the great lines from the film then you’ll love this site which contains most of the best ones here.
ITN’s Bill Neely reports on a Para patrol against the Taliban 2008.
Denis Theriault’s inspiration?
Much of the book takes place against the backdrop of the ‘Malayan Emergency’ – a Communist Insurgency that lasted from 1948 until 1960. It was called an Emergency rather than a War after pressure from the tin mining industry and rubber plantations. If it had been referred to as a war then any losses incurred by the mines or plantations would not have been covered by Lloyds Insurers! There is a good summary of the conflict here.
A Japanese Garden in Tokyo
A tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands