of the West’s hypocrisy with respect to apartheid South Africa, claustrophobic in its extreme explorations of loyalty and the daily drudgery of intelligence work.
But to encounter the true madness of spies, one must dig into le Carré’s The Looking Glass War and Greene’s Our Man in Havana. Both visualise, in chillingly comic detail, what le Carré calls “the Great Spy’s Dream”, where spies, assailed by the quotidian neuroses of intelligence work, begin to suspect everyone and everything, creating their own secret bubbles of paranoia where, most likely, none exists. This is “a condition that in the spook world, rather like a superbug in a hospital, is endemic, hard to detect, and harder still to eradicate.”
Unless you’re Jack Ryan, unplagued by ocular chromatic aberrations. And in these uncertain times, who’s to say that’s a bad thing?
Sanyal is a Kolkata-based writer