For over fifty years, the work of John Le Carre has been amongst the best reviewed and commercially successful in the spy and thriller bestseller lists. But, with the publication of A Delicate Truth in April 2013, Le Carre foresaw a series of events that have stunning comparisons with the real life work of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Le Carre created the character of Toby Bell, a 30 something British civil servant who uncovers a mysterious plot that is being withheld from the British public in a first draft of the novel completed in 2012. In the completed novel, Bell must decide whether to place his own life at risk in a bid to inform the British public of the threat to their security and well being, a case of life imitating art as Snowden appeared with his secrets about the US agency, the NSA on June 5th 2013.
Le Carre’s novels have always looked at the current political situation from the point of view of either a civil servant or spy in British government agencies. From The Spy who Came in from the Cold to his later novels, The Constant Gardener and A Most Wanted Man, the former spy has led his readers through the changing face of modern espionage. The author’s most famous creation, George Smiley recently saw a revival with the critically acclaimed movie of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy bringing the post war writing of Le Carre to the attention of the public.
At the turn of the 21st century, Le Carre looked at how government’s control the publics view of terrorist activities in Absolute Friends and how the world uses and abuses African nations in The Mission Song. The publication of A Delicate Truth shows us that Le Carre still has much to say about the way the world works in government circles and how the force of human spirit can overcome great obstacles. Endings to Le Carre novels are rarely upbeat, with the conclusions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Absolute Friends offering particularly unhappy endings for the main characters of the novels. A Delicate Truth has much to say about why a whistleblower offers their life in exchange for what they see as doing the right thing, it also offers a small glimpse into how a whistleblower is seen by members of the security services.