John Le Carre



The acclaimed spy novelist known as John Le Carre once contemplated defecting to the Soviet Union. Judging by his books, this should surprise . . . no one.

Here’s a shocker: the espionage novelist known as John Le Carre (nee David Cornwell), has let slip the great, big secret the he once considered defecting to the Soviet Union. AP reports:

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 76-year-old novelist was quoted as saying he was curious about what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

"I wasn’t tempted ideologically," he was quoted as saying. "But when you spy intensively and you get closer and closer to the border … it seems such a small step to jump … and you know, find out the rest."

One of the great exponents of the thoroughly discredited doctrine of moral equivalence between the West and the communist world actually thought about defecting. Imagine that.

Referring to his breakout book, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), the AP story laconically notes the centrality of the moral equivalence doctrine in Le Carre’s books:

That book and others received critical acclaim for their exploration of the moral ambiguities of the Cold War.

As noted in the AP story, Le Carre claims the temptation to join the enemy was not ideologically motivated but based more on a sense of intense curiosity about life behind the Iron Curtain. Bosh. No one who was truly ideologically opposed to communism and honestly loyal to his nation and the liberal West (with all its faults) would ever contemplate such a mad thing.

The facts confirm it: the very few who did defect were either thorough communists or were traitors about to be apprehended and executed. The fact that Le Carre ultimately didn’t defect does not necessarily do him honor.