Cover image for The spy novels of John le Carré : balancing ethics and politics
The spy novels of John le Carré : balancing ethics and politics
Aronoff, Myron Joel.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 316 pages ; 22 cm
ch. 1. George Smiley: liberal sentiment and skeptical balance -- ch. 2. Ambiguous moralism: loyalty and betrayal -- ch. 3. Skepticism: balancing dreams and realities -- ch. 4. Balancing means and ends: the limits of raison d'État -- ch. 5. Ambiguity of human nature: motives and personality -- ch. 6. Bureaucratic politics: domestic and international -- ch. 7. Culture and craft of espionage -- ch. 8. Fiction and the real world of espionage -- ch. 9. Learning to live with ambiguity: balancing ethical and political imperatives.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6062.E33 Z56 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Interprets the ambiguous ethical and political implications of the work of John le Carre, revealing him to be one of the most important political writers of our time.

Author Notes

Myron J. Aronoff is Professor of Anthropology and Political Science at Rutgers University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Aronoff (political science and anthropology, Rutgers Univ.) demonstrates the popular perception that an increasing number of works in the postmodern era are in a minor form--intrigue, spying, detective stories, and other melodrama. The book's detail will make any Le Carre fan's heart glow: a closely argued analysis that includes an extended list of characters, extensive notes and cross-references, a 16-page bibliography, and two thorough indexes. Aronoff's careful, meticulous dissection of the ethical and political ramifications of Le Carre's spy novels makes a strong case for viewing Le Carre as a major contemporary cultural commentator. Aronoff shows how spying or intrigue in Le Carre's spy novels generates complex moral conflicts and by its nature threatens the very values it is seeking to protect. Aronoff's perspective is distinctly that of the social scientist, not a literary analyst. Recurring terms pepper his text and reveal his main concerns: "loyalty," "betrayal," "bureaucratic politics," "culture and craft of espionage," "real word espionage," "ethical and political imperatives." Highly recommended for libraries wishing to strengthen collections in popular culture and related areas, as well as detective literature. Undergraduate and graduate collections. T. Loe SUNY College at Oswego

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 George Smiley: Liberal Sentiment and Skeptical Balancep. 15
Chapter 2 Ambiguous Moralism: Loyalty and Betrayalp. 39
Chapter 3 Skepticism: Balancing Dreams and Realitiesp. 61
Chapter 4 Balancing Means and Ends: The Limits of Raison d'Etatp. 89
Chapter 5 The Ambiguity of Human Nature: Motives and Personalityp. 113
Chapter 6 Bureaucratic Politics: Domestic and Internationalp. 139
Chapter 7 The Culture and Craft of Espionagep. 163
Chapter 8 Fiction and the Real World of Espionagep. 185
Chapter 9 Learning to Live with Ambiguity: Balancing Ethical and Political Imperativesp. 201
Appendix Dramatis Personaep. 215
Notesp. 237
Referencesp. 283
Indexp. 299