A few weeks back I wrote about books that John Le Carré has either introduced or recommended.
I’ve found even more Le Carré books that either have a JlC written introduction, blurb or essay. He also recently revealed the three books he had recently been reading.
The Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale – Foreword by JlC. A book of unflinching and striking black and white photos of the Congo. Le Carré offers one of his typically thoughtful meditations on the effect of colonialism and it’s continued impact. “But the Congo has one secret that is hard to pass on if you haven’t learned it at first hand. Look carefully and you will find it in these pages: a gaiety of spirit and a love of life that, even in the worst of times, leave the pampered Westerner moved and humbled beyond words.”
England’s Glory Text by Gareth Huw Davies, Photos by Various – 8 page introduction to the book by JlC. “Meanwhile, our most ancient birthright – our land – is being stolen from beneath our noses. Not by an invading army. But by devolved powers. By neglect. By loophole. By apathy and want of a commanding central vision. By faceless men in secret conclave. But finally, I am afraid, by ourselves, who have too often failed to exercise the ancient rights and freedoms that were won for us by our noisier forebears, and still have to be fought for every day.”
22 ideas that saved the English countryside by Peter Waine and Oliver Hilliam – Introduction to the chapter on Preservation by JlC. “[A]gainst the endless drip-drop of smaller violations that will over time will cause just as much damage to our beloved countryside we become almost powerless. In this war of attrition the energy is everywhere.”
East West Street by Philippe Sands – Blurb by JlC. “A monumental achievement…a profoundly personal account of the origins of crimes against humanity and genocide, told with love, anger and precision.”
Duet for Freedom by Dina Abdel Hamid – Foreword by JlC. He encountered Salah Ta’amari, touted in the 80’s as the highest ranking PLO official ever captured, while researching The Little Drummer Girl. “Some men, wrote Joseph Conrad in Lord Jim, can never be heroes, and some heroes can never be men. In the case of Salah, I suspect after reading between the lines of this book, it was necessary for him first to come to terms with the hero that others had seen in him, then with the man who lay behind the portrait.”
Social, Savage, Sensual: The Sculpture of Ralph Brown edited by Gillian Whiteley – Foreword by JlC. As a collector of le Carré’s work, the foreword is an interesting look at le Carré as a collector himself. “Ralph’s Leda today presides majestically over my own bit of Cornish cliff and no work of art I possess has given me greater pleasure over the years.”
The Escape Artist by David Wagoner – Blurb by JlC. A book about a young magician and his relationship with his father, later made into a movie. “The writer has a real ear – a man one can talk about seriously. Fantasy, compassion and relevance – a rare combination.”
And these three recently found in a CBC article –
The Dawn Watch by Maya Jasanoff – Interview with JlC “It’s really very interesting; a very modern vision of Conrad and how he spoke for the effects of globalization from very early on.”
Churchill and Orwell by Thomas Ricks – Interview with JlC – “The two never met, but their parallel lives and their views of how society should function, notions of individual freedom, limitations of politics and so on — extraordinarily harmonious thoughts in different places, really very impressive. I went in assuming [they’d be at odds], but quite the reverse. Really, very interesting.”
The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth – Interview with JlC – “He’s one of the best journalists who ever lived and certainly an amazing writer and novelist. His book called The Hotel Years are articles he wrote about staying in hotels, mostly in eastern Europe as it then was in the last days of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. I love his style of observation and his descriptions of characters and so on. I always feel enriched when I put down a book by Joseph Roth.”
Find Part 3 of my John le Carré Recommends series here.