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Reading List of Literature by Polish-Americans (compiled by John Radzilowski)
LeCarre, John: The Secret Pilgrim

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John LeCarre: The Secret Pilgrim
Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. Paperback, Ballantine Books, 1992

Recommended by Ted Mirecki

It is the end of the Cold War, and a retired George Smiley (protagonist of many of LeCarre's other spy novels) is addressing a graduating class of British intelligence operatives. His reminiscences of exploits at the height of Cold War cloak-and-dagger operations hark back to LeCarre's early work (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold; The Looking Glass War) that are much more action-packed than his philosophical middle novels (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ; Smiley's People). Each chapter is a self-contained short story. The most amazing one is Chapter 7, about a Polish Colonel who provides information on Warsaw Pact military matters to the West -- with an uncanny similarity to the case of Col. Kuklinski, who did just that in real life, very likely saving Poland in 1980-81 from a Soviet invasion of the type suffered by Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia on 1968. This was written years before the Kuklinski story broke, yet is eerily prophetic. Did LeCarre, because of his connections with the intelligence community, know something?

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Copyright 1997 APAP


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