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Why I despised “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy” as a child – and still do.

When the recent film started to be discussed and conversation went back to BBC television series, I found myself left out. Unlike everyone else (it seems) I hated the story – not the acting (which was first rate) the story. As I child I thought it made no sense and was highly suspicious of whoever wrote it.

However, in the recent discussions I found I could not clearly remember WHY I hated the story and disliked the author at the time. I could explain why I (as a fat, bald adult) dislike John “The Constant Gardener” Le Carre now – but not then.

So I went back and looked at the book itself (when in doubt – examine the text). And I have been reminded of the reasons I despised story and author.

There is no real reason given for Bill Hayden’s treason (no apologies for the “spoiler” – the work is not a “who-done-it”). Some (most) intelligence officiers betrayed Britain and other Western powers because of Marxist (or “Progressive” – as some of the American traitors denied being formal Marxists) ideology, some (actually very few) betrayed freedom for reasons of money or blackmail….

But with Bill?

No motive at all. Along with some waffle about “American vulgarity” (hang on – Bill H. was supposed to be antiAmerican by the early 1940s, when the “low” end of American culture was Glenn Miller and the Big Band sound, and nothing much was happening culturally in Britain) we are just given some internal thinking by the “George Smiley” character about how “Bill himself had been betrayed” as he had been brought up with the idea of Britain as a world power and this dream of power had been snatched from him by the decline of Britain – no more chance to “divide and conquer”.

“Divide and conquer” is the false theory that the British Empire (especially in India) was based upon promoting wars between groups of locals (who supposedly had been living in peace before the evil Brits arrived) and then taking over.

But “George Smiley” does not treat it as a false theory, he does not even treat it as a theory – to him it is a automatic (assumed as a starting assumption) truth. He takes the anti British line as automatically true – and this is the “hero” of the book, not the open traitor Bill H.

“But plenty of libertarians are anti Imperialists”.

Quite so (just as one can name many good, in methods and outcomes, British imperialists – one can also name many BAD ones). But my point is not “pro Empire”, it is that the hero takes a rabid bit of anti British propaganda as an obvious truth (something he just assumes in passing), as he does all the guff about general “exploitation” and so on.

Why should such a man want to be a British intelligence officer? Unless he is one of “Karla’s” agents himself, his life just makes no sense.

Forget the idea that Britain was (on balance) in fact a force for good (not evil) in the world. Let us say that someone believed that the anti British (past) case was TRUE – but wanted to defend Britain now, as a way of helping to defend the West generally.

There is not a sign of that in “George Smiley” either – not a sign that he has any positive opinions about free enterprise or anything like it. Again no reason for such a man to be an intelligence officer in the Cold War (the struggle between the West and international Marxism) – unless he was a Marxist intelligence officer (i.e. working for the other side).

So there is no reason for the treason of “Bill” and no reason for the loyality of “George”. Both are characters who make no sense at all. And, thus, the story makes no sense and the author is (at best) senseless.

Does “George” admire and respect the British past? Clearly not (as he, without even critically examining them, accepts all charges against Britain).

Does “George” respect and support post Imperial Britain as part of a general defence of Western Civil Society?

Certainly not – he clearly despises such “capitalist” ideas.

Does “Bill” have an ideological loyality to Marxism (or some other Progressive ideology) as most real traitors do?

No – he must be the only person in history  (even the history of  fiction) who wants to become a Soviet citizen without being explicitly Marxist. On the side of the “oppressed”  against the “oppressors” and all the other Progressive, Social Justice,  lies.

Is he being bribed or blackmailed?

No.

The United States is hardly (in the age of Obama) a free enterprise country now – but one could make the case that in the late 1940s and 1950s the United States was basically a free enterprise (pro freedom) nation.

So is this what “Bill” hates? As a real traitor would.

No – he has some vague (unargued) cultural problem with a “vulgar” United States, at a time (1940s and 1950s) when most Americans wore a tailored suit (dressed far better than most British people did) and when a far higher percentage of Americans went to “high” culture events than British people did.  And when most Americans were “better read” than most British people were.

I repeat it just makes no sense, the whole story is just drivil.

So it came as no shock to me when the author of this story turned out to share many of the ideological assumptions of the enemies (both external and internal)  of the West.

22 Comments

  1. John Galt says:

    Yes, having read the book and seen the original TV series back in the 80′s, you may have a point.

    However, if you speak to any of the old guard who served at the arse end of WW2 and into the travesty of Suez, they are exactly the same. It’s like they’ve been given the words, but never been told the meanings.

    They perform acts of brutality and heroism with the same regard, but when asked why have no real truth to impart. Just the same old meaningless platitudes. It’s like they didn’t really feel anything, mean anything, believe anything.

    It used to shock me, but now I put it down to a form of psychological barrier that protected them from their losses during the blitz and Eden’s idiocy. Unfortunately, they are barriers that once erected seal off the outside world.

    Both George Smiley and Bill Heydon have the same problem, they may in theory be warriors on either side of an implacable chess board, but I’ve felt more strongly about the colour of the socks I wear than for George and Bill’s respective pro-and-anti Soviet stance.

    Maybe it’s the years of putting up with the mindless bureaucracy of ‘the circus’. Almost the absolute antithesis of Harry Palmer.

    Bill Heydon fucked his wife for christ’s sake, yet the greatest reaction of Smiley can be described as ‘mild distaste’. Sorry, great acting, but about as realistic as Mills and Boon. At least Mills and Boon would have some decent tits.

  2. NickM says:

    Paul,
    For God’s sake use the bloody more tag if you’re going to give away a plot!

    “But “George Smiley” does not treat it as a false theory, he does not even treat it as a theory – to him it is a automatic (assumed as a starting assumption) truth.”

    With the greatest respect Paul, George Smiley is a character. You’re having a historical and political disagreement with someone who has never existed. It’s like criticising the family of a certain fictional prince of Denmark for being dysfunctional.

    But in for a penny, in for a pound. I would say one of the defining traits of the British “elite” is despising America as “vulgar”. And you know why? Because the ordinary Brit loves America and American things. You can see it in the posturings of “SuperMac” who conceived in the Cold War of Britain as Greece to America’s Rome. We bring the brains and they supply the muscle.

  3. Ian B says:

    I think we all ought to be using the More Tag a lot, er, more, personally. With multiple bloggers on a blog, I think that works better.

  4. cuffleyburgers says:

    I take your point about le carré’s dodgy politics reflecting through some real 1970′s hampstead heathist anti-americanism, but I have always loved his books more than anything else because they are beautifully written, the voices of his characters are quite superb and he really does paint a picture of a world world within a world.

    I am re-reading them from time to time and I still enjoy them although I suppose I am more aware of the politics, first time round I was barely more than a student and for me then they were just adventure stories.

  5. AMcGuinn says:

    Identity trumps ideology. People like Smiley didn’t join the service out of ideological commitment, certainly not anti-communism and probably mostly not even anti-fascism. They joined because someone they liked or admired recruited them, because it was more exciting or more prestigious than being an infantry lieutenant. They stayed because it was then their organisation — what stands out in the books is that the spies’ loyalty is not to their country or its government or ideology, but to the organisation itself, and that never struck me as unrealistic.

    And for the traitors, the attraction of the USSR was that it was powerful and it was going to win, while Britain and its intelligence service were old and rotten and were going to lose. I think Corelli Barnett made a decent case that the post-war British Establishment basically believed that communism was going to win in the end, and that their job was to fend it off for a while, and make the most out of the old order while it lasted. Nobody was as surprised as them when their cynical self-serving anti-communist propaganda turned out in large part to be true, or even understated. Theirs was hardly an attitude to inspire much loyalty in those who could most easily change sides.

  6. Paul Marks says:

    Nick I clearly stated that the post was going to be (in part) about the book – I even put the title of the book in the title of the post.

    Of course I was going to write about the plot. I was not going to write about the colour of the cover and the quality of the paper and ink. And by “write about the plot” I do not mean say “I despised it” (I said that in the title) I meant WHY I desipised it.

    That is in the title also.

    If you can explain why you despise the plot of a book, without explaining what that plot is – then you are a better man than me Gunga Din.

    Also (as I also state) the book is NOT really a who-do-it at all. It is something very different – John La Carrie writing a mood, period, and (in his own way) ideas novel.

    By the way I do know that “George Smiley” was a fictional character – that is why I used the quote signs.

    “George Smiley” is (of course) the author’s mouthpiece (basically him). That was obvious when I first encountered the character – and why I felt like putting a bullet in him (just a fictional character – so it would not be murder).

    For the record “Smiley” works as a character (if as nothing else) I know there are people with the opinions and attitudes of “George”. Bill Heydon does not “work” there is not a ounce of anything real in the character.

    He is a made up bit of nonsense – designed the hide that fact that real traitors believed in standing with “the oppressed against the oppressors” stood for “social justice” and so on.

    In short for all the things that John La Carrie and his chums stand for.

    AMcGuinn.

    The post war British Establishment contained some people who were just as bad as Corelli Barnett thinks they were (Super Mac springs to mine – “brave soldier” is the only good thing I can think of to say about him).

    By the way (for all his other faults) Eden was not nearly as bad as Harold M.

    And (of course) Eden’s idocy was not going into Egypt in 1956 it was pulling troops out of the Canal Zone in 1954 (in return for worthless promises from Nasser not to invade – Churchill cursed Eden for his stupidity, but was too ill to do anything).

    As for the way Eden tried to get back in (the complex plot….) absurd (utterly absurd). If he had announced (at once) on the attack of the Nasser upon the Canal that Britain was going in, America would have had to support (no matter their delusion that Nasser, socialist though he was, could be kept “O.K.” by aid and so on). By delay (and complex scheming) he made support almost impossible.

    Act at once (in war SLOW IS DEAD) and with what you have – hesitate (and scheme) and all is lost. Mrs Thatcher remembered that for the Falklands. Although it should be remembered that the real backstab came not from the Americans – it came from Harold Macmillan “first in and first out” as he was rightly called (because he gave the strongest support for the intervention in cabinet – and was real force who turned on Eden when things went wrong, and then said the economy could not stand it and the Americans were doing X, Y, Z [that they were not actually doing] and how it was all hopeless now……) Super Mac wanted to Prime Minister – and for that to happen Eden had to go.

    But to return to better people………..

    However, many people were different.

    They were not “cynical” (not in this way at least), their “propaganda” was not self service (indeed it was not propaganda at all).

    They did what they could for civilization and they knew perfectly well what the stakes were.

    As a boy (and a young man) I was fortunate to meet some of them.

    As for the members of the various intelligence services – they tried to get information and to resist communist moves overseas (if MI6) and some tried to safeguard the home (if MI5).

    Some were undoubtly useless time servers (or worse) – but many were men (and women) of principle (good principle) and maintained their principles till old age and death, or till death cut them off in their prime.

    But John La Carrie (in spite of his time in the service) did not write about them (the people of good principle).

    Because he was not one of them.

  7. Paul Marks says:

    By the way…..

    The sort of thing (the historical musing that comes out in the thoughts of John sorry “George” at the end of the book) is excactly the sort of thing that (if it ever comes out in actual words) alerts people to the possiblity of a traitor.

    The Cambridge five (and others) knew that well.

    They always tried to pass off such slimps as “jokes” or “just me being cynical”.

    I am not saying La Carrie ever went over the line – his lack of belief in any good principles did not mean that he supported Marxism.

    However, such a person is unsuitable for an intelligence position.

    A position which (contrary to popular belief) is about the most uncynical position someone can hold.

    It is a calling – especially in the overseas service.

    Half priest and half warrior.

  8. bloke in spain says:

    It’s a shame you’ve taken so much against Tinker, Taylor. Did you stop there or continue with the trilogy?
    Le Carre himself I’m inclined to concur about. In his later novels he reveals that sort of reflex anti-American, anti capitalist mindset we’ve all grown to recognise & love through reading the Guardian & watching the Beeb. The Constant Gardner was obsessed with big pharma & by the time I was reading the blurb to one of the latest I’d lost interest in him as an author & was reluctant to shell out the 20€ to read about the CIA waterboarding Guatanomo detainees. You can only take so much left wingery. Worth reading a Perfect Spy though, because so much of it is obviously biographical.
    I do wonder if he might be a one trick pony. The Little Drummer Girl was well written & surprisingly non-antisemitic considering his other obsessions. A Naive & Sentimental Lover I must have tried to read on a couple of dozen attempts & rarely got past the fourth chapter. Never finished it because I couldn’t summon the slightest interest in the fate of any of the characters.
    The Smiley series was different. The trilogy the best of them.
    He opens a window on a world a very small part of which I recognise. My first job was with a City stockbrokers the partners of which were mostly bowler-hatted Army officers. Literally bowler-hatted. Couple at least were inmates of Colditz. Another, I suspect in retrospect, was a boyfriend of Bacon – the artist. The client base was families they were connected with, those they’d been to school with or served with, banks where the manager came from their circle. Say’s something that one of the often used numbers in my phone book was that of the private exchange at Buck House. Investment experts they were not. They were about as far removed from a modern brokerage as it’s possible to get but they made a comfortable living & had found an alternative to golf.
    That’s the world he’s writing about. A couple of generations that start around the time of the Great War & continue into the sixties. These aren’t the people who built the Empire. They’re the ones who inherited its custodianship & made such an absolute mess of it. They’ll supervise the slaughter in the mud of Flanders & their second war will be a string of glorious & inglorious defeats until the Americans showed up. The vaunted Battle of Britain? The rearguard stage of the catastrophic fall of France. Alamein? Rommel lost because his logistic support wasn’t delivered. Hardly stunning victories.
    Le Carre writes about a nation served by part time amateurs to whom school & family were more valuable qualities than ability & experience. Not what you can achieve but who you know. A hapless, hopeless elite who presided over the fall of a great empire. If they were loyal, what were they loyal to? Their motherland or their class?
    You find the Haydon character’s motivations hard to discern? He’s a contemporary of Smiley so that puts him at Oxford before the war. If he was attracted to communism he’s no different from the half of the pre-war left who weren’t quoting Hitler at dinner parties. And Haydon’s would be ‘intellectual communism’ not the dying on the barricades type. Come the British Revolution… well the half-Germans squatting down at Windsor would have to go of course & the industrialist and other uncouth types in Trade would be due a stretch in the re-education camps but it’d be his college contemporaries serving on the politburo. If he’s a traitor, a traitor to what? To the Anglo-American alliance? Like most of his class he detests the US. He detests its success & its wealth. Its power & its prestige. Its capitalist vigour. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like Le Carre.
    Here’s an interesting thought. Wiki’s biog puts Le Carre as recruited by MI5 to penetrate far left groups at Oxford in the early 50′s. The Bland character in Tinker, Taylor had the same brief. He continues serving in intelligence till the sixties. Almost every novel he’s written centres round some aspect of betrayal. Several of his novels are to some degree biographical. Now join the dots.
    Whatever his politics I found early Le Carre stunningly well written. Not much fun if you like action & suspense because there’s hardy half a dozen pages in the entire output. But the characterisations are superb. There’s never what another writer calls ‘spear carriers’, characters whose only purpose is to attack the hero one by one & die with the minimum inconvenience. Even Smiley’s ‘minder’ Fawn, who appears for a period & whose services are never actually required, succumbs to psychological problems brought on by the responsibility of his charge.
    Whether I’ll see the movie is doubtful. The BBC series used about 5 hours to render it & did it justice. To cut it to movie length means upping the pace which may be a mistake. The story’s that of a middle aged academic combing through endless records to tease out the minute anomalies that guide him towards a solution. It needs the long windedness, the lengthy dialogue, the reflective silences. It needs Smiley’s thoughtful pacing through deserted, small hours London. It doesn’t need convenient plot twists based on miraculous coincidence & countdowns to the final second on LED displays.

  9. Paul Marks says:

    bloke in Spain.

    I reject utterly your implication that the people in Oxford (and elsewhere) in the 1930s who were not Communists were “quoting Hitler”.

    Even George Orwell (a life long socialist) was quite open with the fact (and it is a fact) that most of the sort of “Colonel Blimp” types you describe were opposed to both Red and Brown socialism.

    As for the United States in the 1930s – it was under the statist New Deal regime. Not only was only gold (apart from wedding rings and the like) illegal, but there was basically a war going on against private business enterprises (apart from “pet” ones such as Gerneral Electric).

    Not only did American political and administrative people use every regulation they could think of – but they also back the (largely far left controlled) unions against business enterprises – large and small.

    Only with World War II did (perhaps paradoxically) President Roosevelt declare Pax and call off the dogs.

    Also, economically, the 1930s were perhaps the last time in history when Britain did better than the United States over a period of years.

    HOWEVER.

    I accept that the Smiley series was perhaps the last time that the (vastly over rated) John Le Carre produced anything of litterary value. I have already admited (much that I regard him as empty) the character of “George Smiley” “works” – he attacts the attention of the reader/value.

    As for the men and women who faught (and died for freedom) both in Britain and in the many dark places of the world….. in the period of the late 1940s onwards….

    They understood what they were for, and what they were against.

    And it was naught to do with a tactical alliance between two nation states.

  10. Fred Z says:

    When I was young and even stupider than now, I read every Le Carre novel. Repeatedly. Loved them.

    Then one day I woke up and realized he was a socialist arsehole actively working against western civilization. I think this was shortly after I started paying taxes.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    That was a good comment Fred Z.

    There is a reason why the Guardian newspaper and the BBC (and so on) love Le Carre books.

    There is no reason in them for why some people are loyal and other people are disloyal.

    In real life the Cold War was a struggle between partial freedom (some respect for private property rights – civil society) and socialism. With people risking (and sometimes losing) their lives, to try and prevent the totalitarian socialist conquest of this world.

    There is not much of that (of real life) in the Le Carre books – because he is a “social justice” man himself.

    That is why the Guardian newspaper and the BBC (and so on) like him.

  12. NickM says:

    Paul,
    Loyalty is one thing and empathy is another. Why do you think under the Geneva conventions PoWs are to be handed to the equivalent force on the other side. Captured RAF to the Luftwaffe and vice-versa. They understand what it’s like. On the darker side killing out of -hand is much commoner in intra-specific warfare. In WWII infantry on all sides had a lamentable tendency to just kill bailing tank crews but were more likely to treat other surrendering infantry as “blokes like them”. That’s from John Keegan’s “History of Warfare”.

    I guess so do spies. Perhaps even more so because of the questionable things spies have to do.

    Would you seduce a woman – perhaps tell her you loved her – to get access to her knicker-drawer where the micro-film is

    Would you do that to serve a higher purpose (It is a calling – especially in the overseas service. Half priest and half warrior)? Perhaps but there is a moral ambiguity there which I don’t feel is as acute as when the blood-dimmed tide is unleashed and (very importantly) you’re with your mates. There is a profound psychological tension between the personal and the cause you serve. It is very difficult to firewall. It’s a way differnet pschological kettle of fish from hacking the Kremlin mainframe or sticking a spy-sat over the testing range of a new missile.

    Apart from anything the spy of necessity deals with deceit. This is not the way of the warrior. The warrior (soldier) has faith in his squad/crew-chief/ whatever. The spy might though discover his close-colleague of ten years standing – someone they’ve been in hairy scrapes with and shared a drink and a laugh with afterwards is working the other (or both, or a third) side. This must have a profound effect on the psyche. It is utterly unlike soldiering which is intrinsically based upon mutual trust. That is why all effective military organisations since at least classical times have expended so much effort into melding soldiers into a unit.

    The priest has the comfort of faith. The shifting sands of espionage are not the same thing. I know you can imagine what it does to the moral core of a priest to be deceitful in his or her professional capacity.

    Paul, I really think you’re wrong. Let’s go back to both the seduction and the “band of brothers” military model. In terms of national defence both are intensely personal (based upon relationships between individuals). The second is intrinsically comradely and the first is intrinsically – at a personal level – vile. That’s the contrast. That is the difference.

  13. Paul Marks says:

    Nick I may well be wrong about not stressing personal (as opposed to political) loyality – the loyality people feel to each other as individuals (as people they know and work with) and to family, friends and so on.

    But I am not wrong in thinking that John Le Carre is a scumbag – and you would have to pay me to see any film based on his work (as he gets royalities from ticket sales).

    Also you are wrong in what most intelligence (let alone security)work is about.

    Seducing women (and so on) is more KGB “swallows and ravens” style than MI6 or CIA style.

    It is difficult to point at a single thing that would explain the truth about MI6 (or about MI5 – the security service), but it is not difficult to think of an image that (in spite of all its very real faults and failings) explains the CIA.

    The wall.

    Not the Berlin Wall – but the wall of names in Langley.

    Look at the wall – and find out how many of those people died.

    The special intelligence service (MI6) may not have such a wall on public display – but its, fundemental, spirit during the Cold War is much the same.

    You will not get a feel for that spirit Le Carre.

    “But he served himself” – briefly yes, and so (sadly) did a few other scumbags.

    But the scumbags were NOT typical of the service.

  14. NickM says:

    Paul,
    I was perhaps overly melodramatic on the seduction front (just an extreme example) but I also noted other conflicts of loyalty. And I still hold with my point that people on the other sides of the fence have a natural, professional, bond of sorts. It’s a powerful thing especially in a cloak and dagger world where by definition you can’t talk (or if you could really explain) about what you do. You must have been to a “do” where people wound-up talking shop on stuff. It’s like that. There are several types of bond in play – personal: friends and family. Professional: “we’re all sailors/fighter pilots/infantry/double-glazing salesmen”. National: “We’re all Brits”. Ideological: “We’re all communists”. These almost invariably have a tendency to pull in different ways and those tensions can hurt.

    So, what is wrong about writing fiction about the dysfunctional end of the spectrum? That is where the psychological interest lies. LeCarre has never written a history of the service. He wrote novels. Or, to but it very bluntly an airforce sqaudron counts a kill as a downed ‘plane. A secret service counts a “kill” as a “turn”. The psychology of the two are very different.

  15. Paul Marks says:

    Nick.

    You can tell a lot about a man by what aspect of something he chooses to write about.

    However, the discussion is moot – as Le Carre openly “came out” as leftist some years ago.

    So my boyhood judgement of the man was correct.

    Although, yes, I could have been wrong.

    It is just that, in this case, I was not wrong.

  16. I reached similar if terser conclusions at my own site: http://charlescrawford.biz/blog/tinker-tailor-soldier-relativism

    It’s a reasonable artistic device to ‘de-contextualise’ groups of people to bring out other aspects of their personalities. See the ‘Godfather’ movies, although even there the brilliance of the films lies in finding flashes of nobility in the moral rubble

    The way Le Carre emphasises anti-Western nihilism and cynicism in his books substantively supports collectivist ideologies. The new film makes even more crude anti-American propaganda than the book does. No wonder so many luvvies love it

  17. NickM says:

    Yes, you can tell a lot about someone by what they choose to write about but Le Carre writes about espionage which is intrinsically about betrayal. It’s not – and I’ve never taken it as such – about bigging-up communism or the alternatives.

    Actually no. I think you can tell more about how they write about whatever.

  18. Paul Marks says:

    Thank you Charles – I did not know that (even more crude anti American stuff) about the film, another reason not to see it.

    Nick.

    The Security Service (MI5) is about fighting betrayal.

    The Special Intelligence Service (MI6), it could be argued, is about “betrayal” because it depends (in part) on information from defectors.

    But these defectors tend to be very different from British traitors. And I do not just mean that their political opinions are differnet or that they do not tend to get involved in certain sexual practices.

    The big difference is what they put at risk.

    An agent of the KGB or GRU who offers information to MI6 and the CIA does not just face a little private talk “you were a very bad man” and (possibly – if they are very unlucky) exposure in the press and the loss of their knighthood at some future time (although, of course, the BBC and so on will still treat them as noble chaps).

    They face torture and death.

    Indeed those officers of the KGB, GRU (and so on) who stayed in post (rather than physically defecting) so they could pass on information knew that torture and death was ALMOST CERTAIN.

    They were not people of low moral standards (like the Cambridge scumbags) they were people of very HIGH moral standards – giving up their lives so that other people could have a chance of being saved from tyranny.

    Do readers get an understanding of all this from reading John Le Carre?

    No they do not.

  19. NickM says:

    Paul,
    I think you are confusing valour with decency.

    Take a look at this magnificent bastard. Hans-Ulrich Rudel.

    Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, a destroyer, two cruisers, one Soviet battleship, 70 landing craft, 4 armored trains, several bridges and nine aircraft which he shot down.

    But wait…

    On one occasion, after trying a landing to rescue two downed novice Stuka crewmen and then not being able to take off again due to the muddy conditions, he and his three companions, while being chased for 6 km by Soviet soldiers, made their way down a steep cliff by sliding down trees, then swam 600 meters across the icy Dniester river, during which his rear gunner, Knight’s Cross holder Hentschel, succumbed to the cold water and drowned. Several miles further towards the German lines, the three survivors were then captured by Soviets, but Rudel again made a run for it, and despite being barefoot and in soaking clothes, getting shot in his shoulder, and being hunted by several hundred pursuers with dog packs, jogged his way back to his own side over semi-frozen earth during the following days

    To the end of his (1982) days Rudel was an utterly unrepentant NAZI. There may have been harder men but I’m merely glad I haven’t met any of them. The man was magnificent and an utter cunt. Jesus wept. He carried on flying after having a leg amputated. And bagged a load more tanks.

    After the war, Rudel for a time moved to South America where he became a close friend and confidante of the Argentinian president Juan Perón, and Paraguay’s dictator and Third Reich admirer Alfredo Stroessner. Although missing one leg, he remained an active sportsman, playing tennis, skiing, and even climbing the highest peak in the Americas, Aconcagua (6,962 meters or 22,841 feet). He also ascended the fifth highest volcano on Earth three times, the Llullay-Yacu in the Argentine Andes (6,739 meters or 22,109 feet). During his stay, he became an acquaintance of notorious Nazi concentration camp doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele.

    Republic Aviation consulted him for the design of the A-10 Warthog. Do you get my point?

  20. Paul Marks says:

    Courage and decency are indeed different things – for example Prof M.s sidekick in the Holmes stories (I forget his name) is a very brave man (who, for example, goes into the sewers alone to kill giant creature), but he is also an utter swine.

    However, many of the people who gave information to MI6 and the CIA were both brave and decent – their motives were good (they really were). It was the same back in the 1930s when some Soviet agents sent to the United States turned themselves in to the FBI (the book by one of them, “I Choose Freedom”, is a classic, explaining his thoughts and how they changed over time – some of these people were put in great danger due to the vile actions of certain New Dealers).

    As for the Western traitors – normally neither decent (in fact NEVER decent) or brave.

    For example, Philby sent exiles back to Eastern Europe having already told the Soviets they were comming – he shook hands with men (pretended he was their friend) and then sent them to torture and death.

    As for courage – did any of the Western traitors ever show any courage?

    Perhaps some did, but no example springs to mind.

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  22. Kelly says:

    But what if the ‘betrayal’ books are an examination of the events in his own life?Personally I found “Naive and Sentimental ” touching , uncluttered by the ‘spy’ overlays.

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