44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A very fine spy story set in the 1950s,
This review is from: The Envoy (Paperback)
This is one of the best spy stories I have read in years. Set in the mid-1950s when the Cold War as at its height and Britain was humiliated over Suez, the book charts the cynical way in which - so the plot has it - the US sought to undermine Britain's attempt to pursue its goals of independent foreign policy, so as to make it possible for the US to station nuclear weapons on UK soil. Even if you think that the Soviet threat to the West was as serious as some Cold War hawks said it was - and I actually side with the hawks - Wilson's plot has lots of convincing detail.
As a person born near the Suffolk coast who was raised there and learned to sail boats in places such as the Orwell estuary, Woodbridge, Aldeburgh and further south, I loved the local details that were woven in to the plot. You can almost smell the mudflats.
I get the impression that the author is a man of fairly strong left/liberal views but he refrains, mostly, from ramming these down the reader's throat and he never quite falls into the trap of making out that somehow the NATO allies were "just as bad" as the former Soviet Empire. Only once or twice did I find the political tone of this book a bit grating. After all, when all is said and done, what Ronald Reagan called the "Evil Empire", with the Gulag, was indeed evil. But there can also be no doubting that the spying activities on all sides in that era were dirty; Britain was not above dropping its NATO allies into trouble, and vice-versa. I thought Wilson's portrayal of J.F Dulles was particularly chilling.
If you like Le Carre or Len Deighton, you will like this book a lot.
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Initial post: 15 Feb 2014 10:36:29 GMT
Claire Beauchamp says:
THE ENVOY - thank the man who describes the geography and more of those years' politics. I preferred to leave it out and just say it was the best book I have read for years.
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