When Spies Become Allies

Faced with a melted cold war, espionage novelists are turning their attention to the Middle East, South Africa, Asia, eco-terrorism and the frontier of technology

Berlin. What a garrison of spies! what a playground for every alchemist, miracle worker and rat-piper that ever took up the cloak.

-- John le Carre, A Perfect Spy

The playground has closed. The garrison is dispersing. And with it is going another dejected group: the spy novelists. The cold war, central theme of espionage thrillers, has melted in the warm sun -- and hot air -- of glasnost and perestroika.

It may be quite a while before writers find an arena as morally complex or financially rewarding. Before World War II, the spy novelist usually took the low road: the...

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