Books: Corrupt Practices

John le Carre's new novel offers a gripping tour of global crime

International crime will probably never attract the sort of headlines and public anxieties that were expended on the Manichaean struggle between the West and the U.S.S.R. Compared with the prospect of nuclear annihilation, hoodlums smuggling things across borders strike most people as an inevitable and tolerable fact of life. But John le Carre, the most artful chronicler of fictionalized cold war espionage (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), takes a less sanguine view of the outlaw capitalism that only intensified after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of the old world order....

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