These women were accused of drinking blood and eating children. Even after death, they were thought to find ways to devour the living. Sefer Hasidim The Book of the Pietists , the most important work of the 12th- and 13th-century mystical movement, provides advice on how to deal with these women. The book recommends that in the moment before a vigilante-style execution the book clarifies that this, of course, would never be done by the pietists themselves , these cannibalistic witches should be offered absolution in exchange for information about how to neutralize them in their graves.
And although Jews did not actively take part in the early modern European witch hunts, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of women, leading Jewish figures endorsed them. A new kind of unwelcome body invader entered the Jewish lexicon during the 16th century—the dybbuk. A malevolent spirit or ghost, the dybbuk was said to usually possess low-status members of society, most commonly women and children.
Badly behaved spirits, dybbukim were renowned for accusing respected members of the Jewish community of embarrassing sexual acts. Usually a male spirit possessed a female body. In one famous case, a dybbuk was alleged to possess Eidel, the beloved daughter of 19th-century Hasidic leader Rabbi Sholom Rokeach of Belz. After his death, the voice of Rabbi Sholom emerged from Eidel, accusing different prominent men in the community of sexual misconduct. The exorcism itself likely involved burning herbs and incense and then immersing Eidel in water. Following the exorcism, Eidel collapsed and never fully recovered, reportedly suffering from severe depression for the rest of her life.
Kate Miriam Loewenthal, a professor of psychology at the Royal Holloway, University of London, theorizes that voiceless members of society may have claimed to be possessed in order to have a way to express their views, or that those who were deemed possessed were actually suffering from mental health issues. Excerpts from Harba de-Moshe, a Jewish magical treatise from 7th—9th century. To my surprise, there were also instances in which Jews actively wished to be possessed by benevolent spirits. Isaac Luria, the foremost Jewish mystic of the 16th century, and his followers regularly performed graveside rituals intended to attract friendly spirits to possess their souls.
They believed that being possessed would increase their ability to know and understand the unseen world. During the early modern period, roughly the 15th through 18th centuries, the study of magic and mysticism occasionally led to close personal contact and intellectual collaboration between Jews and Christians. Kabbalah, equated with magic by many, caught the eye of Christian scholars such as the Catholic priest Marsilio Ficino and philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola Both men wanted to discover the secret ancient wisdom they believed existed in medieval Jewish mystical literature.
This kind of collaboration, however, was unusual. More often, Christian interest in Jewish magic led to trouble for Jews and contributed to anti-Semitism. Medieval and early modern Christians viewed the Jew as the magician par excellence. Christians believed that Satan was the ultimate source of all magic. As a result, Jewish skill with magic was taken as evidence of their allegiance to Satan and their demonic nature as a people. Because of this belief, Christians persecuted Jews time and time again. The most serious episodes were mass attacks and massacres, such as the one that began at the coronation of King Richard the Lionheart in London on September 3, Amid fears that they would cause mayhem, Jews and women had been barred from the ceremony.
Despite the ban, a Jewish delegation attended, bearing gifts and pledges of fealty. Accused of having come to cast evil enchantments over the newly crowned king, they were stripped, whipped and banished from court. The violence escalated and led to a large-scale pogrom in London that eventually spread to other cities in England. Thousands of Jews died before the brutality ended more than a half-year later. Similarly, untold numbers of Jews were accused of black magic and killed during the roughly years of the Roman Catholic Inquisitions. These prejudices followed Jews into the modern world, and accusations of black magic persist as a source of anti-Semitism.
Magic is an important part of my Jewish heritage.
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We live in troubling times. Sometimes Jews viewed magic as a tool to combat their enemies. Throughout their history, Jews have created and compiled magical practices, spells and recipes intended to harm those who threatened them. One example occurred during World War II. As the news of the Nazi annihilation of the Jews spread beyond Europe, there were Jews in Palestine, who over the objections of some rabbis, began to practice magic in an attempt to save European Jewry. Once there, the group put ash-filled sacks on their heads and chanted incantations for 24 hours.
At night, they blew dozens of shofarot and called for God to show the Jewish people mercy. Afterward, the group filled cups with tears and marched around the tomb seven times, then shouted seven times in unison for God to prevent Hitler from entering Jerusalem. Similar pilgrimages were made to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. And, to protect Palestine itself from the Nazis, Kabbalists were said to have traveled in a plane to spread cock blood on the borders of the land. An alternate version of this story claimed that British officers asked the Kabbalists to fly in a military plane to spread the protective blood over both Palestine and Egypt.
It is also possible that Jerusalem Kabbalists created three magical charms intended to kill Adolf Hitler. These rumors are found in contemporaneous letters and reports and, although evidence that these events actually took place is scanty and disputed, the prevalence of such stories demonstrates the continuing importance of magic in the modern Jewish world. Which brings us to today. Not only is Jewish magic alive and well, it has also become trendy. The Jewitches I spoke with explained that they use magical Jewish rituals and charms to address contemporary concerns such as workplace discrimination and wage disparity.
The ancient wisdom of Jewish magic helps me bring order to chaos. And perhaps it does more as well. A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my childhood friend Rachel and her new baby daughter. Rachel spent close to 15 years attempting to get pregnant. She tried every known fertility drug and in vitro fertilization treatment multiple times, to no avail. She prayed daily to become pregnant. Finally, early last September, she paid an Orthodox rabbi in Israel to perform a segulah charm that he claimed would cure her infertility.
Following his advice, on each day of Sukkot, hoping that she was already pregnant, Rachel bit off and chewed the pitom or stem of an etrog in order to ensure a safe delivery. In late October she learned that she was pregnant, and this June, at age 49, she gave birth to a healthy baby. There is no way to know how or why Rachel finally got pregnant. To me, it was magic.
After the barbaric story we have all followed of Jamal Khashoggi and his horrific murder at the hands of admitted Saudi agents, we can see a growing campaign on the part of Middle Eastern governments to intimidate, frighten, and ultimately neutralize prominent critics. The United States must take strong action to protect its citizens and residents from Middle Eastern governments that wish to silence them. Unfortunately, numerous worldwide governments have failed this test, routinely apprehending the very citizens they are meant to protect before meting out brutal interrogations or extraditing them to criminal states.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union earned a brutal reputation for summoning or detaining men and women only for them to then disappear forever. Just last week in the Middle East, another man disappeared; this time, he was an American citizen. His arrest has been something of a shadow play. Doing business with a Jew. He had been involved, it is alleged, with the sale of a home in East Jerusalem to a Jewish buyer. In the morally skewed universe of the Palestinian Authority, that is, quite literally, a capital crime.
The law has been reaffirmed by Palestinian officials on several occasions — in , , , , , and After the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian leadership could legally kidnap those suspected of dealing with Jews. Yes, fear is what they are seeking to instill. And it is up to the United States and other governments around the world to stand up to this barbaric practice. My home parish was in the orchard-rich east bay town of Mission San Jose now part of Fremont and was one of the original California missions. I was taught by the nuns from age five. When high school came along I commuted by bus 90 minutes each way to San Jose to be taught by the Jesuits at Bellarmine.
There is the blinding miraculous conversion like the one that turned Saul of Tarsus into St. And finally there is the garden-variety conversion-of-convenience where the more malleable, or less religiously committed spouse in a mixed marriage takes on the religion of the partner. So what kind of conversion is mine? Unfortunately, like a lot of neat distinctions, these categories of conversion fail me when I examine my own life—mostly because my life, and my Catholic beliefs, changed dramatically after I left high school.
At age 17 I applied for, and was accepted into, the Catholic religious order called the Society of Jesus, or more familiarly, the Jesuits. My experience as a Jesuit unmade my traditional Catholicism. This may come as surprise to people unfamiliar with Jesuits. The result of the Jesuit formation is not easy to predict—it can lead individuals back into traditional religious practices, others to radically progressive practices, others to leaving the Jesuit order, or leaving Catholicism, or leaving belief-systems totally.
I myself left the order several years before final ordination to the priesthood. But not until I had a transformative experience—one that has had lasting impact on me and on this very conversion process. I was at St. Louis University sitting in my room on a sunny afternoon doing some assigned reading for a Philosophy of Religion course. Tillich was a prominent Lutheran theologian, transplanted from Germany to the United States, and a Professor at the University of Chicago until his death in In words that I have reread many times, Tillich taught me something new about the meaning of Faith.
I had been taught, and always assumed, that Faith is one and the same thing as Belief; that is, a person of Faith believes what is taught. Paul Tillich had quite another view. He said that Faith is not so much believing things as it is being concerned about things, specifically about issues that are beyond our day-to-day crises and joys. Faith means that we make the effort, at least sometimes, to try to extend our horizon, and look further out for meaning, for purpose, for direction. Tillich says that the way we exercise Faith is through Belief—and Doubt.
The person of Faith—that person scanning the horizon—learns from his experiences, and comes to believe some things and to doubt others. As we learn more, we believe some things we used to doubt and doubt some things we used to believe. To Paul Tillich, a person of unwavering belief would no more qualify as a person of Faith than would the nihilist that doubts all things. This came as a stunning insight to me then. Here was a form of religious Faith that worked the way that my engineering thinking worked.
Some challenge maybe the design of a circuit or maybe the direction of my life causes me to examine, question, think, and test until I can identify the beliefs—the truths, and the doubts—the non-truths that inform my response to the challenge. And both breath and wind are invisible things that can be felt—hence, their association with spirit. Now let me stir in the Tillich lesson. I believe that Faith is to the life of the soul as breathing is to the life of the body.
It is the animating principle. Believing is like inhaling—taking into ourselves sustenance. No one can only inhale and survive. No one can only exhale and survive. And no one can simply stop breathing. This insight has been a major factor in my life. It did however free me to go a-wandering, which I certainly have done. I reflected on it as I left the Jesuits to explore the wider world. I reflected on it again when I entered a marriage and again when that marriage ended in great pain 15 years later.
And it was firmly planted into my personality when I finally encountered Judaism. I was brought to Judaism by Barbara Bernstein, whom I met 18 years ago, rapidly fell in love with and subsequently married. So am I one of those mixed-faith marriage converts after all—a convert-of-convenience?
Was I the more malleable partner? Probably Was I less religiously committed? Probably not I asked myself: Would I have gone wherever I was tugged? I have an answer to this that has now become one of my beliefs inhale. The answer is simple. I fell in love with a Jew. Here are some of her qualities that attracted me: I came to understand later that much of what I love about Barbara are qualities shared among many Jews. I started meeting lots of them. First I met her terrific almost-four-year-old daughter—later our mutual daughter. Then I met her family, her extended family, her friends.
Then her former rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf. Then we joined a wonderful chavurah group of friends of families with young children, which has been a major part of our Jewish life for over a decade. Finally, as the children moved up through religious school, we blended into this larger temple community. As a people, Jews are educated, canny, funny, blunt, aggressive, challenging, devoted to family, devoted to ritual. I still think Barbara is the best of the lot. Not all religions are as tolerant of differing beliefs as Judaism is.
In fact, as I understand it, our mandate as Reform Jews requires us to remember that Faith equals Concern, and that our experience of life requires us to continually evaluate our relation to God, our relation to one another, our very Jewishness. This tolerance for a diversity of beliefs is widely affirmed by Reform Jews. But is it authentically Jewish? Some people say this is just Reform Judaism with its anything-goes attitude. My sense of it is that Judaism, from start to finish, is more sketchy than concrete.
Unexpectedly, it says far less than the translation. Let me give just one example—the famous scene when Jacob wrestles the angel. The Torah says none of this. In just 6 Hebrew words the Torah says, roughly: Of course, the ultimate example of ellipticity in Judaism is the very name of God himself. Even the tetragrammaton, the yud-heh-vav-heh, is a construction.
Would a religion that forbids concrete representations of spiritual beings go on to require concrete representations of specific beliefs? Or would it instead tolerate, in fact require, that our collective beliefs and practices be vague, to be filled in only by the living of our individual lives. We return full circle.
Judaism—our Judaism—is a religion that requires spiritual breathing, a life of faith that sometimes believes, sometimes doubts, but always learns. So what kind of a convert am I? I think these are very rare, and then are hard to distinguish from psychosis. This folding into the community is a slow and gentle process.
El poder de la voluntad es muy grande. Creo que la respuesta es obvia: Cuando hablamos de voluntad nos referimos a la fuerza de voluntad. Una facultad del alma con la que se decide actuar en un determinado sentido. La fuerza de voluntad es la capacidad de uno para dirigir sus propias acciones con libertad. El poder que tiene la fuerza de voluntad es impresionante.
El poder de la fuerza de voluntad es indetenible. Y Evel, el menor, ofrece de segundo. Para comenzar a abordar este fascinante tema debemos entender la naturaleza de la mente humana. Tu mente, per se, solamente busca protegerte. Por eso es un mecanismo instintivo. El miedo a lo desconocido, a lo nuevo, al cambio, incluso a algo mejor. El miedo es la herramienta de nuestra propia mente tratando de resguardarnos de cualquier posible peligro o amenaza.
Vemos que el miedo es un agente paralizador ante cualquier elemento desconocido, por lo tanto la primera batalla que uno debe librar para avanzar y crecer en cualquier area de su vida es actuar a pesar del miedo. Y en memoria de la Sra. Sorprendentemente, Abram no estaba ansioso de recibir su ofrenda.
Ahora, esta era su oportunidad. Cuando Teraj y su familia regresaron del templo, encontraron la tienda en ruinas. Continuaremos viendo los paralelos entre las vidas de nuestros ancestros y la historia de sus descendientes. Dios le ordena a Abram: Escuchado del Rabino Noaj Weinberg. El plan de Abram fue afirmar que Sara era su hermana soltera, en cuyo caso los egipcios iban a ofertar por su mano. Al parecer no todos los de Canaan iban a Egipto. Los egipcios son golpeados con plagas y el patriarca se va con gran riqueza.
El primer ejemplo es Lot, el sobrino de Abram. Entonces, le pagaron al Emperador Kadorlaomer para que dirigiera las tierras por ellos. En la guerra resultante, los 4 reyes derrotaron a los 5. Sodoma fue conquistada y Lot junto con ellos. Trata de imaginar a un victorioso general que acaba de ganar una guerra mundial Pershing, Eisenhower, Shwartzkop , volviendo a casa en un desfile.
Ahora imagina a todos ellos en uno. El concepto de que Dios firme un contrato con un hombre es impactante. Esto nos dice que Dios no castiga inmediatamente, sino que le da a las personas la oportunidad de arrepentirse. Hagar era una gran mujer. Hirsch explica que realmente fue culpa de Abram, a pesar de que no fue intencional. Este es el primer mandamiento que se le dio a Abraham para todas las generaciones y el segundo pacto de Dios con Abraham. New finds in the 2,year-old underground cemetery include the first Hebrew inscription at the site, as well as signs that Christians and Jews may have shared the burial space.
Archaeologists racing to save a vulnerable and rapidly disintegrating 2,year old Jewish catacomb in Rome gave in to pressure from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group and let them rebury the bones found within, not allowing their study. The decision spurred outrage among some scientists who protested in frustration as the bones were resealed in their tombs, putting the remains beyond the reach of curious researchers forever.
The Italian authorities and the archaeologists involved rebut that the compromise was necessary in order to save the site, which had begun to decay rapidly after its exposure. Meanwhile, new discoveries made in the process of restoring the underground cemetery highlight the importance and prosperity of the Jewish community in the capital of the Roman empire, as well as the surprising extent to which their culture was intertwined with that of pagans and Christians.
Also, in a development likely to surprise Jews everywhere, the study of the site has led archaeologists to a new theory about how and where the menorah became a symbol of the Jewish people. The catacomb, housing some 4, burials on two floors, was in use between the 2nd and 5th centuries C. It is located in northern modern Rome, beneath the grounds of Villa Torlonia, a 19th-century neoclassical villa with vast gardens once owned by the aristocratic family of the same name.
During the Fascist period, the villa was rented by none other than Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, as his residence in the city. The underground city of the dead was rediscovered in during construction work on the estate, but it has since lain mostly abandoned and easy prey to looters, researchers say. In general, Christian catacombs may be better known than Jewish ones because they have been well preserved by the Catholic Church as burial spots of martyrs and early places of worship.
But Jews used catacombs too. There are at least six such cemeteries in Rome alone, says Daniela Rossi, the archaeologist overseeing the project on behalf of the Italian Culture Ministry. In fact, some researchers have concluded that the Jewish catacombs in the city predate the Christian ones, and that it was the Jews who first introduced this burial method to ancient Rome. As in most of these underground cemeteries, the dead of Villa Torlonia were buried in loculi — rows of niches carved into the soft tufa stone and then sealed with plaster.
The cover would often be inscribed with the name of the deceased as well as prayers or invocations. Those who could afford it were buried in larger chapels with arched niches, known as arcosolia, whose walls and ceilings were elegantly decorated with Jewish motifs such as menorahs and the Ark of the Covenant , or symbolic fruits like the pomegranate and the etrog.
Already in , the Italian Culture Ministry had approved the 1. Because Italian law recognizes and respects Jewish burial customs, archaeologists could not begin work on the site with all those bones lying around, Rossi explains. Jewish religious law prohibits removing or damaging bones from a burial, even if done for scientific purposes. In Israel, this has led to frequent clashes between ultra-Orthodox Jews and archaeologists whenever ancient Jewish graves are dug up.
To preserve this treasure, archaeologists had to make concessions to Jewish religious sensitivities, Rossi says. Over the last year, Italian authorities allowed Atra Kadisha — a small ultra-Orthodox group that took upon itself to protect Jewish graves wherever they might be — to collect the human remains at Villa Torlonia and reseal them in the loculi. Bones, and the DNA they contain, can help date a site or answer questions like where people came from, what illnesses they suffered from and what they ate. The decision to surrender this scientific treasure trove angered many experts, dozens of whom signed petitions to the Culture Ministry asking for the reburials to be stopped.
On Thursday, as the Italian-Israeli team presented the project at a conference in Jerusalem, one angry archaeologist interrupted the talk by shouting that his colleagues had behaved unethically. They are an extremist religious group that should not be backed by archaeologists. Scholars from around the world wrote time and again to the Italian authorities beseeching them to stop the works and allow a task force of international experts to inspect the site, says Leonard Rutgers, an archaeologist from Utrecht University and a longtime researcher of Jewish catacombs in Rome.
Rutgers further cautioned that the catacomb is extremely fragile and opening it to the public could lead to further damage. On the other hand, Yuval Baruch, who explains that the Israel Antiquities Authority joined the project following the protests, reports that the Israelis were positively impressed when they inspected the site during the reburial work last year. The plan is to open the catacomb sometime next year. Funding is still being sought for a small museum to be built above ground to showcase important finds, Rossi said.
The preliminary work has meanwhile turned up new discoveries, such as the only Hebrew inscription found in the catacomb. Most of the writing in the cemetery is in Greek — the lingua franca of early diaspora Jews and Hellenistic-era Israel — and some is in Latin. Actually, the new-found Hebrew text was first noticed by one of the rabbis working in the catacomb, Rossi says. The fact that local Jews had typically Latin names such as Clodius, and that Christian symbols were found, indicates the extent to which the cultures living side by side in Rome influenced each other, Rossi concludes.
The sheer number of burials in Villa Torlonia and in other Jewish catacombs in the city also attests to the size of the local community, Rossi says. The first Jews arrived in Rome during the second century B. Most of the Jews settled in Trastevere, a neighborhood on the River Tiber, and were generally artisans or traders. Their conclusions were presented at the conference in Jerusalem and suggest that we need to rethink the origins of the menorah as a symbol of the Jewish people, says Baruch, the Israeli archaeologist. There are less than a dozen depictions of the menorah in Israel that date to before the destruction of the Temple, and these are usually found in a discreet location, such as a water well, or in a context connected to the Cohanim, the priests of the Temple.
This makes sense because at the time the menorah was locked up in the Temple and visible only to the priests, Baruch says. After the Temple was destroyed, the menorah was prominently depicted on the primary Arch of Titus , which the emperor Domitian built in Rome in fact, two were built to celebrate the Roman triumph over rebellious Judea.
Most historians believe the menorah itself was melted down during the barbarian invasions of Italy in the 5th century C. Initially used in the Jewish catacombs of Rome as a symbol of death and mourning for the destruction of the Temple, only later did the menorah acquire a broader national significance, appearing in synagogues and Jewish buildings across Israel and the diaspora, he says.
Caravaggio — David with the Head of Goliath. Is the story of the Philistine champion Goliath a distant memory of an event that took place in the 11th century B. Some 3, years ago, the Israelites and Philistines faced off on opposite sides of Elah Valley. The Israelites quailed and held back, until a shepherd boy named David arose and, armed with naught but a slingshot, triumphed.
So goes the biblical narrative 1 Samuel True history is made up not of stones or words but of people. Was there ever a mighty warrior named Goliath who challenged the Israelites in the 11th century B. Is the story based on distant memory from 3, years ago, or much later fabrication? One argument in favor of the historical narrative is that Bronze Age societies commonly employed single combats as proxies for the clash of two armies, to determine the outcome of a war. Evidence of that is legion. Another is that names are among the easiest things to pass down in oral tradition.
And now new archaeological evidence from Philistine Gath obliquely supports the case that the biblical narrative reflects historical realities, albeit through a prism, and was not pure 7th century B. As the two armies confronted each other across the valley, a huge figure armed to the hilt stepped forward through the ranks of the Philistine army:.
In , archaeologists digging in the ancient Philistine capital discovered an inscription on a small sherd of pottery, found lying on a floor of a house dating to the 9th century B. The inscription contained the name WLT Semitic languages were and are generally written without vowels. This was the second example of Philistine writing found in Gath: If nothing else, these inscriptions prove that people with names very similar to Goliath lived in Gath during the early Iron Age. This description in the account of Samuel Warriors arrayed in this way were called champions; they were at the front of the field and often led the attack.
Homer calls them promachoi , meaning first-men. Christoph, a big man who's no stranger to criminal activity, means to get restitution one way or another.
Thus Christoph stalks elderly Peter, tries to extort him, and threatens his life. From the point of view of the Circus, proof of this entire cold war operation - which greatly benefitted Britain - would make Cristoph and Karen's lawsuit moot. However, only George Smiley knows the location of all the pertinent documents, and he can't be found. And that's the gist of the novel. There's also a sub-theme about a possible mole in the Circus during the cold war, who was outing agents to the enemy.
Unfortunately this thread didn't really go anywhere much to my disappointment. I enjoyed the book, especially the insights into the spy game and how agents operate. In grade school I wanted to be a spy, and wrote the CIA. At that time women were considered more secretarial than spy material, so I was disappointed with the CIA's response You can follow my reviews at https: View all 11 comments. Jan 13, Jacob Overmark rated it it was amazing Shelves: How often do you sit down and review a meeting with old friends?
You may evaluate a business meeting, but this is something entirely different. It is like finding old friends on Facebook and getting to know what they have been up to for the last decades, just in this case, the exchange of news is s How often do you sit down and review a meeting with old friends?
It is like finding old friends on Facebook and getting to know what they have been up to for the last decades, just in this case, the exchange of news is sadly mostly about other departed friends. Not surprisingly he is hitting at the tendency to look at every historical event through modern eyes, our tendency to put blame on people — and not any secret service in particular — without taking the circumstances under which they lived and acted into consideration.
Sep 11, John Farebrother rated it it was amazing. Long dead characters and plots from his heyday are literally unearthed and desecrated by the righteous anger of the 21st-century establishment, anxious to disassociate itself from its Cold War practices. I can't help thinking the author himself wanted to revisit and perhaps clarify some of the more obscure passages of his earlier and greatest books.
Or simply enjoy reliving past glories. I did not want this book to end. None of us do. And yes, I cried. A primer on George Smiley which you may find helpful. And yes, I very much recommend you first read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold , or watch the extraordinary movie with Richard Burton, perhaps his finest performance.
The same linguistic ambiguity appears in the next chapter At times it reminded me of a particularly rich ice-cream, at other times of a smoothly purring German auto engine. Collins suffered from a form of arthritis known as "rheumatic gout" and became severely addicted to the opium that he took in the form of laudanum to relieve the pain. Para comenzar a abordar este fascinante tema debemos entender la naturaleza de la mente humana. One character is anti-American but most of the references to Americans are more amusing and …more Yes, it is definitely worth reading A Legacy of Spies. Perezosos Los [Spanish Edition] Paperback.
A bit dotty, but fine. I said my mother polished them every Sunday, which was true. Peter's new, "gruesome MI6, Lubyanka by the Thames" Full size image In today's modern service, the new proprietors are just as lustful of secrets as the old guard, all secrets must become THEIR secrets. Brutally theirs, ripped vindictively from the past and its people, and stolen from today and tomorrow forever. But who are the heroes here, who the villains? So many questions, and 50 years of feeling the loss and pain as Liz is shot, and Alec finally comes in from the cold.
Even now I mist up, remembering. He chooses to read Guillam's flat, emotionless reports directly into the prose. Perhaps this is honest, or "accurate", but it's still dull and very dry. A serious mistake, sucking away the passion and tragedy, and much of the tension of the doom we know is coming.
How much of our human feeling can we dispense with in the name of freedom, would you say, before we cease to feel either human or free? And in our dark nights, whom do we remember, our tears in the rain? For Smiley, his Anne. And for Peter Guillam An early-morning flight from Bristol took me to Le Bourget. Stepping down the gangway, I was assailed by memories of [the girl]: Catherine has acquired a computer. She tells me she is making strides. Last night we made love, but it was Tulip I held in my arms.
It was truly wonderful, a fabulous evening in the company of a genius. After, he was asked about current politics and he lambasted the creeping fascism in the world today, especially Trump. Fascism is up and running in Poland and Hungary. View all 6 comments. As ever, Le Carre is the master of narratives of dissimulation and regret at the lies that have fractured the lives of his protagonists.
This book is entrancing, lovely even, in it's exploration of the life of a former spy, Peter Guillam, whose actions and sacrifices are being questioned in the post-cold war world, all the more so because his training in secrecy and non-disclosure means he doles out as much mis-information as revelations during interrogation. Ironically, the spies of the modern As ever, Le Carre is the master of narratives of dissimulation and regret at the lies that have fractured the lives of his protagonists.
Ironically, the spies of the modern era cannot determine what the spies of yesterday were up to behind the operation Le Carre related in his breakthrough book, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Will the current government hang Peter out to dry for apparent sins done in the name of fighting communism? How much of the truth can be revealed, and to whom?
Is Peter a scapegoat or an engineer of human tragedy that deserves to be punished? As a narrator his prevarications will leave you teetering between these perspectives until the very end. The ending itself is set up brilliantly, but sputters a bit in the final pages -- there are no fireworks, instead a dying away to embers. Fitting perhaps as the Cold War itself dissipated in a moment of euphoria to be replaced with new tensions and new subterfuges that call for different sorts of spies. It can be read independently, but will spoil both of the those books for readers who are new to the world of The Circus and George Smiley.
Take the time to read the first book, it's short and well worth it, before you tackle this one. It isn't the best of Le Carre's novels about the men and women, ordinary in so many ways, yet who made extraordinary sacrifices to live hidden and dangerous lives. As always, the sub-text here looks to confront what that battle hoped to gain, was the cause just? Were all of the players entering the game for same ends? It is a question the book leaves to be decided, but the novel itself serves as an appropriate epitaph that speaks volumes to the unrelenting forces of history that always find ways to grind up and spit up people who try to make the world a better place.
Sep 15, Truman32 rated it really liked it. To be honest, the spy agency is not exactly sure what has occurred during these top-secret operations and unable to find George Smiley, their lawyers have procured Guillam to answer their questions. Unsure of the angles the other players are working, Guillam is about as forthcoming as a college freshman telling his folks what happened at the kegger last Friday night. But slowly the memories from his past begin to connect like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Told mainly from recollections and pilfered top-secret documents; and relying heavily on the incidents from the previous novels, A Legacy of Spies can be a little hard to get into by the uninitiated.
But like walking on a frozen pond, once you break through, you will find yourself on an incredible breakneck adventure that is sure to challenge the way you perceive the world at large. No word is wasted and no phrase superfluous leaving only a tale as forceful and driving as a bullet. They could just as well be the same schmos working retail. Or they could be the schlemiels in outside sales peddling vacuum cleaners as to being clandestine agents mastering the dark art of espionage.
You can picture their wrinkled shirts, stooped postures, and heavy guts—these are not James Bond operatives. And this makes their moral collapse, the sacrifice of their honor for useless results even more tragic. Oct 30, Jason Koivu rated it really liked it Shelves: This one doesn't have much of Smiley in it though, which is a let down. However, his sidekick Peter Guillam, a fan favorite I believe. Well in the very least, I'm a fan, so I quite enjoyed this retrospective look back at a case or mission or whatever you call it, wherein Guillam played a major role.
Flash forward and now he's being taken to task for these actions by the Circus' own lawyers, who are looking for a fall-guy to take the wrap for a botched job in which a relative innocent was killed. Once again the author weaves an intricate web and nimbly unwinds it with astonishing expertise. Aug 25, Quirkyreader rated it it was amazing. This book was wonderful. It sucked me in right away.
A word of caution after reading this. They all tie into one another and this sews up the whole series. So if this is your first reading of a Smiley book, there is going to be some confusion. Saying anymore about this book will spoil the outcome. I especially hope this will not be the last LeCarre novel This book was wonderful. I especially hope this will not be the last LeCarre novel.
Sep 23, Blaine DeSantis rated it really liked it. A fine effort by le Carre in his most recent offering. Here we are looking at a situation where the current spy agency is both questioning and trying to undermine Operation Windfall that involved George Smiley and all his fellow Cold War agents.
Much of this book is seen as a series of flashback as set forth in Agency memos and notes. I really enjoyed the book and it made me a bit peeved at the new political correctness that pervades agencies who do not have a historical perspective to understan A fine effort by le Carre in his most recent offering. I really enjoyed the book and it made me a bit peeved at the new political correctness that pervades agencies who do not have a historical perspective to understand and appreciate what their predecessors had to go through during that time period.
The book really makes it appear that the British Covert agencies are on trial for "collateral damage" deaths that occurred in the Cold War, while at the same time being blind to the actions and counteractions that were undertaken by the East Germans and Russians. Not sure if this will be le Carre's last book, but if so it wraps up a lot and allows us to take a look at todays spy agencies in not the most glowing light.
For 25 years, I called him "John Le Car". In Dhaka in the 90s, there was no one to tell me the correct pronunciation, no one to explain that the accent aigu over the "e" turned the name into "John Le Cah-ray" or, translated into English, John the Square. It didn't matter though because, Le Car or Le Cahray, he was one of the writers, alongside Orwell, Maugham and Simenon, that I spent a great deal of time obsessing over during the nineties. Fresh out of college and gleefully skipping university classes, I collected his books from the shabby pavements of Nilkhet and Paltan, reading and rereading them, especially The Spy Who Came In From The Cold which, with its ashen-grey authenticity and its absolutely chilling amorality, made such a lasting impression upon me that even two decades later, I was sending it as a gift to a political scientist friend who had just told me that she was teaching a college course on the Cold War to a bunch of American undergraduates!
Some books become THE classic example of their genre. They represent such a pinnacle of achievement that all other books in the genre must necessarily refer to them, are permanently indebted to them and, just as permanently, fail to measure up to them. When it comes to the Cold War spy thriller, The Spy Who Came In represents that peak, making all other works to some extent superfluous; in the long run, its survival alone will suffice for literature and for posterity.
I actually went to the author's book talk that accompanied its publication last year though I didn't delve too much into the book itself. So the talk he gave at London's Southbank Centre was a true rarity, and the 2,seat hall was packed to capacity in anticipation. What astonished me was both his physical fitness and his mental acuity; for nearly two hours, this octogenarian stood on his feet, spinning out stories and memories, regaling the audience with his waspish humour and pointed observation.
Not many characters, not many books find an afterlife more than half a century later. And so A Legacy of Spies. It is essentially the story behind the story of Alec Leamas and Liz Gold, describing the events that led up to their doomed love affair, and its aftereffects rippling out into the present day. The narrator is our old friend Peter Guillam, summoned from bucolic retirement in Brittany, dealing with the brittle suits of today's MI6, trying to protect those secrets and lies that mattered so much in the early sixties but seem so strange and anachronistic and even redundant in these techno-glorious hyper-modern times.
It's odd, travelling through eastern Europe today and talking to young Poles and Ukrainians, to realize that the earnest shadow boxing of the Cold War is not even a faded memory for them. It's only the diminishing sum of the grubby recollections of their aging parents and grandparents. Guillam must be close to 80 now, and Smiley for his part has to be nearing his hundredth birthday. At times it reminded me of a particularly rich ice-cream, at other times of a smoothly purring German auto engine. Basically one of life's hedonistic pleasures, which the old man is still well capable of serving up to his devoted readers.
As for the plot, a lot of complicated carpentry has gone to successfully bolt on a backstory to The Spy Who Came In , and some of the seams do show. The best parts of the book are the first two thirds, especially the operational devilry of the TULIP operation that Guillam describes in all its nefarious glory via multifarious sources.
The final third though, I felt was somewhat anticlimactic, if not actually ho-hum. But that may be as much due to the reading gap imposed upon me by a long weekend as to any inherent defect in the story. Such was the kick I received from this latest encounter that I am now diving headlong into the utterly sinful luxury that is turning out to be A Perfect Spy! Sep 29, Bill Kupersmith rated it really liked it. From John Buchan to Ian Fleming, the spy was a glamorous attractive figure performing deeds of derring-do. This new offering is difficult to rate. The biggest problem is that all of these characters would be much too old - their heyday was the Second World War when they were doing things like operating a fleet of trawlers in the Helford estuary how details like that stick in my mind!
Definitely this book would not work as a stand-alone. German Baroque tragedy you will find this story, your last reunion with your old friends, utterly impossible to put down, however implausible some of the incidents. Sep 23, Lashaan Balasingam Bookidote rated it liked it Shelves: You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. One of the godfathers of spy thrillers returns to the battlefield with A Legacy of Spies. His latest novel serves as a fantastic throwback to his greatest work and brings back one of his signature characters, George Smiley, i You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.
His latest novel serves as a fantastic throwback to his greatest work and brings back one of his signature characters, George Smiley, in a story overflowing with tough moral decisions. In fact, the story unfolds with Peter Guillam, our protagonist, being scrutinized about Operation Windfall and his Cold War past in order to help him—or maybe just the British Secret Service—bypass some legal issues that have risen from the dark. The novel greatly relies on interweaving the past and the present in order to unwrap the lies and deceits that have been much more essential than one who has never lived through Cold War would understand.
The story also greatly relies on transcripts and past communications written with code names and technical spy language. With spy novels, misdirection, deception and coded language are all part of the game. I loved how they all embraced their roles and represented their generation with pure perfection. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review!
View all 3 comments. Oct 02, Judy rated it really liked it Shelves: Although I have read only eight of the master's books, I am a John le Carre fan. I like his particular combination of thrilling escapades accompanied by the loneliness and doubts of his spies. George Smiley, infamous and elusive spymaster of the British Secret Service, who straddled the line between the need for secrecy and the wish to protect his agents, is only a shadow during much of the story. Peter Guillam is featured as the retired and genuinely elderly spy pulled back in to the 21st century version of MI6.
The service is about to be sued by descendants of key figures from the past and Peter is expected to save them. He is unwilling, recalcitrant as always, and it is his cynicism that protects him from demands that he reveal old secrets he would prefer to keep cloistered in his heart. After all he lost in that game, those secrets are all he has left.
Some things never change despite the modern stresses on the service. In some of his novels, le Carre has written such indecipherable conclusions, but in this one the ending is perfect. Oct 18, Roy rated it it was ok. Read this for Bookclub. Just never got going for me. I know le Carre is big on character and intellect, but I found the plot a little of a bore. Aug 28, Alex Bledsoe rated it really liked it. This reads like a finale, a summing-up and reckoning of le Carre's spy novels.
It's also gripping and relentless; it takes a lot of skill to make dossier reading exciting, and le Carre has it. And if this is, indeed, the last of his novels set in the world of George Smiley and the Circus, it's a fitting end. Sep 28, Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing Shelves: His most recent appearance, but only as a supporting character, was in The Secret Pilgrim, published in Given the author's six-decade career as a novelist, the decade he had spent as an intelligence officer for both MI6 and MI5, and the worldwide popularity of his work, Smiley's reappearance in is a major event in the publishing world.
The Cold War reexamined Decades earlier, late in the s and early in the 60s, Peter Guillam had served as a young MI6 officer under the legendary George Smiley, then serving one step below Control as "Head of Covert.
Now, many years later, Guillam is an old man, retired to the family farm in Brittany. Peter is sequestered in a run-down safe house and interrogated by an unpleasant pair of officers who are convinced that he and Smiley were responsible for the two deaths and for causing Windfall to fail in a disastrous fashion. Complex and believable characters, palpable suspense The action rapidly shifts back and forth from Peter's recollections of Windfall and the hostile questioning he faces years later, illuminated by official documents that come to light in the files of MI6 as well as the Stasi.
His characters leap off the page, fully fleshed. Suspense builds steadily as the case against Peter grows ever stronger. Oct 02, John McDonald rated it it was amazing. How did Guillam, retired from the Service, or the Circus, as he and Smiley called it, get there. With that statement, John LeCarre' conveys what his writing for the last 40 years has been about. LeCarre scorns the gamesmanship of the Secret Service when it should be involved in the pursuit of peace, recognizing the need for operatives like himself, Smiley, Prideaux, and "When the truth catches up with you, don't be a hero, run," Peter Guillam intonates just as he thinks he's about to be murdered.
LeCarre scorns the gamesmanship of the Secret Service when it should be involved in the pursuit of peace, recognizing the need for operatives like himself, Smiley, Prideaux, and Guillam. He loathes the public school and Oxford elite like Percy Allelien, Bill Hayden, the Circus mole responsible for the murder of British spies and for destroying the spy networks, and the internal politics which lead to innumerable botched operations.
LeCarre' self-analysis is believable. Early in the book, Peter muses, "Individual accountability. The old problem of where obedience to superior orders stops, and responsibility for one's individual actions begins. But, it is the essential question that all old men and women must ask if they are honest, or as Cornwall, speaking through Peter Guillam contemplates, did I take accountability for my individual actions. Maybe because I have read and seen "Tinker, Tailor" and "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," dozens of times and have asked the very questions LeCarre' asks and tries to answer in this volume, the characters in this book come alive.
The plots endure and become even more subtle. The book is literate, it is smart, it is subtly opinionated, and it makes the reader rethink everything. I hope there's more coming from Cornwall and that he keeps asking the vital questions that make the examined life, paraphrasing Socrates, truly the life worth living, and perhaps remembering always what Peter Guillam concluded, to run quickly "when the truth catches up with you. Mar 15, Jaksen rated it liked it Shelves: First off, and overall, I love John le Carre, his books, his history, his insights This book was kind of average, a lot of telling what happened mostly in the past It's full of briefs and debriefs and reports and all sorts of spy-verbiage-reporting.