Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
A Most Wanted Man
by John Le Carré, Scribner 2008
Reviewed by Ulf Goebel
Tightly plotted, and as convoluted in its
narrative twists as any of Le Carré's novels, this latest is
perhaps a bit more cranky than its predecessors, but no less
gripping a read. The aging author's powers seem quite
If not exactly innocence, the plot turns on naïveté, a sort of
misguided ingenuousness on the part of some of Le Carré's usual
suspects, here once again in different guises in another German
setting, this time in Hamburg. Issa Karpov, a wild boy reminiscent
of Kaspar Hauser, half Chechen and half Russian, a Muslim charged
with terrorism, appears out of nowhere in search of salvation from
his past, which includes imprisonment and torture in Russia and
Turkey. Annabel Richter, a beautiful young German lawyer, falls for
him and sets out to save the unsavable. To this end, she is
persuaded by a picaresque German agent to cooperate with him in an
involved scheme to use Issa as bait to turn a Muslim scholar known
to sponsor terrorism into a double agent.
"One goofy liberal woman lawyer on the verge of a nervous
breakdown. One semidefunct British banker who has the hots for her.
And one semi-Chechen freedom fighter on the run from Russian
justice..." These, as the main American spy in the picture puts it,
are the all too corruptible innocents manipulated by the German and
British secret services, until the American war-on-terror
juggernaut runs over them all.
- Ulf Goebel is a German instructor at Butler University.