College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Most Wanted Man 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 undiminished.

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.