Book Review

The Russian House

By Denebola
Published: October 2007
By Ben SoltoffIn The Russia House by John le Carré, an unpretentious book publisher becomes entwined in the intricate world of Cold War politics and espionage. The Russia House, a division of the British Secret Intelligence Service that deals with the Soviet Union, intercepts a manuscript intended for Barley Blair, an Englishman who runs his family’s publishing company. The manuscript contains valuable Soviet military secrets and the scientist who sent it wants Blair to publish them.
The Russia House is unsure whether the secrets are authentic or whether they are just a ploy to reveal Western weaknesses. Therefore, the organization has Blair contact the author of the manuscript, thrusting the reluctant publisher into a web of international intrigue and deception. To complicate things even further, a romance develops between Blair and the attractive intermediary through whom he contacts the Russian scientist.
Palfrey, the narrator of the novel, works for the Russia House and does not know whose allegiances lie where, so neither do we. The book effectively examines how national and individual interests can play out amongst political tensions. It is a fascinating look into the personal and political mindsets of the Cold War.

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