John Le Carre Famous Quotes & Sayings

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100 John Le Carre Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

John Le Carre Sayings: In the '60s - and right up to the present day - the identity of In the '60s - and right up to the present day - the identity of a member of the British Secret Services was and is, quite rightly, a state secret. To divulge it is a crime. The Services may choose to leak a name when it pleases them.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Some people are agents from birth, Monsignors he told them appointed to the work by Some people are agents from birth, Monsignors
he told them
appointed to the work by the period of history, the place, and their own natural dispositions. In their cases, it was simply a question of who got to them first, Your Eminences: 'Whether it's us, whether it's the opposition, or whether it's the bloody missionaries.
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John Le Carre Sayings: You can't eat politics, you can't sell them, and you can't sleep with them,' Drake You can't eat politics, you can't sell them, and you can't sleep with them,' Drake liked to say. So you might as well make money out of them.
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John Le Carre Sayings: You should have died when I killed you. You should have died when I killed you.
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John Le Carre Sayings: There comes a moment for all of us when our childhood ceases to be an There comes a moment for all of us when our childhood ceases to be an excuse. In your case, I would say that, as with many English, the moment is somewhat delayed.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Do you know what love is? I'll tell you: it is whatever you can still Do you know what love is? I'll tell you: it is whatever you can still betray.
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John Le Carre Sayings: All right, Pendel had lied to him, if lying was the word. He had told All right, Pendel had lied to him, if lying was the word. He had told Osnard what he wanted to hear and gone to extraordinary lengths to obtain it for him, including making it up. Some people lied because lying gave them a kick, made them feel braver or cleverer than all the lowly conformists who went on their bellies and told the truth. Not Pendel. Pendel lied to conform. To say the right things at all times, even if the right things were in one place, and the truth was in another.
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John Le Carre Sayings: He has his chin on his chest and his eyes down. He is thinking of He has his chin on his chest and his eyes down. He is thinking of his new baby, his new novel, tomorrow's dance contest. He is thinking of everything except what he is thinking about.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Thank heaven, though, one of the few mistakes I haven't made is to talk about Thank heaven, though, one of the few mistakes I haven't made is to talk about the unwritten book.
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John Le Carre Sayings: I don't think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great I don't think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great religions with impunity.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Society is unconcerned with the aftermath of sensation. Society is unconcerned with the aftermath of sensation.
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John Le Carre Sayings: I don't know the literary world; I was scared of being confronted with famous names, I don't know the literary world; I was scared of being confronted with famous names, not knowing what they had written. It was occupied territory I was entering.
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John Le Carre Sayings: The vertical manThough we value noneBut the horizontal one. The vertical man
Though we value none
But the horizontal one.
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John Le Carre Sayings: The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.
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John Le Carre Sayings: This is a war," Lemas replied. "It's graphic and unpleasant because it's fought on a This is a war," Lemas replied. "It's graphic and unpleasant because it's fought on a tiny scale, at close range; fought with a wastage of innocent life sometimes, I admit. But it's nothing, nothing at all besides other wars - the last or the next.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Life was to be a search, or nothing! But it was the fear that it Life was to be a search, or nothing! But it was the fear that it was nothing that drove me forward. Every encounter was an encounter with myself.
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John Le Carre Sayings: To possess another language is to possess another soul. To possess another language is to possess another soul.
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John Le Carre Sayings: It's an old illness you suffer from, Mr. Smiley," she continued, taking a cigarette from It's an old illness you suffer from, Mr. Smiley," she continued, taking a cigarette from the box; "and I have seen many victims of it. The mind becomes separated from the body; it thinks without reality, rules a paper kingdom and devises without emotion the ruin of its paper victims. But sometimes the division between your world and ours is incomplete; the files grow heads and arms and legs, and that's a terrible moment, isn't it? The names have families as well as records, and human motives to explain the sad little dossiers and their make-believe sins. When that happens I am sorry for you.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Completing a book, it's a little like having a baby. Completing a book, it's a little like having a baby.
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John Le Carre Sayings: It struck him as a bit unfair that, at the age of eight, he should It struck him as a bit unfair that, at the age of eight, he should have manifested the same sense of solitude that haunted him at forty-three.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Tyranny is like the electric wiring in an old house. A tyrant dies, the new Tyranny is like the electric wiring in an old house. A tyrant dies, the new tyrant takes possession, and all he has to do is drop the switch.
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John Le Carre Sayings: With people you see in them what you already know. With people you see in them what you already know.
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John Le Carre Sayings: I worked for MI6 in the Sixties, during the great witch-hunts, when the shared paranoia I worked for MI6 in the Sixties, during the great witch-hunts, when the shared paranoia of the Cold War gripped the services.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Those who are not with Mr. Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the Those who are not with Mr. Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the enemy. Which is odd, because I'm dead against Bush, but I would love to see Saddam's downfall
just not on Bush's terms and not by his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Charlie alone knew he was a ghost. Charlie alone knew he was a ghost.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Everything he admired or loved had been the product of intense individualism ... when had Everything he admired or loved had been the product of intense individualism ... when had mass philosophies ever brought benefit or wisdom?
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John Le Carre Sayings: In every war zone that I've been in, there has been a reality and then In every war zone that I've been in, there has been a reality and then there has been the public perception of why the war was being fought. In every crisis, the issues have been far more complex than the public has been allowed to know.
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John Le Carre Sayings: It was the skinny boy's stillness, he decided later. Those lines of age in a It was the skinny boy's stillness, he decided later. Those lines of age in a face as young as mine. His look of winter on a lovely spring day.
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John Le Carre Sayings: The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done - dare I say it - in the name of God,
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John Le Carre Sayings: A terrorist for Karen is someone who has a bomb but no aeroplane.Ch. 4 A terrorist for Karen is someone who has a bomb but no aeroplane.
Ch. 4
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John Le Carre Sayings: Think I'll just buff up the silver,' he announced, loud enough for her to hear Think I'll just buff up the silver,' he announced, loud enough for her to hear and do something about him if she wanted.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Over them, in a swaying, muddy mist, hung the flies, snoring on a single note. Over them, in a swaying, muddy mist, hung the flies, snoring on a single note.
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John Le Carre Sayings: The Cold War was over long before it was officially declared dead. The Cold War was over long before it was officially declared dead.
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John Le Carre Sayings: Writers are two-home men - they want a place outside and a place within. Writers are two-home men - they want a place outside and a place within.
John Le Carre Sayings: Some fieldmen, and particularly the clever ones, take a perverse pride in not knowing the Some fieldmen, and particularly the clever ones, take a perverse pride in not knowing the whole picture. Their art consists in the deft handling of loose ends, and stops there stubbornly.
John Le Carre Sayings: It is my writing dilemma. The world of spying is my genre. My struggle is It is my writing dilemma. The world of spying is my genre. My struggle is to demystify, to de-romanticise the spook world, but at the same time harness it as a good story.
John Le Carre Sayings: The Secret Intelligence Service I knew occupied dusky suites of little rooms opposite St James's The Secret Intelligence Service I knew occupied dusky suites of little rooms opposite St James's Park Tube station in London.
John Le Carre Sayings: George, this is history," Lacon protested weakly. "This is not today. George, this is history," Lacon protested weakly. "This is not today.
John Le Carre Sayings: All power corrupts but some must govern. All power corrupts but some must govern.
John Le Carre Sayings: It was simpler in those days. We could say they'd died for their country. We It was simpler in those days. We could say they'd died for their country. We didn't have to tell them the details; they didn't expect that.
John Le Carre Sayings: By what route the infant Hansen found his way to the Jesuits, the file did By what route the infant Hansen found his way to the Jesuits, the file did not relate. Perhaps the mother converted. Those were dark years still, and if expediency required it, she may have swallowed her Protestant convictions to buy the boy a decent education. Give the Jesuits his soul, she may have reasoned, and they will give him a brain. Or perhaps she sensed in her son from early on the mercurial nature that later ruled his life, and she determined to subordinate him to a stronger religious discipline than was offered by the easy-going Protestants. If so, she was wise.
John Le Carre Sayings: one of those world builders who do othing but destroy, one of those world builders who do othing but destroy,
John Le Carre Sayings: Only adults had nervous breakdowns in those days, so the methods of survival for boys Only adults had nervous breakdowns in those days, so the methods of survival for boys who refused to join the system were animal cunning, "internal immigration" as the Germans call it, or simply getting the hell out. I practised the first two, then opted for the third and took myself to Switzerland.
John Le Carre Sayings: When it's going well [writing] goes terribly fast. It isn't at all surprising to write When it's going well [writing] goes terribly fast. It isn't at all surprising to write a chapter in a day, which for me is about twenty-two pages. When it's going badly, it isn't really going badly; it's just the beginning.
John Le Carre Sayings: Can't you see it's the same? The same guns, the same children dying in the Can't you see it's the same? The same guns, the same children dying in the streets? Only the dream has changed, the blood is the same colour. Is that what you want?
John Le Carre Sayings: There are some subjects that can only be tackled in fiction. There are some subjects that can only be tackled in fiction.
John Le Carre Sayings: There was a fellow called Smiley married Ann Sercomb, Lord Sawley's cousin. Damned pretty girl, There was a fellow called Smiley married Ann Sercomb, Lord Sawley's cousin. Damned pretty girl, Ann was, and went and married this fellow. Some funny little beggar in the Civil Service with an OBE and a gold watch. Sawley was damned annoyed.
John Le Carre Sayings: When you're my age, you have the feeling sometimes that you're seeing the show come When you're my age, you have the feeling sometimes that you're seeing the show come round again.
John Le Carre Sayings: We pretend a lot of things aren't there. Or we pretend that other things are We pretend a lot of things aren't there. Or we pretend that other things are more important. That's how we survive.
John Le Carre Sayings: What would it be like really and absolutely to believe? ( ... ) To know, What would it be like really and absolutely to believe? ( ... ) To know, really and absolutely know, that there's a Divine Being not set in time or space who reads your thoughts better than you ever did, and probably before you even have them? To believe that God sends you to war, God bends the path of bullets, decides which of his children will die, or have their legs blown off, or make a few hundred million on Wall Street, depending on today's Grand Design? (ch. 14)
John Le Carre Sayings: I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin doctors, here I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin doctors, here and abroad, particularly the United States media, to perpetuate false lies, perpetuate lies.
John Le Carre Sayings: I think that most of my books are part of some process of self-education, often I think that most of my books are part of some process of self-education, often about the places I go to. Most of all, they are about the peculiar tension between institutional loyalty and loyalty to oneself; the mystery of patriotism, for a Brit of my age and generation, where it runs, how it should be defined, what it's worth and what a corrupting force it can be when misapplied. All that stuff is just in me and it comes out in the characters. I don't mean to preach, but I know I do, and I'm a very flawed person. It's quite ridiculous.
John Le Carre Sayings: Every man has his personal devil waiting for him somewhere. Every man has his personal devil waiting for him somewhere.
John Le Carre Sayings: To possess another language, Charlemagne tells us, is to possess another soul. German is such To possess another language, Charlemagne tells us, is to possess another soul. German is such a language. Once you have it in your head, you can go there anytime, you can close the door, you have a refuge.
John Le Carre Sayings: I don't think that there are very many good writers who don't live without a I don't think that there are very many good writers who don't live without a sense of tension. If they haven't got one immediately available to them, then they usually manage to manufacture it in their private lives.
John Le Carre Sayings: One more consideration also weighed with Smiley, though in his paper he is too gentlemanly One more consideration also weighed with Smiley, though in his paper he is too gentlemanly to mention it. A lot of ghosts walked in those post-fall days, and one of them was a fear that, buried somewhere in the Circus, lay Bill Haydon's chosen successor: that Bill had brought him on, recruited and educated him against the very day when he himself, one way or another, would fade from the scene. Sam was originally a Haydon nominee. His later victimisation by Haydon could easily have been a put-up job. Who was to say, in that very jumpy atmosphere, that Sam Collins, manoeuvring for readmission, was not the heir elect to Haydon's treachery?
For all these reasons George Smiley put on his raincoat and got himself out on the street. Willingly, no doubt - for at heart, he was still a case man. Even his detractors gave him that.
John Le Carre Sayings: Let's die of it before we're too old. Let's die of it before we're too old.
John Le Carre Sayings: The fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing. The fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing.
John Le Carre Sayings: Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love. Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.
John Le Carre Sayings: I've got more than one string to my bow, and I thought I'd give this I've got more than one string to my bow, and I thought I'd give this one a twang.
John Le Carre Sayings: You can't make war against terror. Terror is a technique of battle. It's a tactic You can't make war against terror. Terror is a technique of battle. It's a tactic that has been employed since time immemorial. You can conduct clandestine action against terrorists, and that must be done.
John Le Carre Sayings: Never confess, my friend," he advised drowsily, clasping Melik's hand. "If you confess, they will Never confess, my friend," he advised drowsily, clasping Melik's hand. "If you confess, they will keep you there forever.
John Le Carre Sayings: The good pupils are often brilliant, and they keep you on your toes and take The good pupils are often brilliant, and they keep you on your toes and take you to the limits of your knowledge. The worst pupils provide a unique insight into the criminal mind.
John Le Carre Sayings: The row of villas which lines Western Avenue is like a row of pink graves The row of villas which lines Western Avenue is like a row of pink graves in a field of grey; an architectural image of middle age. Their uniformity is the discipline of growing old, of dying without violence and living without success. They are houses which have got the better of their occupants, whom they change at will, and do not change themselves. Furniture vans glide respectfully among them like hearses, discreetly removing the dead and introducing the living. Now and then some tenant will raise his hand, expending pots of paint on the woodwork or labour on the garden, but his efforts no more alter the house than flowers a hospital ward, and the grass will grow its own way, like grass on a grave.
John Le Carre Sayings: Why am I despising you when I'm about to change your life? Why am I despising you when I'm about to change your life?
John Le Carre Sayings: Tell Max that it concerns the Sandman. Tell him I have two proofs and can Tell Max that it concerns the Sandman. Tell him I have two proofs and can bring them with me.
John Le Carre Sayings: I'm really a library man, or second-hand book man. I'm really a library man, or second-hand book man.
John Le Carre Sayings: The greatest crime is to do nothing because we can only do a little ( The greatest crime is to do nothing because we can only do a little ( ... ) I feel nothing, because feeling is subversive and contrary to military discipline. Therefore I do not feel, but I fight and therefore I exist. (part I, chapter 10)
John Le Carre Sayings: But gossip must see its characters in black and white, equip them with sins and But gossip must see its characters in black and white, equip them with sins and motives easily conveyed in the shorthand of conversation.
John Le Carre Sayings: Haydon had found his charm again. He could do that at the drop of a Haydon had found his charm again. He could do that at the drop of a hat. He drew you and he repelled you. I remember that exactly. He danced all ways for you, playing your emotions against each other because he had none of his own.
John Le Carre Sayings: Thus we do disagreeable things, but we are defensive. That, I think, is still fair. Thus we do disagreeable things, but we are defensive. That, I think, is still fair. We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night. Is that too romantic? Of course, we occasionally do very wicked things"; he grinned like a schoolboy. "And in weighing up the moralities, we rather go in for dishonest comparisons; after all, you can't compare the ideals of one side with the methods of the other, can you, now?
John Le Carre Sayings: Perhaps it was the 'sir's' that turned the trick. At their first meeting it was Perhaps it was the 'sir's' that turned the trick. At their first meeting it was Mr. Woodrow, or when they felt bold, Sandy. Now it was sir, advising Woodrow that these two junior police officers were not his colleagues, not his friends, but lower-class outsiders poking their noses into the exclusive club that had given him standing and protection these seventeen years.
John Le Carre Sayings: Spying is waiting. Spying is waiting.
John Le Carre Sayings: It's necessary to understand what real intelligence work is. It will never cease. It's absolutely It's necessary to understand what real intelligence work is. It will never cease. It's absolutely essential that we have it. At its best, it is simply the left arm of healthy governmental curiosity. It brings to a strong government what it needs to know. It's the collection of information, a journalistic job, if you will, but done in secret.
John Le Carre Sayings: Let's all pretend to be someone else, and then perhaps we'll find out who we Let's all pretend to be someone else, and then perhaps we'll find out who we are.
John Le Carre Sayings: I've always had difficulties with female characters. I've always had difficulties with female characters.
John Le Carre Sayings: During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn't easy and there During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn't easy and there were shades of grey and ambiguity.
John Le Carre Sayings: The cold war provided the perfect excuse for Western governments to plunder and exploit the The cold war provided the perfect excuse for Western governments to plunder and exploit the Third World in the name of freedom; to rig its elections, bribe its politicians, appoint its tyrants and, by every sophisticated means of persuasion and interference, stunt the emergence of young democracies in the name of democracy.
John Le Carre Sayings: Once you've lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It's a mentality, Once you've lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It's a mentality, a double standard of existence.
John Le Carre Sayings: Jesus Christ only had twelve, you know, and one of them was a double. Jesus Christ only had twelve, you know, and one of them was a double.
John Le Carre Sayings: There is no reward for love except the experience of loving, and nothing to be There is no reward for love except the experience of loving, and nothing to be learned by it except humility.
John Le Carre Sayings: The one thing you can bet is that spying is never over. Spying is like The one thing you can bet is that spying is never over. Spying is like the wiring in this building: It's just a question of who takes it over and switches on the lights. It will go on and on and on.
John Le Carre Sayings: I happen to write by hand. I don't even type. I happen to write by hand. I don't even type.
John Le Carre Sayings: And we dress, sir ?" he murmured, feeling Osnard's gaze burning the nape of his And we dress, sir
?" he murmured, feeling Osnard's gaze burning the nape of his neck. "Most of my gentlemen seem to favour left these days. I don't think it's political."
This was his standard joke, calculated to raise a laugh even with the most sedate of his customers. Not with Osnard apparently.
"Never know where the bloody thing is. Bobs about like a windsock," he replied dismissively.
John Le Carre Sayings: For a long moment, while Brock stood off observing them, Ned and Barley appraised one For a long moment, while Brock stood off observing them, Ned and Barley appraised one another as only Englishmen can who are of the same height and class and shape of head.
John Le Carre Sayings: Smiley himself was one of those solitaires who seem to have come into the world Smiley himself was one of those solitaires who seem to have come into the world fully educated at the age of eighteen. Obscurity was his nature, as well as his profession. The byways of espionage are not populated by the brash and colourful adventurers of fiction. A man who, like Smiley, has lived and worked for years among his country's enemies learns only one prayer: that he may never, never be noticed. Assimilation is his highest aim, he learns to love the crowds who pass him in the street without a glance; he clings to them for his anonimity and his safety. His fear makes him servile - he could embrace the shoppers who jostle him in their impatience, and force him from the pavement. He could adore the officials, the police, the bus conductors, for the terse indifference of their attitudes. (ch. 9)
John Le Carre Sayings: Dash it all, she's an actress! Don't take her so seriously. Actors don't have opinions, Dash it all, she's an actress! Don't take her so seriously. Actors don't have opinions, my dear chap, still less do actresses. They have moods. Fads. Poses. Twenty-four-hour passions. There's a lot wrong with the world, dammit. Actors are absolute suckers for dramatic solutions. For all I know, by the time you get her out there, she'll be Born Again!
John Le Carre Sayings: Ashe was typical of that stratum of mankind which conducts its human relationships according to Ashe was typical of that stratum of mankind which conducts its human relationships according to a principle of challenge and response. Where there was softness, he would advance; where he found resistance, retreat.
John Le Carre Sayings: Survival ... is an infinite capacity for suspicion. Survival ... is an infinite capacity for suspicion.
John Le Carre Sayings: But despite such energetic mental exercise, the ghosts of time present would intrude and drive But despite such energetic mental exercise, the ghosts of time present would intrude and drive his dreams away. It was Ann who had robbed him of his peace, Ann who had once made the present so important and taught him the habit of reality, and when she went there was nothing.
John Le Carre Sayings: Only Esmeralda was not weeping. Instead she wore that wooden look that whites mistake for Only Esmeralda was not weeping. Instead she wore that wooden look that whites mistake for churlishenss or indifference. Woodrew knew it was neither. It was familiarity. This how real life is constituted, it said. This is grief and hatred and people hacked to death. This is the everyday we have known since we were born and you Wazungu have not.
John Le Carre Sayings: Agents of disruption, subversion, sabotage and disinformation tunnelers and smugglers, listeners and forgers, trainers and Agents of disruption, subversion, sabotage and disinformation tunnelers and smugglers, listeners and forgers, trainers and recruiters and talent spotters and couriers and watchers and seducers, assassins and balloonists, lip readers and disguise artists.
John Le Carre Sayings: Even his Englishness was a well-kept secret. Even his Englishness was a well-kept secret.
John Le Carre Sayings: He hated to be alone, but people bored him. Being alone was like being tired, He hated to be alone, but people bored him. Being alone was like being tired, but unable to sleep.
John Le Carre Sayings: Smiley was soaked to the skin and God as a punishment had removed all taxis Smiley was soaked to the skin and God as a punishment had removed all taxis from the face of London.
John Le Carre Sayings: He met failure as one day he would probably meet death, with cynical resentment and He met failure as one day he would probably meet death, with cynical resentment and the courage of a solitary.
John Le Carre Sayings: Afterwards Smiley always thought of that interview as a fan dance; a calculated progression of Afterwards Smiley always thought of that interview as a fan dance; a calculated progression of disclosures, each revealing different parts of a mysterious entity. Finally Steed-Asprey, who seemed to be Chairman, removed the last veil, and the truth stood before him in all its dazzling nakedness. He was being offered a post in what, for want of a better name, Steed-Asprey blushingly described as the Secret Service.
John Le Carre Sayings: How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre.
John Le Carre Sayings: There's no way out," he announced with satisfaction, "and no amount of wishful dreaming will There's no way out," he announced with satisfaction, "and no amount of wishful dreaming will produce one. The demon won't go back in its bottle, the face-off is for ever, the embrace gets tighter and the toys cleverer with every generation, and there's no such thing for either side as enough security. Not for the main players, not for the nasty little newcomers who each year run themselves up a suitcase bomb and join the club. We get tired of believing that, because we're human. We may even con ourselves into believing the threat has gone away. It never will. Never, never, never."
"So, who'll save us then, Walt?" Barley asked. "You and Nedsky?"
"Vanity, if anything will, which I doubt," Walter retorted. "No leader wants to go down in history as the ass who destroyed his country in an afternoon. And funk, I suppose. Most of our gallant politicians do have a narcissistic objection to suicide, thank God.
John Le Carre Sayings: More cruelly: he feared her faith because, as a fully paid-up pessimist, he knew he More cruelly: he feared her faith because, as a fully paid-up pessimist, he knew he had none.