Russian Spies Never Go Out of Style | WBEZ
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The New Yorker Radio Hour

Russian Spies Never Go Out of Style

Jason Matthews spent over thirty years in the C.I.A., working in the former Soviet bloc and other hot spots, and when he retired he turned to the next best thing: writing spy novels. And while they’re contemporary—Vladimir Putin appears as a character—they have more in common with John le Carré’s tales than with the action thrillers of the post-9/11 era. In many of today’s stories, Matthews says, “a former F.B.I. guy is being chased by crazed colleagues, and with the help of a bipolar girlfriend does something amazing. I wanted to tell a more basic story about the classic Cold War struggle of East and West.” The forthcoming third volume in his trilogy is called “The Kremlin’s Candidate,” presumably with a nod toward current events. Whatever we may eventually learn about Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence, Matthews thinks that we ought not to be surprised: in matters of infiltration and compromise, he says, the Russians are always way ahead of us. Plus: the great nature writer Annie Dillard on witnessing a total eclipse, and Jia Tolentino lives out her own version of the childrens’ adventures in “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”

 

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