Foreign Policy Digital

Fiction: We often use it to make the strange more familiar, as in spy novels

Spy novels introduce us to unusual or technical information, potentially confusing events, and unfamiliar social or professional customs.

By Katharine Voyles
Best Defense office of fictional realities

Maj. Benjamin Griffin recently argued that “fiction and imagination are central elements of strategy.” In writing about novels, Griffin focuses especially on Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy.

Interestingly, he writes about a month after the British chief of the Secret Intelligence Service weighed in with his own thoughts about the relationship between spying in life and spying in fiction in a letter to the editor in the, “Despite inevitable by siding with George Smiley over James Bond: “[D]espite bridling at the implication of moral equivalence between us and our opponents that runs through John le Carré’s novels, I’ll take the quiet courage and integrity of George Smiley over the brash antics of 007, any day.”

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