Sep 4, 2008

Spy's Bedside Book Back In Print

Bish alerted me to a review by Tim Rutten in the LA Times of a new reissue of Graham and Hugh Greene's The Spy's Bedside Book. I've got a tattered old paperback of this 1957 tome sitting around my parents' house somewhere, and it will be nice to revisit it. The Greene brothers (compilers together of the excellent "Rivals of Sherlock Holmes" anthologies; Graham on his own probably needs no introduction to fans of espionage literature) put together a very clever omnibus of excerpts from great spy fiction and factual accounts that, as a whole, serves as a sort of "how to" manual on spying. Most appealing about this new edition, it includes a brand new introduction by Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5 and accomplished spy novelist in her own right. Rutten says that "she artfully ranges across the history of espionage fiction ... and usefully distinguishes between novels of detection and spy stories." It doesn't surprise me that Rimington turns out to be well versed in spy fiction as well as fact; it's obvious from reading her novels. But I'm eager to read her actual discussion of it. That alone makes this new edition of The Spy's Bedside Book worth picking up, as far as I'm concerned, but Rutten makes an impressive case for reading this easily dismissed anthology as shedding light on Graham Greene himself. It's a good review; fans of the author should check it out.

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