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.”

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Foreign Policy Digital

Foreign Policy Digital3 min readPolitics
Turkey Advances on Kobani in Latest Broken Promise
Erdogan told Trump he would not attack the symbolically important Kurdish-held town in northern Syria.
Foreign Policy Digital4 min readPolitics
Trump Is Sending More Troops to Saudi Arabia
The Carter Doctrine, which calls for a U.S. military response to any outside effort to threaten or seize oil fields in the Persian Gulf, is dead, and the Defense Department’s announced deployment last week of 1,800 more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia wi
Foreign Policy Digital6 min readSociety
The Presidential Candidates Are Ignoring One of the World’s Biggest Looming Threats
Whoever sits in the White House come 2021 will likely have to confront a pandemic of some kind. He or she should start preparing now.