John Le Carré

John Le Carré

Celebrated author John le Carré (real name David John Moore Cornwell), who in the nineteen sixties and seventies came to proeminence with his bestsellers The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, had the dubious honor of having been blown by the infamous Cambridge Five who spied for the Soviets.

That is how, as a result of being exposed as an intelligence officer by the opposition, he left the spy trade to eventually become an author of renown, writing fiction about this same world he had to leave behind.

In the process of writing about espionage he felt compelled, maybe only as a matter of expediency, to come up with descriptive and catchy words for as-then-unnamed but very real tradecraft operations.

What is even more surprising than his convoluted path to becoming a bestselling author, is that his ex-colleagues in the secret service, upon reading his books, applied those same made-up words to real-world tradecraft.

A rather unique case of life imitating fiction.

Here is the list of John le Carré's made-up terms that indeed became part of real-life tradecraft.

One must add that being blown by the opposition very rarely has such an auspicious outcome...

Tradecraft terms created by John le Carré

  • BABYSITTERS

  • CIRCUS (The)

  • COUSINS (The)

  • FERRETS

  • HONEY TRAPS

  • HOUSEKEEPERS

  • INQUISITORS

  • JANITORS

  • LAMPLIGHTERS

  • MOLES

  • MOTHERS

  • NUTS AND BOLTS

  • PAVEMENT ARTISTS

  • SCALPHUNTERS

  • SHOEMAKERS

  • WHEEL ARTIST

  • WRANGLERS

As usual, please refer to the spy terminology compendium to find a description of those terms.

 


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