(K. Brent Tomer),
“CHAMPAGNE, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector,” Graham Greene wrote in “Ways of Escape” (1980). “It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies more successfully.” Greene sought the truth in the people around him for the sake of his writing, but one can’t read this reflection without wondering how it was informed by his involvement in another kind of lie detecting. When he wasn’t writing (and sometimes when he was), Greene worked as an agent for MI6, the British intelligence service.
Greene was recruited in 1941, after he had already established his career as a writer. It was a credible cover for intelligence gathering and his penchant for traveling to certain significant regions for his novels—Liberia, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Vietnam—made him a valuable informant. Spying had the added perk of offering Greene intriguing material. Some of his books, like “Our Man in Havana” (1958) and “The Quiet American” (1955), feature spies directly, but the relationship between writing and spying goes deeper and is more…Continue reading