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Denis Rouvre for The New York Times
Gérard de Villiers, the author of the best-selling S.A.S. espionage series.
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By ROBERT F. WORTH based on what you‘ve read.
Published: January 30, 2013 31 Comments

FACEBOOK
Last June, a pulp-fiction thriller was published in Paris under the
title “Le Chemin de Damas.” Its lurid green-and-black cover featured TWITTER

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a busty woman clutching a pistol, and its plot included the requisite GOOGLE+

car chases, explosions and sexual conquests. Unlike most paperbacks, SAVE
though, this one attracted the attention of intelligence officers and
E-MAIL
diplomats on three continents. Set in the midst of Syria’s civil war,
the book offered vivid character sketches of that country’s embattled SHARE

ruler, Bashar al-Assad, and his brother Maher, along with several PRINT

little-known lieutenants and allies. It detailed a botched coup attempt REPRINTS


secretly supported by the American and Israeli intelligence agencies.
And most striking of all, it described an attack on one of the Syrian
regime’s command centers, near the presidential palace in Damascus,
a month before an attack in the same place killed several of the regime’s top figures. “It
was prophetic,” I was told by one veteran Middle East analyst who knows Syria well and
preferred to remain nameless. “It really gave you a sense of the atmosphere inside the
regime, of the way these people operate, in a way I hadn’t seen before.”

Enlarge This Image The book was the latest by Gérard de Villiers, an
83-year-old Frenchman who has been turning out the
S.A.S. espionage series at the rate of four or five books a
year for nearly 50 years. The books are strange hybrids:
top-selling pulp-fiction vehicles that also serve as
intelligence drop boxes for spy agencies around the world.
De Villiers has spent most of his life cultivating spies and
Photograph from Gérard de Villiers
diplomats, who seem to enjoy seeing themselves and their
De Villiers with Jonas Savimbi, the
leader of the rebel group Unita, in secrets transfigured into pop fiction (with their own names
Angola in 1982.
carefully disguised), and his books regularly contain
information about terror plots, espionage and wars that has
Readers’ Comments never appeared elsewhere. Other pop novelists, like John le
Carré and Tom Clancy, may flavor their work with a few
Share your thoughts.
Post a Comment »
real-world scenarios and some spy lingo, but de Villiers’s
Read All Comments (31) » books are ahead of the news and sometimes even ahead of
events themselves. Nearly a year ago he published a novel
about the threat of Islamist groups in post-revolutionary
Libya that focused on jihadis in Benghazi and on the role of the C.I.A. in fighting them.
The novel, “Les Fous de Benghazi,” came out six months before the death of the American
ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and included descriptions of the C.I.A. command
center in Benghazi (a closely held secret at that time), which was to become central in the
controversy over Stevens’s death. Other de Villiers books have included even more striking
auguries. In 1980, he wrote a novel in which militant Islamists murder the Egyptian
president, Anwar Sadat, a year before the actual assassination took place. When I asked
him about it, de Villiers responded with a Gallic shrug. “The Israelis knew it was going to
happen,” he said, “and did nothing.”

Though he is almost unknown in the United States, de Villiers’s publishers estimate that
the S.A.S. series has sold about 100 million copies worldwide, which would make it one of
the top-selling series in history, on a par with Ian Fleming’s James Bond books. S.A.S. may
be the longest-running fiction series ever written by a single author. The first book, “S.A.S.
in Istanbul,” appeared in March 1965; de Villiers is now working on No. 197.

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Gérard de Villiers, the Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/gerard-de-villiers-the-sp...

For all their geopolitical acumen, de Villiers’s books tend to provoke smirks from the
French literati. (“Sorry, monsieur, we do not carry that sort of thing here,” I was told by
the manager at one upscale Paris bookstore.) It’s not hard to see why. Randomly flip open
any S.A.S. and there’s a good chance you’ll find Malko (he is Son Altesse Sérénissime, or
His Serene Highness), the aristocratic spy-hero with a penchant for sodomy, in very
explicit flagrante. In one recent novel, he meets a Saudi princess (based on a real person
who made Beirut her sexual playground) who is both a dominatrix and a nymphomaniac;
their first sexual encounter begins with her watching gay porn until Malko distracts her
with a medley of acrobatic sex positions. The sex lives of the villains receive almost equal
time. Brutal rapes are described in excruciating physiological detail. In another recent
novel, the girlfriend of a notorious Syrian general is submitting to his Viagra-fueled
brutality when she recalls that this is the man who has terrorized the people of Lebanon
for years. “And it was that idea that set off her orgasm,” de Villiers writes.

“The French elite pretend not to read him, but they all do,” I was told by Hubert Védrine,
the former foreign minister of France. Védrine is one of the unapologetic few who admit to
having read nearly every one of Malko’s adventures. He said he consulted them before
visiting a foreign country, as they let him in on whatever French intelligence believed was
happening there.

About 10 years ago, when Védrine was foreign minister, de Villiers got a call from the Quai
d’Orsay, where the ministry is based, inviting him to lunch. “I thought someone was
playing a joke on me,” de Villiers said. “Especially because Védrine is a leftist, and I am not
at all.” When he went to the ministry at the scheduled time, Védrine was waiting for him in
his private dining room overlooking the Seine.

“I am very happy to join you,” de Villiers recalled telling the minister. “But tell me, why did
you want to see me?”

Védrine smiled and gestured for de Villiers to sit down. “I wanted to talk,” he said,
“because I’ve found out you and I have the same sources.”

De Villiers’s books have made him very rich, and he lives in an impressively grand
house on the Avenue Foch, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe. I went there one
day this winter, and after a short wait on the fourth-floor landing, a massive wooden door
swung open, and I found myself facing a distinguished-looking man in brown tweeds with
a long, bony face and pale brown eyes. De Villiers uses a walker — a result of a torn aorta
two years ago — but still moves with surprising speed. He led me down a high-ceilinged
hallway to his study, which also serves as a kind of shrine to old-school masculinity and
kinky sex. I stood next to a squatting woman made of steel with a real MP-44 automatic
rifle coming out of her crotch. “That one is called ‘War,’ ” de Villiers said. In the middle of
the floor was a naked female figure bending over to peek at the viewer from between her
legs; other naked women, some of them in garters or chains, gazed out from paintings or
book covers. On the shelves were smaller figurines in ivory, glass and wood, depicting
various couplings and orgies. Classic firearms hung on the wall — a Kalashnikov, a Tommy
gun, a Winchester — and books on intelligence and military affairs were stacked high on
tables. Among the photos of him with various warlords and soldiers in Africa, Asia and the
Middle East, I noticed a framed 2006 letter from Nicolas Sarkozy, praising the latest S.A.S.
novel and saying it had taught him a great deal about Venezuela. “He pretends to read

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me,” de Villiers said, with a dismissive scowl. “He didn’t. Chirac used to read me. Giscard
read me, too.”

After an hour or so, de Villiers led me downstairs to his black Jaguar, and we drove across
town to Brasserie Lipp, a gathering spot for aging lions of the French elite. As we pushed
through a thick crowd to our table, a handsome old man with a deeply tanned face called
out to de Villiers from across the room. It was the great French nouvelle vague actor
Jean-Paul Belmondo. He grinned and waved de Villiers over for a conspiratorial chat.

“That’s Table No. 1,” de Villiers said as we sat down. “Mitterrand always used to sit there.”
After a waiter rushed up to help him into his seat, de Villiers ordered a suitably virile lunch
of a dozen Breton oysters and a glass of Muscadet. He caught me looking at his walker and
immediately began telling me about his torn aorta. He nearly died and had to spend three
months in a hospital bed. “If you fall off your horse, you have to get back on or you are
dead,” he said. He was able to maintain his usual publishing pace even while in the
hospital. There was only one real consequence: he had used the real name of the C.I.A.
station chief in Mauritania in his manuscript, and in the confusion after the accident, he
forgot to change the final text. “The C.I.A. was angry,” he said. “I had to explain. My
friends at the D.G.S.E. [the French foreign-intelligence agency, General Directorate for
External Security] apologized on my behalf, too.”

One of the many myths surrounding de Villiers is that he employs a team of assistants to
help with his prodigious turnout. In fact, he does it all himself, sticking to a work routine
that hasn’t changed in half a century. For each book, he spends about two weeks traveling
in the country in question, then another six weeks or so writing. The books are published
on the same schedule every year: January, April, June, October. Six years ago, at age 77, de
Villiers increased his turnout from four books a year to five, producing two linked novels
every June. “I’m not a sex machine, I’m a writing machine,” he said.

De Villiers was born in Paris in 1929, the son of a wildly prolific and spendthrift playwright
who went by the stage name Jacques Deval. He began writing in the 1950s for the French
daily France Soir and other newspapers. Early on, during a reporting assignment in
Tunisia, he agreed to do a favor for a French intelligence officer, delivering a message to
some members of the right-wing pro-colonial group known as la main rouge. It turned out
de Villiers was being used as a pawn in an assassination scheme, and he was lucky to
escape with his life. He returned to Paris and confronted the officer, who was completely
unrepentant. The incident taught him, he said, that “intelligence people don’t give a damn
about civilian lives. They are cold fish.” But rather than being turned off, de Villiers found
that blend of risk and cold calculation seductive.

In 1964, he was working on a detective novel in his spare time when an editor told him
that Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, had just died. “You should take over,” the
editor said. That was all it took. The first S.A.S. came out a few months later. Although
sales are down a bit since his peak in the 1980s, he still earns between 800,000 and a
million euros a year (roughly $1 million to $1.3 million) and spends summers at his villa in
St. Tropez, where he gads about on his boat by day and drives to parties in the evenings in
his 1980s Austin Mini.

He has long been despised by many on the French left for his right-wing political views.

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“We are all strangled by political correctness,” he told me, and he used the word “fags”
several times in our conversations. But his reputation as a racist and anti-Semite is largely
myth; one of his closest friends is Claude Lanzmann, the Jewish leftist and director of
“Shoah,” the landmark Holocaust documentary. And in recent years, de Villiers has gained
a broader following among French intellectuals and journalists, even as his sales have
slowed down. “He has become a kind of institution,” said Renaud Girard, the chief foreign
correspondent of Le Figaro. “You can even see articles praising him in Libération,” the
left-leaning daily.

De Villiers created Malko, his hero, in 1964 by merging three real-life acquaintances: a
high-ranking French intelligence official named Yvan de Lignières; an Austrian arms
dealer; and a German baron named Dieter von Malsen-Ponickau. As is so often the case,
though, his fiction proved prophetic. Five years after he began writing the series, de
Villiers met Alexandre de Marenches, a man of immense charisma who led the French
foreign-intelligence service for more than a decade and was a legend of cold-war spy craft.
De Marenches was very rich and came from one of France’s oldest families; he fought
heroically in World War II, and he later built his own castle on the Riviera. He also helped
create a shadowy international network of intelligence operatives known as the Safari
Club, which waged clandestine battles against Soviet operatives in Africa and the Middle
East. “He was doing intelligence for fun,” de Villiers told me. “Sometimes he didn’t even
pick up the phone when Giscard called him.” In short, de Marenches was very close to
being the aristocratic master spy de Villiers had imagined, and as their friendship
deepened in the 1970s, de Villiers’s relationship with French intelligence also deepened
and lasts to this day.

De Villiers has always had a penchant for the gruesome and the decadent. One of his
models was Curzio Malaparte, an Italian journalist whose best-known book is “Kaputt,” an
eerie firsthand account from behind the German front lines during World War II. Another
was Georges Arnaud, the French author of several popular adventure books during the
1950s. “He was a strange guy,” de Villiers said. “He once confessed to me that he started
life by murdering his father, his aunt and the maid.” (Arnaud was tried and acquitted for
those murders, possibly by a rigged jury.) I couldn’t help wondering whether Georges
Simenon, the famously prolific and perverted Belgian crime writer, was also an influence.
Simenon is said to have taken as little as 10 days to finish his novels, and he published
about 200. He also claimed to have slept with 10,000 women, mostly prostitutes. De
Villiers laughed at the comparison. “I knew Simenon a little,” he said, then proceeded to
tell a raunchy story he heard from Simenon’s long-suffering wife, involving roadside sex in
the snow in Gstaad.

This seemed like a good moment to ask about de Villiers’s own preoccupations. “I’ve had a
lot of sex in my life,” he said. “That’s why I have so much trouble with wives. In America
they would say I am a ‘womanizer.’ ” He has married four times and has two children, and
now has a girlfriend nearly 30 years his junior, an attractive blond woman whom I met
briefly at his home. When I suggested that the sex in S.A.S. was unusually hard-core, he
replied with a chuckle: “Maybe for an American. Not in France.”

One thing de Villiers does not have is serious literary ambitions. Although he is a great
admirer of le Carré, he has never tried to turn espionage into the setting for a complex
human drama. He writes the way he speaks, in terse, informative bursts, with a morbid

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sense of humor. When I asked whether it bothered him that no one took his books
seriously, he did not seem at all defensive. “I don’t consider myself a literary man,” he said.
“I’m a storyteller. I write fairy tales for adults. And I try to put some substance into it.”

I had no idea what kind of “substance” until a friend urged me to look at “La Liste
Hariri,” one of de Villiers’s many books set in and around Lebanon. The book, published in
early 2010, concerns the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime
minister. I spent years looking into and writing about Hariri’s death, and I was curious to
know what de Villiers made of it. I found the descriptions of Beirut and Damascus to be
impressively accurate, as were the names of restaurants, the atmosphere of the
neighborhoods and the descriptions of some of the security chiefs that I knew from my
tenure as The Times’ Beirut bureau chief. But the real surprise came later. “La Liste
Hariri” provides detailed information about the elaborate plot, ordered by Syria and
carried out by Hezbollah, to kill Hariri. This plot is one of the great mysteries of the Middle
East, and I found specific information that no journalists, to my knowledge, knew at the
time of the book’s publication, including a complete list of the members of the
assassination team and a description of the systematic elimination of potential witnesses
by Hezbollah and its Syrian allies. I was even more impressed when I spoke to a former
member of the U.N.-backed international tribunal, based in the Netherlands, that
investigated Hariri’s death. “When ‘La Liste Hariri’ came out, everyone on the commission
was amazed,” the former staff member said. “They were all literally wondering who on the
team could have sold de Villiers this information — because it was very clear that someone
had showed him the commission’s reports or the original Lebanese intelligence reports.”

When I put the question to de Villiers, a smile of discreet triumph flashed on his face. It
turns out that he has been friends for years with one of Lebanon’s top intelligence officers,
an austere-looking man who probably knows more about Lebanon’s unsolved murders
than anyone else. It was he who handed de Villiers the list of Hariri’s killers. “He worked
hard to get it, and he wanted people to know,” de Villiers said. “But he couldn’t trust
journalists.” I was one of those he didn’t trust. I have interviewed the same intelligence
chief multiple times on the subject of the Hariri killing, but he never told me about the list.
De Villiers had also spoken with high-ranking Hezbollah officials, in meetings that he said
were brokered by French intelligence. One assumes these men had not read his fiction.

What do the spies themselves say about de Villiers? I conducted my own furtive tour of the
French intelligence community and found that de Villiers’s name was a very effective
passe-partout, even among people who found the subject mildly embarrassing. Only one
of those I spoke with, a former head of the D.G.S.E., said he never provided information to
de Villiers. We met in a dim corridor outside his office, where we chatted for a while about
other matters before the subject of de Villiers came up. “Ah, yes, Gérard de Villiers, I don’t
know him,” he said, chuckling dismissively, as if to suggest that he had not even read the
books. Then after a pause, he confessed: “But one must admit that some of his information
is very good. And in fact, one sees that it has gotten better and better in the past few
novels.”

Another former spook admitted freely that he had been friends with de Villiers for years.
We met at a cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Prés on a cold, foggy afternoon, and as he sipped
his coffee, he happily reeled off the favors he’d done — not just talking over cases but
introducing de Villiers to colleagues and experts on explosives and nuclear weapons and

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computer hacking. “When de Villiers describes intelligence people in his book, everybody
in the business knows exactly who he’s talking about,” he said. “The truth is, he’s become
such a figure that lots of people in the business are desperate to meet him. There are even
ministers from other countries who meet with him when they pass through Paris.”

A third former government official spoke of de Villiers as a kind of colleague. “We meet
and share information,” he told me over coffee at a Paris hotel. “I’ve introduced him to
some sensitive sources. He has a gift — a very strong intellectual comprehension of these
security and terrorism issues.”

It is not just the French who say these things. De Villiers has had close friends in Russian
intelligence over the years. Alla Shevelkina, a journalist who has worked as a fixer for de
Villiers on a number of his Russian trips, said: “He gets interviews that no one else gets —
not journalists, no one. The people that don’t talk, talk to him.” In the United States, I
spoke to a former C.I.A. operative who has known de Villiers for decades. “I recommend to
our analysts to read his books, because there’s a lot of real information in there,” he told
me. “He’s tuned into all the security services, and he knows all the players.”

Why do all these people divulge so much to a pulp novelist? I put the question to de
Villiers the last time we met, in the cavernous living room of his Paris apartment on a cold
winter evening. He was leaving on a reporting trip to Tunisia the next day, and on the
coffee table in front of me, next to a cluster of expensive scotches and liqueurs, was a black
military-made ammunition belt. “They always have a motive,” he said, absently stroking
one of his two longhaired cats like a Bond villain at leisure. “They want the information to
go out. And they know a lot of people read my books, all the intelligence agencies.”

Renaud Girard, de Villiers’s old friend and traveling companion, arrived at the apartment
for a drink and offered a simpler explanation. “Everybody likes to talk to someone who
appreciates their work,” he said. “And it’s fun. If the source is a military attaché, he can
show off the book to his friends, with his character drawn in it.” He also suggested that if
the source happens to have a beautiful wife, she will appear in a sex scene with Malko, and
some of them enjoy this, too. “If you have read the books,” he said, “it’s fun to enter the
books.”

I asked de Villiers about his next novel, and his eyes lighted up. “It goes back to an old
story,” he said. “Lockerbie.” The book is based on the premise that it was Iran — not Libya
— that carried out the notorious 1988 airliner bombing. The Iranians went to great lengths
to persuade Muammar el-Qaddafi to take the fall for the attack, which was carried out in
revenge for the downing of an Iranian passenger plane by American missiles six months
earlier, de Villiers said. This has long been an unverified conspiracy theory, but when I
returned to the United States, I learned that de Villiers was onto something. I spoke to a
former C.I.A. operative who told me that “the best intelligence” on the Lockerbie bombing
points to an Iranian role. It is a subject of intense controversy at the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.,
he said, in part because the evidence against Iran is classified and cannot be used in court,
but many at the agency believe Iran directed the bombing.

De Villiers excused himself to continue packing for Tunisia, after cheerfully delivering his
cynical take on the Arab Spring. (“What this really means is the empowerment of the
Muslim Brotherhood across the region.”) His views on other subjects are similarly curt

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and disillusioned. “Russia? Russia is Putin. People fooled themselves with Medvedev that
there would be change. I never believed it.” And Syria? “If Bashar falls, Syria falls. There is
nothing else to hold that country together.”

Girard and I poured ourselves more Scotch, and he began reeling off stories of his and de
Villiers’s adventures together. Many of them involved one of de Villiers’s former wives,
who always seemed to show up in Gaza or Pakistan in wildly inappropriate dress. “One
time in the mid-’90s, we went to a Hamas stronghold together, and Gérard had his wife
with him, wearing a very provocative shirt with no bra,” Girard said. “There were young
men there who literally started stoning us, and we had to flee.”

It was getting late, and Girard seemed to be running out of stories. “He is 83 years old, and
he is not slowing down,” he said before we parted. “He still goes to Mali and Libya, even
after his heart troubles.” He paused for a moment, looking into his Scotch. “I remember
one time during the rebellion in Albania, in 1997, we were sitting on a rooftop together,
and we started talking about death. He told me: ‘I will never stop. I will keep going with
my foot on the accelerator until I die.’ ”

Robert F. Worth is a staff writer for the magazine. He last wrote about the bunker
mentality of American diplomacy.

Editor: Joel Lovell

A version of this article appeared in print on February 3, 2013, on page MM18 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline:
The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much.

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31 Comments
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READER PICKS Newest Write a Comment

bse Vermont
Another depressing paean to violent, women-demeanig authors. Truly
depressing is the idea that all those intelligence services, including our own,
are similarly debased and view the world that way. No wonder the planet is in
such terrible turmoil. When will the grownups, both men and women, get to
be in charge instead of the sandbox playing/macho boys?!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 3:04 p.m. RECOMMENDED 5

Patrick California
Very enjoyable read from someone who knows French and France. I saw all
these paperbacks on the back shelves of a man I greatly admire. He had saved
them. And now I am going to start reading them right now...thank you for this
article.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. RECOMMENDED 3

silty sunnyvale, ca
But you didn't answer the uppermost question: what is that on de Villiers head
in the photograph? A crazy wig? Some kind of a furry hat?
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

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Jim Rosenthal Annapolis, MD


You can teach an idiot French, with regard to our intelligence services reading
M. Villiers, but he or she will just be a bilingual idiot. It's no use.

Of course, they did find and whack Osama bin Laden, so maybe it's not
hopeless after all.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.

Shreekar Boston
what an awesome character!
I hope someone translates these books into Anglaice.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

PAC New Jersey


Great article, and yet another reason to learn French. How I wish these books
were translated.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

Giskander Grosse Pointe, Mich.


With that Ruski hat, he's a dead give-away as the spy who came out of the cold.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.

Carl Ian Schwartz Paterson, New Jersey


This is a genre of writing that is actually a subcategory of science fiction--
without the futuristic trappings. While I'm fluent in French, these books
should be released in English!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. RECOMMENDED 3

Tommy O Minneapolis
I don't know how good his books are, but that hat is awesome!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. RECOMMENDED 1

Producer New York, NY


Are any of these books available in English?
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.

richiscool Denver
Nice fur hat. How many animals were tortured so you could look cool?
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 1

Andrei Foldes Forest Hills


How many animals were tortured so you could have dinner?
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. RECOMMENDED 5

ric4rus0 Cooperstown, NY
I started reading his books as a young teenager, growing up in Paris. My
parents would always indulge me at the airport, when we would travel, as the
newsstands would always have a fine selection of Malko's adventures for me to
pass the time with. What a wonderful article, for me to discover all these years
later, that Gerard de Villiers, whom I always thought was a nom de plume for
some Parisian newspaperman, was actually the real-est of deals! Merci!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 5

9 of 12 1/31/2013 4:35 PM
Gérard de Villiers, the Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/gerard-de-villiers-the-sp...

Pumamoon washington dc
All I can say is that's some hairdo.
Oh, it's his hat.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 3

Luder France
Interesting article--and for once, for once, a piece on a writer in the magazine
doesn't seem to be, like last week's article on George Saunders, a fluffy piece of
promotional copy timed to coincide with a publisher's major release. (English-
language publishers' foolish and self-defeating reluctance to publish work in
translation is, of course, another problem.)
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.

Sal Ruibal DC
Who is the new Cubby Broccoli, or someone as talented, who could bring these
books to the cinema or an HBO series?
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.

craig geary redlands fl


Fifty Shades of Espionage.

Good time to be in the 47% and have time to read.

332p
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

LH Jerusalem, Israel
Interesting to learn about this writer - but the slick comparison with John le
Carre is off base. Popular he may be, or bestselling, but le Carre is not a "pop"
writer and way over the low level of Tom Clancy; le Carre's prose is intelligent.
And he's often ahead of the news as well.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 10:01 a.m. RECOMMENDED 27

j24 CT
Agreed. Clancy had some promise but turned a pandering version of
lowering the bar.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 5

David Illig Gambrills, Maryland


Exactly so. le Carré writes about this gritty, gray world the way it is.

Clancy no doubt deserves the success he achieved with his potboilers,


but they aren't worth mentioning if we're talking literature.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. RECOMMENDED 1

James F Traynor Punta Gorda


Clancy and le Carre? Not in the same phrase, sentence or paragraph.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

Jean Gordini Lyon, France


Now, I will see his book as something certainly a bit more worth than pure
pulp. Maybe I'll even buy a few of them.
Jan. 30, 2013 at 2:25 p.m. RECOMMENDED 2

10 of 12 1/31/2013 4:35 PM
Gérard de Villiers, the Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/gerard-de-villiers-the-sp...

DougP West Coast


Fantastic article. Only question is do I want to read start with the first book or
the incredibly interesting ones highlighted here?
Jan. 30, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. RECOMMENDED 12

Kat San Francisco


I'm so disappointed to see that none of his books have been translated
into English yet. They may be pulp fiction but, the politics are
fascinating! Five novels a year at 83! What an inspiration!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. RECOMMENDED 16

craig geary redlands fl


Miami-Dade Library has zilch.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. RECOMMENDED 1

Ramon Espinosa Los Angeles Ca


Your article is the very best I have ever read on Spy stories from a 83 year old
guy is impressive i'm 82 and running on all 8 cylinders + I appreciate his
disciplined mind. Thank you for the article write about him every time he puts
out a Novella.
Jan. 30, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. RECOMMENDED 14

Tim sausalito, ca
Remarkable - perhaps our CIA should be given translations as a 12-36 month
outlook. Seems he published the unfolding story of Mali in October last year. A
good excuse to brush up on my French...
Jan. 30, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. RECOMMENDED 17

READ ALL 4 REPLIES

William P New York, NY


I'm sure that many are fluent in French. But I know a lot of people
Fluent in French who aren't quite subtle enough to find their way
through the wilderness of mirrors that is intelligence conspiracy. What
the CIA needs are not language lessons necessarily, but cultural and
historical lessons.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.

seeing with open eyes usa


The US should hire him and get rid of the entire CIA - great way to cut
our deficit!
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.

ZoetMB New York


VOD: I doubt it. Our CIA and FBI don't trust people who can speak
foreign languages.
Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.

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11 of 12 1/31/2013 4:35 PM
Gérard de Villiers, the Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/gerard-de-villiers-the-sp...

de Villiers, Gerard Writing and Writers

Books and Literature Espionage and Intelligence Services

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