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The big crowds at Madison Square Garden during wartime and a few years after, the excitement at union halls and summer camps for some of the most interesting musicians and lyricists of the time? Gone — gone, but not entirely forgotten.
John le Carré died Saturday at eighty-nine. His novels rejected the glamor and ritz of Cold War–era spy fiction. Instead, he portrayed espionage as a dreary, disturbing machine that ground up innocents for a goal that didn’t justify the human cost.
Taken together, or alone, the reasons offered in defense of the bomb do not justify the massacre of civilians. We debase ourselves, and the history of civilization, if we accept that Japanese atrocities warranted an American atrocity in reply.