Books about world politics, conspiracies, and espionage.
February 16, 2011 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Bookfilter: I love world politics, conspiracies, and espionage; TV shows like Alias and Rubicon really do it for me. What books would I like?

Modern-day stories preferred. Also, I read for prose as much as for story, so please no Dan Brown or the like.
posted by reductiondesign to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
John Le Carré has a distinctive, brisk-but-literary style paired with a melancholy, usually realistic tone.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2011

Maybe Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist?
posted by cal71 at 3:08 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The second two books of Stieg Larsson's Millennium (i.e., Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) series are primarily about post-Cold War realpolitik and conspiracies/cover ups.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:10 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Cobweb and Interface, by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George (formerly known as Stephen Bury). Political, technological, set in the present day, with the technology just slightly turned up, and yes, conspiracy.
posted by artlung at 3:13 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

As well as Le Carré, Len Deighton's IPCRESS File and the other subsequent Harry Palmer novels are conspiracy/spy fiction done right.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2011

I made a MeTa post about Lobster, 'journal of parapolitics', a while back. One of the founding editors wrote a book about conspiracy theories that could well be your thing (he's a serious journalist), and he has other works I've not seen on the JFK assassination and what have you. (Hope I'm right you weren't just after fiction).
posted by Abiezer at 3:47 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Company, by Robert Littell. A whomping big story of the CIA, world politics and the wilderness of mirrors.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:55 PM on February 16, 2011

Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco is quite wonderful.
posted by Kattullus at 3:57 PM on February 16, 2011

Charles McCarry
posted by Ideefixe at 3:59 PM on February 16, 2011

Do read McMafia by Misha Glenny. The prose is more workmanlike than litereary, but it's the real world and full of wild, important stories.
posted by Corvid at 6:44 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

All Jon Ronson's books-- The Men Who Stare at Goats, Them: Adventures with Extremists, and his two collections-- should do you up fine.

If you don't mind a comic book that isn't set in this reality, you might try on Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon's Casanova. Orgone sex cult islands, robot whores, a bunch of IPCRESS and Danger: Diabolik callbacks... you'd probably really dig it.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:48 PM on February 16, 2011

Len Deighton's masterful 9 volume series about MI6 agent Bernard Samson in the twilight of the Cold War. Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match; Spy Hook, Spy Line, Spy Sinker; Faith, Hope, Charity. Go deep into the mind of Bernie as he continuously flashes between cynicism, paranoia, depression, nostalgia, inferiority, superiority, manipulation & deep insight into the human condition. More devious & unpredictable twists & turns than the upcoming Formula 1 race in Bahrain.
posted by scalefree at 10:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll second Olen Steinhauer's books - The Nearest Exit won an ALA genre award recently, and The Tourist is the first book in that series. I'm not normally a reader of this genre, but I find it so compelling that after starting the award winner, I went back to read the first one as well. And there are rumors it's a trilogy. (In fact, you might want to poke around the award site for other suggestions. They've got the annual award winner and then the short-list and read-alikes.)
posted by librarianamy at 5:00 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would graphic novels work? Brian Azzarello's 100 Bullets is awesome.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:35 AM on February 17, 2011

I only read this one, but it sounds like Camel Club by David Baldacci could be a match.

But it might be "Dan Brown like"...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:13 AM on February 17, 2011

Henry Porter's The Dying Light.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:17 PM on February 18, 2011

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