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Taken for a Ride : Richard Hannay sees for himself how political activists trick decent people into supporting their quest for power.
Taken for a Ride

From ‘Greenmantle’ by John Buchan.

Early in the Great War, Richard Hannay is in Constantinople, in pursuit of a German secret agent named Hilda von Einem. Hilda has duped a dreamy Muslim mystic into believing Germany shares his vision for society, and as Sandy Arbuthnot explains, that could be very bad both for the Arab world and for England.

“TELL me, Dick, what do you think of her?”

“I thought she was about two parts mad, but the third part was uncommon like inspiration.”

“That’s about right,” he said. “She runs the prophet just because she shares his belief. Only what in him is sane and fine, in her is mad and horrible. You see, Germany also wants to simplify life.”

“I know,” I said. “I told her that an hour ago, when I talked more rot to the second than any normal man ever achieved. It will come between me and my sleep for the rest of my days.”

“She wants to destroy and simplify; but it isn’t the simplicity of the ascetic, which is of the spirit, but the simplicity of the madman that grinds down all the contrivances of civilization to a featureless monotony. The prophet wants to save the souls of his people; Germany wants to rule the inanimate corpse of the world. But you can get the same language to cover both.”

From ‘Greenmantle’ by John Buchan.

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John Buchan (4) Extracts from Literature (93) International Relations (11) Constantinople (10) Greenmantle (novel) (1) The Great War (14) Fiction (83)

Picture: © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library), Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire (in mid-salute) is shown around Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire, during a state visit on October 15th, 1917. Facing them is Enver Pasha, Ottoman Minister of War and Commander in Chief of the Ottoman forces. Together with Talaat and Djemal, Enver made up the ‘Three Pashas’ who wielded the real power in Turkey, responsible for entering the war on Germany’s side and for the Armenian genocide of 1914-1923. He is portrayed in Buchan’s fast-paced thriller of 1916 as a strident dictator with “just the hold that a man with a Browning has over a crowd with walking-sticks”.
By John Buchan

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