What motivates a Russian spy?

This morning’s spy swap can make a guy long for the good old days of the Cold War, when the enemy was Russian and John le Carré novels were easier to follow. Le Carré warned us not to expect secret agents to be ideological purists, but even he might be surprised by the likes of Anna Chapman. What motivates these people? An early Le Carré character, Alec Leamas, suggested that spies are “seedy, squalid bastards … playing Cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives.” Here’s a moment from the movie made out of Le Carré’s breakthrough novel, “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold:”

A note for younger readers: Before Matt Damon, there was an actor named Richard Burton.

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