This chapter addresses the fiction-making capacity of covert institutions and its relationship to the postmodern revaluation of fiction. Major novels of espionage repeatedly stress the parallels between fiction writing and spycraft. The Cold War CIA relied implicitly on such parallels when it shifted emphasis from intelligence gathering to covert operations, which are often strategic fictions that place the state into a new and contemptuous relation to the public sphere. This shift is a major subject of Denis Johnson's novel of psychological operations, Tree of Smoke (2007). Johnson's novel depicts the public and military confusion during Vietnam in order to comment on the Bush administration's War on Terror. By doing so, Johnson reveals how the entire Western canon of Vietnam literature develops from public incomprehension rooted in the war's secret origins.
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