It’s been a very long time since I read The Lord of the Rings. It’s hard to remember now what all my reactions to it were – admiration of Sam and Frodo, concern for Merry and Pippin, a fair bit of boredom with all the elf-lore.
I’m sure I sensed that along with a very creative story set in an incredibly detailed world of Tolkien’s own imagining, he was also illustrating important principles about human behavior, morality, and the nature of life in general. What I’m sure I never thought about was any connection between Tolkien’s fantasy and real-world spying.
An article in Slate makes some fascinating comparisons between the Eye of Sauron and recent activity of the National Security Agency. It’s a short enough article, so I won’t try to summarize it – read what two professors have to say about how Tolkien understood today’s spying better than George Orwell.