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John le Carré was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For the last fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall. His works include The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley's People; The Little Drummer Girl; A Perfect Spy; The Russia House; and Absolute Friends.
Author photo © White Hare Ltd
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good. Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carre has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | September 2017 Book of the Month Although unanimously heralded for featuring the return of spy master Smiley, this is more about his sidekick Peter Guillam, a sometimes melancholy tale revisiting the past and, more specifically, the operation and some of the characters detailed in the classic The Spy Who Came in from The Cold. Although Smiley is an ever present figure lurking in the shadows, as Guillam is forced to unravel complex threads of treachery, lies and deceit that have now come to roost, Smiley actually only makes a brief, if welcome, appearance at the conclusion of the tale, a meditation on the secret world and the damage done when the end always justified the means, not withstanding the human cost. Disillusioned, a bittersweet ballad about the morality of its characters and written, as ever, so beautifully and wittily, this is a perfect coda to the saga of the Circus, where so many much-loved, if dubious, characters we knew so well make fleeting passages on the scene. Le Carre at his best and you can’t get any better. Reminds us of what we lost when the series initially came to an end. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
'Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.' From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, John le Carre has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carre is as funny as he is incisive - reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he's writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire, or visiting Rwanda's museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide, or celebrating New Year's Eve with Yasser Arafat, or interviewing a German terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev, or watching Alec Guinness preparing for his role as George Smiley, or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in his The Constant Gardener, le Carre endows each happening with vividness and humour, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carre gives us a glimpse of a writer's journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.
'Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I'm sitting now.' From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, John le Carre has always written from the heart of modern times.
The classic Cold War thriller, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Alec Leamas is tired. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamas's mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done.
A naive British academic encounters a Russian oligarch in the Caribbean and the spider's web of global espionage unwinds in waves around them. The ambiguities of the secret world brought up to date. Le Carre at his best. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... This is Le Carre at his spellbinding best. His characters are so richly sketched and brilliantly imagined and there is no one to beat him for the quality of his dialogue which just slips off the tongue and into one’s subconscious but in such a way that it will never be forgotten. Le Carre has proven here that he’s not just the King of the Cold War but also of the modern, murky and sometimes rather nasty world in which we now live. Click below to view the trailer for the film adaptation of this book which opens in the UK on 13 May 2016.
At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities - about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings - backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine. Also in the episode that aired 13 March John le Carre himself had a cameo ... did you spot it. If not check out the video clip below.
A young Chechen Muslim is smuggled into Hamburg, an illegal immigrant with a lot of money. He persuades a Turkish woman to take him in. A human rights lawyer becomes involved in his case and then a powerful city banker. Why? There are clues all over the place but I didn’t get them in the right order to guess the outcome. I don’t expect you will either for Le Carré is the grand master of confusion. Originally published 2008. The film version of A Most Wanted Man is released in UK cinemas on Friday 12 September 2014. Click below to view the trailer.
John Le Carré redefined spy thrillers when he wrote The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in just three weeks in 1963. Since then he has grown into a true master, whose books strip open truths about how we live now alongside gripping stories. A Delicate Truth is indeed a very delicately plotted book with hints and insinuations of real events, from the death of David Kelly to recent ministerial scandals, laced into its fictionalised plot and the entire plot turns on a breathtaking trick that will have you wanting to burst into spontaneous applause it’s so brilliant.
May 2013 Book of the Month. A tightly woven tale of moral dilemma, bold action and unexpected love from the undisputed master of the spy novel. Le Carré, seemingly effortlessly, delivers a stunningly written, furiously paced yet subtly nuanced and absorbing read - it really is remarkably good. Mary Mount, Editorial Director at Viking/Penguin, on A Delicate Truth... 'A Delicate Truth is one of le Carré’s finest novels. It is unbelievably tense but is also full of wit and brilliantly realised characters. It is extraordinary how le Carré is able to write with such tremendous pace while, at the same time, going right to the heart of who we are. A Delicate Truth is one of his most British books in recent years. I was stunned by it. It is a thrill and a privilege to publish a novel as good as this.'
Stalking each other through this twilight landscape are the incomparable George Smiley and his ruthless opposite number, codenamed Karla, the Soviet case officer who has been slowly masterminding the Circus's ruin. Their extraordinary duel not only raised the spy novel to new heights of realism and complexity, it also constitutes one of the major triumphs of contemporary fiction, confirming John le Carre as a profound chronicler of the post-war world and a novelist of unfailing humanity.
A wonderful, classic le Carre now reissued in a stunning new package. Click the screen below to view a trailer for the film version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy staring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. DVD is due for release 30 Jan 2012.
The Circus has already suffered a bad defeat, and the result was two bullets in a man's back. But a bigger threat still exists. And the legendary George Smiley is recruited to root out a high-level mole of thirty years' standing - though to find him means spying on the spies. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is brilliant and ceaselessly compelling, pitting Smiley against his Cold War rival, Karla, in one of the greatest struggles in all fiction.
A naive British academic encounters a Russian oligarch in the Caribbean and the spider's web of global espionage unwinds in waves around them. The ambiguities of the secret world brought up to date. Le Carre at his best. If you like John Le Carre try Charles CummingMaxim Jakubowski recommends: The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming Author shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2011. The Lovereading view... This is Le Carre at his spellbinding best. His characters are so richly sketched and brilliantly imagined and there is no one to beat him for the quality of his dialogue which just slips off the tongue and into one’s subconscious but in such a way that it will never be forgotten. Le Carre has proven here that he’s not just the King of the Cold War but also of the modern, murky and sometimes rather nasty world in which we now live.
Author shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2011. This is Le Carre at his spellbinding best. His characters are so richly sketched and brilliantly imagined and there is no one to beat him for the quality of his dialogue which just slips off the tongue and into one’s subconscious but in such a way that it will never be forgotten. Le Carre has proven here that he’s not just the King of the Cold War but also of the modern, murky and sometimes rather nasty world in which we now live.
March 2013 Guest Editor Charles Cumming on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold... John le Carre has written longer, more complex books, but this remains his masterpiece. The story of a weary British spy who is sent out on one final mission behind the Iron Curtain, the novel is beautifully constructed and extraordinarily atmospheric. A 2011 World Book Night selection. In le Carre's breakthrough work of 1963, the spy story is reborn as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining. As brilliant today as it was then. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selections for this title are: Henry Porter, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth.
The enduring novel by one of our greatest storytellers. George Smiley, who is a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy. The scene which he enters is a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. Smiley's mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed thirty years deep into the Circus itself.
Harry Pendel is the charismatic proprietor of Pendel and Braithwaite Limitada of Panama, through whose doors everyone who is anyone in Central America passes; Andrew Osnard, mysterious and fleshly, is a spy. His secret mission is two-pronged: to keep a watchful eye on the political manoeuvrings leading up to the American handover of the Panama Canal on 31st December 1999; and to secure for himself the immense private fortune that has until now churlishly eluded him.
The Cold War is over and retired secret servant Tim Cranmer has been put out to pasture, spending his days making wine on his Somerset estate. But then he discovers that his former double agent Larry - dreamer, dissolute, philanderer and disloyal friend - has vanished, along with Tim's mistress. As their trail takes him to the lawless wilds of Russia and the North Caucasus, he is forced to question everything he stood for. Set in a fragmented, uncertain post-Soviet world, le Carre's brutal story of falsehoods and betrayal shows men playing dangerous games beyond their control.
Jonathan Pine is the Night Manager of a hotel in Egypt. When he is shown some secret information, he passes it to a man in the British government. But things go wrong and the woman he loves dies. Pine is very angry and agrees to work with others to catch Roger Roper - the worst man in the world . Penguin Readers is a series of popular classics, exciting contemporary fiction, and thought-provoking non-fiction written for learners of English as a foreign language. Beautifully illustrated and carefully adapted, the series introduces language learners around the world to the bestselling authors and most compelling content from Penguin Random House. The eight levels of Penguin Readers follow the Common European Framework and include language activities that help readers to develop key skills.
At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities - about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings - backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine. In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal arms trade, John le Carre creates a claustrophobic world in which no one can be trusted.
A pursuit to solve a murder; a satire on the Etonian ruling class; an espionage thriller of plots and counter-plots; a devilish drama behind East German lines; a deadly hunt for a Soviet mole; a high-risk operation in South East Asia; a final showdown between spymasters; and a survey of the shattered moral landscape of the Cold War. Featuring the quintessentially English spymaster George Smiley, these are the eight gripping, globetrotting classics which defined John le Carre's oeuvre and earned him a reputation as one of the world's best living novelists, now in A format with a retro cover look created by the award-winning UK designer David Pearson. Including Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley's People and The Secret Pilgrim.
In, John le Carre's first post-glasnost spy novel, The Russia House captures the effect of a slow and uncertain thaw on ordinary people and on the shadowy puppet-masters who command them. Barley Blair is not a Service man: he is a small-time publisher, a self-destructive soul whose only loves are whisky and jazz. But it was Barley who, one drunken night at a dacha in Peredelkino during the Moscow Book Fair, was befriended by a high-ranking Soviet scientist who could be the greatest asset to the West since perestroika began, and made a promise. Nearly a year later, his drunken promise returns to haunt him. A reluctant Barley is quickly trained by British Intelligence and sent to Moscow to liaise with a go-between, the beautiful Katya. Both are lonely and disillusioned. Each is increasingly certain that if the human race is to have any future, all must betray their countries ... 'Classic le Carre' Sunday Times
The eighth of John le Carre's espionage novels to feature his most enduring and well-loved character, George Smiley, The Secret Pilgrim is a gripping feat of narrative brilliance. The Cold War is over and Ned has been demoted to the training academy. He asks his old mentor, George Smiley, to address his passing-out class. There are no laundered reminiscences; Smiley speaks the truth - perhaps the last the students will ever hear. As they listen, Ned recalls his own painful triumphs and inglorious failures, in a career that took him from the Western Isles of Scotland to Hamburg and from Israel to Cambodia. He asks himself: Did it do any good? What did it do to me? And what will happen to us now? In this late Smiley novel, the great spy gives his own humane and unexpected answers. 'Consummate and enthralling' Observer
THE THIRD GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL Alec Leamas is tired. It's the 1960s, he's been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. Now Control wants to bring him in at last - but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, it may prove the worst thing he could ever have done. Le Carre's breakthrough work of 1963 was an award-winning number one global bestseller and brought him international renown, redefining the spy story as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining. 'The best spy story I have ever read' Graham Greene 'A masterpiece, the best espionage novel ever written' John Banville 'Superbly constructed, with an atmosphere of chilly hell' J. B. Priestley
THE SECOND GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL Stella Rode has twice disturbed the ancient cloisters of Carne School: firstly by being the wrong sort, with her doyleys and china ducks, and secondly by being murdered. George Smiley is asked by an old Service friend to investigate. Smiley knows that Stella feared her husband would murder her, but as he probes further beneath Carne's respectable veneer, he uncovers far more than a simple crime of passion. In his second novel, le Carre moves outside the world of espionage to reveal the secrets at the heart of another particularly English institution. The result is a pitch-perfect murder mystery, with Smiley as master detective. 'Beautifully intelligent, satiric and witty' Daily Telegraph
THE SEVENTH GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL A Soviet defector has been assassinated on English soil, and George Smiley is called back to the Circus to clear up - and cover up - the mess. But what he discovers sends him delving into the past, on a trail through Hamburg and Paris to Cold War Berlin - and a final showdown with his elusive nemesis, Karla. The concluding part of le Carre's celebrated Karla Trilogy, Smiley's People sees the last confrontation between the indefatigable spymaster and his great enemy, as their rivalry comes to a shattering end. 'An enormously skilled and satisfying work' Newsweek 'We are all Smiley's people, a kind of secular god of intelligence' New Yorker
THE FIRST GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the death, he begins his own investigation, meeting Fennan's widow to find out what led him to such desperation. On the very day Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans - and their agents - know more about this man's death than the Circus previously imagined? Le Carre's first book, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring spy George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit. 'Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard' Sunday Telegraph 'Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense' Observer
THE FIFTH GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus - even though it may be one of those closest to him. The first part of le Carre's acclaimed Karla Trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sees the beginning of the stealthy Cold War cat-and-mouse game between the taciturn, dogged Smiley and his wily Soviet counterpart. 'Le Carre's masterwork' William Boyd 'A great thriller, the best le Carre has written' Spectator
THE EIGHTH GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL The Cold War is over and Ned has been demoted to the training academy. He asks his old mentor, George Smiley, to address his passing-out class. There are no laundered reminiscences; Smiley speaks the truth - perhaps the last the students will ever hear. As they listen, Ned recalls his own painful triumphs and inglorious failures, in a career that took him from the Western Isles of Scotland to Hamburg and from Israel to Cambodia. He asks himself: Did it do any good? What did it do to me? And what will happen to us now? In this eighth Smiley novel, the great spy gives his own humane and unexpected answers. 'Powerful ... Remarkable ... Magisterial' The New York Times
THE SIXTH GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL George Smiley, now acting head of the Circus, must rebuild its shattered reputation after one of the biggest betrayals in its history. Using the talents of journalist and occasional spy Jerry Westerby, Smiley launches a risky operation uncovering a Russian money-laundering scheme in the Far East. His aim: revenge on Karla, head of Moscow Centre and the architect of all his troubles. In the second part of John le Carre's Karla Trilogy, the battle of wits between Smiley and his Soviet adversary takes on an even more dangerous dimension. 'Energy, compassion, rich and overwhelming sweep of character and action' The Times 'A remarkable sequel ... the achievement is in the characters, major and minor ... all burned on the brain of the reader' The New York Times
THE FOURTH GEORGE SMILEY NOVEL When the Department - faded since the war and busy only with bureaucratic battles - hears rumours of a missile base near the West German border, it seems the perfect opportunity to regain some standing in the Intelligence world. Desperate for glory and determined to outdo their rivals at the Circus, including George Smiley, they send deactivated agent Fred Leiser back into East Germany, armed only with some schoolboy training and his memories of the war. In the land of eloquent silence that is Communist East Germany, Leiser's fate is no longer his own. Showing men carried away by fear and pride, The Looking Glass War is a powerful, moving story of human frailty. 'A devastating and tragic record of human, not glamour, spies' New York Herald Tribune 'A book of rare and great power' Financial Times
'The best English novel since the war' Philip Roth Magnus Pym - ranking diplomat, consummate Englishman, loving husband, secret agent - has vanished. Has he defected? Gone to ground? As the hunt for Pym intensifies, the secrets of his life are revealed: the people he has loved and betrayed, the unreliable con-man father who made him, the two mentors who moulded and shaped him, and now wish to claim this perfect spy as their own. Described by le Carre as his most autobiographical novel, A Perfect Spy is a devastating portrayal of a man who has played different roles for so long, he no longer knows who he is. 'Le Carre understood that espionage is an extreme version of the human comedy, even the human tragedy. A Perfect Spy will very likely remain his greatest book' New Yorker