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In 1963 John le Carre published his third book, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Written over a period of about five weeks in response to the fear and ugliness of the Berlin Wall, its bitter, devastating story crystallised the doubts and moral dilemmas of the time. It altered irrevocably our understanding of the Cold War, the shape of the spy novel, and John le Carre's writing career, propelling him to international fame.
In his second novel, also featuring George Smiley, le Carre forsakes the world of espionage to reveal the secret heart of another peculiarly British institution: the public school.
The seventh Smiley novel sees a phone call drag the acting chief of the Circus back to active service. But only to bury a case, not to solve it...
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 man's death, he begins his own investigation, meeting with Fennan's widow to find out what could have led him to such desperation. But on the very day that 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 debut novel, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit.
In his fifth outing George Smiley is facing a remarkable challenge: a mole who has burrowed his way in and up to the highest level of British Intelligence.
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 final Smiley novel, the great spy gives his own humane and unexpected answers.
A department of ageing British spies will break any rule for the glory of launching a secret agent into communist East Germany, in the fourth novel featuring George Smiley.