The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Smiley’s People.The Russia House. John LeCarré’s novels have come to be synonymous with the Cold War, a natural focus, perhaps, for a British boy whose father was imprisoned for fraud and whose mother deserted him, staying out of his life until he was 20 years old. Left in the care of relatives, LeCarré and his brother spent much of their childhood trying to weave together their parents’ narrative from the few clues left behind.
Budding spycraft? Perhaps, but for LeCarré, this sense of abandonment and isolation would be one that would stay with him for the rest of his life and find fertile ground in the world of espionage fiction set during the Cold War that defined his career.
Born David John Moore Cornwell in Dorset, England, in 1931, LeCarré was educated in both England and Switzerland, where he studied German language and literature at the University of Bern. Returning to England in 1949, LeCarré enlisted in the army and was assigned to the intelligence corps. From his post in Vienna, LeCarré encountered refugees who had been POWs of both the Axis and Allies, as well as Royal Air Force officers who had taken part in the bombing of Berlin and then gone on to assist in airlift and relief programs.
The dichotomies of both groups, the inconsistencies of political institutions, and governmental disregard for their own citizens as well as their enemies, made a lasting impression upon LeCarré. Following World War II, international tensions blossomed into the Cold War, and LeCarré’s realistic depictions of espionage were epitomized in his character, George Smiley, who was the protagonist in such novels as Call for the Dead(1961; republished in 1964 as The Deadly Affair); A Murder of Quality(1962); and who has a secondary role in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold(1963), which won both the Gold Dagger Award from the Crime Writers’ Association and the W. Somerset Maugham Award.
Although LeCarré continued to write spy novels that explored themes of treachery, duplicity, isolation and abandonment, by the late 1960s, he had moved toward writing general fiction, beginning with A Small Town in Germany(1968). This was followed by the psychological romance, The Native and Sentimental Lover (1971), which was not well received. In 1974 he returned to the thriller genre and reintroduced George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The reviews were enthusiastic, motivating LeCarré to create a trilogy which progressed to The Honourable Schoolboy(1977) and Smiley’s People(1980).
Called the “natural heir of Joseph Conrad and Graham Green,” LeCarré has fascinated generations of readers with his command of a period of 20th century history that was both politically complex and morally ambiguous. Within this milieu of personal contradictions and professional conflicts, LeCarre crafted characters and scenarios that deserve to be counted as classics in the field of suspense fiction.
A Small Town in Germany (1968)
The Little Drummer Girl (1983)
A Perfect Spy (1986)
The Russia House (1989)
The Night Manager (1993)
Our Game (1995)
The Tailor of Panama (1996) **
Single and Single (1999) LP
The Constant Gardener (2001) LP
The Mission Song (2006) ***, LP, ER
Absolute Friends (2003) ***, LP, ER
A Most Wanted Man (2008) ***, LP, Playaway
Our Kind of Traitor (2010) ***, LP, ER
Call for the Dead (1961) **
A Murder of Quality ** only
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963) **, ER
The Looking Glass War (1965) **
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) **, ER
The Honourable Schoolboy (1977)
Smiley’s People (1979) **
The Quest for Karla (1982) *
The Secret Pilgrim (1990) **
* Please ask for more information
** Also available as a cassette audiobook
*** Also available as a CD audiobook
LP Also available in Large Print
ER Electronic Resource