John le Carre is still at the top more than half a century after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became a worldwide bestseller. Written with exclusive access to le Carre, his personal archives, and many of the people closest to him, Adam Sisman's definitive biography is a highly readable, fascinating portrait of the life, times and espionage career that inspired a literary master.
Always secretive about his background and Secret Service career (blocking one biography from publication in the 1990s, then choosing a biographer who abandoned the project), John le Carre (David Cornwell) has finally given his blessing to Adam Sisman, who has delivered a biography that reads like a novel. From his bleak childhood—the departure of his mother when he was five was followed by "sixteen hugless years" in the dubious care of his father, a serial-seducer and con-man—through recruitment by both MI5 and MI6, his years as an agent for British Intelligence during the Cold War, to his emergence as the master of the espionage novel, le Carre has repeatedly quarried his life for his fiction. His acute psychological renderings of undercover operations and the moral ambiguities of the Cold War and our present-day politics lend his novels a level of credibility that is unmistakable. Sisman's great biography uncovers for us the remarkable story of an enigmatic writer whose commercial success has sometimes overshadowed appreciation for his extraordinary abilities.
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