John le Carre: The Biography

John le Carre: The Biography

by Adam Sisman


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"An insightful and highly readable portrait of a writer and a man who has often been as elusive and enigmatic as his fictional heroes.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

The definitive biography of the internationally adored author of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and A Perfect Spy—arguably one of the most important and influential writers of the post-World War II period—by the award-winning biographer Adam Sisman.

In this definitive biography—blessed by John le Carré himself—Adam Sisman reveals the man behind the bestselling persona. In John le Carré, Sisman shines a spotlight on David Cornwell, an expert at hiding in plain sight—“born to lying,” he wrote in 2002, “bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist.”

Of course, the pseudonym “John le Carré” has helped to keep the public at a distance. Sisman probes Cornwell’s unusual upbringing, abandoned by his mother at the age of only five and raised by his con man father (when not in prison), and explores his background in British intelligence, as well as his struggle to become a writer, and his personal life. Sisman has benefited from unfettered access to le Carré’s private archive, talked to the most important people in his life, and interviewed the man himself at length.

Who is John le Carré? Intriguing, thorough, and packed with entertaining detail, this biography will be a treat for the legions of le Carré fans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062106285
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 136,299
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Adam Sisman has written four previous biographies, including An Honourable Englishman: The Life of Hugh Trevor-Roper; The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge; and Boswell’s Presumptuous Task, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times book prize and received a National Books Critics Circle award in 1999. He lives in Bristol, England.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction xiv

1 Millionaire paupers 1

2 'We seek higher things' 24

3 God and Mammon 45

4 Wandering in the fog 71

5 Serving your country 90

6 'That little college in Turl' 116

7 'This really is the end' 136

8 Poor but happy 155

9 'Milk in first and then Indian' 170

10 'A dead-end sort of place' 186

11 A small town in Germany 210

12 Becoming John Je Carré 239

13 Naive and sentimental love 264

14 Caught in the machine 287

15 Rich but restless 312

16 Keeping the bitterness at bay 348

17 'You treated your father very badly' 376

18 'Does anyone know what's going on?' 395

19 'The Love Thief' 423

20 Moscow Rules 452

21 'Whatever are you going to write now?' 478

22 'He makes us look so good' 506

23 The Secret Centre 526

24 'Mr Angry' 547

25 Beating the System 572

Notes 601

Select Bibliography 628

Index 632

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