A Private Spy chronicles not only John le Carré’s own life but also the turbulent times to which he was witness.
Beginning with his 1940s childhood, it includes accounts of his National Service and his time at Oxford. It describes his entry into MI5 and the rise of the Iron Curtain, and the flowering of his career as a novelist in reaction to the building of the Berlin Wall. At the heart of the collection is John le Carré the writer: engaging with readers, publishers, film-makers and actors, with politicians and public figures. We find him writing to Alec Guinness to persuade him to take on the role of George Smiley, and later arguing the immorality of the War on Terror with the chief of the German internal security service.
In A Private Spy what emerges is a portrait not only of the writer or of the global intellectual, but, in his own words, of the very private, very passionate and very real man behind the name.
I first read John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy soon after it was published in 1974, and have reread it several times since. It is one of those books that never fails to give me...Read more