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 National Book Critics Circle 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.
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Back in 1963, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold made its pseudonymous author, John le Carré, a worldwide publishing sensation. Since then, le Carré has produced another twenty-one bestselling novels. A master at weaving fiction with fact, le Carré creates complex protagonists who expose tantalizing glimpses into the author’s own character. But appearances are deceptive. The real truth is that David Cornwell, the man behind the pseudonym and one of the world’s most celebrated writers, has remained an enigma for more than half a century.
In this authoritative biography short-listed for the 2016 Pen Award, Adam Sisman explores how the central themes of Cornwell’s life defined his fiction. From his lonely, “hugless” childhood to his early recruitment by British intelligence and the evolution of his spycraft, to his fraught roles as husband and family man, Cornwell’s personal history encompasses the basic questions at the heart of his work: What does espionage mean in human terms? To what extent is betrayal acceptable in the name of love? How does a person manage the endless need for forgiveness, especially from oneself?
Written with exclusive access to David Cornwell, his private archive, and his family, friends, enemies, ex-intelligence colleagues, and ex-lovers—and featuring a wealth of previously unseen photographic material—Sisman’s biography at last brings in from the cold a man whose life has been as complex, confounding, and filled with treachery as any of his novels.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.
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