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John le Carre: The Biography by Adam Sisman at Abbey's Bookshop,

John le Carre: The Biography

Adam Sisman



Biography: literary;
Literary studies: from c 1900 -;
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers


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Abbey's Bookseller Pick ----- This is a fascinating book. One can tend to forget the enormous success of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, le Carré's third book written while he was working in the secret services. And one can sometimes overlook just how many books Le Carré has written, and continues to write. He worked very hard, especially in the days before a word processor.

He was always diligent, revising proofs right up till the last possible moment and often contributed to the film scripts of his books and even, like Hitchcock, enjoyed a cameo part in several of the films. I think he was indeed addicted to writing. He became fabulously wealthy and very famous. The middle part of the book dealing with negotiations with publishers and film producers is gloriously full of trade gossip. He does become rather angry at the state of the world. He says he became more radical as he grew older and certainly agrees he has had a wonderful life. I think he wrote twenty three books, most of them classified as espionage thrillers, always with a political angle which often proved prescient. The biographer widely discusses reviews and plots of the books so you can sort out which title you can start with to dip into le Carré's marvellous catalogue. Eve Abbey


John le Carré is still at the top, more than half a century after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became a worldwide bestseller.

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, to his emergence as the master of the espionage novel, le Carré has repeatedly quarried his life for his fiction.

Millions of readers are hungry to know the truth about him. Written with exclusive access to le Carré himself, to his private archive and to many of the people closest to him, this is a major biography of one of the most important novelists alive today.

By:   Adam Sisman
Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Export/Airside
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   1.100kg
ISBN:   9781408827932
ISBN 10:   140882793X
Publication Date:   October 2015
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Out of Print

Adam Sisman is an award-winning writer, author of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and biographer of A. J. P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper. He lives in Bristol.

Ultimately it's about love ... this is a very emotional book. John le Carre had an utterly heartbreaking childhood ... This is the best biography of 2015 - a rare achievement that invites rereading -- Edward Wilson Independent Compendious and compelling...Sisman is excellent at the nuts and bolts of writing and of being must be difficult to write the life of a man who is still very much with us, and in the public eye, no matter how much liberty the biographer has been given to tell the story, warts and all. Sisman - a very fine and astute biographer - has done an excellent, not to say exemplary, job under the circumstances ... it is impossible to imagine this Life being bettered -- William Boyd New Statesman This is the way to do it. Why this admirably balanced, patiently detailed biography of John le Carre is not on the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction shortlist beats me ... Sisman does full justice to [the] rawness at the heart of le Carre -- David Sexton Evening Standard A perfect biography Robert Harris on An Honourable Englishman A wonderfully absorbing book Alan Bennett on An Honourable Englishman By miles the best biography I have read this year Max Hastings on An Honourable Englishman Admirable Financial Times Balanced, focused and compelling Economist The spy novelist's life is explored and explained with immaculate care and attention to detail Sunday Times This book is testament to Sisman's skill and perseverance ... With his excellent grasp of the wider history, Sisman is good at anchoring Cornwell in this shadowy environment, as he guides his readers through the models for various characters ... Sisman brings admirable clarity to what could have been a meander in a wilderness of mirrors -- Andrew Lycett Spectator A perceptive and elegant interpreter of complex lives -- Jonathan Dimbleby Radio Times Excellent ... Shows how memory, fact and fiction have danced in Le Carre's life ... [A] masterful biography Catholic Morning Herald Absorbing new doorstopper Western Morning News Sisman often came to know the reality of what happened in Cornwell's life better than Cornwell himself did Newsweek Respectful though far from sycophantic - Best Books of 2015 -- Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph This riveting, thorough biography reveals the real world of Cornwell to be every bit as fascinating as his much-loved fiction. The perfect Christmas present for the le Carre fan in your life Sunday Times Cornwell has admitted that he can no longer separate many of the facts of his life from his lies and fictions. For Sisman this is like a red rag to a bull and you can feel the thrill of the chase throughout his terrific John le Carre Independent However gripping John le Carre's novels ... Hang onto your hats, because the author's real life story is equally thrilling. Biographer Adam Sisman peels back layers of le Carre to reveal David Cornwall ... This is a masterpiece of storytelling and factual revelations Compass Fascinating Metro John le Carre will not be the final word on this subject but it could hardly be bettered -- Robert McCrum Observer Sisman pulls it off: this is a well-written and highly readable book which is neither hagiography nor hatchet job ... Within that world he [John le Carre] conveys some of the truths of human nature, endeavour and fallibility. This is a real and rare achievement and in Adam Sisman he has a biographer worthy of it -- Alan Judd Times Literary Supplement Absorbing ... An insightful and highly readable portrait of a writer and a man who has often been classified as elusive and enigmatic as his fictional heroes -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times

  • Short-listed for Crimefest H. R. F. Keating Award 2016
  • Shortlisted for Crimefest H. R. F. Keating Award 2016.
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