Len Deighton was born in 1929 in London. He did his national service in the RAF, went to the Royal College of Art and designed many book jackets, including the original UK edition of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The enormous success of his first spy novel, The IPCRESS File (1962), was repeated in a remarkable sequence of books over the following decades. These varied from historical fiction (Bomber, perhaps his greatest novel) to dystopian alternative fiction (SS-GB) and a number of brilliant non-fiction books on the Second World War (Fighter, Blitzkrieg and Blood, Tears and Folly). His spy novels chart the twists and turns of Britain and the Cold War in ways which now give them a unique flavour. They preserve a world in which Europe contains many dictatorships, in which the personal can be ruined by the ideological and where the horrors of the Second World War are buried under only a very thin layer of soil. Deighton's fascination with technology, his sense of humour and his brilliant evocation of time and place make him one of the key British espionage writers, alongside John Buchan, Eric Ambler, Ian Fleming and John Le Carre.
Len Deighton is the Flaubert of the contemporary thriller writers ... there can be little doubt that this is much the way things would have turned out if the Germans had won the war. -- Michael Howard * Times Literary Supplement * Philip K Dick, Philip Roth, Robert Harris and plenty more have all come at the nightmare from their own angle. No book, however, has brought the scenario home to roost quite like Len Deighton's SS-GB. -- Jasper Rees * Daily Telegraph * SS-GB is remarkable not for what it says about Hitler and Churchill or the turning points of the Second World War, but for its exploration of a society that did not exist, but that feels real and connects to our own lives and circumstances. Through alternate histories, we can experience the richness of life in alternate pasts, and sympathise with those forced to make choices we will probably - we hope - never have to make. -- Andrew Glazzard * New Statesman * Horrifyingly plausible. * The Independent * It is Mr. Deighton's best book, one that blends his expertise in the spy field with his interest in military and political history to produce an absorbingly exciting spy story that is also a fascinating exercise in might-have-been speculation. -- Julian Symons * New York Times Book Review *