Celebrated British author John le Carré, who wrote many famous spy thrillers like ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold‘ and ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy‘, died Saturday, December 12, aged 89. While fellow authors paid tribute to his towering legacy, his agent said in a statement that David Cornwell — known to the world as John le Carre — died after a short illness in Cornwall, southwestern England.
To honour his enduring legacy, we share some of his famous novels which will always remind us of the great storyteller.
John le Carre has passed at the age of 89. This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 13, 2020
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974)
George Smiley, a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy. He enters a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. His mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed 30 years deep into the Circus itself.
“I’m not just a Remainer. I’m a European through and through, and the rats have taken over the ship”. RIP John le Carré.
— Donald Tusk (@donaldtuskEPP) December 14, 2020
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)
The book derives its suspense from the setting of its plot at a time when tensions were high during the Cold War, as the war between the East and West Berlin raged on with the Berlin wall standing tall between them. Alec Leamas is a British spy agent who was sent on a mission to gain information from East Germany. His mission fails as the last of his spies is killed. His superiors, known as the Control, send him on another dangerous mission after this, where he has to find Mundt — the chief of the East German Intelligence.
Agent Running in the Field: A Novel (2019)
This one is about Nat, a 47-year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. He believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on the Russia Department, and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.
A Perfect Spy (1986)
Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend—and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father’s death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?
John le Carré … if there is a contemporary writer who’s given me richer pleasure I can’t for the moment name them. I suppose the best one can do to honour his great life & talent is go back to “Call For The Dead” and reread all his books. The very opposite of a chore –
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) December 13, 2020
A Legacy of Spies (2017)
Peter Guillam, the staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.
A few days ago, the brilliance of #JohnLeCarré had struck yet again with the prospect of reading Agent Running in the Field.
Le Carré was indeed a ‘Titan of English literature.’ If you want to understand the deeds of men of the last century, look no further than Le Carré. RIP. pic.twitter.com/IFsn84QCIE
— Gautam Chintamani (@GChintamani) December 14, 2020
Smiley’s People (1979)
Smiley’s People is a thrilling confrontation between one of the most famous spies in all fiction and his Cold War rival, Karla. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy, it is as tense and unforgettable as only le Carré’s novels can be.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy may be the only book I literally could not put down. Started to read it one evening in 1980 and finally finished at 4 AM. #JohnLeCarre brought millions of people great reading pleasure; a life well lived.
— Stephen Walt (@stephenWalt) December 14, 2020
The Honourable Schoolboy (1977)
The Honourable Schoolboy is remarkable and thrilling, one of three books (together with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People) to feature the legendary clash between Smiley and Karla, two brilliant spymasters on opposite sides of the Cold War.
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