John le Carré
John le Carré (1931-2020) was David Cornwell in real life. A former spy, he became one of the world’s best-known writers of spy fiction. He is a frequently recommended author on Five Books, with his books turning up again and again in interviews on not only espionage thrillers, but also spy books more generally. His most recommended books are The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, the 1963 novel that catapulted him to international fame, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Le Carré’s most recent books were: Agent Running in the Field (2019) and Silverview, which was published posthumously in 2021. These are not his masterpieces, but enjoyable to read if you’re already a le Carré fan.
Books by John le Carré
Interviews where books by John le Carré were recommended
Leading British spy writer Charles Cumming found his vocation at 25 after he was approached by MI6. He says that experience, brief but interesting, was crying out to be dramatised
The British public-school system, with its hidden homosexuality and feelings of loneliness, encouraged subterfuge and led to a generation of great spy writers and spies, suggests author and journalist Ben Macintyre. He picks the best books on spies.
The author of the only authorized history of MI6, Keith Jeffery, tells us about the evolution of the secret intelligence services, their representation in fiction, and the man Fleming may have had in mind when he created James Bond
Newspaper journalism is on its way out, regrets the former foreign correspondent and Browser co-founder Robert Cottrell. He chooses four novels that reflect the golden days and a style guide that is an equally fine work of imagination.
Andy Beckett’s choices point to a welcome reassessment of the 1970s, that much-maligned ‘gothic’ decade, and sweep from London to Los Angeles by way of Malcolm Bradbury and John le Carré
The former CIA operative lifts the lid on the reality of spying. He says the intelligence service knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war, but politicians and reporters didn’t listen
The bestselling author tells us how his other job as a political journalist helps with thriller writing, and what makes le Carré, Forsyth and Buchan such masters of their trade
Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa
by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Barbara Wright
by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
A Perfect Spy
by John le Carré
For those with a taste for fine literature, but who also enjoy their fiction with a bit of suspense and momentum, the acclaimed novelist Chris Power—author of A Lonely Man—has put together a recommended reading list of five ‘literary thrillers’, including work by Fernanda Melchor, Roberto Bolaño and the Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.