“Recounted with the storytelling élan of a master raconteur — by turns dramatic and funny, charming, tart and melancholy.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
The New York Times bestselling memoir from John le Carré, the legendary author of A Legacy of Spies.
From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he's writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth; visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide; celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command; interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev; listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov; meeting with two former heads of the KGB; watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People; or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humor, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood.
Best of all, le Carré gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.
John le Carré was born in 1931. After attending the universities of Bern and Oxford, he taught at Eton and spent five years in the British Foreign Service. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, his third book, secured him a worldwide reputation.
Table of Contents
1 Don't be beastly to your Secret Service 13
2 Dr Globke's laws 24
3 Official visit 34
4 Fingers on the trigger 37
5 To whomsoever it may concern 43
6 Wheels of British justice 47
7 Ivan Serov's defection 49
8 A legacy 55
9 The innocence of Murat Kurnaz 64
10 Going out into the field 70
11 Bumping into Jerry Westerby 78
12 Lonely in Vientiane 82
13 Theatre of the Real: dances with Arafat 86
14 Theatre of the Real: the Villa Brigitte 98
15 Theatre of the Real: a question of guilt 104
16 Theatre of the Real: terms of endearment 108
17 The Soviet knight is dying inside his armour 114
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