John le Carré

  • by Adam Sisman
  • Narrated by Michael Jayston
  • 26 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The definitive biography of the internationally adored author of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and A Perfect Spy - arguably one of the most important and influential writers of the post-World War II period - by the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning biographer Adam Sisman.
In this definitive biography - blessed by John le Carré himself - Adam Sisman reveals the man behind the best-selling persona. In John le Carré, Sisman shines a spotlight on David Cornwell, an expert at hiding in plain sight - "born to lying," he wrote in 2002, "bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist."
Of course the pseudonym "John le Carré" has helped to keep the public at a distance. Sisman probes Cornwell's unusual upbringing, abandoned by his mother at the age of only five and raised by his con man father (when not in prison), and explores his background in British intelligence as well as his struggle to become a writer,and his personal life. Sisman has benefited from unfettered access to le Carré's private archive, talked to the most important people in his life, and interviewed the man himself at length.
Who is John le Carré? Intriguing, thorough, and packed with entertaining detail, this biography will be a treat for the legions of le Carré fans.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Would you consider the audio edition of John le Carré to be better than the print version?

I have not tried to read it however Michael Jayston does an incredible job and draws you in.

What other book might you compare John le Carré to, and why?

I have nothing to compare this with at present.

What about Michael Jayston’s performance did you like?

His voice and his delivery, Just great.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Well I am half way through having heard some of the abridged version on BBC Radio 4 which introduced me to this biography. I am gripped!

Any additional comments?

Well worth buying particularly as an example of truth being vastly more interesting as well as stranger than fiction

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- Francis

Not a Nice Man

Where does John le Carré rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was a very interesting life story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author begins by explaining that John Le Carre's grandfather was a hypocritical liar and like father like son Le Carre's father was also a fraudster and a liar.
This sets us up for the ultimate storyteller. He explains often that it is difficult for Le Carre to distinguish between his own recollection and his 'storytelling version' of his life.
"Other people's recollections differ." seems to be the order of the day.
As the story unfolds it necessarily becomes sycophantic in feel and just as you feel that things are getting too weighted that way the author reminds you that we are dealing with a self important individual, who would like to be considered as one of the high art literature set, but in reality is a great storyteller of page turners for the ordinary person.
So we get a statement from his publishers to the effect that Le Carre has never submitted his books for consideration for literary prizes. Immediately the author reminds us that prize givers can always call in a book if they consider it worth consideration!
We also hear, in close proximity, that Le Carre received $2.1 million for the American rights to one of his books and that whilst researching his next book one of his guides generously asks that Le Carre donate the fee, he would have been paid, to a children's charity in the African country where the next book is to be set. The guide, we are told, was expecting that he would have received "about $1000" but was amazed that Le Carre donated £25,000. It is not said that this is a paltry sum from this man whose father and grandfather were grasping greedy fraudsters, but the conclusion cannot be missed.

Have you listened to any of Michael Jayston’s other performances? How does this one compare?

As always Michael Jayston reads with confidence and great characterisation. He offers just enough nuance to remind the listener that we are hearing the words Le Carre would like us to hear, though they may not be entirely accurate.

Any additional comments?

It is hard at times to distinguish between what is true, in that it really happened and what is Le Carre's excuse.
Two things are clear. John Le Carre is an expert storyteller, but not a nice man.

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- Mr David Newton

Book Details

  • Release Date: 19-10-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury