Books

John le Carré’s A Legacy of Spies publishes internationally

Sep 7, 2017

John le Carré’s new novel A Legacy of Spies has published internationally this week to widespread critical acclaim. The book, published by Penguin Random House imprint Viking, is the first novel in over twenty-five years to feature George Smiley, le Carré’s most beloved character.

Peter Guillam, 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. The reason? 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 scrutinised under disturbing criteria by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carré has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carré and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.

Reviews of A Legacy of Spies laud le Carré a ‘master of modern espionage’ (The Daily Mail), and ‘the quintessential Cold War novelist’ (The Wall Street Journal). John Banville, writing for the Guardian, is full of praise for the book: 'The ingenuity and skill with which the thing is brought off is breathtaking – really, not since The Spy has Le Carré exercised his gift as a storyteller so powerfully and to such thrilling effect.'

The Chicago Tribune refers to le Carré as ‘the only contemporary spy novelist who really matters’, and The New York Times writes that ‘to read this simmering novel is to come in from the cold.’ 

Read more about A Legacy of Spies: NPR interview