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  • Published: 14 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780241981610
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

A Legacy of Spies

For the first time in over 30 years, John le Carré returns to the Cold War in this thrilling masterpiece

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his 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 are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carré has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.

  • Published: 14 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780241981610
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

John le Carré

John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020. His posthumous novel Silverview was published in 2021.

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Praise for A Legacy of Spies

[A] late-career triumph

1843 Magazine

[As] labyrinthine as you'd expect ... le Carré has always been a master

The Tablet

[Le Carré's] writing has lost none of its pith or potency . . . his powers of invention have kept up with the pace of an ever-changing and complex world'

The Scotsman

Deeply moving in its portrait of a man adrift in a climate he no longer understands


George Smiley is our favourite fictional spy

Sunday Express

His writing is as crisp as ever . . . another tale of intrigue which will slip effortlessly into its place in the Smiley canon

Daily Express


Washington Post

le Carré has made and peopled a myth. Myths do not age

Financial Times

Razor-sharp insight from the battle-weary Guillam and fascinating glimpses into the murky spycraft at the height of the Cold War only add to the joy of this sublimely accomplished thriller

The People

The literary event of the Autumn

Evening Standard

Thrilling and fascinating - a satisfying close to the saga

The Independent

Utterly engrossing and perfectly pitched, it is a triumph

Daily Mail

We are back in the more interesting territory of moral uncertainty and failure. What, Smiley asks, was he fighting for?


A Legacy of Spies deploys a complex and ingeniously layered structure to make the past alive in the present once more . . . le Carré has not lost his touch

Evening Standard

A literary master for a generation


He can communicate emotion, from sweating fear to despairing love, with terse and compassionate conviction. Above all, he can tell a tale. Formidable equipment for a rare and disturbing writer

Sunday Times

I have re-read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold over and over again since I first encountered it in my teens, just to remind myself how extraordinary a work of fiction can be

Malcolm Gladwell

Gripping, fast-paced . . . A splendid novel

Andrew Marr, Sunday Times

It's brilliantly done and very enjoyable


le Carré's masterful new novel

Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

Perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain. He will have charted our decline and recorded the nature of our bureaucracies like no one else has. He's in the first rank

Ian McEwan

The best spy story I have ever read

Graham Greene on The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

The English canon has rarely seen an acclaimed novelist and popular entertainer sustain such a hot streak in old age . . . A Legacy of Spies achieves many things. Outstandingly, it is a defiant assertion of creative vigour

The Observer

This is a truly wonderful, morally complex, politically astute novel written with elegance and panache . . . the visceral thrill of its twists and its complexities, its edge-of-the-seat qualities

Scotland on Sunday

It gives the reader, at long last, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that have been missing for 54 years . . . A Legacy of Spies does something remarkable . . . Like wine, le Carré's writing has got richer with age

The Times

This really is vintage le Carré

Mail on Sunday

This sublime thriller

Sunday Mirror

Not since The Spy Who Came in From The Cold has le Carré exercised his gift as a storyteller so powerfully and to such thrilling effect

John Banville, Guardian

What are we to make of Smiley? What is his game? Do we like him? Admire him? Every le Carré reader has wrestled with these questions-and A Legacy of Spies brings them to the fore more directly than any previous book

Vanity Fair

A brilliant novel of deception, love and trust to join his supreme espionage canon

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Books of the Year

A splendid novel

Sunday Times

An immensely clever piece of novelistic engineering


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