Thursday, October 19, 2017

Birthday Books of the Day: Of the national security state, John Le Carre says, "A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world."

Today is author John Le Carre’s 86th birthday, and Henry Bemis Books found two moles back in the stacks:

Le Carre, John, Call For The Dead (Walker & Co, stated 1st US ed., 1962). LOC 62-18735. Le Carre’s introduction of George Smiley, his most famous spy. Hardcover unclipped dustjacket with slight water ring on front cover and tear on back at bottom of spine. HBB price: $20.

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Le Carre, John, A Most Wanted Man (Scribner, 1st ed, 1st printing, 2008). ISBN 978-1-4165-9488-8. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, very good condition. HBB $35.

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Not familiar with the author?

Here's some background:

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David John Moore Cornwell (1931-  )
Author, writing as John Le Carre’

  • 1963 British Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • 1964 Somerset Maugham Award for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • 1965 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • 1977 British Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for The Honourable Schoolboy
  • 1977 James Tait Black Memorial Prize Fiction Award for The Honourable Schoolboy
  • 1983 Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize for The Little Drummer Girl
  • 1984 Honorary Fellow Lincoln College, Oxford
  • 1984 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Grand Master
  • 1988 British Crime Writers Association Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1988 The Malaparte Prize, Italy
  • 1990 Honorary Degree University of Exeter
  • 1990 The Helmerich Award of the Tulsa Library Trust.
  • 1991 Nikos Kazantzakis prize
  • 1996 Honorary Degree University of St. Andrews
  • 1997 Honorary Degree University of Southampton
  • 1998 Honorary Degree University of Bath
  • 2005 British Crime Writers Association Dagger of Daggers for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • 2005 Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, France
  • 2008 Honorary Doctorate University of Bern
  • 2011 Goethe Medal of the Goethe Institute
  • 2012 Honorary Doctorate University of Oxford

For his 34th birthday, in October, 1965, David Cornwell, writing as John Le Carre;, had the satisfaction of seeing his fourth novel, The Looking-Glass War, in its second month on The New York Times’ Best Sellers List.
Half a century on, Cornwell is still at it; his latest thriller, A Delicate Truth, was published in 2013.
His was a Dickensian childhood. His mother abandoned the family when he was five. His father was a confidence man who was constantly flush with, or out of, money; an associate of the Kray Brothers crime family, he spent time in jail for insurance fraud (when Cornwell’s father died, his son paid for the funeral service but did not attend).
Packed off to a series of stereotypically sadistic and educationally derelict public schools, Cornwell dropped out, and, after some further schooling in Switzerland, joined British Army Intelligence. From service in Germany he made his way to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he got a first and did some work on the side for MI5. After two years teaching at Eton, he became an MI5 officer, writing novels in his down time.
Call for The Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962) won good notices and respectable sales, but Cornwell’s third book, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) was an international bestseller, and the first of ten of his books to be made into films (“Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes,” he later commented).
As John Le Carre’, Cornwell defined the twilight world of Cold War espionage, in which a motley band of British intelligence agents divide their obsessions between external and internal spies, and the finding of both. When the Cold War ended, Le Carre’ pivoted neatly from the world that no longer was to a new, more varied scene of multinational spying, crime and terrorism. In a career spanning six decades, he has produced 23 novels, 3 nonfiction works, 4 collections of short stories, and three screenplays. He has lived on the coast of Cornwall for nearly half a century. He maintains active Twitter and Facebook accounts, published his memoirs for his 85th birthday in 2016 and a new Smiley novel this year.

Every day is a literary birthday party for Henry Bemis Books. Join the fun at,
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