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'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' author John le Carre dies at 89

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' author John le Carre dies at 89

Famous British espionage writer John le Carré, author of novels such as The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy died from pneumonia on Saturday night at the age of 89.

His agent said in a statement that David Cornwell, known to the world as John le Carre, died after a short illness in Cornwall, southwestern England.

Le Carre’s family confirmed he had died of pneumonia at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. “We all deeply grieve his passing,” they wrote in a statement. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and four sons.

The aouthor’s longtime agent Jonny Geller described him as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed….his loss will be felt by every book lover, everyone interested in the human condition…I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again.”

Le Carré explored the gap between the west’s high-flown rhetoric of freedom and the gritty reality of defending it, in novels such as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jul/24/carre-spy-came-cold-boyd" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Spy Who Came in from the Cold</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/sep/16/tinker-tailor-a-z-william-boyd" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/20/john-le-carre-the-night-manager-television-adaptation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Night Manager</a>, which gained him critical acclaim and made him a bestseller around the world, the Guardian newspaper said in its tribute to the famous author.

By exploring treachery at the heart of British intelligence in spy novels, at a time when the country was rocked by the betrayal of Kim Philby who fled to Moscow in 1963, le Carre challenged Western assumptions about the Cold War .

The Cold War, for le Carre, was “A Looking Glass War” (the title of his 1965 novel) with no heroes and where loose morals and betrayals were rampant among spy masters in Moscow, Berlin, Washington and London.

Le Carre wove the story of betrayal into the Karla trilogy, beginning with the 1974 novel “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and ending with “Smiley’s People” (1979).

Such was his fame as a writer that the Oxford English Dictionary credited le Carre with introducing espionage terms such as “mole”, “honey pot” and “pavement artist” into popular English usage.

He worked at MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency as a youngster before moving in 1960 to the country’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6 which enabled him to weave in this first-hand knowledge into his novels. Posted to Bonn, then capital of West Germany, Cornwell field of operation was Berlin in the 1960s which was one of the most difficult fronts of Cold War espionage.

British spies were upset that le Carre portrayed the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service as incompetent, ruthless and corrupt. But that did not keep them away from his novels.

Cold War warriors such as former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, too, figured among his avid readers..