Celebrity Picks: John Le Carre's Favorite Reads of 2017

Jon Foro on February 01, 2017

JohnLeCarre225John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy made the character George Smiley an icon of espioage fiction. More than 25 years later, A Legacy of Ashes returns to the world of the British Secret Service and Smiley-disciple Peter Guillam, who, despite his best efforts to leave the past behind, finds himself entangled in old conflicts—their Cold War justifications now lost to the intervening decades.

See le Carré's favorite reads of the year below (spot the theme), and look here for the latest celebrity favorites.

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The Hotel Years, a collection of short writings by Joseph Roth
Written over the decade leading to the outbreak of the second world war, and superbly translated by Michael Hoffmann, this little book makes wonderful reading for every aspiring journalist and novelist. I love it for its vivid observation and its elegiac sense of despair as the old European order yields to the rise of Fascism.

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Churchill and Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks
They never met. The one was an imperialist conservative, the other a disenchanted communist and left-leaning libertarian. But their parallel lives were driven by the same ideal of human liberty and democracy, and the same hatred of autocracy, whether from the Left or Right. Ricks makes his case with passion, and backs it with meticulous historical research.

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The Reason Why by Cecil Woodham-Smith
I’m not sure why I returned to this classic account of one of the most absurd military blunders of all time: the suicidal cavalry charge of the British Light Brigade in 1854, at the height of the Crimean War. The charge was led by Lord Cardigan and ordered by Lord Lucan, who were not on speaking terms. Having been directed against the wrong target, the sabre-carrying horsemen of the Light Brigade hurled themselves against a fully armed battery of artillery with predictable results.
Perhaps there is present comfort to be found in revisiting one of history’s best-documented examples of unbridled human folly.

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