Books: A Tale of the Acorn and the Tree a Perfect Spy

by John le Carre; Knopf; 475 pages; $18.95

A Perfect Spy arrives in the U.S. with its cover blown. Published last month in the U.K., John le Carre's eleventh novel could hardly pass review without someone noting that the main character is a British intelligence officer, as was the author, and that another persona is a dead ringer for Le Carre's father, a notorious con man named Ronald Cornwell.

That Cornwell had two sons, Anthony, an advertising executive in New York City, and David, the best-selling novelist who signs himself John le Carre, is not news. Neither is the literary practice of hanging fiction on a framework of autobiography....

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