Books: The Spy In Winter

At 72, John le Carre is still the grand master of the modern literary thriller. He's also mad as hell

The critical reception of John le Carre's first work of fiction was mixed and typically British: he was flogged. "When I was about 10 or 11," he recalls, "I wrote a story about a jockey who loaded his whip with lead and beat the horse to run faster. The headmaster had a secretary who took me under her wing, and she agreed to type the story out because I thought it should be immortalized. And the headmaster discovered that I was giving work to his secretary and flogged me for it. He had a riding crop, and it made a hell...

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