English espionage writer John Le Carré has passed away at the age of 89. The literary legend – best known for penning Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – dominated bestseller lists for six decades, with beautiful prose and complex social commentary that defined the Cold War-era thriller.
In 2017, Le Carré was asked for a few of his favorite reads by Amazon Book Review. Including his thoughts on three titles that delve into the feats and follies of war, find John Le Carré’s reading recommendations below.
The Hotel Years 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.” -JLC
“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.” -JLC
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.” -JLC