The Greatest Spy Writers of the 20th Century
Buchan, Fleming and Le Carre
by Phil Carradice
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Pub Date 30 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 07 Jun 2023
Pen & Sword, Pen & Sword History
The spy novel has, over the past hundred years, become one of the most popular literary genres. The best exponents have become household names, as have their characters, heroes and villains alike. From Richard Hannay to James Bond and George Smiley, the spies and spy-hunters of fiction have developed from the printed page to grace the movie and television screens - with huge success.
Uncovering the greatest or best spy writers of the Twentieth Century has not been easy. There are so many to choose from. Ultimately, however, the choice has come down to three highly significant and successful exponents of the art, writers who cannot be ignored but, more significantly, who were leaders, movers and shakers in the art of writing spy fiction.
John Buchan was at the forefront, arguably the first in a long line of spy writers - and still one of the finest. Classic tales like The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle set the benchmark for everyone else to follow. Ian Fleming's creation of James Bond in books like Goldfinger and From Russia with Love took the spy novel to new heights of glamour and exotic settings. John le Carre's world of spies, double-dealing, betrayal and seedy backstreet assignations is the very antithesis of Fleming's Bond but its realism and stark reality took the art of spy fiction to a new level.
Buchan, Fleming, Le Carre, arguably the greatest spy writers of the Twentieth Century. Do you agree? Read the book and make your own judgement. Whatever you decide, you will not be disappointed by the writing and the judgements.