Len Deighton was born in 1929 in London. He did his national service in the RAF, went to the Royal College of Art and designed many book jackets, including the original UK edition of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The enormous success of his first spy novel, The IPCRESS File (1962), was repeated in a remarkable sequence of books over the following decades. These varied from historical fiction (Bomber, perhaps his greatest novel) to dystopian alternative fiction (SS-GB) and a number of brilliant non-fiction books on the Second World War (Fighter, Blitzkrieg and Blood, Tears and Folly). His spy novels chart the twists and turns of Britain and the Cold War in ways which now give them a unique flavour. They preserve a world in which Europe contains many dictatorships, in which the personal can be ruined by the ideological and where the horrors of the Second World War are buried under only a very thin layer of soil. Deighton's fascination with technology, his sense of humour and his brilliant evocation of time and place make him one of the key British espionage writers, alongside John Buchan, Eric Ambler, Ian Fleming and John Le Carré.
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