At the Royal College of Art his teachers called him subversive, but it was his first novel — The Ipcress File — that sealed his reputation as an iconoclast. Ian Fleming called it his “Book of the Year.” Through humor, characters with real depth, and impeccable research, Len Deighton’s original voice revolutionized the modern spy thriller.
The enormous success of The Ipcress File and the subsequent Harry Palmer spy films made Michael Caine an international star. Bomber (perhaps his greatest novel) calmly and powerfully narrates the horror of war. SS-GB, a dystopian alternative history of the Nazi occupation of Britain, challenges us to think about how we relate to authoritarian government.
Deighton is best remembered for Cold War spy novels with defiant, working class heroes, including the famed Bernard Sampson series and the Pat Armstrong Quartet. Deighton’s work has entered the zeitgeist and that influence can be seen today from Motörhead’s album “Bomber,” to Austin Powers’ glasses, to references to his work in the films of Quentin Tarantino.
Born in 1929, Deighton is acclaimed as not just one of the greatest thriller writers of the 20th Century but a military historian, cookery writer, and graphic artist. His extraordinary career spanned four decades, selling over 30 million books, being published in 20 languages, and never falling out of print.