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
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 Carre.
It is a novel of memory, satisfying on every imaginable level, but
truly astonishing in its recreation of a time and place through
minute detail ... The only way you could know more about flying a
P-51 Mustang, after reading this book, is to have flown one.
He writes, as usual, with authority and a superb sense of period.
The sheer charge of the writing swept me into another world all the while I was reading, and now that piece of the past is a piece in my mind.