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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963)

by John le Carré

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: George Smiley novels (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,854182973 (3.99)430
A veteran spy wants to "come in from the cold" to retirement. He undertakes one last assignment in which he pretends defection and provides the enemy with sufficient evidence to label their leader a double agent.
  1. 20
    Call for the Dead by John le Carré (otori)
    otori: Key character Hans-Dieter Mundt first appearance.
  2. 20
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Setting the oeuvre.
  3. 10
    The Secret Pilgrim by John le Carré (Oleg.Gerassimenko)
  4. 10
    Background to Danger by Eric Ambler (yokai)
  5. 00
    The Deceiver by Frederick Forsyth (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: Both novels have a central participant: the Berlin Wall.

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» See also 430 mentions

English (169)  Danish (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (2)  Italian (2)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
Definitely not the ending I expected. Good twist. ( )
  jzacsh | Sep 9, 2020 |
Still stands up as brilliant mold-breaking thriller. ( )
  Mariella-O | Aug 29, 2020 |
Although this novel is considered a George Smiley novel, Smiley actually plays no more than a supporting role. The protagonist in this novel is Alec Leamas, former WWII SOE operative and the current station head of the Cold War West Berlin's Circus division. Nearing retirement, Leamas is assigned one last mission. When England's last double agent is killed exiting East Berlin, Leamas is asked to go "cold" and to frame the head of the East German Ministry for State Security as a double agent. The East Germans must be convinced that Leamas is a potential defector. Therefore, to add verisimilitude to this illusion, the Circus fires him leaving him a small pension requiring him to take a menial librarian job, he begins drinking heavily, picks a fight with a local merchant and is jailed.

This novel is more cerebral than it is action-packed. It is heavy dialogue-based which is necessary to set up the "sting." I enjoyed the subtlety of setting it up, but others might find the plot sluggish in the its development. ( )
  John_Warner | Aug 8, 2020 |
Fallen on hard times
drinking what little he's paid
one last job, then rest. ( )
1 vote Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold takes a few leftover strands from le Carré's first novel, Call for the Dead, and weaves them into a masterpiece. In this, his third book, le Carré makes a quantum jump from his earlier two works. Not only is the plotting and characterization of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold mature and complex, so is the authorial voice that comments on the terrible loss of moral certainty and the triumph of expediency, where individual lives are at best material for barter and at worst unworthy flotsam.

Written at the height of the Cold War, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold pictures both sides of the conflict as a mirror image of the other. The ideals for which British intelligence supposedly struggles and defends the nation are tossed on the garbage heap. And at the end, you never really know why Alec Leamas does what he does. And where is George Smiley in all this? He is completely decentered from the story, a man on the edge, in the half light of espionage. Smiley is also pulling some very unattractive strings, here, and has graduated from the disillusioned boy scout of the first two novels into a formidable, calculating foe.

Finally, beware of falling in love. It doesn't have the power of redemption. It only leads to disaster. Better to be the cunning, cold agent who calculates the moves of the game dispassionately. There is not room for humanity in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
En este clásico, el autor recrea un mundo jamás conocido antes en la novela de suspense. Con los conocimientos acumulados durante sus años en el servicio de inteligencia británica, le Carré saca a la luz los interiores un tanto turbios del espionaje internacional de la mano de Alec Leamas, un agente británico durante los primeros años de la guerra fría en Berlín. Leamas es responsable de mantener a sus agentes dobles protegidos y con vida, pero los alemanes del Este empiezan a matarlos, por lo que su superior, Control, le pide que vuelva a Londres no para echarle del cuerpo sino para encargarle una misión un tanto complicada. Con esta novela clásica de suspense, le Carré cambió las reglas del juego. Esta es la historia de un último encargo que recae sobre un agente que desea desesperadamente retirarse de su carrera de espionaje.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
The best spy story I have ever read," says Graham Greene, and I am not too far from agreeing with him. Whether "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" is better than Eric Ambler's "Epitaph for a Spy" or Somerset Maugham's "Ashenden" or Mr. Greene's own "The Confidential Agent" is inconsequential. What matters is that it belongs on the same shelf. Here is a book a light year removed from the sometimes entertaining trivia which have (in the guise of spy novels) cluttered the publishers' lists for the past year.

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jayston, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salomaa, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veraldi, AttilioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The American handed Leamas another cup of coffee and said, "Why don't you go back and sleep? We can ring you if he shows up."
"What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They're a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives."
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A veteran spy wants to "come in from the cold" to retirement. He undertakes one last assignment in which he pretends defection and provides the enemy with sufficient evidence to label their leader a double agent.

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Average: (3.99)
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1.5 8
2 51
2.5 11
3 309
3.5 94
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141194529, 0241962331

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