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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le…

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)

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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
John le Carre’s third book and the one that made his name with a wider audience in 1963 is still as captivating as when it first appeared. The themes of betrayal and moral ambiguity that he explored in greater depth in later novels are the main concerns of the book, set at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. George Smiley, le Carre’s most famous creation, make only brief appearances here and the action centres on Alec Leamas who is used by British intelligence to protect their most important source of information in East Germany. Compared with his later novels, the writing is sketchier and less dense, but it does show le Carre’s progress after his previous novels and gives a taste of things to come.
  camharlow2 | Jun 20, 2017 |
Production was well done. Le Carre confounds me. I never know what is going on until the very end. This audiobook was no exception. I've only listened to these BBC productions and I have always found it difficult to follow who is speaking. I'm sure the print experience is much different. However, I did enjoy it, even though I had no clue what was happening most of the time. ( )
  enemyanniemae | May 22, 2017 |
Alec Leamas is nearing the end of his career with MI6. He's been the head of the Berlin unit for several years, but he's transferred to a desk job in London following the loss of a high-placed source at a Berlin checkpoint. Before he retires, he's offered a last chance to net the man at the top of the East German Abteilung, the man who was responsible for the deaths of several agents who had worked under Leamas. It's a long, intricately plotted, life-or-death game.

The plot twists and the building tension make it a page-turner that can be read in a single sitting. It's an ideal airplane book. Unlike in Tom Clancy novels, it's hard to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” in Le Carre's novels. It's all shades of gray, with one side looking much like the other. The disillusionment with the intelligence field that characterizes Le Carre's work has a similar feel to the disillusionment about the legal profession in John Grisham's novels. I suspect if I read many of Le Carre's books, they would soon lose their luster just as Grisham's did for me. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Mar 19, 2017 |
This is a good spy story from the Cold War. As always, a person needs to be saved, one that can be sacrificed, and a marginal figure that is saved on the other hand, but it does not matter if they are eliminated. Only this time the 'love' to an insignificant character was more important to the spy than his own life. ( )
1 vote Ameise1 | Feb 21, 2017 |
Changed my rating from four to five stars after further reflection. With an ending as emotionally brutal as this one, it deserves it. If the same company/crew who recently filmed Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy were to do a new adaptation of this one, I'm sure it would be a brilliant film (even if it doesn't have Richard Burton). ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (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 (40 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jayston, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802714544, Hardcover)

It would be an international crime to reveal too much of the jeweled clockwork plot of Le Carré's first masterpiece, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. But we are at liberty to disclose that Graham Greene called it the "finest spy story ever written," and that the taut tale concerns Alec Leamas, a British agent in early Cold War Berlin. Leamas is responsible for keeping the double agents under his care undercover and alive, but East Germans start killing them, so he gets called back to London by Control, his spy master. Yet instead of giving Leamas the boot, Control gives him a scary assignment: play the part of a disgraced agent, a sodden failure everybody whispers about. Control sends him back out into the cold--deep into Communist territory to checkmate the bad-guy spies on the other side. The political chessboard is black and white, but in human terms the vicinity of the Berlin Wall is a moral no-man's land, a gray abyss patrolled by pawns.

Le Carré beats most spy writers for two reasons. First, he knows what he's talking about, since he raced around working for British Intelligence while the Wall went up. He's familiar with spycraft's fascinations, but also with the fact that it leaves ideals shaken and emotions stirred. Second, his literary tone has deep autobiographical roots. Spying is about betrayal, and Le Carré was abandoned by his mother and betrayed by his father, a notorious con man. (They figure heavily in his novels Single & Single and A Perfect Spy.) In a world of lies, Le Carré writes the bitter truth: it's every man for himself. And may the best mask win. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:06 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

On its publication In 1964, John le Carre's The Spy Who Came In from the Cold forever changed the landscape of spy fiction. Le Carre combined the inside knowledge of his years in British intelligence with the skills of the best novelists to produce a story as taut as it is twisting, unlike any previously experienced, which transports us back to the shadowy years in the early 1960s when the Berlin Wall went up and the Cold War came to life. When the last agent under his command is killed in Berlin, Alec Leamas, weary and disillusioned, is called back to London by his spymaster, Control, hoping to finally come in from the cold. Instead, Control has one last assignment for Leamas: to adopt the role of a disgraced agent and return behind the Iron Curtain as bait to bring down the head of East German intelligence. Layering plot over plot, le Carre reveals a dirty game of betrayal and assumed identity in which individuals are expendable and neither side is honorable. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold was hailed as a classic as soon as it was published. With an illuminating new foreword by bestselling author Joseph Kanon, it remains one today. A new hardcover edition of the book Graham Greene called "the best spy story I have ever read."… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141194529, 0241962331

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