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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: A George…

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley… (original 1963; edition 2013)

by John Le Carre (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,103166999 (3.97)410
Title:The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels)
Authors:John Le Carre (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2013), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Adult, Fiction, spies, mysteries, suspense

Work details

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré (1963)

  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
    Background to Danger by Eric Ambler (yokai)
  4. 00
    The Deceiver by Frederick Forsyth (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: Both novels have a central participant: the Berlin Wall.
  5. 00
    The Secret Pilgrim by John le Carré (Oleg.Gerassimenko)

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» See also 410 mentions

English (154)  Spanish (3)  Danish (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Hebrew (2)  All languages (166)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
This is John le Carré's breakthrough novel, and it is plotted tightly and written with judiciously chosen flourishes. I found myself constantly switching back and forth about who to believe; both sides presented their cases persuasively. The end is one you almost have to read twice before it sinks in, it's that understated.

I've never been particularly happy with the character of Liz Gold in either version (book or movie) because she seems too stereotypically 60s and all too ready to assume domestic duties -- there's one bit where she's spent the day tending to Leamas in his fever and then she thinks "Oh no I should have tidied up!" REALLY?! You've done enough to look after him, don't feel like just because you're a woman you need to tidy the house too. :-/

Smiley is only a peripheral character in this one, in case you're wondering. I personally don't think his series needs to be read totally in order (the Karla trilogy excepted), and in fact if you read this after the Karla trilogy it makes for some interesting foreshadowing. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 30, 2018 |
Masterfully woven story of subtle deception that twists and turns. At every turn we look back on the story and see it in a different light. Every tiny detail is taken care of and anticipated. Every person, their strengths and human weaknesses are exploited. It is a great intellectual puzzle that treats its characters as pawns, which is ultimately what kept me from giving it five stars. This is what spy stories do, but I need a bit more humanity to completely enjoy a book. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
A beautifully structured book, with its Ouroboros shape (end returning to its beginning). Le Carré supports it throughout with good prose and effective characterisation. Its very finely balanced plot unfolds with a continual shading of near-paranoia, and is completed with a pivot at the end: the only thing to distinguish a success from a failure in terms of what the reader knows is an estimate of the competence of the Circus. Not only is the book good in itself, but it was also influential as a counter to Bondian glamour in espionage fiction. ( )
  jsburbidge | Jun 18, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 2009):
- I got through this book quickly with a good overall impression, as I recall. This is a good re-read candidate, due to the twists and turns, some of which are very subtle.. Not having read a genuine spy novel before also handicapped me a bit. The fact that le Carre was a cold warrior spy encourages me to try him again.
- As one review I saw pointed out, this isn't glitz, and the spy is many times in a state of sullenness and helplessness. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jun 11, 2018 |
Match found in the German National Library.
  glsottawa | Apr 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (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 (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome 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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