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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 (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,297230975 (4)501
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. 40
    Call for the Dead by John le Carré (otori)
    otori: Key character Hans-Dieter Mundt first appearance.
  2. 30
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Setting the oeuvre.
  3. 10
    Uncommon Danger by Eric Ambler (yokai)
  4. 10
    The Secret Pilgrim by John le Carré (Oleg.Gerassimenko)
  5. 00
    The Deceiver by Frederick Forsyth (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: Both novels have a central participant: the Berlin Wall.

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» See also 501 mentions

English (215)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  Danish (3)  Italian (2)  Hebrew (2)  French (1)  All languages (230)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was a tardy entry in my reading list for classic espionage books. It was less witty than the Deighton novels of the same era--early 1960s Cold War--but it had more gravity and pathos. I can see how it acquired its iconic status, and I am curious about the screen adaptations. It read in a flash; the prose was practically transparent. The rather limited third-person voice was effective, and the pacing of the short chapters was lightning fast, even though the book features relatively little "action."

I certainly enjoyed it enough to want to read more le Carré, and I'll probably proceed forward to The Looking Glass War. While I am tempted to roll back to his debut novel Call for the Dead, I gather that it is a mystery with a retired spy for its protagonist, rather than spy fiction proper.
  paradoxosalpha | Sep 12, 2023 |
This is a masterpiece of the mystery genre, pure and simple. Few books have captured my attention as this work did - without even trying, at that.
Written by le Carré at the height of his literary prowess, it details the story of a British spy - whose last mission is to plant himself in Soviet-occupied East Germany, to get the Russian spy division head assassinated.
Although the plot looked trite and banal in the beginning, I slowly realized that reading this work was like peeling the layers off an onion - there's so much more to it than meets the eye at first glance. And boy oh boy, it didn't disappoint one bit.
Right when you think that you've got the plot all figured out, it turns out you didn't. The best part is, that action is sidelined in favor of dialogue, which I'm actually in favor of - two of the best scenes in the book were simply long dialogue chains.
TL;DR - deserves space on every reading shelf (or device) - this is the tour de force of an unparalleled writer, and it (deservedly) holds its place amongst the classics. Must read. ( )
  SidKhanooja | Sep 1, 2023 |
This was fantastic. Freely admit it was just watching The Night Manager that made me think, let's give John le Carré a try, and I'm glad I did. Keep 'em coming!
  IanMoyes | Aug 23, 2023 |
  archivomorero | Aug 20, 2023 |
I honestly didn't know what to expect from this, my first foray into the world of the spy novel in a long, long time. It's an excellent read that only comes apart very briefly near the final act - but then recovers for a thrillingly dramatic finish. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Aug 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (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: (4)
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1.5 8
2 55
2.5 14
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3.5 110
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141194529, 0241962331


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