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The Spy Who Came In from the Cold [Paperback]

John le Carre
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DEFINITE COLD WAR SPY STORY March 24 2008
JOHN LeCARRE is not just a spy-story narrator, he is a GREAT writer! His prose is tight, imaginative and beautiful. His imagery is majestic. And his grasp of human nature is truly impressive.

This book was his first; no matter, most of his writing skills shine to full strength. At the hight of the Cold War, Alec Leamas is a British agent on a seemingly uncontrolled downwards spiral. After loosing one of his sources (shot and killed while crossing the Berlin wall), he is recalled back to London and then he experiences betrayal by every side imaginable. He resorts to drinking, and depressive thoughts, and revisiting the mistakes of his life. But of course the Game is played constantly and one should not trust anyone. Ever. In a world where double-crossings are common and triple-crossings not uncommon, can anyone trust long enough to find love?

This book conveyed such an original atmosphere that many suspected JOHN LeCARRE being a former MI6 insider. Those suspicions were latter confirmed (his secret agent status was blown by none other than Kim Philby, the notorious double agent for the KGB). This is definitely THE BEST spy story ever written!

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3.0 out of 5 stars Moderately entertaining spy novel Jan. 19 2004
I found this to be a slightly entertaining spy novel; I don't think it is anywhere close to justifying the superlative reviews that have been ladled on it, both on this website and by others. After reading Ian Fleming's Bond novels (and perhaps I was spoiled by Fleming) I was extremely hopeful for this book, ostensibly the "finest" spy novel ever written.
One of the more exciting aspects of the book is when the main character is spirited into East Germany, and meets increasingly interesting and intellectual interrogators. The exciting middle makes up, in part, for the slightly silly beginning and melodramatic conclusion.
The main romance was a bit difficult to believe, and the plot was somewhat formulaic, but I suppose it isn't too bad. Anyway, even if I'm the only person in the world who doesn't love it, and my review is entirely offbase, I figure that your slightly diminished expectations will be exceeded even farther by the book, and you will be more delighted because of my lukewarm review. If you do buy this book, I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Spy Novel From A Master Craftsman! Nov. 26 2003
John Le Carre's disillusioned, cynical and spellbinding spy novels are so unique because they are based on a wide knowledge of international espionage. Le Carre, (pen name for David John Moore Cornwell), acquired this knowledge firsthand during his years as an operations agent for the British M15. Kim Philby, the infamous defector, actually gave Le Carre's name to the Russians. The author's professional experience and his tremendous talent as a master storyteller and superb writer make "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" one of the most brilliant novels I have read about spying and the Cold War. Graham Greene certainly agreed with me, or I with him, when he remarked that it is the best spy story he had ever read. The novel won Le Carré the Somerset Maugham Award.
The novel's anti-hero, Alec Leamas, is the antithesis of the glamorous action-hero spy, James Bond. A successful espionage agent for the British during WWII, Leamus continued on with counter-intelligence operations after the war, finding it difficult to adjust to life in peacetime. He eventually became the head of Britain's Berlin Bureau at the height of the Cold War. Leamus, slowly going to seed, drinking too much, world weary, had been losing his German double agents, one by one, to East German Abteilung assassins. Finally, with the loss of his best spy, Karl Riemeck, Leamus has no agents left. His anguish at Riemeck's death is palpable. He has begun to tire of the whole spy game, as his boss at Cambridge Circus, (British Intelligence), seems to understand.
Leamus is called back to London, but instead of being eased out of operations, called "coming in from the Cold," or retiring completely, he is asked to accept one last, dangerous assignment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frost Bite Feb. 22 2003
Alec Leamas is not an easy man to have affection for, in the beginning, yet as the story builds I could not help but become his advocator. I was reminded of the stoic character of Kurt Russell in the movie Soldiers and that became a good personality model for the character of Leamas. He is a spy. Of course, and a British spy to boot. The year is 1960 and Berlin wall is high and thick. To be called in from the "cold" is for a field operator (a spy) to be called back to the safety of the Home office. In this case our paladin spends a good more time out than in from the cold. True to de Carré the story is complex with seemingly dark corners and dead ends at every turn. Written in 1963 when the Cold War was certainly at it's height there is a disturbing contrast between the value of the individual weighed against the good of the whole with a harsh look at both sides of the Wall. Communism is presented as the enemy, certainly. However about half way through the book it becomes clear that the good old boys back at the Circus in London just may be up to a bit of double crossing, at Leamas' expense. And then there is the young Jewess, a Communist, back in London that he must protect, no matter the cost, to himself or his mission. A most enjoyable read, right up to the very last paragraph.
February 2003
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
I first read this book soon after it was published 50 years ago. I was nine years old. My mother had introduced me to Le Carre's world of intrigue. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jim Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting into the world of Carre
Definetly enjoying a complicated novel with simple setting, and getting my feet wet with Carre.
This book will definetly carry me on to others of his, and I may not yet fully... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Louis Archambault
1.0 out of 5 stars This book, a gift, never arrived.
I have already written to tell you that the article never arrived.
My sister in canada did not receive it. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2010 by Rosemary Wills
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably one of the best spy novels
I didn't actually read the book, but I listened to an audio version. This is one of the best spy novels ever. It takes time to build, but the ending is shattering. Read more
Published on April 6 2004 by Burke Kappler
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
Le Carre is the master. I know his new book is out, but this is still a classic.
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by 2wsxWSX
3.0 out of 5 stars Moderately entertaining spy novel
I found this to be a slightly entertaining spy novel; I don't think it is anywhere close to justifying the superlative reviews that have been ladled on it, both on this website and... Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2004 by J. Mueller
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put.....a masterpiece
This is the finest, and from what I can gather, most accurate and detailed fictional account of a spy during the Cold War that is available. Read more
Published on July 26 2003 by R Hubbell
5.0 out of 5 stars A spy novel with it all
John Le Carre's masterful novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, has all the elements one could ever want from a great spy story. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2002 by cgj
5.0 out of 5 stars East vs West in 1962 Berlin
I can say from personal experience that John Le Carre's description of early '60s Cold War Berlin is deadly accurate-- from the feel of the cold rain on cobblestone streets to the... Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2002 by Neil Albaugh
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