The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Paperback – Jul 7 2009
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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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
"Let me be specific: I think the man deserves the Nobel." - The Globe and Mail
“As the greatest spy novelist of our times John le Carré has always used as the bedrock of his craft the strange ways people are bound to each other.” - Calgary Sun
“In a world where villains can bleed tragedy and heroes may not be so heroic, le Carré is still our keenest arbiter.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“No other contemporary novelist has more durably enjoyed the twin badges of being both well read and well regarded.” - Scott Turow
“Le Carré, always an intriguing blend of patrician and populist, gives voice to all our contempt for hot-money deals.” - Independent (UK)
“I would suggest immortality for John le Carré…. May he write forever!” - Chicago Tribune
“A literary master for a generation.” - Observer (UK)
"The best spy story I have ever read." - Graham Greene
"Le Carré is more than just a great storyteller—he captures the Zeitgeist itself." - Tom Wolfe
"Le Carré is simply the world’s greatest fictional spymaster.” - Newsweek
"He is one of the half-dozen best novelists now working in English." - The Chicago Sun-Times
"No other contemporary novelist has more durably enjoyed the twin badges of being both well-read and well-regarded." - Scott Turow
"For my money, le Carré is the equal of any novelist now writing in English." - Guardian (UK)
"Le Carré is one of the best novelists—of any kind—we have." - Vanity Fair
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I thought it was excellent it did drag a little at times to much detail. The movie version was fantastic its been several years since I viewed it but was very close to as being as... Read morePublished 11 months ago by andrew yonng
One of Le Carré's first novels, The Man who came in from the cold is a real classic. The language, style and vocabulary are purely British, adding to the atmosphere. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alain
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 morePublished on April 6 2014 by Jim Ross
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
I have already written to tell you that the article never arrived.
My sister in canada did not receive it. Read more
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 morePublished on April 6 2004 by Burke Kappler
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
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 morePublished on Jan. 19 2004 by J. Mueller