From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.
The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carré’s career worldwide
In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.
Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Originally published in 1963, John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold reads like it came out last week. Unlike the quippy, showboating James Bond, le Carré’s complicated spy heroes are marked by the emotional toll of life spent under deep cover—a toll le Carré knew well from his own time working for British intelligence during the ’50s and ’60s. In this classic, le Carré introduces us to British agent Alec Leamas, who plans to retire after taking on a final covert mission in East Berlin. As Alec maneuvers to flush out his undercover German counterpart, he learns that his superiors may be just as villainous as his enemies. We think this clever, bittersweet, and unsentimental book may well be the finest spy novel ever written.
An absorbing book
I’d read Le Carre’s three Smiley novels and loved them. I was a bit worried about reading a Le Carre book without George Smiley (he does play a minor role) but I was not disappointed. The plot was engaging, lots of twists and turns, very dark. The Leamus character is terrific (as Richard Burton is in the very good movie), full of pathos and grit. The other main characters, Liz, Fiedler, Mundt, round out this complex story of deception and betrayal.
The greatest kind of writing; full of depth and descriptive. You feel every detail of the strategic conversations between well developed characters and every minute of the wild ride of espionage until the end.
Great place to start reading le Carré
This was my first John le Carré book, after seeing the movie Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy. I did some online snooping and others recommended that this book was the best place to start. The best way to approach his books is knowing that they are of the “slow burn” variety of reading: the book starts off slowly, and you need to really pay attention to seemingly small details of the story. Very nuanced and subtle meanings. But by the end of the book, it’s a roaring fire, beckoning you to keep flipping the pages. Really fantastic reading.