The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Book - 2013
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Secret agent Leamas is on a mission in East Berlin, but he has doubts about the organization he serves.
Publisher: New York, New York : Penguin Books, 2013.
Edition: 50th anniversary edition.
Copyright Date: ©1963
ISBN: 9780143124757
Branch Call Number: LE CARRE J
Characteristics: xiv, 225 pages ; 21 cm.


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dcoleman_1 Sep 17, 2017

n 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. ... Read More »

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Aug 11, 2018

Leamas’ network of spies is destroyed. He is called back from Berlin to London where his boss, Control, wonders if Leamas is “burned out.” Leamas spirals into poverty, alcoholism and anger, ending in imprisonment for an assault. Friendless, Leamas is approached by East German counterintelligence. Now Leamas leaves the cold to enter the deep freeze of the apostate, the betrayer of his past life and his country. But in this novel, things as they appear are not things as they are.

The idea of the ‘cold’ is the central one in this novel. “A man permanently isolated in deceit” lives in the cold, according to Leamas. ‘Control’ says to Leamas, “We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? … We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren’t like that really. I mean … one can’t be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold…”. So the cold is the place where spies live a duplicitous life, apart from and alienated from others, acting a role, using others as instruments of a state’s political goals. The concept of the ‘cold’ links to the novel’s love interest where the hard-bitten Leamas actually connects with another person. The novel documents betrayal after betrayal, they are piled up, one on top another.

Oct 15, 2017

Needing help with the vocabulary of the period, I Googled the phrase  "Pudeur Anglaise", and landed on a glossary for the novel. The website is called Book Drum, a great resource, with many useful features.

Dec 19, 2016

another excellent one from John Le Carre. Feeling sad for the ending, that's what the cold war done to human, use humanity to kill and hurt.

LPL_IanS Sep 30, 2016

First time spy novel reader here. I loved it. I thought Le Carre's prose was excellent. The plot was superbly constructed. And the book was highly entertaining. It has a somewhat slow start, and I agree with another reader that at times the mixture of Cold War, spy, and English jargon could leave me feeling a little lost. That said, it's a spy book! I don't need to be one step ahead of the story at all moments.

I have a feeling this is book that will stick with me for a while. I highly recommend it.

Feb 08, 2016

Great plot and great writing. This is a classic spy novel for those who like this genre.

Jun 29, 2014

My first John Le Carré book, and definitely not my last. It's one of the best spy books I've read, although it seemed as if the main character didn't have a plan until about halfway through the book. Great plot twist at the end, and ultimately the book ended the way it should.

Apr 26, 2014

Too conversational/interrogational as one reader has said and references to departmental bureaucracies making it hard to understand and follow, and understanding their allegiances. My expectations of this book was not realized even though it is considered one of the very best spy novels.

Indigo_Cobra_8 Mar 23, 2013

I had read many glowing reviews about this book and had been excited to read it. Maybe I'm just not suited to the whole spy genre, but I didn't enjoy this as much I thought I would. The first chapter drew me in, but the rest of the book held considerably less action and was more conversational/interrogational. The twist near the end caught me, and I enjoyed the last few chapters, but overall, I found the book a bit dull.

May 08, 2012

le Carre's best? Possibly. It's hard to say. I'd watched the movie prior to reading the book (I know, it's a sin), so the ending wasn't as powerful as it should have been. An interesting in-between point for le Carre. His later novels become more fragmentary because of flash backs. In this one, you can see how he starts to break away from straight-forward storytelling, but it isn't a terrible amount of work to keep with the plot.

Aug 23, 2011

one of the best spy novels ever

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FavouriteFiction Oct 14, 2009

Alec Leamas, a British agent in early Cold War Berlin, is sent on a difficult mission. He is asked to play a disgraced agent, a target of ridicule, and therefore be able to infiltrate deep into communist territory.


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Jun 29, 2014

"Leamas watched him take a cigarette from the box on the table, and light it. He noticed two things: that Peters was left-handed, and that once again he had put the cigarette in his mouth with the maker's name away from him, so that it burns first. It was a gesture Leamas liked: it indicated that Peters, like himself, had been on the run." pg.73


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