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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (George Smiley #3)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  42,831 Ratings  ·  2,566 Reviews
The Cold War is at its most chill. Alec Leamas, a spent spymaster, leaves West Berlin for London. His informants are either exposed or dead; his operational usefulness is over.

Control, however, believes Leamas has one last job in him. It is daring, highly speculative and very, very dangerous. But for Leamas, the opportunity to revenge himself on those who, one by one, took
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 7th 2011 by Penguin (first published September 1963)
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Deepesh Tomar Not quite. Fiedler talked normally. As for others, you can simply compare it to how democratic politicians talk while on camera. Most of it is freedom…moreNot quite. Fiedler talked normally. As for others, you can simply compare it to how democratic politicians talk while on camera. Most of it is freedom and Liberty rhetoric and less practicality. They have to sell ideology while on the spot. As for the communists they were always on the spot. One couldn't rise to any kind of position within the party unless they sold communist principles in every word they spoke. Just think about it, unlike capitalism they had to work for a lot with no reward. They had to really believe in their principles to live with themselves and serve their country(less)
Stephen Sanders You don't have to. The events of his first book, Call for the Dead, are frequently referenced in the Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but are summarized…moreYou don't have to. The events of his first book, Call for the Dead, are frequently referenced in the Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but are summarized so you don't need to have read it. However, it's a solid mystery and a quick read so there's no reason not to read it first. It's also interesting to see how Le Carre's style evolved between the two books.

Le Carre's second novel, A Murder of Quality, on the other hand, is a mediocre mystery novel with a plot that has no relation to this book. Definitely skip it. (less)
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Bill  Kerwin
Dec 23, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies-intrigue
I am of two minds now that I have finished The Spy Who Came in From the Cold for the first time: I am irritated at myself for having postponed the pleasure of reading this magnificent book for so many years, and yet I am exhilarated and excited too, marked by this unqualified encounter with greatness.

I certainly was stupid all these years, for I did not read this book—at least in part--because I considered it “just a spy novel” (albeit a superb one), and the “spy novel"—at least since Ian Flemin
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 18, 2011 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, book-to-film
”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. Do you think they sit like monks in London balancing the rights and wrongs?”

 photo CheckPointCharlie_zps497dbb6e.jpg
Checkpoint Charlie where it all begins.

John Le Carre A.K.A. David John Moore Cornwell while in college started working for MI5 and then later transferred to MI6. He worked as a consul (code for spy)
Sanjay Gautam
Jul 28, 2014 Sanjay Gautam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A profound book, that surpassed all my expectations. A hell of a ride from the first page till the last word. It's a cold and dark book which is written very intelligently.

It was hailed as one of the best among the world's top classic espionage-books ever written. And, now that I see in hindsight, it has truly surpassed all the spy thrillers, in terms of quality and scope, that I've read before reading this one; and it has now climbed the ladder to reach the top - in my all time favorite list.

4.5 to 5.0 stars. Okay to begin this review I want to point out that, except for a number of Tom Clancy novels, I have only read a handful of spy thrillers so what impressed me about this book may be pretty typical stuff in the better works of the genre. Also, I have not seen the movie adaptation based and knew nothing about the plot coming in (a condition I highly recommend if you have the chance).

With that introduction made, I LOVED THIS BOOK. For a book published in 1963, once you get past s
Oct 15, 2010 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s been over 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell, and as someone who grew up in the 1970s - 80s, reading about dueling Cold War spies gave me a weird nostalgic rush. “The Soviets? East Germans? Damn! We used to HATE those guys!”

In this era where decades of misdeeds by intelligence agencies are common knowledge and the notion of elaborate spy games are widely used fictional plots, it’s a little hard to imagine how groundbreaking this book was back in 1963. James Bond was in full literary swing
Paul Bryant
Nov 17, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I hate everything about spies and spying, whether it's the stupid raised-eyebrow-perfect-martini-black-tied begadgeted supermodel-is-in-the-shower my-name-is-Bollocks, James Bollocks nonsense or the miserable version : everybody can be bought there are no morals any more in this grey world and also it's always fooking raining, my feet hurt, my dog died, I never have sex and I'll meet you near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin so you can say something incomprehensible to me and I can back to you and t ...more
Steven  Godin
Fleming gave it a glamorous touch, Ludlum bought added thrills, but le Carré writes of espionage with a cold starkness that is far more believable and all the better for it. There are no car chases, gadgets, tuxedos, martini's, or large breasted women walking out of the ocean throwing their long locks back over their pretty faces. This is so far away from the exotic travels of 007, mainly taking in the sights of airports, road checkpoints, chilly rooms and deserted streets, le Carré shows a Euro ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Le Carre’s style is quite recognizable . Economical in words , rough , laconic . Intricate plot , agents , double agents , cat-and-mouse game . Feelings of burnout , cynicism and hopelessness . Atmosphere of a constant threat and fatigue , melancholic gray London , claustrophobic East Berlin . Everything written in harsh almost impersonal prose what only deepens the feeling of coldness in human relations.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold takes place in the time of cold war and we’re following
Nov 18, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago the Broadway musical “Wicked” came to Nashville and my family and I went to experience this production at the Tennessee Performing Arts Theater. I have actually seen a musical on Broadway (Rock of Ages) and I was impressed. But this was something else entirely. I was awestruck by the talent: the singing, the acting, the stage production. As you may imagine, this was not my usual forte. Oh, I can walk across a room and avoid dragging my knuckles (most days) but for the most part a ...more
Jun 23, 2010 Madeline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
This is on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which means we are to respect it as a Very Important Book and give it a good rating. If I'm being honest, I guess it deserves this ranking. The characters are compelling, the dialogue is good, there are no superfluous scenes, and the whole thing has a creepy and secretive atmosphere that's very compelling.

But I cannot in good conscience give this more than two stars, for the simple reason that, for the majority of the book, I never
Emily May

I'd like to start by saying "woah" and various other exclamations of surprise and wonder. This was a book that completely changed the way I view spy novels. My previous prejudice stems from quite an obvious source - Ian Fleming - who never gave me anything much of what I would want to read about or what I even find remotely interesting. Big guns, fast cars, hot girls... surely every teenage boy's wet dream, but not what tends to be my cup of tea.

Fleming, like most writers of spy novels, caters e
May 02, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Burned-out spies
Having just indulged my sweet tooth with Ian Fleming's spy candy, I sampled the more refined pleasures of John le Carré, who wrote a tense spy thriller without any gadgets or heroics or sultry seductresses. Instead, Alec Leamas is a middle-aged alcoholic on the verge of retirement from the spy game; burned out, embittered, and about to be cashiered for a string of failures while running England's spy network in Cold War Berlin. He's recruited for one final mission: to target the dangerous East G ...more
Aug 04, 2016 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible tale of distrust, fear, courage, integrity, and the enduring nature of human love. Truly a Masterpiece
May 24, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: James Bond
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Pssst. Over here.
The name's Leamus....
Alec Leamus.
Not the most awe inspiring name for a spy admittedly but that is why its so clever see? I'm just an average man in the street. Not pretty, flashy, muscle-bound or kitted out in designer gear either like some of my competition (Bond has always been a flash git with his radioactive rolex and his under water car thingy). You might walk by me on the street and assume that I'm someone's pissed up uncle... now that, my friend, is a cunning disguise.

Perhaps the greatest spy novel ever, Le Carré has us in the heart of the cold war with a dicey exchange of spies. It is chilling (as cold as the title) and realistic and hair-raising. A true classic!
Dec 29, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was trying to figure out how to share my recent woes with my goodread's friends in a review and I was getting nothing. All of my recent books have either taken place in Glasgow, or been World War 2 / Early Cold War era books, and well none of them really capture the angst of being repeatedly cut off from the internet. What's more important than my own discomfort compared to anything else, especially at Christmas?

So anyway, while I was standing on a pay phone on 39th Ave trying to get a person
Move over, James Bond. Britain has another globetrotting spy and his name is Alec Leamus. This 50 year old, unemployed, whiskey drinking, cranky British intelligence agent makes all of your Aston Martins, gadgets, expensive Italian suits, and arsenal of women look far-fetched and silly.

This story, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, written by the Stephen King of espionage fiction, is John Le Carre’s third and most successful novel. Here we have a gritty and realistic portrayal of espionage at t
Aug 02, 2009 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This spy fiction is especially recommended since it's written by John le Carre who once worked in the famous MI5 in the UK, he has known his tradecraft well and thus can write this wonderful fiction from his experience. Some young or middle-aged readers might rarely find his novels readable, this might be the one you should start with; one reason is that it is, as well as each chapter, not too lengthy.

I first read this novel in my 20's during my college years, that is, in the midst of the Cold W
Nov 24, 2012 Zoeytron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thrillers come in different packages. Action thrillers are usually tricked out in bright colors with fancy bows and all manner of bedazzling allure. Dressed in more somber packaging are the cerebral thrillers. This is one of the latter. I like both types, by the way. It's been a good 40 years since I first read this book. My copy is an old dog-eared paperback with 75 cents printed on the cover, published in 1963. I was just hoping the glue would hold together long enough to read again without th ...more
There are several important questions one could ask in life. For instance: where do you get green eggs and ham? Why do we have catalogues and not dogalogues? Or even why is it that it's a penny for my thoughts but I get my say for two cents worth? But one of the most important questions anyone can ask is: why should I read this book?

I now attempt to answer the one question which can never be answered... And silence will fall. I mean you will understand why this is a book worth reading.

At first I
Jul 19, 2016 Rincey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the end, the actual plot revealed itself and I thought it was an interesting story. But man, I did not like this writing style.
Jun 10, 2007 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler Alert: His mom had soup and hot chocolate for him.
Feb 15, 2017 Nigeyb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m working my way through the wonderful world of John le Carré's magnificent George Smiley books, so far in quick succession. After the slightly anomalous second book 'A Murder of Quality', which is a murder mystery set in a top English boys public school, I was pleased to be back in the more familiar world of Cold War spying and espionage. However, to describe 'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold' as a George Smiley book is a bit misleading as he barely appears. Instead, it is Alec Leamas, an un ...more
Aug 26, 2007 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the spy genre
Shelves: alltime100novel
I had never read anything by John Le Carre, but knew that he was wildly popular. I can see why this book was an instant classic. It was short, perfectly edited, but manages to pack more plot into it's 212 pages than any other book I know.

The story is of Leamus, a spy for Britain, working in East Berlin during the Cold War. He wants to leave the trade, but is lured in for one final mission (aren't they all?) He is to pretend that he was let go by the British, and that he has spiraled into drunken
Oct 17, 2015 TheSkepticalReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-print, classics
This novel was different then what I’d expected. And it actually has everything I hate to read about in terms of WWI, WWII, and post-WWII historical fiction—the cliched tensions, romance, drama tropes that I immediately cringe at when I come across them. But somehow, reading this novel at just the right time made it an excellent read nonetheless. I enjoyed the writing, the settings, the tension, and even some of the characters had my interest thoroughly captured.

A good, ol’ fashioned drama/spy/e
Lewis Weinstein
I have now finished my re-read, and I'm not sure if I'm happy or not that I didn't remember the ending. It's a thrilling story.

The way the story is presented ... what is revealed, what is held back, and the sequence of revelation ... is so superb. Any writer can benefit by outlining the scenes.

And of course there are the flawed characters, brilliant and stupid, compassionate and cold-hearted, none of them to be trusted, who populate all of le Carre's work.
Nov 09, 2010 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cold is the operative word here: as in Cold War, cold blood, cold climes, cold-heartedness, and the fact that it left me cold. It did have enough intrigue and inside dope on the spy business to keep the pages turning, though. I have to give it that.
Feb 20, 2017 Joana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Escrito há mais de 50 anos, "O Espião Que Saiu do Frio" ainda mantém a sua capacidade de entusiasmar o leitor. Escrito durante a Guerra Fria e numa época de proliferação de romances de Espionagem (Ian Fleming e o 007 ou Graham Greene são apenas alguns exemplos), esta é uma história que reflecte algumas das angústias e interrogações que se colocaram ao próprio autor enquanto agente secreto britânico.
Aqui, o mundo da espionagem é descrito como sendo traiçoeiro, cinzento e dúplice. A densidade psi
Chiara Pagliochini
« Solo molto raramente – come adesso, al momento di coricarsi – si concedeva il pericoloso lusso di ammettere la grandiosa bugia che aveva vissuto ».

Sarò sincera: non avrei scommesso un soldo su le Carré. Perciò il fatto che l’abbia trovato piacevole si abbatte sul mio capo come una punizione letteraria, come la gogna dei miei pregiudizi. Sì, questo romanzo mi è piaciuto. Mea culpa, mea grandissima culpa. E, soprattutto, grande sorpresa per coloro ai quali, nelle passate settantadue ore, ho dat
Apr 22, 2012 Anastasia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
Senti, Le Carré, tutto il resto della scuola è in gita (Germania, damn it janet), ed io sono segregata qua in classe a non fare un cazzo, TU potresti anche degnarti di farmi compagnia. Ti pare che sia il momento per farmi schiantare dal sonno?
No, dico sul serio.

La spia che venne dal freddo è una storia trascinante, piena d'azione, da cui è letteralmente impossibile staccarsi, si mangiano le pagine senza accorgersene. La traduzione è degna di un Nobel per l'occasione, non ho mai visto un uso del
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Classic Trash: Cold Spy: In Progress (No Spoilers Please) 14 7 Jan 07, 2017 08:16AM  
Classic Trash: Cold Spy: Finished (Spoilers) 4 5 Jan 07, 2017 04:59AM  
Tecâhül-i Ârif: John le Carré, "Soğuktan Gelen Casus" 1 5 Dec 31, 2016 02:06PM  
Espionage Aficion...: Choose the cover art! #1, LeCarre, 'Cold' 14 16 Jul 18, 2016 09:11PM  
Around the Year i...: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carre 3 15 Mar 18, 2016 02:08AM  
the beginning 14 71 Jan 08, 2016 09:06AM  
  • London Match (Bernard Samson, #3)
  • Journey Into Fear
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1-3)
  • Dog Soldiers
  • Dark Star (Night Soldiers, #2)
  • The Assistant
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • Red Harvest
  • The Power and the Glory
  • The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin
  • At Swim-Two-Birds
John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...

Other Books in the Series

George Smiley (9 books)
  • Call for the Dead
  • A Murder of Quality
  • The Looking Glass War
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • The Honourable Schoolboy
  • Smiley's People
  • The Secret Pilgrim
  • A Legacy of Spies

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“We have to live without sympathy, don't we? That's impossible of course. We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren't like that really, I can't be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold...d'you see what I mean?” 20 likes
“This is a war," Lemas replied. "It's graphic and unpleasant because it's fought on a tiny scale, at close range; fought with a wastage of innocent life sometimes, I admit. But it's nothing, nothing at all besides other wars - the last or the next.” 20 likes
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