The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. John Le Carr
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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. John Le Carr (George Smiley #3)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  24,798 ratings  ·  1,631 reviews
An agent, desperate to end his career as a spy during the Cold War, is caught up in a breathlessly perilous assignment to come in from the Cold and re-enter the West.
Unknown Binding, 3 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton Audio (first published 1963)
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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...more
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...more
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
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
Nov 06, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.

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...more
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...more
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...more
Spoiler Alert: His mom had soup and hot chocolate for him.
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...more
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...more
Aug 26, 2007 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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...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...more
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
Lance Charnes
Mar 02, 2013 Lance Charnes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to see what a "spy book" can be
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is the book that made John Le Carré, and deservedly so: it’s a small gem of espionage writing, taut but also authentic. It well deserves Publishers Weekly’s judgment as “the best spy novel of all time” and Time magazine’s inclusion on its list of the best 100 books ever written.

The plot, essentially a long con, has become a classic: Alec Leamas, the burnt-out shell of a protagonist, embarks on an undercover operation to discredit a high official in the East Germ...more
“Half a million liquidated is a statistic, and one man killed in a traffic accident is a national tragedy.”

I really shouldn't have been surprised by the final twist. I mean, living in this age by the time when there have been so many good spy novels by masters such as Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy & Frederick Forsyth (to name a few that come to mind immediately) which have so admirably dissected the genre over the last few decades. Perhaps, it is the hallmark of this timeless classic that it sti...more
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is basically a book in which two men sit in a room and talk with each other. Really, that's it. And while John le Carre's good at writing dialogue, he's not -that- good.

Don't get me wrong; the book is tightly written, a thriller, a mystery, a page-turner. It's written with authority. It had a definite Cold War aura to it. But it was just... hollow?

Perhaps my response to the book suffers since I read it immediately after finishing The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak....more
Nov 03, 2009 Dionisia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dionisia by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die #430
I was unprepared for the journey this book would take me on. Maybe this was because I don't read very many spy novels or maybe it was because John le Carré is just that good.

"And suddenly, with the terrible clarity of a man too long deceived, Leamus understood the whole ghastly trick." [CH 23: Confession]

At the end of chapter 23 Alec Leamus had the ultimate "aha" moment. Sadly, I realized I had not a clue what his revelation was. I was stumped and desperately racking my brain to recall any infor...more
Olivia Kienzel
more terms of art and other things that have become a bit dated than book:the russia house, but still, just devastating and brilliant. this was my introduction to author:john le carre, and i quickly saw why everyone has always admired him (thanks for passing this on to me, teddo).
now i need to read some of the smiley novels. i just can't get over his style, his inventiveness, his complete imagination (either these things happened directly to him or he's a helluva genius). even if they did happen...more
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.
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.
Go into this book with as little knowledge as possible. If you are like me, you will be lucky to have not seen the movie or experienced any spoilers. If you like spy thrillers, stop reading this review and find a copy of this book, though I do not include spoilers here. I had not read a single review and my experience was deeply improved as a result.

I am still not certain why I picked this up. I know few people who read spy thrillers and my experience in the genre might as well be zero. Yet I h...more
Mar 14, 2013 Ebookwormy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ebookwormy by: Voted #6 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of
Voted #6 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America ( and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).

An excellent read. This book is much drier and less sensational than the James Bond genre, and i have to say I like that. Generally, I'm not into the spy novel scene; I found the dose of reality engaging.

The plot is complicated, but easily understood. The reader is given the feel of what it is like to be an agent who only has some of the piec...more
Jane Stewart
Crap ending! I was mad. I don’t want to read tragedies. I want happy endings.

But many readers are ok with bad things happening to good guys, and they call this a classic, so I’ll mention some good things about it below.

The plot is excellent. A guy goes deep undercover doing a variety of things. There are complicated twists and turns. They were good.

There’s a bleak and dull quality to Leamas, the main character. I did not enjoy watching him, but his character fit well in the story.

I love eccentri...more
Sairam Krishnan
My grandfather's younger brother was a Maths teacher in Pondicherry, & my family's first great reader. Once, when hanging around his study, I discovered this huge trove of old Reader's Digest condensed editions. They had been there a long time, and I took them down hungrily, opening them up to smell that deep scent only untouched old books have, the smell of knowledge, wisdom, and of course, adventure. I still have a few of them in my bookshelf, carefully preserved, but it was the book I rea...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After reading John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I immensely liked and enjoyed, my curiosity for George Smiley was piqued. I knew he'd been introduced in le Carré's previous works, Call of the Dead and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, so when I was reading TTSS, I felt like I didn't know him well enough to form a real opinion of him. I had to go back to discover who he really was. Thus began my quest for Smiley.

Naturally, I should've picked Call Of The Dead but alas the bookst...more
I thought this was going be a James Bond-type tale of spying and adventure. It felt closer to 1984 by George Orwell with the 'Circus's willingness to play with people's lives, the bleakness of the GDR in the sixties and the insidious pursuit of 'thought-crime' by all the intelligence services. I once researched life in the GDR and the Berlin Wall for a university creative writing assignment, so I got some of the references, but it was really interesting to read a novel written and set around tha...more
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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 forty years where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.
More about John le Carré...
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Smiley's People The Russia House The Constant Gardener A Perfect Spy

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“It is said that men condemned to death are subject to sudden moments of elation; as if, like moths in the fire, their destruction were coincidental with attainment.” 7 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.” 5 likes
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