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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

John le Carré , William Boyd
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)

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Product Description


J. B. Priestley Superbly constructed, with an atmosphere of chilly hell.


'He is an exceptionally good reader'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 390 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (24 Feb 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004NSURT4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,185 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of best british crime classics of all time 20 Feb 2014
There are two great British spy fiction novels I count as the best: Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love and Desmond Cory's Dead Man Falling. Each are classics in their own right, and one more I would add to the list is John Le Carre's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

It's my favourite espionage thriller from John le Carre and also a fine example of how to pull off a multitude of double crosses, keeping the reader often quite perplexed. Unlike Fleming's novels there is no pretence of glamour, and like Cory, there is little righteousness in the spying game.

Le Carre writes very starkly at times in this novel, adding a certain harshness that mirrors the ethical ambiguity at the heart of the book.

This is a world away from the girls, gadgets, and gorgeous locations of Flemings books, yet it is better off for it. It is extremely well thought out and the story works well. I found it a very satisfying read.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book 18 Sep 2009
The Spy who Came in from the Cold is the story of Alec Leamas, a fictional British spy, set towards the end of his career. The setting is the early 1960s, largely in London, Berlin and East Germany (the GDR).

The writing is of high standard, almost Homeric in nature. It has a sparse, exact quality that seems far from the style of creative writing courses. The evocation of the 1960s Cold War world is well done. Le Carre's focus has always been on the human aspects of the spy game, so fans of James Bond and Jason Bourne may be disappointed. The emotions and travails that spies must suffer are represented here: the difficulties of forming and maintaining relationships and of having to live multiple realities are described in this work.

Those who like moral certainties and absolute good and bad guys in their spy stories may also be disappointed. This was the nature of the Cold War and thus of the spy games that NATO and the Warsaw Pact played. Elizabeth is something of an idealistic member of the Communist party in Britain, who then confronts the reality of Communism in East Germany, and then to great tragedy. The main protagonist, Leamas, will eventually realise the horrific, amoral nature of the game he is in.

This is not a book about heroic spies with a happy, world-saving end, but it is a brilliant read, and signalled the beginning of Le Carre's very successful career. I greatly recommend it.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Cold War Spy Novel 19 Mar 2004
This book has a ring of authenticity about it. The seedier side of London and Berlin is beautifully described. There are no Bond-like gadgets, car chases or roof-top pursuits, yet I found this to be one of the best novels of the genre I have ever read; more gripping, and in some places faster-paced, than a lot of action-based thrillers. The plot is revealed rather like an onion - sections of skin peeled back to reveal another and yet another. The character of Alec Leamas remains elusive throughout and at the end I felt I still didn't know him; he is secretive, like the Service he works for. Despite this I never felt cheated or disappointed. This is a great read, indeed nothing less than a modern classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good spy drama 3 Sep 2009
By Paul Lessingham VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've always enjoyed the BBC's crime and thriller dramas, but this was my first introduction to le Carre. This is a new dramatisation, first broadcast early this year.

Not being previously familiar with the novel, I found this a little hard to get on with at first. The narrative is quite complex, and there isn't a lot of voiceover narration to help out. It doesn't help that some of the voices are quite similar, so following the switches between characters is tricky at first. Also, of course, this is a cold-war drama that begins around the time of the building of the Berlin Wall. The dramatisation seems to assume a reasonable level of familiarity with the political context of the time.

These reservations aside, the CD is well worth persevering with. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes interesting and engaging. The acting is generally good - though, as with many BBC dramas, some of the accents are somewhat less than convincing. Ruth Gemmell as Liz Gold is particularly good.

Overall, this is a good dramatisation that repays perseverance. I suspect that people who are already familiar with the story might find it easier to engage with on first listening.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Classic of the Genre 28 April 2003
"The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" is, without doubt, the classic Cold War thriller. It is the novel by which others of the genre have to be judged. Almost all will be found wanting.
For this work Le Carre's prose is lean with not a word wasted. Indeed, some readers may find the style too austere. However, to my mind, it captures the mood of the time. There is not an ounce of fat and every word counts.
The problem which the young reader may encounter (i.e. anybody born after, say, 1985) is that the story is set in a world far removed from today. The knowledge that Le Carre would have assumed even the casual reader had is now lacking. A little bit of background research may be required so that the concepts of "Democratic Germany" and "The Party" can be appreciated.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent introduction to both Le Carre and also the fascinating Cold War era.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic
This is one of my all time favorites. It's a great human story, the cold war espionage seems almost incidental. Like '1984' it's timeless.
Published 14 days ago by Gerard Deegan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant. Good pace!
Published 15 days ago by Mr. Ra Rempel
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Superb! Atmospheric- thoroughly engaging.
Published 25 days ago by roblightwater
5.0 out of 5 stars great
such a sad ending, but a fabulous, fabulous book.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by christopher middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars To Whom Evil Is Done
`I mean, you've got to compare method with method, and ideal with ideal. I would say that since the war, our methods - ours and those of the opposition - have become much the same. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. D. Aspinall
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Still as good in 2014 as it has always been. Quite masterful storytelling.
Published 2 months ago by Mr R H BULL
4.0 out of 5 stars was a tour de force and created the perfect anti-hero in the era of...
Astonishingly accomplished for a first novel, Le Carre's character, Alec Leamas, was a tour de force and created the perfect anti-hero in the era of Bond. Read more
Published 2 months ago by david gardiner
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Smiley's People is the third story in the John Le Carre George Smiley/Karla trilogy.

In this book George Smiley (the retired temporary head of MI6) is asked to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Bowen
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic cold war spy thriller.
I have read a lot of John le Carres books and this is up there with the best of them. I had chosen not to read it because I had seen the film starring Richards Burton, which I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Iain Michael Lewis
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