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61 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of best british crime classics of all time
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...
Published 15 months ago by Jan Heart

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Le Carre
A cleverly written spy thriller which manages to be exciting whilst still realistic. There's nothing glamorous about the life of the spy in a Le Carre novel. This book focuses on Alec Leamas, an ageing spy who has one last extremely dangerous mission to complete before he can retire - 'come in from the cold'. The plot is intricate and clever, full of bluff and...
Published on 14 Feb. 2009 by BookWorm


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5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best spy fiction book written to date, 16 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Probably the best spy fiction book written to date. If not, it certainly would be in the top 5 of any fan of spy fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 4 May 2014
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Very good introduction to John le Carre's
novels. Enjoyable interesting read which had me glued to the book all day.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great spy story, 2 April 2013
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Like an old movie from the cold war, felt you were there. fast moving interesting reading , good characters and story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars if you like spy novels you will like these 60, 9 Jan. 2015
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if you like spy novels you will like these 60,s and 70,s series of george smiley novels,great plots great characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent - a true classic, 7 Jan. 2015
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After several years, I finally got round to reading this and enjoyed it as much as reputation would suggest it would.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but it is rather slow in the middle ..., 14 July 2009
By 
Emanon (London, England) - See all my reviews
All in all, this is a good read. It has good twists and a poignant ending. However it lacks pace occasionally, and would have benefited from more action, and fewer lengthy conversations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hugh, 22 Mar. 2014
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Great read. For a very famous book I didn't know much about the plot or characters. It was a cracking yarn.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can the means justify the end when the end in itself is of dubious value?, 2 April 2009
By 
Trevor Coote "Trevor Coote" (Tahiti, French Polynesia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The novels of John le Carré, of which The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is one of the best, not only contain blistering plots and precisely crafted characterisation but simultaneously investigate the morality of espionage; often a murky, amoral culture steeped in duplicity and treachery. Can the means justify the end when the end in itself is of dubious value? What happens when the means applied by an organisation become an end merely to justify or self-perpetuate that organisation, when the original moral objectives become forgotten?
British agent Alec Leamas is recalled to London from East Berlin after a messed-up operation results in the death of the last, top-flight British agent in that sector, gunned down while trying to cross the Berlin Wall. Leamas, now 50, washed-up, in debt, and with an increasing alcohol problem, is recruited for one last all-important assignment: to implicate the ruthless, anti-Semitic Mundt - leader of the East German intelligence service and responsible for the deaths of the British agents - as a British double agent and have him killed by his own Communist party. To prepare Leamas for the assignment and to avoid suspicion he is sacked, pensioned off and given a job in a library where he becomes involved with a young, idealistic communist Liz who is innocent of what is happening. Eventually, Leamas is spirited to East Germany where Mundt is already suspected of being a double agent by his second-in-command, the clever, principled Feidler, significantly - like Liz - a Jew. However, Mundt is both astute and murderous, and there follows an intricate, rapidly see-sawing plot as the power struggle between Mundt and Feidler gets under way as. The pace never lets up and the resulting courtroom scene and denouement are absolutely gripping.
Many of the characters have serious qualms about the tactics used by the intelligence service and ironically seek to justify the sacrificing of individuals by the same reasoning as their enemy the Communist Party: sometimes the death of individuals is required for the greater good. Stalin is aptly quoted: "half a million liquidated is a statistic, and one man killed in a traffic accident is a national tragedy." What makes this novel so outstanding is that all the issues arise - moral, philosophical and ideological - and we can appreciate the dilemma faced by individuals who in the end are just pawns in a global game of power-politics. Genre fiction doesn't come any better than this.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as advertised, 20 April 2002
This is the first John Le Carre book that I've read, and given The Spy Who Came In From The Cold's classic status, I came to it with high expectations. This was especially the case, as I'd previously enjoyed a number of articles by, and interviews with, David Cornwell/John Le Carre. However, whilst the book's central thesis - "a plague on both your houses" is both compelling and comprehensively drawn, I found the characterization to be somewhat bloodless. I was in no way expecting a "shaken, not stirred" take on Cold War espionage, but, for a book that is essentially character driven, the depictions felt antiseptic in the extreme. I'm sure that many people enjoy this style, perhaps reading it as beautifully understated, but I found it surprising, particuliarly as it seemed so completely at odds with the author's ability to convey the essence of the book's personalities, using just a few strokes of the pen. It was just that there was no follow through. Indeed it often felt as though the story was unfolding on a black and white gogglebox, whilst I watched through the wrong end of a telescope.
So, whilst I would definitely recommend the book, I did find it a little dry, to the extent where I found myself having to push a little to complete it. Having said that, I will certainly re-read it, and will be interested to see how I find it second time around.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best spy writer, 25 May 2015
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Couldn't put this down. It was the sixth time I've read this book. I never tire of it. Great book
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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) by John le Carré (Paperback - 29 July 2010)
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