Protagonist Alec Leamas is a 60-year old former British Intelligence officer who, resigned and alcoholic, takes one last assignment out of sheer restlessness. Far from following a triumphant has-been-to-champ character arc, Leamas only falls deeper into the disgust and cynicism that made him quit in the first place. There are no good guys; the East Germans are antisemites and opportunists, the Brits calculating and callous; Socialism is presented as brutal and delusional, the "non-ideology" of the West as blind and hopeless. The Cold War has never felt so cold.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.
The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carré’s career worldwide
In 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. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.
Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.
About the Author
John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a con man, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley’s People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on December 12, 2020.
"What his most satisfying about John le Carré’s first great success—first of many, as it turned out—is how well it holds up on this, its 50th anniversary."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
“The best spy story I have ever read.”—Graham Greene
“First-rate and tremendously exciting.”—Daphne du Maurier
“Le Carré is one of the best novelists—of any kind—we have.”—Vanity Fair
“Written…with a pitiless, elegant clarity. The Spy who Came in from the Cold is a first-rate thriller and more.”—Time
"Superbly constructed, with an atmosphere of chilly hell" -- J.B. Priestley
"The master storyteller ... has lost none of his cunning" -- A. N. Wilson
"I have re-read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold over and over again since I first encountered it in my teens, just to remind myself how extraordinary a work of fiction can be." ― Malcolm Gladwell
"One of those very rare novels that changes the way you look at the world. Unflinching, highly sophisticated, superb." ― William Boyd