Alec Leamas has ended his time in Berlin. Or his time has ended him. The last of his Eastern agents has been killed, like the others, by the Abteilung. Back at the Circus, Leamas is put on the shelf. He turns to drunkenness and dishonesty and finally disappears from view, a seemingly broken man.
But unknown to anyone except George Smiley and his master, Control, Leamas has been given his toughest mission ever. He will have to be himself but more so. He will have to fight off the inevitable softening of middle age and wait a little more before he can come in from the cold. Not even Leamas can know the plan of which he is the instrument.
©1963 Victor Gollancz Ltd (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
"The best spy story I have ever read." (Graham Greene)
"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)
Le Carre is the most memorable author of the Cold War period and also beyond and those who argue the spy genre can never be literature are so wrong. I used to read Maugham for the pleasure of reading the finest English. I read Le Carre for the same reason immeasurably enhanced by the excitement of outstanding plot and finely observed characterisation.
Michael Jayston reads with an authority and dramatisation that adds significant further quality to this overall piece of finely crafted literature.
I work in IT in Whangarei - love reading and writing history, learning about the world and engaging with interesting ideas.
This was John Le Carre's breakthrough novel. He has transitioned from detective drama with a hint of espionage to full on spy thriller. Good book but still developing.
"Outstanding Novel, Brilliantly Read"
Le Carre's classic spy novel is brought to life by a wonderful reading. Jayston's British voice goes so perfectly with the novel and the character's of "the circus" are brought to life right in front of your ears!
This novel is intricate with great depth of characters and twist and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat guessing till the end. The descriptions of the service, the agents, the "circus" and the enemy brings to life this Cold War classic. Do not go past this novel and this reading!
"Gripping Cold War thriller"
I first read 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold' in print when I was 12 or 13 and it was the best seller everyone was talking about. In print I tended to rush ahead to see what happened, but the audio version slows you down to savour Le Carre's writing.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - a complex story with double-crosses and suspense.
An early scene, when the double agent crosses the border into West Germany on his bicycle.
Oh yes - it will keep you sitting in your car listening to the recording, long after you've pulled into the driveway.
It has been a long time indeed since I read this title. I recall it being rather dull and somewhat disturbing for a reason I couldn't quite put my finger upon. Now, with the benefit of time, I understand that I was not old enough to appreciate the chilling undertone to a book, where there is so little violence (although a fair number of people die), but an eerie threat permeates the text. That threat is like a fog that I associates with East Berlin, the Wall and all thinks KGB, NKVD and the other counterpoints to MI6 and the CIA. Listening to the narrative now I appreciate the grit, the ugliness and the end justifies everything mendacity that drove people like Smiley, Leamas, Mundt, Control, Fiedler and others. It is the reverse of the superficial sense of fairness of Liz Gold.
This is still a cracker story with a terrific ending. It's not the same as the film (with Richard Burton terrific in the Leamas role) although the core scenes are pretty close. Le Carre had a hand in the screenplay, so I guess that's not so surprising.
As for Michael Jayston's reading, I vacillated between loving it and being frustrated when he dropped the accents. In particular, his Leamas starts with a distinct Burton-like quality, but by the final chapter it had gone completely. I am not sure if that was an intended conceit, but if it was, it did not work for me. In the end I gave it a 3, but overall it is probably about a 3.5.
This was a very enjoyable re-discovery. I am sure it will prompt me to re-read the Karla Trilogy.
"The opposite of a page turner"
The narrator was a pro but the story was soooo slllooooowww. Like a movie where you think 'it will get good soon' then realise you just wasted two hours.
"a wow book"
one of the best book I read in the past years. I couldn't stop listening.
the intricate story and the connections to the "real" world.
How refreshing to go back to le Carre's early writing and listen to this. The performance is gripping -- I couldn't listen to the end knowing the outcome as it was too stressful.
"Classic Le Carré"
This is probably the best spy book ever written. I have read it twice before, but thoroughly enjoyed listening to Jayston's reading. He is perfect for the job.
"Cold war and hot action"
John le Carre at the height of his powers transports us back to the troubling days of the Berlin wall, mutually assured destruction and intrigue. Written at a time when Britain was still a power with influence in the world; for those who lived through those times it is a powerful evocation of the past. For readers who live in the world of glasnost and Putin there is still plenty to keep you listening.
"The book that came in from the cd."
This isn't my usual choice. Espionage thrillers usually leave me cold - or the thought or them does. However this was a book group choice so I chose the unabridged version and within minutes was hooked.
I'm now embarrassed to think I ignored this for
So long. The writing is so accessible; I was concerned that I would not be able to follow the plot but it's a much more relatable novel than I imagined. Good writing means this novel is a hit across the board and the narrator is amazing with his easy on the ear voice and the way each character is convincingly brought to life. I adored this reading!
"Superb and a classic novel"
I first read this book when it was first published. I found it quite difficult but after all these years it is much easier to understand the moral nuances and superb plotting. Hearing it read was a great experience.
"Another Gripping Spy Story"
le Carre delivers another gripping tale of the cold war British spy network. Lots of twists and turns to keep the listener guessing until the very end. Up there with the rest of his works.
The narrator delivers the story brilliantly, although in previous purchases where Le Carre has read them himself does take a lot of beating.
"Superior Spy Thriller"
This was a gripping, realistic story of morally ambiguous Cold War espionage. Expertly read by Jayston, slipping subtly between distinct characters with ease.
"A great thriller, well read"
One of JLC's classics. The voice was just perfect, conveying the suspense of the thriller.
"A small car with children waving."
If you like your spies drinking Martinis, with glamour and gadgets against egregious supervillains, this is not the book for you. Instead we are drawn into a world of subterfuge and lies, of duplicity where even truth can be turned on it's head, where black and white merges into dirty grey. No heroes here, only ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances trying to stay alive as they keep their form of faith.
One of le Carre's most masterful cold war spy stories, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, is completely gripping from the breath-holding first pages to the dazzling conclusion. Yet the writing itself is elegant enough to be a fine love missive. This was not my first encounter with the book; I had read it many years ago and seen the film version. But the narration by Michael Jayson brought a freshness and poignancy that had me enthralled with each twist and turn, leaving me as eager to listen on as ever I had been with my very first reading.
"A long time out in the cold."
Having just got a signed 50th anniversary edition and watched Tinker Tailor on telly...it was time to settle into this one and I was very pleasantly surprised at home much I enjoyed its twists and turns and the very celebrated humdrumness of it all.
As Jim from the Duke of Wellington up in Northumberland - a well trusted older reader who has been there before and seen it all - observed, at the end of the day it was all about money. I really enjoyed the narrative to the point where I’ll look again for the various installments of the Smiley story and look forward to getting to a point with LaCarré that everyone else in England seems to have got to many years ago.
"A classic from the cold war"
Definitely recommended - particularly for anyone who has spent time in Berlin.
I don't know this genre well - but it wasn't what I was expecting, and the quality of the story positively surprised me.
Very well read by Michael Jayston. Resists the temptation to overdo German accents for the German characters.
Easy to listen to, good narration, no particular effort required to follow the story. Written during and taking place in the cold war, and it shows. It all feels a bit dated, but fun nonetheless, if you like "old-fashioned" thrillers.
Le Carre - always good.
Jayston - a master of narration..
Together - a brilliant team.
The book - one of the best.
Seen the film, read the book, now listened to the book. Just as fresh.
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