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Publisher's Summary

A number-one New York Times best seller for 34 weeks and the book 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.

©1963; 1991 le Carre Productions; David Cornwell (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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Quite Solid, worth a Listen

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The plot kept me guessing. You really get to like the main character and there are twists that seem obvious but you can't quite figure out until the end. The story does end a bit abruptly with an epilogue - I feel like it needed a half a chapter just to tie things up a bit.

What about Michael Jayston’s performance did you like?

The performance is very good, changing voices even genders, makes it clear who is speaking, even during long conversations.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not easy to turn off, but chapter's are sufficently long that you don't feel ashamed to stop for a period - almost like the end of an episode - not quite cliffhangers, but definately more questions to be answered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing book.

Very entertaining book. Narrated very well considering all the accents. This book is a classic for a reason.

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Depressing Ending

Would you try another book from John le Carré and/or Michael Jayston?

Maybe. The ending of this book is so bleak and tragic that I'm not ready to sign up for another round. OTOH, Le Carre is a master of this form.

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Fantastic Spy Thriller

The book transports you back to the height of Cold War. A great book that mixes great story telling with suspense and thrills.

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all le Carre

never read a bad Le Carre...a must for human history and perspective in today's world...nothing much has changed, wall or not. a great read!

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I Felt Like I Was There

I love everything about John le Carre's Smiley books - the tone, the pacing, the atmosphere of the Cold War era, the moral choices. I felt like I was there.

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Better late than never, for sure

Several decades late, this is my first le Carre. It feels awkward reviewing this master of the Cold War genre. We are fortunate to have a writer with an inside view chronicle those years and their cost with such a masterful use of language & detail. Deeply moving.

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  • Linda
  • Bowie, MD, United States
  • 09-14-17

Great Spy Story-The One All Others Get Compared

This was Book 3 for me in the enduring spy novels by le Carre' and it didn't disappoint. If you blinked you might miss a key word or phrase but until the last line is read or listened to you won't know what the Cold War spies endured. George Smiley is still around but where is he? Alec Leamas is the key character in this story. It is hard to determine the twists and turns and who is the good guy or who the bad and that was how it was between spies. One side was always working to turn one of the spies from the other side. In this case London vs East Germany. Alec and Liz were doomed from the beginning but the reader doesn't realize that until Smiley shows up and leaves her his card. Alec meanwhile has been cooped by Control (Head of MI-6 in London) to lead the other side on a merry chase. It must have been hard for leCarre' to remain on point while writing this novel because all of the conflicting events that occurred. Was Mundt a bad guy? Did he hate Jews? Was Leamus expendable. This novel is excellent and serves as the expert spy novel from its publication in 1963 to today. Richard Burton was the perfect Leamus in the movie. Now I'll read the latest book, 'Legacy of a Spy' but this one had to be read first since Legacy continues and end the story. Smiley must be 90 plus years old by now. I listened to this book in audible. The narrator, Michael Jayston did the first 8 books. He was terrific.

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  • Blake
  • Annapolis, MD, United States
  • 09-06-17

A Riveting Spy Thriller, Impeccably Read

Classic Le Carre spy thriller impeccably read by Michael Jayston, who makes the characters come to life with perfect emphasis. Listening to this book instead of flipping pages (as I did years ago) made it an altogether different and thoroughly captivating experience. Masterfully written and read.

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A masterpiece

A masterpiece. I read it when I was an early teenager and really wasn't able to understand all there was to appreciate. Now, listening to Michael Jayston was a real treat and made this tightly wound and perfectly constructed spy mystery come to life.