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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

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic cold war thriller

The commies always sacrifice the individual for the good of the state. Is it really so different when the west sacrifices one for the good of the people? we're better than them, yes, but by how much?

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Read

Le Carre at his best. Classic Cold War thriller. The reading by Michael Jayston was excellent.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific reader

Which character – as performed by Michael Jayston – was your favorite?

The book itself is a classic so I have nothing useful to say about it--I enjoyed it and will lister to others in the series.

The reader was really excellent. I think this would be a very difficult book to read, but Michael Jayston managed to bring the story (even more) alive, distinguish between the characters with character-appropriate accent and intonation, and added greatly to my enjoyment of the book. I will look for others read by him!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Kinda boring

Slow....and not much action... I won't get another John lecarre book... Silva is much better...

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent read. Iconic spy novel.

Would you listen to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold again? Why?

Yes, I would come back to this one in a couple years and listen to it again.

What did you like best about this story?

LeCarre managed to give this a "true to life" feel. He avoids the James Bond Trap of over blowing everything while still retaining the right to use plot twists that spins so fast they could smack you in the back of the head.

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

No. This is an iconic spy novel and, if you haven't read it before, it is worth taking some time to enjoy. Don't rush through it.

Any additional comments?

I love spy novels. Fiction and Historical. This is not a James Bond or Jason Bourne; it is a much closer representation of the Cold War then that. It is not historical or anything but it is still within the realm of acceptable.

If you enjoy this style, I strongly recommend his books Tailor of Panama, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as well as the non fiction Billion Dollar Spy and Double Cross (Ben Macintyre).

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Tale of Our Time

A Thrilling and sad story of the amorality of the art of espionage. This book is thought provoking and as relevant today as the day it was written.