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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

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Introduction

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold By John Le Carre 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold' by John Le Carre was first published in 1963. The novel is set during this interesting, tense and dangerous point in time when the Cold War was at its peak. The central character is a British spy named Alec Leamus. He is an unusual choice for a secret agent because unlike those of the James Bond genre he is not interested in fast cars, beautiful women and hi-tech gadgets. He is good at his job and seems to enjoy what he is doing. Le Carre tells the story of how Leamus rejected the cruel 'ends justify the means' style of espionage and eventually 'came in from the cold'. The plot, although seemingly quite simple, has a large and complicated twist in its core that can confuse the reader. The novel begins by introducing Alec Leamus and tells how his entire spy ring was eliminated one by one. After Leamus' best spy, Karl Riemeck, is shot dead, Control (the leader of the British Spy Organisation) summons Leamus to his office. ...read more.

Middle

When Fiedler initially meets Leamus the latter is interviewed for nearly two whole days. He is asked questions about numerous spy operations the British have carried out with special emphasis placed on 'Operation Rolling Stone'. This was the code name given to the process used to give secret payments to a spy whose identity was unknown to Leamus. Another darker aspect of the story is that Leamus, who is only pretending to be in the middle of a tragic breakdown, believes that he is participating in the interviews in order to help the British espionage catch Mundt. When, in actual fact it is him that the British spies are hunting. During these interviews Leamus discovers that his picture is being splashed all over British tabloids that are labelling him as a traitor, making it impossible for him to return Britain and slip quietly back into society. Meanwhile people pretending to be 'friends' of Leamus begin visiting Liz, paying her rent and bills for her as part of Control's strategy. After the first meeting with Fiedler Leamus crosses the Iron Curtain into the East of Germany to meet him again and discuss further details of payments (part of 'Operation Rolling Stone'). ...read more.

Conclusion

Liz was another good person, quite simple and innocent but sacrificed by Control so that he might further himself. Liz paid a heavy price for the love that drew her to Leamus. Both Liz and Fiedler were used to meet the needs of Control and Mundt. These two are the 'bad guys'; cold and ruthless, willing to go through anyone in order to achieve their goals. Leamus was in between these two types of people until the end of the novel when he chose Liz, humanity and goodness. After reading 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold' I believe that I have found out why it is a spy story with a difference. There are many things that set the novel apart from more modern spy stories such as James Bond or Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Obviously in all three there is a romantic undercurrent running through the story but in Le Carre's novel this love helps bring out something completely new in the central character and in turn helps define the whole tale. Also, this story has more realism in it than most spy books, the racial issue of anti-Semitism and the double-crossing of agents are all part of what makes this book one of the best. ...read more.

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