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"What the hell do you think spies are!? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not! They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me: little men, drunkards, queers, hen-pecked husbands, civil servants playing cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives. Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing right against wrong?"
Alec Leamas

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the third novel by John Le Carré.

After the death of a number of British-run agents in East Berlin, SIS officer and head of Berlin station Alec Leamas is recalled to London by the head of the service, Control. When Leamas refuses a demotion, Control then suggests to him a plan to bring about the downfall of Hans-Dieter Mundt, the agent of East German Intelligence responsible for the death of Leamas' agents. But the mission is not what it seems...

Reflecting the cold and somewhat inhuman nature of intelligence work in the early days of the cold war, the novel suggests the uncomfortable thought that the difference between the Western intelligence agencies and their opponents was very little indeed, with both resorting to underhanded methods to achieve their aims.

A screen adaptation of the novel starring Richard Burton as Leamas and directed by Martin Ritt was released in 1965.


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