Every so often, a book comes out of nowhere to completely blow you away. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre was one of those books for me. Based on the recommendation of my friend Luke Walker, I picked up book number thirteen from Half Price Books earlier this week. I expected an action book with a good plot. What I got was much more. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold tells the story of Cold War spy Alec Leamas, who agrees to a final mission for British covert intelligence in an effort to stave off his inevitable retirement from field work. The mission is incredibly dangerous, but Leamas is willing to take the risk in order to eliminate his East German rival, Hans-Dieter Mundt. Leamas pretends to defect in an effort to make the East Germans believe Mundt is a British double agent. I won’t say what the outcome is, because I do not want to spoil this book. If you like espionage books, read it. If you like mystery books, read it. If you like crisp, intelligent prose, read it. Le Carre’s book transcends the espionage genre. It is a reflection on the nature of Cold War foreign policy and a scathing indictment of utilitarian political theory (the good of the many outweighs the good of the few). It is a touching look at the impact of love on even the most hardened individuals. Most significantly, it is a wonderfully perceptive examination of human nature and the modern world’s total indifference to it.
The Current Count:
13 Read, 87 To Go