Best 1963 Adventures (2)
September 8, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1963 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!
John le Carré’s espionage adventure The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
Two years after Le Carré’s first spy novel, Call for the Dead, in which East German Secret Service assassin Hans-Dieter Mundt narrowly escapes George Smiley (of the British intelligence service “the Circus”), Mundt has risen to the top of his department… and is wreaking havoc. As The Spy Who Came in from the Cold begins, Alec Leamas, head of the Circus’s West Berlin office, sees his last and best double agent shot while defecting from the East: Mundt’s work. He’s recalled to London, but asked to stay “in the cold” — by faking his own defection to East Germany, then neutralizing Mundt by sowing disinformation about him. Smiley’s plan, which (of course) is not entirely what it seems to be, is further complicated by Leamas’s brief love affair with the idealistic secretary of her local cell of the Communist Party of Great Britain. This is a suspenseful spy thriller and also a sardonic inversion of the genre; the reader ends up perturbed by the ethics of the so-called good guys, and sympathizing with at least one of the bad guys.
Fun facts: In 1965, Martin Ritt directed the movie adaptation of the novel, starring a terrific Richard Burton as Leamas. Publishers Weekly has called The Spy Who Came in from the Cold the “best spy novel of all time.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.