Introduced by the author
Illustrated by Matt Taylor
The first illustrated edition of the breakthrough work that redefined the spy story.
In 1963, a bored British intelligence officer in communist East Germany finished work on a book that would not only re-invent the spy novel, but would change the face of the modern thriller. This is the first illustrated edition of John Le Carré’s masterpiece The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, his nerve-shattering account of deception upon deception at the height of the Cold War, and a man caught in a game between East and West where the only rule is to win … no matter the cost.
Alec Leamas knows that there is only one moral law in intelligence work, 'it is justified by results'. Under orders from his spymaster, Control, he must willingly turn his back on everything he knows, and defect behind the Iron Curtain to corner a ruthless spy killer. But as the entrance to the rabbit hole begins to close behind him, can he be sure there is a way back? Ideology, friendship and love must be set aside as Leamas battles to find a way back in from the cold.
'What do you think spies are: priests, saints, martyrs? They're a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors, too, yes […] people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.'
Furiously written over the course of five weeks, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became an near-instant best-seller, catapulting its author to fame. Le Carré’s jaded, compromised characters tore down the scenery of a secret service populated by sophisticated gentleman of action, to reveal a hard-bitten world where pragmatism and moral ambivalence were the only tools of the trade, an uncomfortable realism. This felt so true to life that for years the world’s press and public stubbornly refused to accept that it could be a work of fiction. According to Le Carré, the novel’s plausibility was down to its shared ‘bad dream’. As he writes in his 2013 foreword, included here, ‘How far can we go in the rightful defence of our Western values, without abandoning them along the way?’
'Superbly constructed, with an atmosphere of chilly hell'
This first illustrated edition includes artwork by British illustrator Matt Taylor; his seven dark, minimalist images playing into Le Carré's whirlwind of faceless shadows. The binding takes its cues from contemporary East German book design and, in an ingenious touch, shelters a double agent of its own. The word 'Spy' on the cover and spine is blocked in the Western font of Helvetica, while the rest of the title is in Maxima, the DDR equivalent, almost indistinguishable from the original – a spy hiding in plain sight.
John le Carré is the nom de plume of David John Moore Cornwell, who was born in 1931 in Poole, Dorset. He was educated at Sherborne School, at the University of Berne (where he studied German literature for a year) and at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated with a first-class honours degree in modern languages. He taught at Eton from 1956 to 1958 and was a member of the British Foreign Service from 1959 to 1964, serving first as Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Bonn and subsequently as Political Consul in Hamburg. He started writing novels in 1961, and since then has published twenty-one titles.
Matt Taylor is an illustrator and comic-book artist based in Sussex. Since graduating in 2002, he has worked on high-profile commissions from clients as diverse as The New Yorker, Paramount Pictures and The Elvis Presley Estate. In 2011 Taylor designed the cover artwork for le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor, the first of many le Carré books that he would illustrate. He takes his inspiration from Americana, mid-century movie posters and psychedelic 1960’s comic books.
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Review by paulmoran on 13th Sep 2017
"Welcome addition to the John LeCarre range. Cannot fault the text or the illustrations. Bizarre publishing decision, however, to have the spine nearly but not quite match the previous LeCarre Karla tr..." [read more]