The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the book that first made John le Carré’s name (or made John le Carré, a pseudonym famous.) John le Carré was a spy, who became a writer. He came to prominence at about the same time Ian Fleming was becoming famous with James Bond. In many ways he was the anti-Bond.
Bond is known for action and individualism. George Smiley is over weight and a bit dumpy. He is an intellectual and an analyst. Carré’s books are slow and have complex plots. Fleming’s books are much shorter, are much more action based and idealize the work of a spy.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is the first of le Carré’s books that I have re-read. And it reminds much how soul deadening that le Carré makes intelligence work. There is some action and some understanding of the west being on the right side of the cold war. But that doesn’t mean that the west is always right in their actions. John le Carré is an author that if he had not read Niebuhr, he at least understood the basic concepts that Niebuhr wrote about in the Irony of American History.