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Widely considered one of the best spy novels of all time, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold follows disillusioned British secret agent Alec Leamas as he journeys into the heart of enemy territory on a final mission to infiltrate East Germany’s intelligence network as a faux defector. John le Carré—real name David Cornwell—said his unflinching 1963 tale of undercover operatives, set shortly after the completion of the Berlin Wall, wasn’t inspired by the decade he spent working for Britain’s famed security services. But the hypnotic thriller has come to be regarded as an insider’s account of the harsh realities of Cold War-era espionage on both sides of the conflict. An international best seller, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold became so successful that le Carré left MI6 to become a full-time writer. The U.S. edition of the book went on to win the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1965—the same year a film adaptation of the story starring Richard Burton was released. —Megan McCluskey

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