The Spy Who Came in From the Cold | Study Guide

John le Carré

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Early 1960s

    Alec Leamas watches Mundt's men shoot Karl Riemeck as he tries to cross into West Berlin.

    Chapter 1
  • Days later

    In London, Control gives Leamas the assignment of getting rid of Mundt.

    Chapter 2
  • Months later

    Leamas quits the Circus, drinks heavily, and goes to seed.

    Chapter 3
  • Months later

    Leamas meets Liz Gold, and they become lovers.

    Chapter 4
  • Months later

    Leamas leaves Liz, beats up a grocer, and goes to prison.

    Chapter 5
  • Months later

    After Leamas leaves prison, he meets Ashe; Leamas tells Control to leave Liz out of the operation.

    Chapter 6
  • Days later

    Ashe's boss, Sam Keiver, offers Leamas an opportunity to defect, which he accepts.

    Chapter 7
  • Next day

    Leamas goes to Holland, where he is interrogated by Peters, a communist agent.

    Chapter 8
  • Two days later

    News leaks in Britain about Leamas's defecting, causing him to travel to East Germany.

    Chapter 10
  • Days later

    In East Germany, Leamas gives Fiedler information to frame Mundt for defection.

    Chapter 13
  • About the same time

    In London, Liz accepts an invitation to go to East Germany on an exchange program.

    Chapter 15
  • Hours later

    Leamas and Fiedler are arrested by Mundt's men.

    Chapter 16
  • Days later

    The Praesidium arrests Mundt for treason; Fiedler and Leamas are released from prison.

    Chapter 17
  • About the same time

    Liz arrives in Germany; without telling her the destination, a man drives her to Mundt's trial.

    Chapter 19
  • Days later

    At Mundt's trial, Liz inadvertently gives evidence that supports his innocence.

    Chapter 22
  • Hours later

    Leamas confesses the plan to frame Mundt; Mundt is freed, but Fiedler and Leamas are arrested.

    Chapter 23
  • Next day

    Mundt helps Leamas and Liz escape from prison; the couple drives toward Berlin.

    Chapter 24
  • Hours later

    Leamas explains that Mundt is a double agent for the Circus, who framed Fiedler to protect himself.

    Chapter 25
  • Hours later

    Leamas and Liz are shot to death as they attempt to cross over the Berlin Wall.

    Chapter 26

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 In a checkpoint building at the Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas, who works as an agent for British Secret Service, is watching ... Read More
Chapter 2 As Alec Leamas arrives by plane in London, he thinks about how the British Secret Service, called the Circus, will proba... Read More
Chapter 3 The Circus moves Alec Leamas from operational work, or doing espionage in the field, to their banking section, where Lea... Read More
Chapter 4 Alec Leamas gets a job working at the Bayswater Library for Psychic Research through the Labour Exchange, a government e... Read More
Chapter 5 One day, Alec Leamas doesn't show up for work at the psychic library, which makes Miss Crail ecstatic, but worries Liz. ... Read More
Chapter 6 Due to his attack on the grocer, Alec Leamas spends several months in prison, where other inmates treat him with hostili... Read More
Chapter 7 Leamas has lunch again with Ashe, during which Leamas continues to build up the impression that he has been mistreated b... Read More
Chapter 8 Kiever and Leamas fly to Holland. At the airport, Kiever makes sure people remember Leamas, making it harder for him to ... Read More
Chapter 9 The next morning, Leamas sits continues his interview with Peters. Leamas talks about his work in the banking section of... Read More
Chapter 10 At Le Mirage, Leamas waits to have his interview with Peters, who is late. To pass the time, Leamas takes a walk along t... Read More
Chapter 11 Liz misses Leamas and finds his absence particularly difficult because she has nothing to remember him by—no photographs... Read More
Chapter 12 On a plane heading for Berlin, Leamas recalls how he was driving too fast to reach an important meeting with Karl Riemec... Read More
Chapter 13 Fiedler and Alec Leamas take walks in the forest, during which Fiedler asks detailed questions about working for the Cir... Read More
Chapter 14 At Fiedler's request, Leamas signs a letter with an alias to the bank in Copenhagen, asking for a duplicate bank stateme... Read More
Chapter 15 Liz receives a letter from Party Centre, inviting her to take part in an all-expenses-paid exchange program between East... Read More
Chapter 16 Fiedler and Alec Leamas drive back to the house in the forest. As they walk toward the building, three men greet them. T... Read More
Chapter 17 In a prison cell, a guard unties Leamas and kicks him when he tries to stand up. Stiff from being tied up and shaky from... Read More
Chapter 18 In a comfortable hospital bed, Alec Leamas eats a meal as he talks with Fiedler. Leamas says he feels a little better an... Read More
Chapter 19 As part of the exchange program with East Germany, Liz stays in an austere house in Leipzig, where she attends various m... Read More
Chapter 20 In a small courtroom, the Praesidium holds the trial of Mundt, to be judged by a Tribunal. A few spectators, including g... Read More
Chapter 21 As Mundt's trial continues into the next chapter, his defense counselor, Karden, makes his statement. Karden claims that... Read More
Chapter 22 Bewildered, Liz enters the courtroom and sees Leamas, which surprises her. Leamas screams, "You bastards! Leave her alon... Read More
Chapter 23 In the courtroom, Leamas takes the witness stand and tells Karden to let Liz go. Leamas insists that Liz knows nothing a... Read More
Chapter 24 Liz looks out the window of a prison office. A severe-looking woman named the Commissar tells Liz to eat some food, whic... Read More
Chapter 25 As they drive to Berlin, Leamas explains more about the Circus's operation to Liz. The Circus needed to get rid of Fiedl... Read More
Chapter 26 Leamas leads Liz to the area where they are to cross over the Berlin Wall. They wait for a moment when the beams from se... Read More
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