Ice Station Zebra, top cold war novels

Ice Station Zebra

Alistair McLean

(1963)

  

Atomic submarine USS Dolphin must sail beneath the ice-floes of the Arctic Ocean to locate and rescue the men of weather-station Zebra, gutted by fire and drifting with the ice-pack somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. The fire at Ice Station Zebra was an act of sabotage - and one of the survivors is a killer.

‘A thoroughly professional cliff-hanger'

Sunday Telegraph

No. 9 Alistair McLean's Ice Station Zebra 

No. 1 John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Top Cold War Books

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John le Carré

(1974)

  

Here’s an author who knows how to translate his own Cold War service into credible and compelling spy novels. The search is on for a Soviet mole, implanted deep into British Intelligence decades ago by Moscow Centre, in this classic espionage novel.  George Smiley is up against a powerful Soviet counterpart in Karla, the KGB master spy. 

  

‘John le Carré is the great master of the spy story . . . the constant flow of emotion lifts him above most novelists now practising.' Financial Times

Funeral In Berlin, Top Cold War Novels

Funeral In Berlin

Len Deighton

(1964)

  

In Berlin, where neither side of the wall is safe, Colonel Stok of Red Army Security is prepared to sell an important Russian scientist to the West – for a price. British intelligence are willing to pay, providing their own top secret agent is in Berlin to act as go-between. Behind an elaborate mock funeral lies a game of deadly manoeuvres and ruthless tactics. 

‘A most impressive book in which the tension, more like a chronic ache than a sharp stab of pain, never lets go.’ Evening Standard

No. 5 Len Deighton’s Funeral In Berlin

Polar Star, top cold war novels

Polar Star

Martin Cruz Smith

(1989)

Arkady Renko, former Investigator in the Moscow Town Prosecutor's Office, made enemies and lost the favour of his party. When an adventurous Georgian woman comes up with the day's catch, which includes a dead female crew member of the Soviet factory ship Polar Star, the signs of murder are undeniable. Renko must end his self-imposed exile and return to being the dedicated cop of old. 

‘Cruz Smith is a real writer with a keen eye, a hearing ear, and an original cast of mind’

The Times

No. 6 Martin Cruz Smith’s Polar Star

The Manchurian Candidate, top cold war thrillers

The Manchurian Candidate

Richard Condon

(1959)

Sgt Raymond Shaw is a hero, an ex-prisoner of war who saved the life of his entire outfit, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the stepson of an influential senator...and the perfect assassin. To stop him, his former commanding officer must uncover the truth behind a twisted conspiracy of torture, betrayal and power.

‘This masterpiece is even more trenchant these days than when it was first written’

Catholic Herald

No. 4 Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate

The Hunt For Red October, best cold war thrillers

Somewhere under the Atlantic, a commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October, a top secret Russian missile submarine, is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. The chase is on and a new genre, the techno-thriller, is born. 

‘Absolutely terrific: entertaining, suspenseful and masterfully written… superlative.’
Washington Times

The Hunt For Red October

Tom Clancy

(1984)

  

No. 10 Tom Clancy'sThe Hunt For Read October

  
From Russia With Love, Best Cold War Books

From Russia With Love

Ian Fleming

(1957)

  

Russia’s counter-intelligence agency SMERSH has set an irresistible trap that threatens the entire British Secret Service. James Bond is up against a beautiful Soviet spy, top assassin Red Grant, and a brand-new Spektor cipher machine as he finds himself enmeshed in a contrived sexual scandal and deadly game of cross and double cross.

‘Mr Fleming is in a class by himself. Immense detail, eleaborate settings and continually mounting tension, flavoured with sex, brutality and sudden death' Anthony Price

No. 8 Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love

  

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, top cold war novel

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

John le Carré

(1963)

A gripping story of love and betrayal at the height of the Cold War. Alex Leamas has been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. Now Control wants to bring him in - but only after one last assignment. He must travel to the heart of Communist Germany and is soon caught up in politics beyond his imagining.

'One of those very rare novels that changes the way you look at the world. Unflinching, highly sophisticated, superb.’ William Boyd

No. 3 John le Carré's  The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

  

THE HOUND'S Greatest Cold War Novels

 

Child 44, Top Cold War books

Child 44

Tom Rob Smith

(2008)

  

In Stalin's Soviet Union millions live in fear; the mere suspicion of disloyalty to the State is enough to send a person to their execution. After witnessing the interrogation of an innocent man, Officer Leo Demidov's loyalty to the State begins to waver. With his own wife in the firing line and a murderer on the loose, Leo must risk everything to find a criminal that the State won't admit even exists. 

  

‘A remarkable debut novel - inventive, edgy and relentlessly gripping from the first page to the last.' Scott Turow

No. 7 Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44

The Cold War dominated international affairs for decades affecting many countries. This conflict, the resultant threat of mass nuclear destruction, and the proliferation of espionage, provided fertile ground for thriller writers. Here are my favourite novels that, in some way, were inspired by the Cold War.

The Quiet American, top cold war thrillers

The Quiet American

Graham Greene

(1955)

American economic advisor Alden Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas. Cynical British journalist Thomas Fowler is his rival for the love of a beautiful Vietnamese girl in this terrifying portrait of innocence at large and the problematic Western intervention in Vietnam. 

‘A superb storyteller - (Greene) had a talent for depicting local colour, a keen sense of the dramatic, an eye for dialogue, and skill in pacing his prose' The New York Times

No. 2 Graham Greene’s The Quiet American

More Great Cold War Novels