A Spy Among Friends

A Spy Among Friends

Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Book - 2014
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Master storyteller Ben Macintyre's most ambitious work to date presents the definitive telling of the most legendary spy story of the 20th century.

A Spy Among Friends , Ben Macintyre's thrillingly ambitious new book, tackles the greatest spy story of all: the rise and fall of Kim Philby, MI6's Cambridge-bred golden boy who used his perch high in the intelligence world to betray friend and country to the Soviet Union for over two decades. In Macintyre's telling, Philby's story is not a tale of one spy, but of three: the story of his complex friendships with fellow Englishman operative Nicholas Elliott and with the American James Jesus Angleton, who became one of the most powerful men in the CIA. These men came up together, shared the same background, went to the same schools and clubs, and served the same cause--or so Elliott and Angleton thought. In reality, Philby was channeling all of their confidences directly to his Soviet handlers, sinking almost every great Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies and obfuscations to protect his secret, Angleton and Elliott never abandoned him. When Philby's true master was finally revealed with his defection to Moscow in 1963, it would have profound and devastating consequences on these men who thought they knew him best, and the intelligence services they helped to build.

This remarkable story, told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, is Ben Macintyre's best book yet, and a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.
Publisher: Toronto : Signal/McClelland & Stewart, ©2014.
ISBN: 9780771055508
Characteristics: xii, 368 pages, 32 pages of unnumbered plates :,illustrations, portraits ;,25 cm.

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Very intriguing. I will have to go back and read more Le Carre and Fleming in light of this amazing true story of WWII and cold war spying and the failure of the Old Boy's network to weed out some of the sociopaths who became double agents.

multcolib_susannel Mar 14, 2016

Greatest British spy or Greatest Cold War Traitor?

True story.

r
rb3221
Oct 01, 2015

Well written and a very good and riveting story that feels like a novel rather than non-fiction. Macintyre gives us a fascinating account of Philby's friendship with and eventual betrayal of his best friend, and fellow agent Nicholas Elliot and of Angleton, the head of the CIA. Why did Philby become a spy? In Macintyre's view, it was to change the world since "the only bulwark against fascism was Soviet communism... and capitalism was doomed and crumbling." He was an ideological spy that would prove to be staggeringly successful. Philby thought communism was the answer to injustice, poverty and war. Macintyre puts it, "he was the fox not merely guarding the hen-house but building it, running it, assessing its strengths and frailties, and planning its future construction." Incredible but true. His Soviet handler referred to him as 'probably the best ever.'
Macintyre takes the reader through a complex series of events in lives of Philby and Elliot and the other key characters. At one point Elliot comes to Philby's defense when he was suspected and, astonishingly, managed to engineer Philby's return to MI6 (possibly because of the very strong class bound loyalties and rituals within M16).
The big question was whether Philby defected or was allowed to defect. Macintyre strongly suggests the latter as putting him on trail would have shaken the British establishment to the core and clearly shown the huge damage to British intelligence as well as American intelligence under James Angleton (who was 'destroyed' by the defection).
A very enjoyable book, that I would highly recommend. I especially enjoyed the questioning by Elliot trying to get Philby to confess just days before he finally defected.

w
wac6
Jul 10, 2015

A page turner! Hard to put down.

z
zipread
Mar 19, 2015

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal --- by --- Ben Macintyre. Kim Philby’s career stretched from the years before the Second World War to 1963. He started his career as a handler in Britain’s MI6 and then quickly graduated to double agents, selling secrets to the KGB. A product of Britain’s old-boys class system, no one in the upper class to which he belonged ever believe he could possibly be anything but true and loyal to his class, his club, and his country. And so, in spite of suspicions and charges leveled against him by MI5 more middle-classed operatives, Philby continued his skullduggery until the evidence of his wrong-doing was incontrovertibly overwhelming. Only then did Philby show his true hand and flee to Moscow. This is not and Ian Flemming James Bond spy thriller even though Ian Flemming appears briefly in the book, rather it is true fact. It’s about how one person, perhaps mentally bent, delivered up, literally, hundreds of people to his Russian paymasters in exchange for what, money, or in the belief that what he was doing was for the purpose of bringing about a better world. You won’t read this book in one evening but it is interesting and engaging enough that a few nights should see you through this book.

b
BethHawley
Mar 12, 2015

Well written

b
BlueHippo
Mar 01, 2015

I could hardly put this book down. It's like sitting at a table over coffee while the author tells you the story. What a look into this clandestine world!

w
wmstrach
Feb 02, 2015

Brilliantly written and so compelling I stood in Canadian Tire reading it while waiting for my husband to shop. What a brilliant but despicable person Philby was - how could he rationalize sending so many young men to certain death, not to mention the effects of his betrayal on Allied war efforts.

t
Thecatlady
Jan 28, 2015

Very readable. The story is well known but taken from a different perspective. Thought provoking about the way power works in a society.

j
johnlybg
Jan 25, 2015

Excellent book. Well written. Fascinating guide to cold war and WW2 spying. Recommend it highly. Couldn't put it down.

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