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A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby And The Great Betrayal (2014)

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (2014)

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4.07 of 5 Votes: 3
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0804136637 (ISBN13: 9780804136631)
Crown Publishers

About book A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby And The Great Betrayal (2014)

Fascinating. Non-fiction. The story of Kim Philby, an English spy for the Soviet Union. Recruited along with several of his friends from Cambridge. Spied for the Soviet Union from 1939 until 1963 and then escaped to Moscow where he lived out the remainder of his life. During his spying years, he was high up in MI6 and, therefore, in a position to pass on valuable information to the Soviets and do a great deal of damage to both British and American intelligence. This insight into spycraft and the British Old Boys Network is very interesting indeed. Still a great story after all these years. McIntyre's take is that Philby was able to fool people for 30 years because MI6 was run as an old boys' network. You were trusted because you went to Cambridge and people knew you were from good family. Philby's friendship with fellow spy Nicholas Elliot is explored in depth. Elliot despite later protestations wasn't convinced that Philby was a double agent until 1963, twelve years after he first came under internal investigation. Actually parts of the CIA and J. Edgar Hoover copped to Philby's guilt faster than most Brits. Philby's commitment to communism borne of courses he took at Cambridge in the 1930s never wavered despite Stalin's pact with Hitler, the purges and a clearly corrupt system. At the end of the book is an afterword by John LeCarre and an interview he did with Elliot in 1986. This sort of shattered the picture of the guy I had been building in my head which was one of steady competence. Lots of folks in the intelligence community claimed to have been on to Philby from early on; cudos to McIntyre for not being taken in by them.

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Well done. Very readable and engaging. First class book.

A true-life spy thriller.



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