A Spy Among Friends : Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
by Ben MacIntyre and John Lee

Overview - Master storyteller Ben Macintyre s most ambitious work to date brings to life thetwentieth century s greatest spy story.

Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War while he was secretly working for the enemy.  Read more...

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More About A Spy Among Friends by Ben MacIntyre; John Lee
Master storyteller Ben Macintyre s most ambitious work to date brings to life thetwentieth century s greatest spy story.

Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby s best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world.
But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow and not just Elliott s words, for in America, Philby had made another powerful friend: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton's and Elliott s unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost everyimportant Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.
Told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, "A Spy Among Friends" is Ben Macintyre s best book yet, a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.

"From the Hardcover edition.""

  • ISBN-13: 9780553397888
  • ISBN-10: 0553397885
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: July 2014
  • Page Count: 9
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds

Related Categories

Books > True Crime > Espionage
Books > History > Europe - Great Britain - General
Books > History > Russia & the Former Soviet Union

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-09-29
  • Reviewer: Staff

Macintyre’s latest biography chronicles the adventures of British intelligence officer Kim Philby, who secretly spied for the Soviet Union throughout most of his career. These events have inspired a host of fictional espionage thrillers, but Mac­intyre offers new context to address the forces that shaped Philby’s betrayal of his country. Veteran reader Lee effectively shifts between expository passages and dialogue. Philby’s career makes for an engrossing narrative, with accounts of double-crosses and triple-crosses, and Lee’s performance brings out the human element in the action-packed plot. His rendering of eccentric CIA counterintelligence leader James Jesus Angleton—an American with strong British ties and sensibilities—is especially memorable. Building to the climactic confrontation between Philby and his best friend and colleague, Nicholas Elliott, Lee’s delivery of the spy vs. spy banter evokes the essence of Cold War tension. A Crown hardcover. (July)

BookPage Reviews

Audio: Europe's dark shadow

If Alan Furst, grandmaster of WWII espionage thrillers, calls his latest Midnight in Europe, you know that when day breaks, it will bring war. In the dark hours of 1938, Cristián Ferrar, a Barcelona-born lawyer in the Paris office of an esteemed international firm, is recruited by the Spanish Embassy to buy arms for the beleaguered Republican Army fighting Franco and fascism. To procure weapons, elegant Cristián and a mysterious, multilingual, Middle-European colleague must descend into the murky world of criminals, duplicitous agents, hijacking and shootouts. It’s first-class Furst, an intricate, intriguing story with fascinating details about the Spanish Civil War set against the broader sweep of 20th-century history, with just enough champagne sipped, Gitanes smoked, alluring women romanced and real suspense conjured. Daniel Gerroll narrates in a honeyed, British-accented voice, evoking the mood and atmosphere of that time of political peril and personal bravery, of dedication and desperation.

If you haven’t met Mike Bowditch yet, don’t worry: You’ll catch up on his past as The Bone Orchard, Paul Doiron’s fifth in the series, hurtles through a rural Maine landscape so well evoked you can feel the black flies biting and hear the warblers in the bushes. Mike isn’t a game warden anymore, but he doesn’t seem all that happy as a bearded, flannel-shirted fishing guide either. When his mentor, Sgt. Kathy Frost, is shot at the door of her farmhouse, his own happiness has to take a backseat. Mike, who was at the scene, is compelled to join the search for the shooter, to use his investigative savvy to look beyond the obvious and delve into Kathy’s past. There are twists and turns and false leads galore, a convincing cast of characters—including potential killers and former lovers—and subplots that make Mike’s quandary about his future as understandable as his quest for Kathy’s would-be assassin. Henry Leyva reads.

Kim Philby is endlessly fascinating, and the list of books on Philby, though not quite endless, is very long. Still, Ben Macintyre’s A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal should go right to the top, especially in this totally compelling audio version narrated by John Lee, whose clipped upper-class English cadences perfectly mirror Philby’s world. And it’s through the prism of that privileged Cambridge-cricket-club milieu, always well lubricated with cocktails and port, that Macintyre looks at Philby’s incredibly daring, incredibly successful years of deceit, spying for the Soviets while rising in the British Secret Intelligence Service. We see him through the eyes of his closest friends, Nicholas Elliott, his MI6 colleague from the get-go, and James Jesus Angleton, who became chief of the CIA. Both men admired the double agent enormously and, even when it was becoming difficult not to see the truth about his betrayal and its horrific ramifications, they still found it almost impossible to believe one of their own could betray class and country.


This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews