- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceA Spy Among Friends (Paperback)
Publisher: Broadway Books$16.00A Spy Among Friends (Large Print Paperback)
Publisher: Random House Large Print Publishing$27.00A Spy Among Friends (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group$40.00
- ISBN-13: 9780804136631
- ISBN-10: 0804136637
- Publisher: Crown Pub
- Publish Date: July 2014
- Page Count: 368
- Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.4 x 8.55 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.45 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-05-05
- Reviewer: Staff
In this engaging real-life spy story, Macintyre (Double Cross) pulls back the curtain on the life and exploits of Kim Philby, who served for decades in Britain’s intelligence community while secretly working as a Soviet double agent. Macintyre covers the full range of Philby’s career, from his work during WWII and the early years of the Cold War to his downfall and defection to the Soviet Union. Moreover, Macintyre widens his scope to look at Philby’s closest allies and friends, including fellow MI6 officer Nicholas Elliot and CIA operative James Jesus Angleton—the men who stood by him when all others were convinced of his as-yet-unproven guilt. Working with colorful characters and an anything-can-happen attitude, Macintyre builds up a picture of an intelligence community chock-full of intrigue and betrayal, in which Philby was the undisputed king of lies. There’s a measure of admiration in the text for Philby’s run of luck and audacious accomplishments, as when he was actually placed in charge of anti-Soviet intelligence: “The fox was not merely guarding the henhouse but building it, running it, assessing its strengths and frailties, and planning its future construction.” Entertaining and lively, Macintyre’s account makes the best fictional thrillers seem tame. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Ltd. (Aug.)
Don't cross a double-crosser
Real life spy Kim Philby had a level of charm that fictional spy James Bond could only aspire to. To meet Philby, it seemed, was to fall under his convivial sway. Thus, when it was disclosed in 1963 that this very proper, well-placed and Cambridge-educated Englishman had been spying for the Soviet Union since 1934, two people were particularly shaken by the revelation: Nicholas Elliott, his longtime drinking buddy and colleague at MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and James Angleton, the zealous spymaster at America’s Central Intelligence Agency. Both men had regarded Philby as the supreme exemplar of their shadowy trade. Of course, he was.
The focus of A Spy Among Friends is the fragility of trust in the spy business. Apart from the pain of losing his best friend when Philby was outed and subsequently fled to Russia, Elliott also suffered the embarrassment of having brought Philby back into MI6 after he had been nearly exposed as a spy a few years earlier. Angleton never recovered from Philby’s betrayal, which made him paranoid and suspicious of everyone he worked with.
Both Elliott and Angleton tried to rewrite history to show that Philby hadn’t fooled them as completely as the records show he did. From Philby’s perspective, though, his story was of unwavering allegiance to the noble cause of worldwide communism, a goal that trumped nationalism and friendship. That dozens, maybe hundreds, of undercover agents were killed as a direct result of his dissembling never appeared to bother him.
British author and historian Ben Macintyre (Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat) does a masterful job of bringing these intriguing personalities to life and of recreating the World War II and Cold War milieus that forged their passions and alliances.
Spy novelist John le Carré, who served under Elliott in MI6, provides a poignant afterword concerning his former superior’s attempts to purge himself of Philby’s ghost.