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Kim Philby: The Unknown Story of the KGB's Master-Spy [Hardcover]

Tim Milne
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Feb 2014
Kim Philby, the so-called Third Man in the Cambridge spy ring, was the Cold War's most infamous traitor, a Soviet spy at the heart of British intelligence. Philby joined Britain's secret service MI6 during the war and went on to head the section tasked with rooting out Russian spies before becoming the service's chief liaison officer with the CIA. He betrayed hundreds of British and US agents to the Russians and compromised numerous operations inside the Soviet Union. Tim Milne was Philby's closest and oldest friend. They studied at Westminster School together and when Philby joined MI6 he immediately recruited Milne as his deputy. Philby's treachery was a huge blow to Milne and, after he retired, he wrote a highly revealing description of Philby's time in the secret service. Publication of the memoirs was banned by MI6 but, after Milne's death in 2010, his family were determined that this insider's account of the Philby affair be published. Edited to include newly released top-secret documents showing how the KGB's master spy managed to fool MI6 even after he defected to Moscow, this is the final word on one of the world's most notorious spies by the MI6 colleague who knew him best, the insider account of the Philby affair that Britain's spy chiefs did not want you to read.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing (27 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849546991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849546997
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The demons which drove the proudly English Kim Philby to betray his country, its people and especially his MI6 colleagues have never before been so intimately examined and explained. A fascinating look into the mind of a tragic figure by his oldest and closest friend. --Chapman Pincher, author of Their Trade Is Treachery and Dangerous To Know

A fascinating, very personal account of Philby's treachery from his SIS colleague, teenage travelling companion and schoolboy friend who was left utterly betrayed. This is a unique insight from an insider. --Nigel West, author of The Crown Jewels and Operation Garbo

Elegant and rich in detail, it provides intriguing glimpses of the man who would become the 20th century's most notorious British spy and traitor. --Mail On Sunday

An often intimate portrait of the Third Man, candid in its assessments. --The Telegraph

[Milne] explains one of the most enduring mysteries surrounding the notorious Soviet spy. --The Guardian

There are some good anecdotes here - the cricketing recollections are Milne's - and some interesting suggestions that Philby wasn't such a big boozer as he's usually cracked up to be. Was this a pretence too? Yet what stands out above all is just how little bitterness Milne felt. --John Preston, Daily Mail

Milne's account of Philby is full of delightful trivia, but there is personal insight too. --Edward Wilson, The Independent

Tim Milne's finely written and refreshingly unhysterical book... Milne gives fascinating and revealing accounts of his friend's behaviour and attitudes. It might seem that by now Philby as a subject had been done to death, but as these two books amply illustrate, he is still a source of fascination and wonderment. --John Banville, The Guardian

The book offers a fascinating glimpse of the charismatic Philby. --William Chislett, El Imparcial

A workmanlike, honest account that unpeels a lifetime's friendship with the man whose treachery cost thousands of lives. --Ben Felsenburg, Metro

There are some good anecdotes here - the cricketing recollections are Milne's - and some interesting suggestions that Philby wasn't such a big boozer as he's usually cracked up to be. Was this a pretence too? Yet what stands out above all is just how little bitterness Milne felt. --John Preston, Daily Mail

About the Author

Ian Innes Tim Milne CMG OBE, nephew of A. A. Milne, was born in Brentford in 1912. He won a King's Scholarship to Westminster School and then read Classics at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1934, he became a copywriter with the advertising agency S. H. Benson, working on a number of accounts, including Guinness, Kodak, Bovril and Colman's mustard. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1940 and in October 1941 recruited into MI6 by his childhood friend Kim Philby. Milne continued to work in MI6 until 1968, serving in Iran, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Hong Kong. After leaving MI6, he became a senior clerk in the House of Commons. He retired in 1978 and subsequently wrote these memoirs but, due to an MI6 ban on the book, he never saw them published. Milne died in 2010.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars But What Was He Like? 26 April 2014
I suppose that most historians of my age are aware of most of the life and activities of Kim Philby. Whatever he did and for whatever reasons it appears that he was almost universally liked and admired until his dismissal from MI6 and eventual defection. I think that few people could understand how such an apparently honourable man could act in such a deceitful fashion which led to the deaths of others he had not even met.
Many deceived friends continued to tolerate and support him even after his defection.
I did hope that this book, by someone who knew him from schoolboy to middle age, would give some insight but I failed to see any. I think this is partially is because of the lack of skill by the now deceased author. The draft was written in 1989.
The passages concerning School, trips to the Continent and Near/Middle East and later in Section V left a blank canvas leaving me better informed but no wiser. The later passages concerning Washington and the attempted explanations of some of his actions I found inchoate.
In summary I did not find many insights into the Philby character and the book is not well written but the major bonus is that the description of the operation of Section V is really enlightening along with the news that Philby from 1941 was receiving ISOS decrypts from Bletchley.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Kim Philby - by Tim MilneTim Milne's account of his life as a secret intelligence officer, including a colleague of Kim Philby, is perhaps best described as an interesting footnote.

For anyone completely new to the story of Kim Philby's MI6 career and treachery, Milne's account does not fully cover the ground of the main events. But if you already know the main features of the case, then Milne's account is an enjoyable way of filling in new details and getting an extra perspective, including the regular uncertainty which many people had over exactly what the truth was about events.

Likewise, Milne's account of life in the 1930s and 1940s by no means makes for a full introduction to that era, but if you already have some knowledge of them then Milne's recollections add some extra colour through, in particular, his accounts of travelling Europe with Philby.

The book takes quite a few digressions into matters of details that are there because Milne wants to correct what other authors have written rather than because they are important to understanding Kim Philby or KGB espionage. So don't make this the first or second book you read about Kim Philby. But if you've already ready a couple and want to know more, then this is is a good one to turn to next.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As stated by other readers of this book I found it a disappointment in terms of style and content. What I did find useful was how the author deludes himself about the merits of Philby's personality, it gives one an idea of how he got away with duping these people for 30 years. If no other title had been read on this topic one could easily go away with the impresssion that nice Mr. Philby was victimised by the 'sinister' security services and although he categorically states Philby's guilt, one is left with the impresion that he still doesn't believe it. Well worth reading for an insight into insider thinking but not as an authoritative source.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 1 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading the exciting and genuinely new disclosures in the Philby story in Ben McIntyre's book, I found this less than riveting and in truth a great disappointment.

A few schoolboy recollections of Philby and an odd meeting after, hardly enough in it for a book.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing book 30 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a let down. The contents of this book as stated were in the main written 43 years ago with updates of sorts. Sorry but I do not see the point of it at all.

When one reads Ben Macintyre's book, 'A Spy Among Friends' one really learns about Philby, many things not before in the public domain.

The main gist of Kim Philby's exploits is in the public domain and this book does nothing to introduce anymore details, in fact it omits many.

Tim Milne time and time again refers to Kim Philby's own book, 'My Secret War'. It is I believe accepted that Philby in no way would have been allowed to write what he wanted without the then KGB authorising and putting their slant on what was written. That book should be read with a large handful of salt !!!!!!.

Most of Tim Milne's book is, 'I think' or ' In my opinion' and much guesswork, there are times when Tim Milne did not even see Philby over periods of time, the longest over a period of 3 years. There are only 3 times that Nicholas Elliot gets a mention in this book whereas it seems he spent far more time with Philby through his life even to his final leaving for Russia from Beirut.

Its good as a door stop and that it about it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 29 Aug 2014
By Mike
Good read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 29 Aug 2014
By cy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very good
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kim Philby. 22 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have long been interested in the Burgess/McLean/Philby era so was delighted to get this book. He was certainly a man who 'charmed' - and fooled - everyone!
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