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A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal [Kindle Edition]

Ben Macintyre
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and well-made suits in the comfortable clubs and restaurants of London and Washington; of male friendships forged, and then systematically betrayed.

With access to newly released MI5 files and previously unseen family papers, and with the cooperation of former officers of MI6 and the CIA, this definitive biography unlocks what is perhaps the last great secret of the Cold War.


Product Description

Review

An engaging book on a tantalising and ultimately tragic subject, If it starts as a study of friendship, it ends as an indictment (Philip Hensher, Spectator)

No one writes about deceit and subterfuge so dramatically, authoritatively or perceptively. To read A Spy Among Friends is a bit like climbing aboard a runaway train in terms of speed and excitement - except that Macintyre knows exactly where he is going and is in total control of his material (Daily Mail, Books of the Week)

It reads like fiction, which is testament to the extraordinary power of the story itself but also to the skills of the storyteller . at least as compelling as any of the great fictionalised accounts of Britain's greatest traitor and one of the best real-life spy stories one is ever likely to read ***** (Daily Express)

Illuminating, gripping and moving . What Macintyre reveals - but not too quickly - is the extent to which those who confided in him, as friends or colleagues or both, were made unwitting accessories to treason (Evening Standard)

Thrilling ... An extraordinary book ... I'm not a lover of spy novels, yet I adored this book. Fictional spies never seem believable to me; novels are populated by stereotypes devoid of nuances that define the individual. That's not the case here. Macintyre's strength is his capacity for intimacy, the very thing Philby, Elliott and Angleton lacked . Just about perfect (The Times Book of the Week)

Whereas Milne thinks his friend betrayed his country because he genuinely believed in communism, Macintyre's explanation is more intriguing and more convincing (Sunday Times)

Riveting reading ... The transcript of this rendezvous is Ben Macintyre's scoop: the motor of an unputdownable postwar thriller whose every incredible detail is fact not fiction . A brilliant reconciliation of history and entertainment ... A Spy Among Friends is not just an elegy, it is an unforgettable requiem (Observer)

Gripping ... Ben Macintyre's bottomlessly fascinating new book is an exploration of Kim Philby's friendships, particularly with Nicholas Elliott . This book consists of 300 pages; I would have been happy had it been three times as long ***** (Mail on Sunday)

The life of Cambridge spy Kim Philby is analysed in this irresistibly readable study (Sunday Times)

Swiftly paced, beautifully written . It is the small, human details that makes this grim, beguiling story so intoxicating (Scotland on Sunday)

A hugely engrossing contribution to Philby lore ... Such a summary does no justice to Macintyre's marvellously shrewd and detailed account of Philby's nefarious career. It is both authoritative and enthralling ... One of the pleasures of writing about espionage is that you are almost licensed to concoct your own conspiracy theories; all that's demanded is plausibility, and Elliott and Macintyre's gloss on events is highly plausible (William Boyd, New Statesman)

He does not let his readers down here . The story has been told before, but Macintyre's ability to unbundle intelligence acronyms is unrivalled . He has thrown a detailed and always entertaining light on the practices and culture of the 20th-century British intelligence through the lens of its most ignominious episode (Sunday Telegraph)

Engaging and atmospheric (Country Life)

Macintyre writes with the diligence and insight of a journalist, and the panache of a born storyteller . Worthy of John le Carré at his best (John Banville, Guardian)

Fascinating . The real tragedy, as this book so masterfully reveals, is that Philby's charm and easy manner made fools of so many ***** (Sunday Express)

The doomed relationship between Philby and Elliott makes this old tale of treason seem new enough (Economist)

Riveting and tragic. I read Macintyre's book in one sitting, and found it impossible to put down (Lord Faulkner of Worcester, House Magazine)

A book I could give to anybody (Observer)

The consistently readable Ben Macintyre shines a penetrating light on the friendship between Kim Philby, one of the most notorious traitors in British history, and fellow MI6 spy Nicholas Elliott (Sunday Express Summer Reading)

No one writes so well on subterfuge and deceit as Macintyre (Mail on Sunday Summer Reads)

A rollicking book. Mr Macintyre is full of pep and never falters in the head-long rush of his narrative (Richard Davenport-Hines, Wall Street Journal Europe)

An extraordinary book . The focus on friendship brings an intimacy here that is missing from the cardboard stereotypes that populate conventional espionage histories and spy novels (The Times)

There is nobody to beat Ben Macintyre for a knowledge of espionage . A Spy Among Friends is, like all of Macintyre's work, a real gem (Alexander McCall Smith, Sainsbury's Magazine)

The vicarious experience of the seedy, hard-drinking glamour of old-school espionage is thrilling (Zoe Strachan, Sunday Herald Books of the Year)

An unputdownable thriller, and the impeccably researched truth (Nicholas Hytner, Observer Books of the Year)

Terrific . Macintyre's gift is to write well-researched non-fiction as though it was popular fiction, and here he excels himself with an almost unbelievable tale of establishment complacency and incompetence (Ian Hislop, Mail on Sunday Books of the Year)

One of the peculiar pleasures involved in reading a biography of Kim Philby is that of spying on the spy . A Spy Among Friends manages to convey Philby's satanic charm (Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday Books of the Year)

This account of the high-level British spymaster who turned out to be a Russian mole reads like John le Carré but is a solidly researched true story (New York Times 100 Notable Books Of 2014)

Macintyre is a gifted storyteller (Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express Books of the Year)

Hard to put down . A great book that lives up to the reputation it has acquired (Robert Lambourne, Times Higher Education Supplement)

Conscious that Philby's story has been told many times before, Macintyre tries to find a new angle by interweaving it with that of Nicholas Elliott, probably Philby's closest friend in MI6. This has the merit of creating a rare sense of momentum, as we build towards their final confrontation in Beirut (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The true, untold story of Kim Philby, history's most famous traitor, from Sunday Times no. 1 bestselling author Ben Macintyre, featuring an Afterword from John le Carré

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3623 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (3 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ID7N356
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #909 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of seven previous books including Agent Zigzag, the story of wartime double-agent Eddie Chapman, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008. Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II, published in January 2010, is the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

(Photo credit: Jerry Bauer)


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming vile man 9 Sept. 2014
Format:Hardcover
I have read all of Ben Macintyre's books, and they just get better and better. However, in this one he has set not only an exceptional standard for narrative, but, in a way that was absent in the others, he has, I think, let his own standpoint show, which lends a special edge to the book.

I recently heard an interview with the biographer of a Pre-Norman, Anglo-Saxon monarch, and she said that because of the constant proximity to this character, she became something of an advocate of his reputation against others whose relative position was held in higher regard. She thus admitted to a somewhat personal relationship with the subject of her book.

Well Macintyre, I believe does the same. His chapters a a splendid mix of amusing story, surprising history, personal courage (by both British backed and KGB agents) and political interpretation , but, time after time, the objective and cheerful mask slips and reveals that Macintyre absolutely despises and loathes Philby. A sentiment that it is impossible not to share.

The amusing stories of Abwehr and SIS rivalry in Istanbul are retold as clever revelations, and even the post-Venlo rolling up of the British networks in Holland is presented objectively, as a "fortunes of war" disaster, but Philby's betrayal of the Catholic "resistance" in Germany to the KGB is retold, several times, with ill-disguised disgust.

Philby comes across as the lowest possible form of life, an intellectually inadequate Communist who would not defend his beliefs (perhaps because he realised how pathetic and inadequate they were, but hid from this in alcohol), who betrayed trust, friends and those whose lives depended on him for a third rate dictatorship and an intellectually moribund religion.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spy Among Friends 16 Mar. 2014
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ben Macintyre is a great writer and, in this latest book, he has turned his attention to Kim Philby – one of the Cambridge Spies. Historically, this book may not offer much that is new, but it does tell the story from a different viewpoint ; that of his friendships, most notably with Nicholas Elliott. In other words, this is not really a straight-forward biography of Philby, but focuses on his personality and on the Old Boy network that enabled him to evade detection for so long. The book begins with the meeting between Philby and Elliott in Beirut in January, 1963, with Elliott confronting his former friend about his betrayal of his country and trying to obtain a confession. He must certainly have felt betrayed personally too, as he had done much to protect Philby from earlier suspicions by MI5 – defending and helping him when he was in difficulty.

This fascinating account looks at the early life of both men, their meeting during WWII and their career in the Secret Intelligence Service. Kim Philby was, from the beginning, a Soviet agent. Along with the Cambridge Spies; Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross, he was so successful that his Soviet spymasters suspected him of being a double agent. As well as being a close friend of Elliott, he also became the mentor of James Jesus Angleton, an American and one of the most powerful spies in history. The Old Boy network which had brought both Elliott and Philby into the intelligence service meant that while agents were secretive outside of their immediate circle, they were horribly indiscreet within it, trusting on bonds of class and social networking to protect them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Destructive Con Man in recent history? 4 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Of course everybody has heard of the Cambridge spy ring and the mountains of books written about it. But this riveting account leaves you stunned about how pivotal Kim Philby was in British intelligence during the war and after, during the Cold War and especially the Manhatten Project and about how well informed were the Soviets as a result. And how many Soviet defectors, or British agents in Russia, died as a result of his deception; or when it came to conflict between the west and communist expansion, for example into Albania, how whole insurgent groups were wiped out due to his informing.

But the Spy among Friends title is chosen to reflect not only the strength of the Eton, Cambridge old boy network pervasive at this time, as exemplified in the way the story is told of Elliot and Philby; but also the strength of personal relations across the Atlantic and specifically between Angleton, a CIA chief, and Kilby, touted as the next head of MI6. These are exceptionally able men whose social standing provided open doors to advancement. But the loyalty to Philby’s friends blinded them to his deception,even when Philby’s second wife suspected and then publicly accused him of treason. Ben Macintyre takes issue with claims made after the event that these men suspected all along..

Ben Macintyre is adept at putting the very personal story in the context of the times. In 1944, before Philby was exposed, C.S. Lewis described the fatal British obsession with the “inner ring”. The belief that somewhere, just beyond reach, is an exclusive group holding real power and influence, which a certain sort of Englishman constantly aspires to join. Westminster, Eton and Cambridge are elite clubs; MI6 is even more an exclusive fellowship.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read
Amazing to read how he got away with it for so long, and how his wasn't a victimless crime, in his selfish arrogance he was responsible for thousands of murders.
Published 3 hours ago by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars good but disturbing read
disturbing book on many levels, I felt in great turmoil at the end. however, as a book, there are some haunting photos of a bygone era, and there is created a real sense of... Read more
Published 1 day ago by minty
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A great read
Published 2 days ago by MR RH JONES
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant! In my view his best book since Agent Zig Zag.
Published 4 days ago by Kay
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't normally read non fiction but this was a great page turner
Don't normally read non fiction but this was a great page turner. Even though you despise Kim Philly, the author manages to convey the dreadful tension and suspense that he's... Read more
Published 11 days ago by zaza
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read so far. .........
On page 70 and am really getting into this. Will update when finished. Good read so far.
Published 12 days ago by robbie2003ie
5.0 out of 5 stars Spy-tastic
You will not put this book down.
If you love spy novels and want to read some actual stuff then this is the book for you.
Superb read.
Published 13 days ago by Dermot
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and a great story of spying and betrayal ...
Great book and a great story of spying and betrayal
The characters were well drawn and the book was enthralling to the end
Published 18 days ago by Newcastleman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great read, couldn't put it down. Although the story is well-known Macintyre's book reads like a beautifully paced thriller and keeps the reader engrossed from start to finish.
Published 18 days ago by nickyfied
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting
Published 23 days ago by johan knox
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