My Silent War (Modern Library Classics (Paperback)) Paperback – 14 Aug 2003
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" Far more gripping than any novel of espionage I can remember." -- Graham Greene
" To this day I am convinced that he was not an ideologue. Spying was just his way of being above lesser mortals." -- Nigel West
" Addictive . . . highly polished . . . written with style and a feline sense of irony, making it a much better read than any of the other Philby literature." -- "The Guardian"
" Philby has no home, no women, no faith. Behind the inbred upper-class arrogance, the taste for adventure, lies the self-hate of a vain misfit for whom nothing will ever be worthy of his loyalty. In the last instance, Philby is driven by the incurable drug of deceit itself." -- John le Carre
"Far more gripping than any novel of espionage I can remember." --Graham Greene
"To this day I am convinced that he was not an ideologue. Spying was just his way of being above lesser mortals." --Nigel West
"Addictive . . . highly polished . . . written with style and a feline sense of irony, making it a much better read than any of the other Philby literature." --"The Guardian"
"Philby has no home, no women, no faith. Behind the inbred upper-class arrogance, the taste for adventure, lies the self-hate of a vain misfit for whom nothing will ever be worthy of his loyalty. In the last instance, Philby is driven by the incurable drug of deceit itself." --John le Carre
A fascinating insight into the mind and motivations of the notorious British 'Master Spy' and Soviet double agent. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Kim Philby, according to Seale and McConville, has become a "caricature" of "Western demonology," a "byword of reproach," the deadly "viper" in the "trusting bosom of his country" ("Philby: The Long Road to Moscow," 1978, 13). Nigel West's characterization of "My Silent War" as a "vitriolic" memoir illustrates this proposition (even though his assessment of Philby in "The Friends" [1988, 51-68], is otherwise balanced). As evidence of "vitriol" he presents Philby's judgment ("MSW,"109) of Sir Stewart Menzies ("C" of MI6) as an intellectually "unimpressive . . . fairly cloistered son of the upper levels of the British establishment" whose attitudes [as far as counterespionage was concerned] were "schoolboyish-- bars, beards, and blonds"--an assessment that West himself corroborates in "The Friends" (117). Vitriol in this instance and truth do not seem to be mutually exclusive. Was Menzies truly "hounded" by Philby's words? In retrospect, they seem rather mild when compared to those of John Le Carré (a.k.a. David Cornwell of MI5--eternal rival of MI6) in respect to Philby in the MI5-agent-turned-best-selling-author's introduction to Page, Leitch, and Knightley's "Philby: The Spy who Betrayed a Generation" (1969, 24). Le Carré writes: "In ten year's time [Philby] may be stopping British tourists in the Moscow streets.Read more ›
The prose style is fine and every chapter is interesting. I felt that too much of Philby's account focused on his early years in WW2, to the detriment of the later years. I did not expect specifics on the day to day, but I had hoped for a rationale on why he chose his path, how he retained his unflinching loyalty, and intriguing existential doubt at key moments of his life. I was disappointed, as none of this is here.
I imagine that Philby did not wish to open up where sympathy and compassion might well be lacking. That is a shame, as anyone's commitment to a cause is well worth reflecting on. I can recommend this book but with the caveats discussed.
Although well written, this is a totally uninformative contribution by the master spy himself. Probably any short article on Philby will tell you more about him than he himself reveals. He hardly ever mentions intimate contact with the Russians, and certainly gives no indication whatsoever of what he ever revealed to them.
You would think from reading this that Philby was just another grey civil servant in the secret service of HMG who hardly ever crossed the line throughout his disgraceful career. No mention of the consequences of his treachery, or the fact that he could never be a "friend" to anybody, despite his frequent mention of "friends".
You get no inkling of what he really did in his various postings - only bland descriptions of what seems like pretty routine work.
I didn't expect a mea culpa, but I certainly did expect more meat than I got here. In fact, he doesn't even provide a bit of gravy.
It's OK if you want a vague idea of the day to day routine inside the SIS, but don't waste your time if you think you will learn anything revealing. This book is every bit as dishonest as its author.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Written in a very amusing way however it does leave an awful lot unanswered. The way he tells his story suggests he was doing everyone a favour rather than the traitor that he was. Read morePublished 4 months ago by David J Burton
Of course, I've known of Kim Philby all my adult life - and some earlier years too. Reading his account was a revelation - not of some motive or methodology that I hadn't known of;... Read morePublished 9 months ago by tonywhipp
"My Silent War" is a surprisingly entertaining read. It's the self-biography of Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge Spies. Read morePublished 9 months ago by woman30
An interesting, if bashful, insight into Philby's treachery. Does show the insanity of the situation where the head of counter-intelligence against the Soviet Union was a Soviet... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Edgar Livingstone
Written a long time ago and it shows in its style. It gives insight into Kim Philby's views and take on things - if hat can be believed. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Ginger to Grey
A self pitying story from someone who should have been locked up not allowed to skip the country. I have no sympathy for a man who know he was betraying his own country and people,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by david