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Young Philby Audio CD – Audiobook, 13 Nov 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
£27.46 FREE Delivery in the UK. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we dispatch the item. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: MacMillan Audio; Unabridged edition (13 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427227179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427227171
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 15.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,847,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

If Robert Littell didnt invent the American spy novel, he should have --Tom Clancy

Robert Littell is the author of many superb cold war-era spy novels, of a literary quality that makes it reasonable to call him the American John le Carré --Guardian

Robert Littell has long been among the subtlest of espionage magicians --The Sunday Times --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert Littell is an American novelist and journalist who makes his home in France. His specialty is spy novels that often concern the CIA and the Soviet Union. Littell was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended Alfred University in western New York. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy before moving into journalism, and following his stint in Newsweek moved to France and started to write novels. He has a great interest in mountain climbing. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Young Philby is, unsurprisingly, the story of Kim Philby, Soviet double agent. But the story is surprising.

Set out as a series of testimonials, letters, documents and the like, we see the rise of Kim Philby from multiple viewpoints. We see the thoughts of his KGB recruiters, Moscow Centre, Guy Burgess, MI6 and former lovers. We even, briefly, have Philby's own perspective - frustratingly on his experience as a journalist viewing the Maginot line rather than offering a definitive statement of allegiance. And without giving anything away, the life of a double agent is necessarily complex and allegiance is not a straightforward question. But, as Philby was advised by his first handler, when trying to deceive, stick as closely as possible to the truth.

At times, it is hard to remember that Robert Littell is writing fiction rather than fact. The details feel authentic, the austerity and drudgery of spying feels real. There is a claim on the cover that Littell is the American John Le Carre - and the comparison is apt. Both writers focus as much on the bureaucracy of espionage as on the thrill of the chase. However, and I could be wrong, I don't recall Le Carre using quite such an entertaining cameo of Josef Stalin.

If there are a couple of gripes, it is that the novel is quite short and has many characters and locations. The inevitable casualty of this is characterisation. In the urge to develop Philby as a character, the supporting cast feel somewhat cardboard, leading Philby to have cardboard relationships with them. We never really get a feel for what makes Philby tick, although arguably the novel's main point is that the real Philby was unknowable.
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Format: Hardcover
If the infamous traitor Kim Philby, a Soviet "mole" inside the British establishment for almost 30 years, gave a masterclass in avoiding arrest and punishment, then in Young Philby, Robert Littell gives a masterclass in writing a spy story about his early life. This will come as no surprise as Littell, often labelled "the American John Le Carre", has long been recognised as an expert in spy fiction and his magisterial fictional history of the CIA The Company: A Novel of the CIA is a classic of the genre.
Young Philby not only has fascinating subject matter and an authoritative grasp of European history from socialist uprisings in Vienna, through the Spanish Civil War to the rise of Hitlerism and Stalinism, but also shows outstanding narrative technique as Philby's early life is described through the eyes of around a dozen different narrators. This is a short, sharp historical thriller embedded in historical fact, without an ounce of surplus fat on it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Grand look at Young Philby... I can't make out if this is terribly well-researched fact (almost a biography) or one of Littells wonderful fictions. But it does turn a 'nasty man' in my day into a real human being, whom one can understand. Well done Littell - as always you write a blooming wonderful book. Thank you.
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By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 21 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Ambiguity is all-important in this absorbing insight into Kim Philby’s early activities; entirely fitting for an exploration into the intrigue of international espionage. This slim novel is narrated like a kiss-n-tell unauthorised biography, with events being revealed through the words and deeds of Philby’s contemporaries. Many of the episodes and escapades have the ring of historical verisimilitude about them… yet the whole book is one giant ‘what if?’ It all feels perfectly plausible, such is author Robert Littell’s skill at blurring the boundary between actual events and imaginary happenings.

Similarly, this is one of those books which hoodwinks the reader as to its ultimate destination. For the first half I spent most of the time admiring the historical detail and the fast-change cast of characters, who parade onto the stage, tell their snapshot of the story and then exit the limelight. Philby himself is always at the centre of the story but – once again, entirely appropriately for a spy – he’s also always slightly out of focus. Each interpretation of his early career adds more colour to the picture but very little clarity.
The brilliance of this book is that none of this is told in the stuffy tones of a history textbook. Instead the plot romps along with bawdy eccentricity, indulging in all sorts of explicit extra-curricular activity with a huge dash of story-telling panache. Every episode of Philby’s life adds complexity and uncertainty to the overall story, veering from gleeful subversion to sexual indulgence to sinister menace as the pages turn. Even though we know the historical facts, Littell still creates an atmosphere of tense uncertainty; a genuine cliff-hanger moment where all could be undone by the whim of a dictator.
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Format: Hardcover
Not very long, but an informative and interesting read about the beginnings of Philby's career as a traitor, which I knew little about. The format - written as contributions from various people in Philby's life as supposed letters, diaries, memoirs etc, works well and gives variety. As another reviewer has noted, there are some anachronisms - some words which a 1930s Englishman would never have used, and some which are straightforward Americanisms. A pity because much of the dialogue and text is convincingly idiomatic. A couple of hours work by an English editor (preferably aged 50+) would have eliminated these solecisms. But overall a very good book and I am encouraged to read more of his work.
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