A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal British author Macintyre has already written a clutch of gripping books about his country's espionage history, including 2007's Agent Zigzag and 2010's Operation Mincemeat .… A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal British author Macintyre has already written a clutch of gripping books about his country's espionage history, including 2007's Agent Zigzag and 2010's Operation Mincemeat .… 2014-07-29 History Crown
Book Review

A Spy Among Friends (2014)

A SPY AMONG FRIENDS Ben Macintyre
A SPY AMONG FRIENDS Ben Macintyre
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: Jul 29, 2014; Writer: Ben Macintyre; Genre: History; Publisher: Crown

British author Macintyre has already written a clutch of gripping books about his country's espionage history, including 2007's Agent Zigzag and 2010's Operation Mincemeat. Here, he tackles, with equal assuredness, the Mount Everest of U.K. spy tales, that of Kim Philby. Philby appeared to be a walking cliché of a British spy — a charming, Cambridge University-educated heavy drinker who lived for cricket. He was, in fact, a Communist who lived to give his Russian handlers secrets and caused countless deaths before finally being forced to confess to his MI6 colleague and friend Nicholas Elliott in 1963. Sound familiar? It should. The Philby case inspired Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the classic tome by another onetime MI6-er, John le Carré, who knew Elliott and offers a fascinating afterword in which we learn the British old-boy network never considered killing the tony traitor because he was ''one of us.'' But it is Macintyre who deserves full credit for delivering this complex, continent-hopping tale with clarity while finding space for stories such as the one where Elliott secured a supply of contraceptives during WWII for a ''roving brothel'' in Sierra Leone being run by fellow secret agent and Brighton Rock writer Graham Greene. The result is, in every sense, a class act. A-

Originally posted Aug 07, 2014 Published in issue #1324 Aug 15, 2014 Order article reprints
Advertisement

Today's Most Popular

  1. Photo Gallery: American Music Awards 2014 American Music Awards '14: We grade the performances
  2. Photo Gallery: American Music Awards 2014 American Music Awards 2014 style: What the stars wore

From Our Partners