A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal


$79.99 View All Available Formats & Editions


Master storyteller Ben Macintyre’s most ambitious work to date brings to life the twentieth century’s greatest spy story.

Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War—while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world.
But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow—and not just Elliott’s words, for in America, Philby had made another powerful friend: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton's and Elliott’s unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him—until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.
Told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, A Spy Among Friends is Ben Macintyre’s best book yet, a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467684255
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 08/28/2014
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "A Spy Among Friends"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Ben Macintyre.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Apprentice Spy 3

Chapter 2 Section V 19

Chapter 3 Otto and Sonny 35

Chapter 4 Boo, Boo, Baby, I'm a Spy 52

Chapter 5 Three Young Spies 68

Chapter 6 The German Defector 79

Chapter 7 The Soviet Defector 90

Chapter 8 Rising Stars 106

Chapter 9 Stormy Seas 124

Chapter 10 Homer's Odyssey 142

Chapter 11 Peach 158

Chapter 12 The Robber Barons 174

Chapter 13 The Third Man 190

Chapter 14 Our Man in Beirut 208

Chapter 15 The Fox Who Came to Stay 220

Chapter 16 A Most Promising Officer 232

Chapter 17 I Thought It Would Be You 244

Chapter 18 Teatime 256

Chapter 19 The Fade 268

Chapter 20 Three Old Spies 283

Afterword John le Carré 295

Acknowledgments 307

Notes 309

Select Bibliography 355

Index 361


A Q&A with Author Ben Macintyre

Q: What inspired you to turn your hand to Kim Philby—greatest spy of the Cold War—and, in particular, through the lens of his closest relationships and greatest betrayals?

A: A SPY AMONG FRIENDS was born out of a conversation with John le Carré some years ago, in which I asked him—while walking on Hampstead Heath—which was the best untold spy story of the Cold War, and he replied unhesitatingly, “The friendship between Kim Philby and Nicholas Elliott.”

Q: Did you make an effort to read other books or watch movies about Kim Philby before you wrote this book? Are there any others you’d recommend after reading A Spy Among Friends?

A: There are several excellent books about Kim Philby, and almost no good films. Of the straight biographies, Phillip Knightley’s Philby: KGB Masterspy is probably still the best, having the benefit of several interviews with Philby before his death. Oddly, Philby has inspired more great fiction, on the page and on-screen, than good nonfiction.

Q: Where (or how) did you conduct most of your research, and did you encounter any difficulties or roadblocks along the way?

A: My research was a combination of archival research, gathering material from private sources, and interviews with individuals, including some in the intelligence services. The principal roadblock is the fact that MI6 has not released its Philby files, and probably never will. MI5 [the security service], however, is much more open, and a quantity of new material relating to Philby has recently been released.

Q: In the research you did for this book, what single fact or story most horrified you?

A: The sheer extent of the bloodshed Philby unleashed by betraying Operation Valuable, the inaptly named mission to insert insurgents into communist Albania: hundreds were killed, and many entire families were wiped out.

Q: Do you think Philby’s betrayal had lasting effects on either the British secret services or their relationship with our own CIA?

A: Certainly. The intelligence relationship between London and Washington, so warm and valuable during the war, went into a sharp decline as a result of the betrayal by Philby and the other Cambridge spies: the CIA never saw MI6 (and MI6 never saw itself) in quite the same light again.

Q: What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you as a result/part of your career as a writer?

A: For this book, being able to explore Kim Philby’s abandoned and derelict apartment in Beirut was probably the most atmospheric moment of the research process. I stood on the balcony, pitted with bullet holes from Lebanon’s civil war, from which he signaled his Soviet controller that he needed to flee. The next day, he absconded to Moscow.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I would love to think I would have made a good spy, but on reflection, having been immersed in this world for nearly eight years, I think I would be hopeless at intelligence work—an inability to keep a secret being one of my main failings. I suspect if I did not write, I would be teaching history.

Q: What “comfort” books do you keep in order to re-read when you are in need of something really good?

A: When I am writing, I find that I dip back into John le Carré, who provides just the atmospheric lift and inspiration I need. For pure, unadulterated relaxation and pleasure: Wodehouse, Waugh, and William Boyd.

Q) What’s next for you?

A: Almost certainly, more spies. I have found that writing about real espionage offers an extraordinary backdrop for exploring all the concepts that fascinate us in fiction: loyalty, betrayal, friendship, politics, and love. The history of intelligence is opening up as never before, as more and more secret material is released into the public domain.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Spy Among Friends is a very well written look into the life of the man credited as the greatest spy in history: Kim Philby. Author Ben Macintyre has really done his research. The result is a true page turner that you just can’t put down. A truly fascinating book.
Barnabas1 More than 1 year ago
Bought this after reading John le Carre's fictional "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", which aroused my interest in knowing the truth about spycraft during the cold war.  Milne's non-fiction book about the two-sided Kim Philby was almost as much about his one-sided friend Nicholas Elliot, but that just adds credence to the account.  It gives very interesting insight into the British class structure still prominent during WWII, how the "good old boy" network functioned and how it protected Philby from discovery for so many years.  It's astonishing to read how duplicitous Philby was.  It's also enlightening to see how loosely the spy world really functioned--much different from what I would have imagined--makes you wonder if it is still much this way.  If you can, read this in one sitting to keep with the flow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the amazing story of a man who went to the right schools and had extremely good connections. Because of those factors his path to the higher and trusted levels of British Intelligence was made easier. Kim Philby was responsible for countless deaths during his career. It is amazing to think of the people who absolute trust in this traitor.
Pentagoet More than 1 year ago
This is a well-researched book on a fascinating subject.  It sets forth the character - Philby - clearly, and in the context of his peers and friends.  As a history of both Philly and his contemporary MI-6 and the CIA, it is extremely good and quite readable.  McIntyre's literary style is lucid and very effective.  The one shortcoming is in certain details -  notably dates.  Many of the dates in the book need revision for the second edition.  The erroneous one conflict with other sources, as well as the flow of the book itself.  One example is the marriage of Nicholas Elliott.  The text dates his marriage as 10 April 1945, whereas the subtext of a photograph gives a weding date of 10 April 1943 (the correct date).  There are several of these errors, which are more editorial than substantive, but mars the overall narrative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very readable, fascinating true story that kept my interest right to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
insanepoet65 More than 1 year ago
TITLE: A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal AUTHOR: Ben Macintyre GENRE: History PAGES: 384 I love a good spy story. It is one of the things my grandfather taught me, along with good mysteries, and good steak. His spy stories were am9ng the fictional spies. Be that as it may, I really think he would have loved Ben Macintyre’s A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. Ben Macintyre has established a career among spies, but not the fictional kind. His books deal with real spies and real consequences. In A Spy Among Friends, he not only gives us the story of Kim Philby, an agent who betrays his country, but also gives the read a look at the start of the Cold War, and just how far the Soviet Union was willing to go win it. The one fact that stuck out in my mind was that the Soviet Union has spies in place BEFORE the end of World War II. Harold Adrian Russel “Kim” Philby had the look and feel of a spy. He was handsome, charming, witty, and knew his way around a bottle. His rise in the British Intelligence community was as natural for him as breathing. Beneath his upper crust exterior was a man who did not agree with the politics of his country and made a choice to spy for the Soviet Union. His betrayal was like a chess game in which he managed to have himself placed in areas that would benefit the Russians and keep up appearances. Even though this book is 384 pages, it is a much longer read. It is packed with information and you hand off of every word. It is not a fast paced, action packed spy account. This is more of a cerebral exercise, and it is well worth the effort! 5 out of 5 Bookmarks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best Book on the life of spy Kim Philby.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tomobrien More than 1 year ago
The best book on this man and his fellow spies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Probably the complete take on Philby an his crowd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elderead More than 1 year ago
A smooth tour of the spying groups in the 1930's to post WWII. Nice character development. Not a hairaiser but surprising history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
well written--apparently well documented. an excellent read for those who want to look at the cold war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would not recommend,this is one book I wish I could get my money back on,very tuff to follow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know. I'm there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never have I read s spy book that was so mundane in it's entirty. lI suippose the telling of this tale in the first person only add's to the lack of adventure. Would not recomend this to anyone who is looking for a fast moving, interging tale of esponage.