Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Going into this book I actually had no idea who Kim Philby was, or indeed what was ultimately betrayed. I read it as it was a book club selection made by my friend Ron, and having already decided to read it, I didn't see any need to go any further into researching the book (which I'll often do if I'm deciding whether or not to read something new).

Little did I know at the time, I had already read a book in which Philby was a main character only a few years previously, so when the aspects of his story started coming out to me, I had the delicious feeling of things falling into place as I moved along.

If, like me, you are unfamiliar with Philby, he was a Russian spy who began working undercover in British intelligence during the Second World War aiding in the Allied effort, but secretly reporting everything he had witnessed, acted on, and read over to his handlers in Moscow.

I don't actually want to get into how long it took to uncover him, or exactly how the discovery of his actions came about, as the book was much more engrossing for me to not know, wondering every time that his number appeared to come up if this would be the time he would finally be caught.

Ben MacIntyre's book is incredibly well-researched, a great example of how non-fiction can be truly engrossing, and a surprising look at just how much a well-placed spy can get away with in a culture that is unwilling to even theorize about a spy in their own midst.

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