Master storyteller Ben Macintyre's most ambitious work to date presents the definitive telling of the most legendary spy story of the 20th century.
A Spy Among Friends, Ben Macintyre's thrillingly ambitious new book, tackles the greatest spy story of all: the rise and fall of Kim Philby, MI6's Cambridge-bred golden boy who used his perch high in the intelligence world to betray friend and country to the Soviet Union for over two decades. In Macintyre's telling, Philby's story is not a tale of one spy, but of three: the story of his complex friendships with fellow Englishman operative Nicholas Elliott and with the American James Jesus Angleton, who became one of the most powerful men in the CIA. These men came up together, shared the same background, went to the same schools and clubs, and served the same cause--or so Elliott and Angleton thought. In reality, Philby was channeling all of their confidences directly to his Soviet handlers, sinking almost every great Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies and obfuscations to protect his secret, Angleton and Elliott never abandoned him. When Philby's true master was finally revealed with his defection to Moscow in 1963, it would have profound and devastating consequences on these men who thought they knew him best, and the intelligence services they helped to build.
This remarkable story, told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, is Ben Macintyre's best book yet, and a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.
In this engaging real-life spy story, Macintyre (Double Cross) pulls back the curtain on the life and exploits of Kim Philby, who served for decades in Britain's intelligence community while secretly working as a Soviet double agent. Macintyre covers the full range of Philby's career, from his work during WWII and the early years of the Cold War to his downfall and defection to the Soviet Union. Moreover, Macintyre widens his scope to look at Philby's closest allies and friends, including fellow MI6 officer Nicholas Elliot and CIA operative James Jesus Angleton the men who stood by him when all others were convinced of his as-yet-unproven guilt. Working with colorful characters and an anything-can-happen attitude, Macintyre builds up a picture of an intelligence community chock-full of intrigue and betrayal, in which Philby was the undisputed king of lies. There's a measure of admiration in the text for Philby's run of luck and audacious accomplishments, as when he was actually placed in charge of anti-Soviet intelligence: "The fox was not merely guarding the henhouse but building it, running it, assessing its strengths and frailties, and planning its future construction." Entertaining and lively, Macintyre's account makes the best fictional thrillers seem tame.