A Spy among Friends – review

image-medium (2)A spy among friends: Kim Philby and the great betrayal

Outside a small flat in Beirut in January 1963, the usual Middle Eastern sounds – blaring horns, raised voices and amplified music – rent the air, while inside “one of the most important conversations in the history of the Cold War” (to use author Ben Macintyre’s words) was taking place.

Finally, almost three decades after Kim Philby, product of Westminster School and Cambridge, had been recruited into the Soviet secret service, and had wormed his way into its British equivalent, MI6, to become the most dangerous traitor in British espionage history, he was being confronted by Nicholas Elliott, his friend and former MI6 colleague. Elliott had been sent to the Lebanese capital to extract a confession….read more in this review byAndrew Lycett.

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War. His two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone – and then discovered they had not known him at all. With access to newly released MI5 files and previously unseen family papers, and with the cooperation of former officers of MI6 and the CIA, this definitive biography unlocks what is perhaps the last great secret of the Cold War