Wednesday, August 20, 2014

by Ben Macintyre

Harold Adrian Russell Philby, otherwise known as "Kim" was considered the greatest spy in history.
Both his intellect and his charm made him a perfect recruit for MI6, which was one of the main secret services of Britain. In time, Philby would be appointed head of their counterintelligence against the Soviet Union.
Nicholas Elliott was Philby's best friend and fellow colleague in the spy trade. They learned how to do espionage together during World War II. The two of them belonged to the same clubs, drank a voluminous amount of alcohol, wore the same classy, tailored clothing, and shared every secret. Well, not exactly. Every word that Elliot openly shared, Philby was transmitting to Moscow. But, it wasn't just Elliott's words.
James Jesus Angleton (the head of CIA counterintelligence) was also a great friend of Philby's. They met thirty-seven times in secluded bars and restaurants and Angleton disclosed quite a bit of information that absolutely thrilled the Soviet bosses.
Thanks to both Angleton and Elliott, their words, (unbeknownst to them), killed thousands of operatives and destroyed the intelligence services of both the United States and Great Britain.
Some friend indeed.
Ben Macintyre has done it again. He is a master storyteller and has written quite a number of books dealing with spies, two of which have been reviewed in this blog: Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat.
A Spy Among Friends is quite an eye-opener and virtually impossible to put down. Because of the MI5 (the files for MI6 were closed), Macintyre was able to retrieve plenty of information and research to write a spectacular book.
I could write numerous adjectives to describe the writing, but it's not necessary. Just read it. You will not be disappointed.
Very highly recommended.