Thanks to Blogging for Books, I just finished, A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.
Certainly a good read, one which incredulity spikes about every other page. Kim Philby was known as one of the greatest spies in the 20th Century. Ben Macintyre has written a suspenseful novel, and he has based tremendous psychological insight into personal papers and never-before-seen intelligence files.
I normally am not a reader of spies or World War II. Anyone who wants an intricate view of the range of events and plans and depth of intrigue occurring during World War II will not be disappointed.
It is a prodigious book, clear to follow, except for this reader who at times was boggled by the duplicity of so many spies, and who trusted whom. Basically, Kim Philby was a product of good schooling, elite circles, exclusive clubs. Sprinkle long night of drink and carousing and the cavorting wiles of spies, albeit, against or for, whatever country, and the book becomes a page turner.
Kim Philby was unknown to anyone close to him and duplicitous to all. Many were fooled by his being a double spy for England and the USSSR.
This reader lived in Russia, really Ukraine and Belarus for a 3 year period with some trips back to the states. We were there really with the concept of peace and promotion of a different concept of the oneness of humanity. We were ordinary citizens meeting the rank and file in the society, a society encased in shame. The people were grief stricken that they had been so deluded. Communist changed into business suits, the mafia kept on keeping on, and yet the society opened up.
The intricacies of the spy trade command a horrific attention. So much intrigue; so much mathematical callousness as far as ordinary people were concerned. Philby caused 100s to die, but he remained very British, very club oriented, very alcoholic. None of his wives really knew him. They thought they did. His children adored him. How would they know? He does come across in this view as a father who cared, but what a price he pays.
I ended my horrified reading wondering was it total power, just being ahead of the game, any game, and why not two competing powerful nations. How could he be so deluded by Communism, and Stalin? The egos and delusions of spy networks and the crumbling times we all live in.
At any rate, it was a compelling read, but shocking. My questions remain. Was Philby a sociopath? What compelled him? Such blind allegiance. What really motivated him?
As an aside, I’ve been watching Manhattan on PBS and the same power hungry intrigues are revealed as the story of the atom bomb unfolds. Obsession, ego and power – oh dear.
Once again, thanks Blogging for Books! great way to spread the word about good reads!