Academic journal article Military Review

A Spy among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Academic journal article Military Review

A Spy among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Article excerpt

A SPY AMONG FRIENDS: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Ben Macintyre, Crown Publishers, New York, 2014, 358 pages, $27.00

Ben Macintyres book A Spy Among Friends recounts the story of Kim Philby, a British MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6) officer and a member of the Cambridge Five, one of the most infamous Soviet spy rings. Although Kim Philbys treachery is well known by Cold War historians and spy lore enthusiasts, the novelty of A Spy Among Friends is that it focuses not on Philby's betrayal of country, but on his betrayal of friends. Macintyres captivating book is a tragic story of friendship failed by deceit that has readers wishing for an alternative ending that they know will never come.

The story centers on Philby's friendship with fellow MI6 officer Nicholas Elliott, a man who defended Philby for over a decade before a Soviet defector's confirmation of Philby's guilt left Elliott professionally and personally devastated. Elliott could not fathom how a scion of a respected family, educated at one of Great Britain's best schools, could betray not only his country, but also his class. Elliott was not alone in declaring Philby's innocence; even Foreign Secretary Harold McMillan once stated there was "no reason" to believe Philby was a traitor.

Philby's world began to unravel in 1951 when Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean (two other members of the Cambridge Five) defected to Moscow. The defection of Philby's two close friends raised questions about Philby's allegiance, resulting in his removal as the MI6 liaison to the CIA. Although Philby remained free for another 12 years, his career as an intelligence officer would never recover. In 1951, Philby returned to Great Britain and, although he eventually left MI6, no charges were brought against him. …

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