Review: A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre

Ben Macintyre is a great storyteller, but to be fair, this is a great story just waiting to be told.

Kim Philby is certainly a contender for the title of ‘most successful spy of all time’. Recruited to the Soviet cause while at Cambridge in the 1930s, recruited to the British secret service at the beginning of the Second World War, he went on to lead its counter-espionage operations for years — while serving as a Soviet spy. His loyalties were never in doubt: Philby believed in and served the Stalinist cause until he died in Moscow just as the Soviet system began to collapse.

Macintyre chooses to focus his story on the role of friendship, for Philby was a great friend to many and valued friendship above almost everything else. But he also betrayed those friends (including his wives). Those friends, including almost the entire senior leadership of MI6, took years to accept the fact of his betrayal. He could not have been a traitor, they believed, because he was “one of us”.

Highly recommended.