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Summary

Bloomsbury presents A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre, read by Michael Tudor Barnes.

The Sunday Times number-one best-selling story of Kim Philby, history’s most famous traitor, featuring an afterword by John le Carré.

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.

Philby’s 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. This is a story of intimate duplicity, of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience, of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and well-made suits in the comfortable clubs and restaurants of London and Washington, of male friendships forged and then systematically betrayed.

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.

©2014 Ben Macintyre. Afterword copyright © David Cornwell 2014. (P)2021 Soundings Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"An engaging book on a tantalising and ultimately tragic subject, If it starts as a study of friendship, it ends as an indictment." (Philip Hensher, Spectator)

"No one writes about deceit and subterfuge so dramatically, authoritatively or perceptively. To read A Spy Among Friends is a bit like climbing aboard a runaway train in terms of speed and excitement - except that Macintyre knows exactly where he is going and is in total control of his material." (Daily Mail, Books of the Week)

"It reads like fiction, which is testament to the extraordinary power of the story itself but also to the skills of the storyteller...at least as compelling as any of the great fictionalised accounts of Britain's greatest traitor and one of the best real-life spy stories one is ever likely to read." (Daily Express)

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Excellent narration of a brilliantly written book.

The story is almost unbelievable but it is true. The book is very well witten and researched. The excellent narration added to the book. I could not stop listening. Just great!

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amazing story

I had heard of Kim Philby but knew nothing more than that he was a British double agent who had escaped to the USSR. This book has revealed so much and painted an era of British mandarins relying on the old school boy network ... especially the Etonian network! I wonder how much of this is still relevant today in British Tory politics?

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an eye opener for sure...

Not really sure why I chose this audio but I do like John Le Carre so maybe that was in the background. Really glad I did what ever the reasons. There must be few people over the age of 60 who have not heard of the Cambridge Spies, Anthony Blunt being the third man, Guy Burgess and the notorious Kim Philby. This book looks beyond the tabloid coverage and sensationalism at the time. Philbys incredible betrayal of friends, family and country is hard to fathom and deeply unsettling. Philby was perhaps a product of his age and class but this book is startling in its detail and uncovered stuff that left me with my mouth open, although on reflection it should not have done. The world in which these British spies operated was a world riddled with class and snobbery - he comes from a good family ergo he is not a KGB spy. For years and years they operated and destroyed people and countries trust. Maybe they still do. I was horrified and fascinated in equal measure. Also suprised at the young ages of the protagonists - in their early 20's. Philby was a man who was loved and admired by his friends and family, gaining deep, unwavering loyalty in most. It is hard to see why in this book but then its not there to dwell on the human side of Philby and its often difficult to put that across successfully. The recording is a little patchy in places and the background noise in one of the later chapters - (7 or 8) was a bit distracting but that is a very minor detail. The narration is good but the accents leave a bit to be desired, not the narrators strong point. There are also a few odd pauses - that is nit picking but good to be aware of. If you have any interest in spies or the cold war that is not fiction look no further. I might even take a subscription to BritBox to see this adapted for the small screen

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superb

Forensic analysis of Kim Philby told like a novel. Gripping, almost comical in parts, revealing and thought provoking in equal measure. I Found this through a mention by Richard Osman. Thanks M
r Osman! .

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Outstanding

I'm halfway through the book and am thoroughly engrossed. I was familiar with the Kim Philby story and was wondering if there was anything new to learn but as the book was by Ben Macintyre I didn't hesitate to purchase it. It is superb.There are laugh-out-loud moments (such as the early chapter detailing the eccentricities of some of Nicholas Elliott's family and teachers) coupled with astonishment that the loathsome Philby should have been undetected for the traitor that he was for so long. It is an incredible tale, brilliantly told and expertly narrated by Michael Tudor Barnes. Another triumph by this author who never fails to deliver. Keep 'em comin', Ben!

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Profile Image for JLBOSHOFF
  • JLBOSHOFF
  • 11-05-21

Interesting story

I found the book all in all very interesting and Kim Philby definitely led a crazy double life.

Some parts of the book I found boring with information and character overload. Don't get me wrong, it's a fascinating story but I did struggle through this book. The parts that I enjoyed I was hoping for a little bit more.