A Spy Among Friends

Kim Philby was the epitome of the upper middle class British boy. He started his schooling in a horribly brutal boarding school, then went to Eton and then on to Cambridge just like everyone else he knew. But Philby had a deep aversion to rules. He hated keeping them and would do everything he could think of to wiggle out of obeying them. He considered his greatest skill to be making friends and he was very good at that. And  he could also keep a secret - like the one about his being in a Pro-Nazi group in his youth.

He entered the British secret service by dropping hints among people he knew and then he just waited. He didn't have to wait long. He was hired into MI6 Section D (for destruction) and was sent into covert training. On leave from this training he met Nicholas Elliott. Their fathers were friends and so were they. Philby prepared British spies for occupied Europe and Elliott intercepted foreign spies sent to Britain. Philby was in the perfect position as he now knew who was both coming and going.

Elliott began to emulate Philby. They rose rapidly through the ranks and both were eventually placed into counter intelligence. They served together at Bletchley Park. Everything Elliott told Philby, Philby automatically transmitted to the Russians. Philby soon  added Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt to his group. With the addition of  Donald MacLean, and John Cairncross the group became known as "The Cambridge Six."

Most people think Philby was a spy for Germany. No, he was a spy for Russia. He was responsible for passing along thousands of pieces of information and for the destruction of many lives. He spied in Spain, Britain and he passed along American intelligence. He was a one man wrecking machine and he got away with it because he was "charming."  He was the subject of several investigations, but never charged most likely because his friend, Guy Lidell, was the head of counter-intelligence. A defecting Soviet spy mention that there was a Soviet spy in the British intelligence but he never mentioned Philby's name. Philby was eventually outed by an acquaintance, a most anti-climatic end.

This book is not an autobiography and it is not told through official file information. The files are still sealed. It is told through secondary source material and told it is. Fast paced, it reads like a spy novel, which is really what it is. But you couldn't make this story up - no one would believe it. Except that it's true.

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