The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years

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9780880642194: The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years

Masterspy Kim Philby's secret life is far stronger than any spy fiction. Recruited by the Soviet KGB at Cambridge in the 1930s, he made his way into the British Secret Intelligence Service where he became head of its anti-Soviet section, then liaison officer in Washington with the CIA and FBI—revealing everything he learned to his Moscow bosses. He was in the running to become chief of the British service, but following the defection of two of his fellow spies in 1951, Philby found himself under a persistent cloud of suspicion and he eventually fled himself in 1963. Before he died in Moscow in 1988, Philby had become a symbol in the West of Soviet-inspired treachery—an Englishman from a privileged background who had betrayed the entire free world. With interviews by Hayden Peake and an introduction by Michael Lubimov, Rufina Philby's memoir of her notorious husband provides a portrait of the masterspy that reveals how much he had previously managed to conceal.

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About the Author:

Rufina Philby was married to Kim Philby for 18 years up to his death in Moscow in 1988 where she continues to live.

From Kirkus Reviews:

This text on a fabled espionage case proves to be, like spying itself, occasionally hair- raising and frequently boring, with scant material about three decades of one man's treachery. Kim Philby, highly placed in the British Secret Service, became the most famous undercover agent of the Cold War. He eventually defected to the Soviet Union, where he spent his last 25 years. Philby's Russian widow (his fourth wife), recounting life in their Moscow flat, presents quotidian details of his generally dull existence after a career of stunning duplicity. Depicted as honest, decent, and permanently devoted to communism, Kim remained an unreconstructed Brit. He completed the Times's crossword puzzles, nibbled matzos in lieu of English water biscuits, smoked too much, and drank to excess. His retirement on a KGB general's pension (though he never attained the rank) was not much different from many a bourgeois corporate executive'sexcept, of course, for the bugged apartment and the ubiquitous KGB escorts and case officers. Though Kim had much to offer, his spymasters, naturally suspicious, underutilized him. No more John Le Carr life for Philby. The major part of the book, Rufina's tale of a burned-out case and what he was like at home, is, frankly, a bit pedestrian. The spy's own memoirs (previously unpublished), including his recollection of recruitment by the Soviets, is more absorbing. His lecture to KGB freshmen reveals a true corporate mentality, and his admonition against confession bears no hint of own predefection admissions. Appended is a wonderfully sarcastic essay by former KGB operative Lyubimov. Former CIA officer Peake provides a detailed chronology and a critical bibliography. For fans of espionage, here's a detailed footnote to the oft-told story of a senior turncoat and his Cambridge colleagues. To Western sensibilities, however, the presentation of this notorious mole as a man of integrity is a tough sell, indeed. (16 pages photos) -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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