The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby

Phillip Knightley, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-394-57890-3
Knightley ( The Second Oldest Profession ) obtained a series of remarkably frank interviews with Kim Philby not long before his death last year, and from them has written an intimate portrait of the man widely regarded as the most successful penetration agent in the history of espionage. Philby's conversations ranged widely, including discussions of the origins of his political convictions, his stint as war correspondent in Spain, his friendships with fellow KGB agents Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess, his life in Russia following his 1963 defection, and his views on patriotism, honor and the human condition. Philby claims, convincingly, that he was forced to defect by British authorities who wanted to avoid the scandal that his arrest would have provoked. This is but one of innumerable revelations of utmost interest to students of modern espionage. Another: that a covert FBI operation directed by J. Edgar Hoover went awry in 1956 and, instead of exposing Philby as planned, enabled him to continue working for the KGB for seven more years. Knightley concludes that Philby ``died happy, fulfilled and unracked by guilt.'' The book is a journalistic coup of the first order. Photos. 50,000 first printing. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-679-72688-3
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