THE PHILBY CONSPIRACY by Bruce; Phillip Knightley & David Leitch Page
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THE PHILBY CONSPIRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like Kipling's hero of the same name, Kim Philby was a man ""with two separate sides to his head""--half of which was working for England's Secret Intelligence Service, the other half for Russia for over thirty years in what must be certainly the most high handed chapters of the Great Game. He was also the Third Man, unidentified for years while suspected by M.I. 5 (and protected by Macmillan and the above SIS) who tipped off Burgess and Maclean. This tri-partite collaboration by three writers of the Sunday Times (based on the exhaustive research of a twenty man team) is also the tri-partite story of Philby, Burgess and Maclean who knew each other at Cambridge where they were first imbued with the Marxian mystique. But it was also this select background which, as Le Carre points out in his introduction, protected him as an ""upper class enemy of our blood who hunted with our pack."" In the pack, Cyril Connolly, Philip Toynbee, Harold Nicolson, among others. What we have here, then, however ""massively incomplete"" is still an exhaustive and complicated dossier on Philby as he worked his way via an undistinguished journalistic post into the SIS (and also the CIA); his particular personal charm but also a certain remoteness and a contained violence; his near exposure in 1945 when a Russian agent (whom Philby got rid of) offered to sell information, and again after the Maclean-Burgess departure and through the mock trial a year later. In the last years in Beirut, Philby began to manifest the same stress symptoms as Maclean, until finally he disappeared to surface again in Moscow . . . . The Philby Conspiracy is not only one of the notorious gaffes of our time, but authors Page, Knightley & Leitch have converted it into one of the genuinely sobering and fascinating narratives of livewire deception and defection.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1968
Publisher: Doubleday