MY SILENT WAR by Kim Philby


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Even though right from the Trojan horse's mouth, this lacks the compound excitement of the Page-Knightley-Leitch dossier (p. 377) compiled by the London Times team, although their breaking of the story now (according to Philby) justified the publication of his account which he has written from his sanctuary-study in Moscow. By no means apologetic (he chose sides early on in his life--saw no reason to change), rather agreeable, and definitely matter of fact, Philby discusses here his work with Britain's SIS, gives very little information on his work for Russia, allots a chapter to the touchy Volkov case in 1945 when he was almost exposed, admits that he encouraged Burgess to enable Maclean to escape but added ""don't you go too."" Perhaps what is missing here are some of the personal referrals and revelations which added great interest to the other, fuller book: Philby only says of Burgess that he was apt to get into ""personal scrapes of a spectacular nature"" but doesn't amplify them and muffles altogether his own disreputable conduct between 1956 and 1963. There is never any question of his affiliation or his function--he was not a double agent but ""a straight penetration agent working in the Soviet interest."" What does emerge are (sometimes corrective) facts about the SIS and his associates and friends (Graham Greene; Malcolm Muggeridge) there; details on procedures--say how to open a foreign diplomatic bag; random comments on institutions (the FBI in ""sorry shape"") and people (Hoover and Eisenhower etc.) so that his is micro-dotted with marginalia which is fascinating and supplements the other book--probably the general reader's choice.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1968
Publisher: Grove