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In the annals of espionage, one name towers above all others: that of H.A.R. “Kim” Philby, the ringleader of the legendary Cambridge spies. A member of the British establishment, Philby joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1940, rose to the head of Soviet counterintelligence, and, as MI6’s liaison with the CIA and the FBI, betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians, fatally compromising covert actions to roll back the Iron Curtain in the early years of the Cold War.

Written from Moscow in 1967, My Silent War shook the world and introduced a new archetype in fiction: the unrepentant spy. It inspired John le Carré’s Smiley novels and the later espionage novels of Graham Greene. Kim Philby was history’s most successful spy. He was also an exceptional writer who gave us the great iconic story of the Cold War and revolutionized, in the process, the art of espionage writing.

From Publishers Weekly

Treachery is the subject of My Silent War: The Autobiography of a Spy, the 1968 memoir of Kim Philby, the double agent who headed the Cambridge Five spy ring that fed British and American WWII and Cold War intelligence to the Soviet Union. Philby became a communist and Soviet agent in the 1930s, then easily joined MI6 and rose to be head of British Counterintelligence before seeking asylum in Moscow in 1963 (where he lived until his death in 1988). Back in print after 12 years, Philby''s riveting, psychologically acute tale of spycraft offers a rather unflattering picture of the British secret service, and also addresses why he remained committed to communism even after revelations of Stalin''s crimes.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Far more gripping than any novel of espionage I can remember.” —Graham Greene

“To this day I am convinced that he was not an ideologue. Spying was just his way of being above lesser mortals.” —Nigel West

“Addictive . . . highly polished . . . written with style and a feline sense of irony, making it a much better read than any of the other Philby literature.” — The Guardian

“Philby has no home, no women, no faith. Behind the inbred upper-class arrogance, the taste for adventure, lies the self-hate of a vain misfit for whom nothing will ever be worthy of his loyalty. In the last instance, Philby is driven by the incurable drug of deceit itself.” —John le Carré

From the Inside Flap

s of espionage, one name towers above all others: that of H.A.R. “Kim” Philby, the ringleader of the legendary Cambridge spies. A member of the British establishment, Philby joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1940, rose to the head of Soviet counterintelligence, and, as MI6’s liaison with the CIA and the FBI, betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians, fatally compromising covert actions to roll back the Iron Curtain in the early years of the Cold War.

Written from Moscow in 1967, My Silent War shook the world and introduced a new archetype in fiction: the unrepentant spy. It inspired John le Carré’s Smiley novels and the later espionage novels of Graham Greene. Kim Philby was history’s most successful spy. He was also an exceptional writer who gave us the great iconic story of the Cold War and revolutionized, in the process, the art of espionage writing.

From the Back Cover

In the annals of espionage, one name towers above all others: that of H.A.R. "Kim" Philby, the ringleader of the legendary Cambridge spies. A member of the British establishment, Philby joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1940, rose to the head of Soviet counterintelligence, and, as MI6''s liaison with the CIA and the FBI, betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians, fatally compromising covert actions to roll back the Iron Curtain in the early years of the Cold War.
Written from Moscow in 1967, "My Silent War shook the world and introduced a new archetype in fiction: the unrepentant spy. It inspired John le Carre''s Smiley novels and the later espionage novels of Graham Greene. Kim Philby was history''s most successful spy. He was also an exceptional writer who gave us the great iconic story of the Cold War and revolutionized, in the process, the art of espionage writing.

About the Author

Phillip Knightley is a journalist and the author of Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby.

Graham Greene was a member of the SIS and one of the most highly regarded English novelists of the twentieth century. Among his many works are The Power and the Glory, The Human Factor, Our Man in Havana, and The Third Man.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I. Taken On by the Secret Service

It was in the summer of 1940, to the best of my knowledge, that I first made contact with the British secret service. It was a subject that had interested me for some years. In Nazi Germany and later in Spain, where I served as correspondent for The Times with General Franco''s forces, I had half expected an approach. I was confident that I would recognize my man the moment he made his first cautious soundings. He would be lean, and bronzed, of course, with a clipped moustache, clipped accents and, most probably, a clipped mind. He would ask me to stick my neck out for my country and frown austerely if I mentioned pay. But no, nothing happened. If anybody did size me up during that time, he found me wanting. The only intelligence officer who took the slightest interest in me during my Spanish days was German, a certain Major von der Osten, alias Don Julio, who died early in the World War in a motor accident in New York. He used to take me to Abwehr headquarters in the Convento de las Esclavas in Burgos, and explain his large wall maps dotted with the usual coloured pins. He dined and wined me in desultory fashion for a year or so, and it proved a useful contact as far as it went. It emerged in due course that his real interest in me was to get an introduction to a lady of my acquaintance. When I obliged him, he propositioned her forthwith, both espionage-wise and otherwise. She turned him down indignantly on both counts, and his manner to me became distant.

When the World War broke out, The Times sent me to Arras as their correspondent accredited to the Headquarters of the British Army. By June 1940 I was back in England, having been evacuated twice, from Boulogne and from Brest. In London, I had written two or three pieces for The Times, winding up the campaign and pointing its various morals. I have no idea what I wrote and, having just read the pungent comments on the campaign in Liddell-Hart''s memoirs, I am grateful for the lapse of memory.* I must have produced dreadful rubbish. The main point was that, by the end of June, I was at a loose end. The Times showed no disposition to get rid of me or to overload me with work. Thus I had ample leisure to plot my future, if only I could make a good guess at the nature of the background I had to plot it against.

I decided early to leave The Times, considerate though they had always been to me. Army field censorship had killed my interest in war correspondence. Try writing a war report without mentioning a single place-name or designating a single unit and you will see what I mean.? Besides, the idea of writing endlessly about the morale of the British Army at home appalled me. But, in decid- ing to leave The Times, I had to remember that my call-up was fast approaching. I had no intention of losing all control of my fate through conscription into the army. It was therefore with increasing concern that I watched various irons I had put in the fire, nudging one or other of them as they appeared to hot up. I had one promising interview, arranged by a mutual friend, with Frank Birch, a leading light in the Government Code & Cypher School, a crypt-analytical establishment which cracked enemy (and friendly) codes. He finally turned me down, on the infuriating ground that he could not offer me enough money to make it worth my while. Disconsolately, I went to Holloway for my medical.

A few days later, Ralph Deakin, then Foreign News Editor of The Times, summoned me to his office. He bulged his eyes at me, puffed out his cheeks and creased his forehead, habits of his when upset. A certain Captain Leslie Sheridan, of the War Office, had telephoned to ask whether I was "available for war work." Sheridan had not impressed Deakin. He had claimed to be a journalist on the grounds of a previous association with the Daily Mirror. In short, Deakin wanted no part of the affair, and pressed me to let the matter drop. I was sorry to disappoint him. Although I had never heard of Sheridan, I strongly suspected that one of my irons was glowing bright. I decided to strike before it cooled, and immediately followed up the enquiry.

Soon afterwards I found myself in the forecourt of St. Ermin''s Hotel, near St. James''s Park station, talking to Miss Marjorie Maxse. She was an intensely likeable elderly lady (then almost as old as I am now). I had no idea then, as I have no idea now, what her precise position in government was. But she spoke with authority, and was evidently in a position at least to recommend me for "interesting" employment. At an early stage of our talk, she turned the subject to the possibilities of political work against the Germans in Europe. For ten years, I had taken a serious interest in international politics; I had wandered about Europe in a wide arc from Portugal to Greece; I had already formed some less than half-baked ideas on the subversion of the Nazi regime. So I was reasonably well equipped to talk to Miss Maxse. I was helped by the fact that very few people in England at that early date had given serious thought to the subject. Miss Maxse''s own ideas had been in the oven very little longer than mine.

I passed this first examination. As we parted, Miss Maxse asked me to meet her again at the same place a few days later. At our second meeting, she turned up accompanied by Guy Burgess,* whom I knew well. I was put through my paces again. Encouraged by Guy''s presence, I began to show off, name-dropping shamelessly, as one does at interviews. From time to time, my interlocutors exchanged glances; Guy would nod gravely and approvingly. It turned out that I was wasting my time, since a decision had already been taken. Before we parted, Miss Maxse informed me that, if I agreed, I should sever my connection with The Times and report for duty to Guy Burgess at an address in Caxton Street, in the same block as the St. Ermin''s Hotel.

The Times gave me little difficulty. Deakin huffed and sighed a little, but he had nothing spectacular to offer me. So I left Printing House Square without fanfare, in a manner wholly appropriate to the new, secret and important career for which I imagined myself heading. I decided that it was my duty to profit from the experiences of the only secret service man of my acquaintance. So I spent the weekend drinking with Guy Burgess. On the following Monday, I reported to him formally. We both had slight headaches.

The organization to which I became attached called itself the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). It was also widely known as MI5, while to the innocent public at large it was simply the secret service. The ease of my entry surprised me. It appeared later that the only enquiry made into my past was a routine reference to MI5, who passed my name through their records and came back with the laconic statement: Nothing Recorded Against. Today, every new spy scandal in Britain produces a flurry of judicial statements on the subject of "positive vetting." But in that happier Eden positive vetting had never been heard of. Sometimes, in the early weeks, I felt that perhaps I had not made the grade after all. It seemed that somewhere, lurking in deep shadow, there must be another service, really secret and really powerful, capable of backstairs machination on such a scale as to justify the perennial suspicions of, say, the French.But it soon became clear that such was not the case. It was the death of an illusion. Its passing caused me no pain.

Guy first took me to the office that had been assigned to me. It was a small room with a table, a chair and a telephone, and nothing else. With a snort of annoyance, Guy disappeared down the corridor and came back with a sheaf of foolscap which he laid on the table. Satisfied that I was now fully equipped for my duties, he told me that my salary would be the same as his: £600 per annum, paid monthly in cash and no nonsense from the Inland Revenue. No snooping after a single secret shilling! In fact, the secrecy of pay-scales concealed gross inequalities. Each contract was theoretically a private, secret one between the Chief and his subordinate. And if the Chief could get A cheaper than B, whatever their respective merits, he would be silly not to do so. However, I was quite happy with the arrangement, and I was then taken off to be introduced to some of my future colleagues. As they play no substantial part in my story, I shall not embarrass them by mentioning their names.

The section of SIS in which I found myself was known as Section D (for Destruction). I never saw its charter-if it had one. From talks with my colleagues, I gathered that the object of the section was to help defeat the enemy by stirring up active resistance to his domination and destroying, by non-military means, the sources of his power. The head of the section was Colonel Lawrence Grand,? to whom I was introduced a few days after joining his staff. Tall and lean, he looked startlingly like the dream-figure who should have approached me in Germany or Spain. The difference was that his mind was certainly not clipped. It ranged free and handsome over the whole field of his awesome responsibilities, never shrinking from an idea, however big or wild.

Much attention was focused at that time on attacking the Iron Gates of the Danube, to interrupt the supply of Rumanian oil to the Germans. I had seen the Iron Gates, and was duly impressed by the nerve of colleagues who spoke of "blowing them up," as if it were a question of destroying the pintle of a lock-gate in the Regent''s Canal. Such an attempt was hopelessly out of keeping with the slender resources of Section D in 1940. When it was finally made, it was discovered and nipped in the bud by the Yugoslav police, causing the British Government some embarrassment. The same disparity between ends and means appeared in suggestions that Hitler''s oil supply could be seriously interrupted by "putting the Baku oilfields out of action." I have since seen the Baku oilfields, and amused myself mildly by wondering how I would launch such an enterprise, assuming that I started from a base in Cairo. Even in 1940, I would have dismissed such talk as fantasy, if I had not attended a press conference in Arras given by General Pownall, then Chief of Staff to Lord Gort,* in which he said that, given the strength of the Siegfried Line, better prospects might be offered by an attack through the Caucasus. If successful, such an attack would open "Germany''s weak eastern defences" to Anglo-French assault.

Grand never had the resources to carry out his ideas, though they were given freely to his successors. His London staff could fit easily into a large drawing-room. We regularly did so on Sundays at his headquarters in the country, where plans, plans, plans were the inexhaustible topics of discussion. In the field, he had little more than bits and scraps. His efforts to get a larger slice of the secret cake were frowned on by the older and more firmly based intelligence-gathering side of the service. Starting from the valid premise that sabotage and subversion are inherently insecure (the authors of bangs are liable to detection), the intelligence people rushed happily to the invalid conclusion that bangs were a waste of time and money, diverting resources from the silent spy. Thus Grand''s demands on the Treasury and on the armed services were often blocked within the service. At best, they were given lukewarm support.

On the side of political subversion, the difficulties were even more serious, because they involved fundamental aspects of British policy. By and large, the British Government had accustomed itself to supporting the monarchs and oligarchs of Europe. Such men were strongly averse to any form of subversion. The only people likely to support any sort of resistance to Hitler were the Left-wing movements: the peasant parties, the Social-Democrats and the Communists. Only they were likely to risk their lives by continuing resistance after the Germans had engulfed their countries. Yet they were extremely unlikely to stir for the sake of a British Government which insisted on playing footsie with the King Carols and the Prince Pauls who had systematically persecuted them between the wars. Thus the ideologues of subversion in Britain started out under a heavy handicap imposed by the Foreign Office which failed to see until much too late that, whatever the outcome of the war, the sun of its favourite puppets had set for ever. Small wonder that, when the crunch came, the resistance movements leant so heavily towards the Soviet Union, and that the balance was only restored in France, Italy and Greece by a massive Anglo-American military presence.

For reasons of security and convenience, all SIS officers are given symbols which are used in correspondence and conversation. Grand was naturally D. His sub-section heads were known as DA, DB and so on; and their assistants were distinguished by the addition of numerals, e.g. DA-1. Guy was DU. According to normal practice, therefore, I should have been DU-1. But Guy explained, with heavy delicacy, that the symbol DU-1 might have implied some subordination of myself to him; he wanted us to be regarded as equals. He solved the dilemma by giving me a third letter instead of a final numeral, and he chose the letter D. Thus he launched me on my secret service career branded with the symbol DUD.

DU was not the ideal starting-point for what I had in mind. I wanted to find out how it was organized and what it was doing. But Guy, following his own predilections, had turned DU into a sort of ideas factory. He regarded himself as a wheel, throwing off ideas like sparks as it revolved. Where the sparks fell he did not seem to care. He spent a long time in other people''s offices, propounding his ideas. As he warmed to his themes, shouts of raucous laughter would drift down the corridor to my office where I sat thinking or reading the newspapers. After a hard morning''s talking, Guy would return to my office, chortling and dimpling, and suggest going out for a drink.

One day in July, Guy came into my office bringing some papers for a change. They were pages of a memorandum written by himself. Grand had given general approval to its contents, and had asked for further study and elaboration of the subject. For that Guy needed my help. I was excessively pleased. From long experience, I knew that "helping" Guy meant taking all the donkey work off his hands. But as I had done literally nothing for two weeks, I would have been glad of any work. I took the papers and Guy sat down on my table to watch my face for signs of appreciation.

It was a characteristic production: lots of good sense embedded to the point of concealment in florid epigram and shaky quotation. (Guy had quotations to meet almost any emergency, but he never bothered to verify them.) What he proposed was the establishment of a school for training agents in the techniques of underground work. It was an astonishing proposal, not because it was made, but because it had not been made before. No such school existed. Guy argued the case for its necessity, obvious now but new then. He outlined the subjects of a syllabus. At the end, he suggested that such a college should be named the "Guy Fawkes College" to commemorate an unsuccessful conspirator "who had been foiled by the vigilance of the Elizabethan SIS." It was a neat touch. He could hardly have proposed "Guy Burgess College."

At last, I had got my teeth into something. I broke the subject up into its component parts: syllabus, selection of trainees, security, accommodation and so on, and produced a memorandum on each. I have forgotten most of what I wrote and, in view of the huge training establishment that gradually developed, I hope that my first modest paper on the subject no longer exists. Having deposited his shower of sparks into my lap, Guy seemed to lose interest in a fresh riot of ideas. But it was not so. He saw that Grand read my papers, and arranged committees to discuss them. I did not take to committee work then, and have never taken to it since. Every committee has a bugbear. My bugbear on the training committee was a certain Colonel Chidson.* He had played an astute part in rescuing a lot of industrial diamonds from Hitler in Poland, but to me he was a pain in the neck. He had visions of anarchy stalking Europe, and resisted bitterly the whole idea of letting a lot of thugs loose on the continent. One day, I spotted him coming towards me in Lower Regent Street. A moment later, he saw me and froze in his tracks. In a swift recovery, he turned up his coat collar and dived into a side-street. Our training school had evidently become very necessary.

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4.1 out of 54.1 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Hamilton Beck
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Clever Kim
Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2016
Philby claims to have enjoyed good luck so consistent it never deserted him over an entire lifetime. Lucky Kim, indeed. And although this claim has been repeated by many reviewers and commentators, it too is part of his legend. The truth is that he was well-trained and... See more
Philby claims to have enjoyed good luck so consistent it never deserted him over an entire lifetime. Lucky Kim, indeed. And although this claim has been repeated by many reviewers and commentators, it too is part of his legend. The truth is that he was well-trained and professional, and it was these qualities – in addition to luck – that saved him time and again, as illustrated in the first chapter, about his narrow escape after being detained in Cordoba. True luck would have been if the Spanish police had searched him and somehow missed the incriminating scrap of paper.

The real lesson of this episode is that even when cornered, Philby never stopped thinking of a way out, never stopped scheming. He did the same when confronted by his old friend Nicholas Elliott in Beirut, an episode not covered in this book. On that occasion, his seeming cooperation bought him enough time to arrange for his escape to Moscow. So in both Spain and Lebanon, luck was only part of it – the lesser part. He got away because he used the strategy of buying time by deflecting attention. Clever Kim.

In these pages, he makes no mention of his various wives, Nicholas Elliott, or John le Carré, to name just a few. He passes over the Baltic states in silence. Still, while this autobiography may not be very truthful, it is well written. Here are some of my favorite passages.

"I have found that advertising people can be relied on for two things. First, they will warn you on no account to go into advertising; second, they will expatiate at length on the dirtier tricks of their profession."

"Our commandant, John Munn, was a young colonel of the sensible military type, as opposed to the no-nonsense military, the mystical military and the plain-silly military."

"Ignorance and arrogance make a bad combination, and the Saudi Arabians have both in generous measure. When an outward show of austerity is thrown in as well, the mixture is intolerable."

"I am sure that tribal courage is legendary only in the sense that it is legend, and that the wild mountaineer is as brave as a lion only in the sense that the lion (very sensibly) avoids combat unless assured of weak opposition and a fat meal at the end of it."
8 people found this helpful
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Bot
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More of a bureaucracy study than a James Bond story
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2021
I was hoping for some detailed descriptions of real-life spy situations, and there are a few in here, but most of the writing is an extremely detailed description of how the British spying organizations developed and changed over the years from the Spanish civil war through... See more
I was hoping for some detailed descriptions of real-life spy situations, and there are a few in here, but most of the writing is an extremely detailed description of how the British spying organizations developed and changed over the years from the Spanish civil war through the cold war. More than cloak and dagger stories, there are stories on how and why Kim buddied up to some officials, avoided others, and managed to move up through a constantly evolving group of organizations. There is a lot of emphasis on how the different groups competed and fought jealously over control of spying authority. This is more of a book on corporate advancement than spying techniques.
And like the other reviews state, we never meet the real man, and never understand his lifelong devotion communism.
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Pam Getwick
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
AUTOBIOGRAPHY........in his own words!
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2021
It was riveting to read this autobiography in the own words of one of the most infamous spies in history.......
Wish more focus was on him rather than the politics....though I’m sure it is vital to the historical perspective.
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G. Keenan
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Soviet Edited Propaganda
Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2011
If you''re looking for any understanding of why Kim Philby betrayed his country for so many years you won''t find it here. The book is more a series of chapter length anecdotal stories about events we already have learned more about elsewhere. What does show through though is... See more
If you''re looking for any understanding of why Kim Philby betrayed his country for so many years you won''t find it here. The book is more a series of chapter length anecdotal stories about events we already have learned more about elsewhere. What does show through though is his ego centric disdain for the rest of the "players" in his world.

Don''t expect to read about his early years, his many marriages, his motivations or his reaction to Khruschev''s 1956 lifting the veil on Stalin''s terror years. Not here.

For a better understanding of Philby and his co conspirators - read "My Cambridge Friends" by Yuri Modin. Modin was his KGB handler and the handler of most of the other Cambridge crew : Cairncross, Burgess, McClean and Blunt. McClain apparently was the most destructive of the 5 for he provided strategic political insight to Soviet leadership. Philby, though devastating to western spy networks and the longest serving of the 5 (except perhaps for Blunt), didn''t so much alter the course of world politics and power but the way the "game" was played.

I don''t know who the royalties for this book go to. But I wouldn''t be wanting to make charitable contributions to them. It wasn''t in Philby''s nature to be charitable.
17 people found this helpful
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Jessie
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loyal Spy
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2010
Very good book. Well written. Simply put, Philby was true to the cause he believed in. How wrong was this really? Makes you wonder. Before I read the book my opinion of Philby was cut and dried: TRAITOR! After reading his autobiography I am left with questions as to... See more
Very good book. Well written. Simply put, Philby was true to the cause he believed in. How wrong was this really? Makes you wonder. Before I read the book my opinion of Philby was cut and dried: TRAITOR! After reading his autobiography I am left with questions as to how mistaken were his loyalties to the "wrong"(in our opinion) philosophy. Be as it may, he was loyal to the very end, and with no material gain (unlike other spies). Make no mistake, he will always be a monster and a spy, but he was doing his job, one he believed in and dedicated all of his life to. He should not, and cannot ever be forgiven for what he did, but perhaps better understood for his motivation.
11 people found this helpful
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Kim
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Ho humm
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2015
It begins in an interesting manner but I kept waiting for some reflective reasoning behind his political considerations. This never happens. Philby continues the book with brief oversights of this and that event in a condescending manner & ends it. Nothing...no... See more
It begins in an interesting manner but I kept waiting for some reflective reasoning behind his political considerations. This never happens. Philby continues the book with brief oversights of this and that event in a condescending manner & ends it. Nothing...no information not found in other recounts.
5 people found this helpful
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F. S. L'hoir
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Kim Philby''s Autobiography: a Must for Spy-Buffs
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2005
"My Silent War" presents a witty and literate glimpse into the subtle mind of one of the KGB''s most successful spies, Kim Philby. The Cambridge graduate had thoroughly penetrated MI6 and was being groomed to be "C", or head of British Intelligence (although some writers... See more
"My Silent War" presents a witty and literate glimpse into the subtle mind of one of the KGB''s most successful spies, Kim Philby. The Cambridge graduate had thoroughly penetrated MI6 and was being groomed to be "C", or head of British Intelligence (although some writers including Nigel West dispute this) during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, when he was finally unmasked because of the flight of his fellow Cambridge spies, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.

Kim Philby, according to Seale and McConville, has become a "caricature" of "Western demonology," a "byword of reproach," the deadly "viper" in the "trusting bosom of his country" ("Philby: The Long Road to Moscow," 1978, 13). Nigel West''s characterization of "My Silent War" as a "vitriolic" memoir illustrates this (even though his assessment of Philby in "The Friends" [1988, 51-68], is otherwise balanced). As evidence of "vitriol" he presents Philby''s judgment ("MSW,"109) of Sir Stewart Menzies ("C" of MI6) as an intellectually "unimpressive . . . fairly cloistered son of the upper levels of the British establishment" whose attitudes [as far as counterespionage was concerned] were "schoolboyish-- bars, beards, and blonds"--an assessment that West himself confirms in "The Friends" (117). "Vitriol" in this instance and truth do not seem to be mutually exclusive. Was Menzies truly "hounded" by Philby''s words? In retrospect, they seem rather mild when compared to those of John Le Carre (a.k.a. David Cornwell of MI5--eternal rival of MI6) in respect to Philby in the MI5-agent-turned-best-selling-author''s introduction to Page, Leitch, and Knightley''s "Philby: The Spy who Betrayed a Generation" (1969, 24). Le Carre writes: "In ten year''s time [Philby] may be stopping British tourists in the Moscow streets. Imagine that leaky-eye and whisky-voice, that hesitant, soft-footed charm [.]"

Now THAT is vitriol!

Demonizing only impedes historical truth, as far as it can ever be discerned. Yes, Philby wrote in Moscow under the noses of the KGB, and was therefore selective in his reminiscences, but "My Silent War," written in lucid prose, never ceases to fascinate. Raising as many questions as it answers, the book never sinks to Communist Propaganda-- Philby is too clever by far, and too competent a writer. An absorbing read, Kim Philby'' s autobiography fully deserves its niche in the "Modern Library" series.
28 people found this helpful
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Selma Andella
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very good
Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2021
As it was expected! I will buy more items from this company.
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Alma Lavandeery
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Why was it even written?!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2018
The book is a big disappointment, albeit peppered with some good writing and witty remarks. It is mostly a very long drawn list of who''s-who in the intelligence community of that era, and who did/said what. There are no revelations whatsoever, and no personal insights, but...See more
The book is a big disappointment, albeit peppered with some good writing and witty remarks. It is mostly a very long drawn list of who''s-who in the intelligence community of that era, and who did/said what. There are no revelations whatsoever, and no personal insights, but a few witty remarks about personalities around him. I don''t even understand why this book was written! While I could understand why Philby could not divulge the entire chapter of his recruitment and the way in which he had passed on information to the Soviets, since the book was published in the cold war era still and such revelations would have compromised Soviet intelligence to which he was dedicated, I do not understand why he did not reveal any genuine personal thoughts, which would not have compromised anyone, but which would have given meaning to his book. The "cover persona" he mentioned on the last pages is the one from which he wrote the book, hence, it was really pointless, as he just delivered the facade he had delivered over his 30 years of work. Some personal thoughts, feelings, convictions, ideas, conflicts, whatever, would have given the book more value. A mere list of who did what and said what when with his "cover persona" maintained throughout renders the book a big disappointment!
8 people found this helpful
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dreamflower
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 23, 2021
I found this a bit of a tedious read with nothing much of interest. If you’re interested in the Cambridge Five Roland Phillips book on Donald Maclean is outstanding: will written and fascinating.
4 people found this helpful
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Georgay
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Difficult to motivate oneself to read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2019
My first impulse is anger at what Philby and other Cambridge Spies did causing no doubt the death and torture of people. I still haven''t read it as I can''t bring myself to read the words of this man who will try to justify his actions. I will read his book some day.
4 people found this helpful
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Roz
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Quite good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 4, 2018
Not as interesting as I thought it would be. For someone who wants to know about Philby''s actions, but he doesn''t give much away about his motivation.
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Ginger to White
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Written a long time ago and it shows in its ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 11, 2015
Written a long time ago and it shows in its style. It gives insight into Kim Philby''s views and take on things - if hat can be believed. Nothing revelatory and I ended up asking myself is this a story explaining what was done and why, is it disinformation to seed the plot...See more
Written a long time ago and it shows in its style. It gives insight into Kim Philby''s views and take on things - if hat can be believed. Nothing revelatory and I ended up asking myself is this a story explaining what was done and why, is it disinformation to seed the plot of another spy left hanging in the air? Who knows, who cares it was worth a read but could have covered some of his life in his chosen country.
3 people found this helpful
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