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The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby por…
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The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby (edição 1989)

por Phillip Knightley

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1554135,020 (3.66)5
An engrossing biography of the Englishman who became a master spy for the Russians.
Título:The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby
Autores:Phillip Knightley
Informação:Knopf (1989), Hardcover, 292 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca, Para ler (inactive)
Etiquetas:Biography - Kim Philby, Espionage

Pormenores da obra

The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby por Phillip Knightley

  1. 00
    A Perfect Spy por John le Carré (myshelves)
    myshelves: I don't know if Le Carré had Philby in mind, but I couldn't help seeing a connection.
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Imagine if the number 2 or 3 person at the CIA was a Soviet agent. Sounds impossible, right? Not so. Kim Philby was responsible for counter-intelligence for MI-6, the home of James Bond and England's equivalent to the CIA. Philby was a life-long communist agent, a mole in Britain's intelligence establishment.

The Master Spy is his biography - Knightly spent time with Philby in Russia, shortly before his death, and produced this work. It gives enormous insight into what might lead someone to betray their country and send many men to their deaths. ( )
  viking2917 | Feb 4, 2013 |
This is one of the most shocking stories I’ve ever read. This biography shows how Philby went on to destroy British Intelligence as a governmental agency by the time he finally defected to the Soviet Union in 1963. The journalist author Knightly presents Philby very sympathetically. The book opens with Knightly interviewing Philby with almost complete deference. As the book progresses, Knightly becomes only slightly dubious as he realizes Philby is not being completely honest in his answers. By the book’s conclusion Knightly offers some mild criticisms as he lays out Philby’s rationale, not for treason, but for holding to his Communist belief system. Knightly says, “…treachery is an elastic concept and in Philby’s case has more to do with betrayal of his class interests than with betrayal of country.” (p. 262) Knightly goes on to say this his deception was necessary for his political beliefs. Aside from the uncritical assessment of Philby, Knightly has written an important book on the political context for Philby’s machinations. Knightly absolves Philby for being “a political animal,” albeit an abnormal one. This is an evasive judgment but one the author feels qualified to make. I as a reader do not accept it.
Philby’s conversation with Knightly often came to touch on his betrayal of agents who lost their lives. In specific cases Philby never accepts blame nor responsibility for them. Speaking generally he often times says that shedding blood for a political ideal was a virtue of sorts, something to be admired (p. 263). In the majority of the instances he falls back upon parallels with soldiers of war. This is a favorite of tactic of spies. They fancy themselves warriors of a different battlefield. Actually they are not. The Geneva Conventions make clear that only soldiers fall under its protections. Spies do not. For example, in 1944 Philby was said to have passed the names of German Catholic opposition leaders to his controller who had them all shot. The Albanian infiltrators (1951) were betrayed by Philby and he wondered why he was considered bloodthirsty when others were likewise ready “to contemplate bloodshed in the service of a political ideal.” Others may have contemplated it, but Philby carried it out. This is a not so subtle distinction that he was happy to gloss over. Philby said that he felt “very badly about it [betrayal to exceution]” “but then decent soldiers feel badly about the necessity of killing in wartime.” (p. 254) This again is a fallacy since Philby was not a soldier. Philby was involved in the taking of life, but not as a combatant. There is no honor in taking any life but at least the warrior on the battlefield knows that it is Kill! or Be Killed! No one was threatened by Philby but he had them secretly eliminated nonetheless. Essentially, Philby found the moral abyss within himself to place his personal responsibility for his duplicitous behavior. He wreaked violence upon others but not with his own hand. There is a kind of nobility (not glory) in meeting unjust violence with defensive force (basis of just war theory). Philby never claims he was resisting unjust force. He preferred to see himself in the work of supporting Communism (not Socialism) by subverting the Capitalist West. In his attempt to portray himself as outside of ethical condemnation as a Soviet agent, Philby was blind to see that he had been nothing more than foreign mercenary. Sadly for the British, he was the most destructive they had ever seen to be working against them. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Sep 21, 2011 |
The books get's off to a slow start just like a tank but by the time you get rolling it's unstoppable. Such a remarkable real life story about a remarkable individual. I can't get enough recounts of this time period, so exciting in many ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. ( )
  theportal2002 | Jul 22, 2011 |
Veteran foreign correspondent Richard Beeston has chosen to discuss Phillip Knightley's The Master Spy: The Story of Kim Philby on FiveBooks on his list of five books on Spies, Lies and Foreign correspondents, saying that:

"Knightley says he’s the only Western journalist to interview Philby in depth after his defection to the Soviet Union in 1963. The book describes Philby as ‘an establishment figure who betrayed the West, who decided to go against his class and his upbringing for what he believed to be the best and impeccable motives. And then spent most of his life cultivating two sides of his head.’ He had the most extraordinary double life."

The full interview is available here: http://thebrowser.com/books/interviews/richard-beeston ( )
  FiveBooks | Mar 2, 2010 |
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An engrossing biography of the Englishman who became a master spy for the Russians.

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