Plano Reads: A Spy Among Friends

For the January session of Brown Bag Book Club we’re discussing A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre. Join the in-person discussion at 12 p.m. at Parr Library on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

The story of Kim Philby and his Cambridge cohort of Soviet moles is the great spook-fest story of the Cold War. John le Carré told a fictionalized version in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  This book, however, is proof that the truth can be stranger than fiction. 

Philby, with his posh background, seems an unlikely recruit to spy for the Soviets. However, Philby’s alcoholism and his politics changed the equation and tipped the balance to the Soviet cause. The cost of which took years to be fully understood. 

The story of Philby is a spellbinding account of espionage, friendship, and betrayal.

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“Working with colorful characters and an anything-can-happen attitude, Macintyre builds up a picture of an intelligence community chock-full of intrigue and betrayal, in which Philby was the undisputed king of lies. There’s a measure of admiration in the text for Philby’s run of luck and audacious accomplishments, as when he was actually placed in charge of anti-Soviet intelligence: “The fox was not merely guarding the henhouse but building it, running it, assessing its strengths and frailties, and planning its future construction.” Entertaining and lively, Macintyre’s account makes the best fictional thrillers seem tame.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“For all Philby’s charm (“that intoxicating, beguiling, and occasionally lethal English quality”), modern readers will still find it difficult to imagine a world of gentlemanly spy-versus-spy games all these hysterical years later. Gripping and as well-crafted as an episode of Smiley’s People, full of cynical inevitability, secrets, lashings of whiskey and corpses.” – Kirkus


Come join the in-person discussion at noon with the Brown Bag Book Club at Parr Library on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Check out the Book Club page for book club information and future book club selections.

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