Top positive review
A Tale of Two Friends brought Together and Divided by Lies.
6 March 2015
This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in, or has previously read spy novels and non-fiction.
I am a self-professed spy-novel fiend and this book quenched my thirst for reflective historic journalism, intrigue and Britishness within a story which is told from a rare position; that of two friends. Macintyre has such a wonderful and typically British sense of humour which is reflected throughout his novel.
The title feature; Kim Philby, is a fascinating character and quite frankly a monster. His deceit and duplicity holds no bounds, which enviably enabled him to not only conceal his political motives but actually appear to hold the opposite feelings. In Macintyre’s prose, one gets a feeling that he himself is hurt by Philby’s treachery, and that we all should be too. I for one completely agree with and share his anquish.
The book follows a common-sense chronology combining the two lives of Philby and his “friend” Nicholas Elliott. This allows the reader to enjoy the histrionics of the successful periods of these two wily Oxbridge spies and then gawp in horror at the ramifications of Philby’s deceit.
At times one must remind oneself that Philby was the reason why an inestimable number of lives were lost. A fact that dawns on Elliott late in the story. Macintyre manages to keep this in context throughout, which in turn reminds us of the real nature of these real spies.
My final word then is a thoroughly whole-hearted recommendation to read this book. What follows the bulk of the book is an interesting afterword by John Le Carre (my favourite author of all time) whom met with Elliott sometime after Philby’s defection. Still then the Spy came true – denying ever really being incompetent and having us believe that he was the smartest guy in the room all along.
Expect a film from this. And if Mr Macintyre is reading this, thank you and I implore you to tell this story via a Documentary.