Young Philby by Robert Littell
A Novel

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Synopsis

A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of 2012

A Kansas City Star Top Book the Year

When Kim Philby fled to Moscow in 1963, he became the most notorious double agent in the history of espionage. Recruited into His Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service at the beginning of World War II, he rose rapidly in the ranks to become the chief liaison officer with the CIA in Washington after the war. The exposure of other members of the group of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five led to the revelation that Philby had begun spying for the Soviet Union years before he joined the British intelligence service. He eventually fled to Moscow one jump ahead of British agents who had come to arrest him, and spent the last twenty-five years of his life in Russia.

In Young Philby, Robert Littell recounts the little-known story of the spy’s early years. Through the words of Philby’s friends and lovers, as well as his Soviet and English handlers, we follow the evolution of a mysteriously beguiling man who kept his masters on both sides of the Iron Curtain guessing about his ultimate loyalties. As each layer of ambiguity is exposed, questions surface: What made this infamous double (or should that be triple?) agent tick? And, in the end, who was the real Kim Philby?

 

About Robert Littell

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ROBERT LITTELL is the author of sixteen previous novels and the nonfiction book For the Future of Israel, written with Shimon Peres, president of Israel. He has been awarded both the English Gold Dagger and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his fiction. His novel The Company was a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a television miniseries. He lives in France.
 
Published November 13, 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books. 288 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, War, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Young Philby

Kirkus Reviews

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and Philby’s father, Harry St John Bridger Philby, aka “the Hajj.” From these narratives emerges a mural of the history of espionage before, during and after World War II, as well as an in-depth portrait of Philby, who becomes a canny informant despite his fear of the sight of blood.

Sep 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Littell (The Company) offers an episodic, multifaceted look at the making of one of the world’s most notorious double agents, Harold Adrian Russell Philby, better known as “Kim” (after the hero of Kipling’s famous novel).

Sep 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

The Boston Globe

Of all the portraits of modern spies in novels, stories, biographies, and histories, the treatments of Harold “Kim” Philby seem to fascinate us the most.

Nov 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

The author of this novel teases us with the question, was spy Philby’s motive solely ideological or was he simply striving for the approval of his father?

Dec 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

Newsday

In Washington after the war, Philby was friendly with James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's celebrated red-hunter, who Littell suggests might have suspected Philby and taken action that led to his eventual downfall.

Dec 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

Philby saves a smart young Jewish communist from the jackbooted police who were wiping out the communist resistance to Austria’s fascist dictatorship.

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Bookmarks Magazine

The exposure of other members of the group of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five led to the revelation that Philby had begun spying for the Soviet Union years before he joined the British intelligence service.

Nov 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

Shots

Each chapter is narrated by a different person and each person sees what they want to see in Philby, moulding him to their desires, making it impossible to pin down the 'real' Kim Philby, and asking if we can even legitimately talk about a 'real' Kim Philby.

Nov 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Young Philby: A Novel

ReviewingtheEvidence.com

The story is told from a number of points of view - the suspicious Soviet analyst reviewing Philby's case, the young communist woman whom Philby meets in Vienna and subsequently marries, his fellow spy, Guy Burgess, their two Soviet controllers in London, Philby himself and others.

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Reader Rating for Young Philby
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