The most intense scene in Ben Macintyre’s new book, “A Spy Among Friends,” is of two old friends, middle-aged English gentlemen who came up as spies through British intelligence, sharing a cup of tea while “lying courteously to each other” in a Beirut apartment in 1963.
Some authors would turn that moment into literary Ambien. But in Ben Macintyre’s hands, it hums. One of those men was H.A.R. “Kim” Philby, perhaps the greatest and most notorious double agent in history. The other man was Nicholas Elliott, and about the only thing he didn’t have in common with Philby was his allegiance.
This nonfiction book is more about their “very British relationship” than the globe-trotting adventures laced with good booze and cool toys that make up most spy novels. Not that that’s a bad thing.
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