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Young Philby

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  360 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
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
ebook, 288 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Aug 02, 2016 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ο Ρόμπερτ Λίτελ είναι ένας αρκετά γνωστός Αμερικάνος συγγραφέας κατασκοπευτικών μυθιστορημάτων (κυρίως), κατά κύριο λόγο χάρη στην συγγραφή του μνημειώδους τούβλου με τον τίτλο "The Company", που αφορά την ιστορία της CIA. Κλασικά, όμως, στην Ελλάδα είναι αρκετά παραμελημένος. Το "Φίλμπυ" είναι μόλις το δεύτερο βιβλίο του που μεταφράζεται, μετά από ένα όχι και τόσο γνωστό του, το "Η πεταλούδα της Σιβηρίας", που κυκλοφόρησε πριν αρκετά χρόνια. Στο δια ταύτα: Έμεινα απόλυτα ικανοποιημένος.

Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Βιβλίο που διαβάζεται στην Ελλάδα, από γνώστες προσώπων και πραγμάτων σχετικά· Κιμ Φιλμπυ, Βρετανός πράκτορας τον Μυστικών Υπηρεσιών (MI5-MI6) ο οποίος μαζί με άλλους τρεις - η περίφημη τετρας του Τρινιτυ Κολετζ του Κεμπριτζ - αποτέλεσαν την μεγαλύτερη κατασκοπευτικη ζημιά στην ιστορία της Μεγάλης Βρετανίας (
Κι αυτό γιατί αφού για 10+ έτη λειτουργουσαν ως διπλοι πράκτορες των... Σοβιετικων, κατάφεραν άπαντες να διαφυγουν μέσα απ τα χέρια των Βρετανών, κ
Jan 14, 2013 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage, arc, 2013
Kim Philby could possibly be the most notorious double agent in espionage history. Recruited by the Secret Intelligent Service during World War II, he began spying for the Russians on the British intelligence service. Robert Littell’s Young Philby follows what little we know about his early years up till what made him a great double (or should we say triple?) agent.

Kim Philby was a real high-ranking British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent serving as both an NKVD and KGB operati
Dec 27, 2012 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
It has been awhile since I've read Robert Littell. This wasn't one of his best novels (*** 1/2), but it was still fascinating. At its core, 'Young Philby' is an ahistorical, fictionalized telling of the early life and background of Kim Philby, the most famous of the Cambridge Five.

Littell's fictionalized account imagines the possibility that Philby was actually more than just a double agent. I would tell you more, but then I would have to kill you. Anyway, 'Young Philby' was well-written, well-
Христо Блажев
Младият Филби е способен да шпионира за всички:

Романът е прекрасен исторически разказ за бурните и хаотични години около идването на власт на Хитлер, та до оня важен негов последен изстрел – Лител ни пренася сред бунтовете в Австрия преди Хитлеровия аншлус, в разгара на Испанската гражданска война, в началото на немския блицкриг срещу Франция, и сетне, сред лондонските кръчми и учреждения, където се кове победата, но и се градят плановете за след войната.
Dec 19, 2012 Geevee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Readable fictional account of the life of Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby, who was a Soviet agent/spy and was a member of the Cambridge Five.

The story at a fast pace but with contributions in the first person by different people in each chapter this at times felt very disjointed, and although clear [that it was a different person telling the story] it was not obvious who was "narrating" at the outset and left the reader to guess for some pages.

For me as it is a novel this format meant charac
Roger Pettit
I am fascinated by anything to do with espionage. That, and the fact that I recently read and enjoyed 'A Spy Among Friends' by Ben Macintyre, meant that I had high hopes of this fictionalised account of the early years of Kim Philby's cloak and dagger activities. Unfortunately, 'Young Philby' is a tad disappointing. It's not a bad book. But it never really reaches the heights. It's a workmanlike, competent novel. But it's also a strangely dull one. It never lives up to the comment from author Fr ...more
Paul Pessolano
”Young Philby” by Robert Littell, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Category – Spy/Biography

To enjoy this book and get the most out of it the reader must have some knowledge of Harold Philby.

Philby may well have been the most talked about double agent in history. He was a graduate of Cambridge University and the son of an eccentric father. His first attempt at the spy or espionage game started in 1933 when he went to Vienna and became part of the Austrian Socialists and Communists.

He and four of
Apr 07, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction because I always learn something new.. I remember the headlines when Kim Philby, the famous British SIS agent, was outed as a double agent- Big news,big scandal in 1963.
I found the format of this book terrific as each chapter uses first person narrative of each of the key players that were involved in this real life tale of seduction and espionage moving quickly along from 1934 until the escape to Moscow in 1963:
His lovers, his handlers, his father,his classmates, stude
Matthew Kresal
Mar 31, 2013 Matthew Kresal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been thinking for a while now that someone really needed to write a novel about Kim Philby, the most successful of the Cambridge Spies. Littell’s novel focuses, as the title suggests, on the early years of Philby’s career as told through the letters and reminiscences of those who knew or were connected to him during the period including fellow Cambridge spy Guy Burgess and, for a single chapter, Philby himself. For the vast majority of its length, the novel succeeds with its mix of viewpoin ...more
Apr 12, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy
Historical fiction of the infamous double agent in the 30's who was recruited by the Soviets along with four other Cambridge leftist intellectuals. After Philby defected he caused much turmoil among the Allies and precipitated the CIA's mole hunt which wrecked havoc within the agency.

This book presents an interesting perspective on Philby in the 30's. At school, then onward to Vienna on this motorbike trying to avert a coup by Hitler's cronies, and then as a journalist in the Spanish Civil War -
High Wycombe Library
Jan 23, 2014 High Wycombe Library rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-adventure
At times, whilst reading Young Philby it is easy to believe that you are reading a factual account of Kim Philby's early years, such is the air of authenticity with which bestselling author Robert Littell has imbued his novel. Written in the form of letters and memoirs of those who knew him, Young Philby is an atmospheric novel of one of history's most infamous double agents. ^GE

If you liked Young Philby why not try:
A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming
The Russia House by John Le Carre
Christopher Culp
Feb 01, 2014 Christopher Culp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining, thought-provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable. Littell uses first person with different narrators of each chapter to great effect as a way of exploring a possible early life of notorious spy Kim Philby. His book weaves a plausible and very engaging tale. As historical fiction in the espionage genre goes, this is a strong contribution. I finished the book thinking that Littell made a good case for his hypothetical scenario, and, regardless, told a terrific story in the process. A nice ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Arthur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
In the world of spies and counterspies, uncertainty is a constant: a cause of sleepless nights for some practitioners, an aphrodisiac for others. For Robert Littell it is grist for his latest espionage novel.
Littell’s “what if” premise supposes that Harold Adrian Russell Philby — nicknamed Kim after Kipling’s fictional spy — was not the person we have been led to believe. who enjoy cold war espionage, spy tradecraft, World War II history, or plain old-fashioned good writing will appreciate this
Apr 27, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and well written fictional account of Philby's early life. I loved the narrative device of having multiple characters telling the story of their interactions with Philby. It gives a sense of the enigmatic nature of the Philby story, everyone has a view but no one really knows. Great stuff.
Yves Panis
Dec 25, 2011 Yves Panis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un grand Robert Littell. Avec une fin étonnante et troublante. Romancée ? À voir...Littell est de toutes les façons le plus grand ecrivain actuel dans la catégorie espionnage. Il est à l'espionnage ce que le rhum est au baba. Enfin je trouve...
John Hooper
Feb 18, 2013 John Hooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent novel about a famous spy. The author uses facts from Philby's early life in Vienna and weaves a story that indicates that Philby might have been a triple agent. It is a great book like al of Robert Littell's books.
Mr. Goldberg
Sep 05, 2015 Mr. Goldberg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The interview style made the book less interesting. There is a lot of potential for a great story when talking about Kim Philby, this book has none of it.
Dec 18, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books
You can't help thinking that this is an interesting idea for a book, the story of one of the most famous real-life spies, told from the point of view of Philby's own life. Now the book and it's publicity material is quite tricky about the background of this book. Whilst there's nothing there to indicate whether or not this is a true story or fictional, it's written in a way that implies that the whole thing is the true story of Kim Philby's early years.

YOUNG PHILBY is however, a novel. It expan
Rowena Hoseason
Jan 21, 2015 Rowena Hoseason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ambiguity is all-important in this absorbing insight into Kim Philby’s early activities; entirely fitting for an exploration into the intrigue of international espionage. This slim novel is narrated like a kiss-n-tell unauthorised biography, with events being revealed through the words and deeds of Philby’s contemporaries.

Many of the episodes and escapades have the ring of historical verisimilitude about them… yet the whole book is one giant ‘what if?’ It all feels perfectly plausible, such is
Jan 27, 2015 Gavin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel concerns, as the tittle indicates, the early years of the life of Harold "Kim" Philby, the Cambridge educated,upper-class member of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)from the late 1930's to early 1960's. He later defected to the Soviet Union when it became known that he had been working as a double agent for many years. This event followed the defection of two of his early friends from Cambridge and fellow spies, Ronald Maclean and Guy Burgess (a fourth conspirator was la ...more
I love books
Aug 11, 2012 I love books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harold Philby, Kim per gli amici, è un giovane inglese di buona famiglia; il padre (o come Kim lo definisce, quel sant’uomo di mio padre), ha abbandonato la fredda Inghilterra per lo sconfinato deserto arabico ma ha mantenuto i contatti con i più importanti membri del governo inglese. L’improvvisa fuga di Kim da Londra suscita scalpore, il suo desiderio di prendere parte attivamente alla lotta contro i regimi di destra del centro Europa prevale sul buon senso e sulla volontà paterna; arrivato a ...more
Kevin Coombs
This is one of Littell's shorter books, and it perhaps should not have been. The reason I make that point is because the story is speculative fiction, suggesting that Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby was actually a "triple" agent, not a double. Philby famously spied for the Russians before and after World War II, and served as a high-ranking member of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service during much of that time. While Littell makes his suggestions interesting enough, he doesn't invest en ...more
Cormac Farrell
SPOILER ALERT. I'll be talking about a twist at the end of this book which you won't want to know if you're about to read it. It's an excellent book and the imagined dialogue really gives it a very realistic feel. I've read a lot about Philby, and I can certainly attest to the accuracy of the various goings on in his colorful life, and it's all going tally ho until, "bang"! Littel takes a giant leap of the imagination which turns it all on it's head. There is really nothing to suggest that HAR P ...more

Young Philby
Robert Littell (Author)
Having read and reviewed Robert Littell's most recent novel, 'A Nasty Piece of Work' I was intrigued to see how he could work with an actual historical figure and facts, and I was not let down.

Although a lot is known about 'Kim' Philby there is still a lot of intrigue, and plotting that can only be guessed at, and like a lot of spy/crime novels this book grabs the reader and keeps them until the end.

Although a lot of research has admirably gone into the writing
Apr 03, 2014 Nomadman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Young Philby is an interesting semi-fictionalization of Kim Philby's early life, positing the fact that he may, in fact, have been a triple agent, working overtly for the British, covertly for Communist Russia, and even more covertly for the British again. Littell doesn't quite pull it off, mainly due to a lack of any truly convincing evidence in favor of the theory, but he leaves things sufficiently vague that anything becomes possible.

The book is arranged as a series o
I'm truly not sure how I feel about this book. It was quite a good read, but I found it easy to put down and not pick back up. See, the book is actually multiple narratives, so there really is no intricate timeline to follow. And the chapters/narratives are never introduced; you may go three, four pages before finding out who is speaking. Therefore, finishing a narrative does not immediately line up with the next narrative -- sometimes years have gone by between the chapters, sometimes the narra ...more
David Lowther
Young Philby was a bit of a curate's egg of a book. I got a little bored with the beginning, set in Vienna in 1934, but the action picked up when Philby returned to England.
One of the book's great strengths was the portrayal of Philby himself who, despite initial appearances, comes over as a man who knows what he wants and knows exactly how to get it. He seldom panics and is thoroughly reliable. This is quite unlike his fellow spy Guy Burgess who drowned any uncertainties in drink. His character
John McDonald
May 28, 2016 John McDonald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Central to this story is a theme the author developed after a meeting with Teddy Kolleck, the former Mayor of Jerusalem and a prominent member of Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence services. Kolleck stated his belief that Kim Philby known to be a Russian spy was literally a double, and perhaps a triple agent, feeding Moscow Center fictitious information in return for secrets useful to the British. But when Philby became discredited, Littell's story goes, it was James Angelton, the paranoid ...more
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An American author residing in France. He specializes in spy novels that often concern the CIA and the Soviet Union. He became a journalist and worked many years for Newsweek during the Cold War. He's also an amateur mountain climber and is the father of award-winning novelist Jonathan Littell.
More about Robert Littell...

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