And a final look at espionage histories touching on Kim Philby.
Raw Feed (1995): Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton — CIA’s Master Spy, Tom Mangold, 1991.
Fascinating story of one man’s obsession and paranoia and how it greatly crippled the CIA’s intelligence work against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
After reading this book, it’s a wonder we fared as well as we did against the Russians then, and it is an explanation for why human intelligence operations against the U.S.S.R. so miserably failed to see the crumbling of the Soviet Empire and its economic weakness or the crushing of the Czechoslovakian revolt. Angleton, head of CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff for 20 years (1954-1974 and the first to hold the position), crippled the agency by his paranoia and obsessions; yet, as Director of Central Intelligence William Colby said, it’s doubtful he actually caught a single spy. He was a brilliant man at bureaucratic intrigue and Machiavellian intrigue. Many people who worked at CIA never met him; he would direct counterintelligence operations against US citizens and CIA officers and leave no paper trail linking it to him as shown by his clever scheme to sell out Yuriy Loginov (an alleged KGB double agent) to his former masters. He was worshipped as a master of Counter Intelligence by his peers in Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa; a man with intimate contacts with Israeli intelligence.
The tale is simple in its outlines and fascinating in its details. Angleton felt severely betrayed when his colleague and friend Kim Philby turned out to be a KGB double agent. He even went so far as destroying all the voluminous records of his conversations with Philby out of embarrassment over what secrets he spilled. When egomaniacal KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn came over to the CIA with grandiose notions of knowing the KGB’s inner workings (he had only been a relatively low ranking KGB officer who did no operational work in the field) and revelations of a “monster plot” run by Philby, he found a very – disastrously so – ready ear in Angleton. The monster plot had three main elements: the Sino-Soviet split was a fake, the KGB was mounting a massive penetration of Western intelligence services, and – most importantly for later developments – that all defectors after Golitsyn would be fake. (In some ways, I find this notion the most incredulous and wonder how even a suspicious counterspy could presume to predict the motives of any possible future defectors.) Angleton swallowed it all. Suspicions were cast on loyal CIA officers and agents and agents at friendly agencies. Angleton did much to sour relations between French and American intelligence agencies with accusations of Soviet moles. Careers were ruined; people were falsely imprisoned. Particularly shameful was the case of Yuriy Nosenko who was imprisoned for 4 years by the CIA because it was believed, as per Golitsyn, that he was a double agent for the KGB – this despite the fact that he helped uncover major KGB moles with much more specific information than self-proclaimed expert of KGB operations Golitsyn (not to mention the vital information he had on Lee Harvey Oswald’s lack of ties to the KGB). Continue reading →
Tim Powers’ Declare certainly was not my first exposure to Kim Philby’s story, but I did seek out several of the Philby biographies Powers mentions in his notes.
This one, however, was the only one I made notes on.
Raw Feed (2003): Treason in the Blood: M. St. John Philby, Kim Philby, and the Spy Case of the Century, Anthony Cave Brown, 1994.
This is the first book length treatment I’ve read of Kim Philby’s story. Prior to this my exposure to him came in books about other espionage figures who crossed paths with Philby: John Costello and Oleg Tsarev’s Deadly Illusions (about Alexander Orlov, one of Philby’s NKVD controllers) and Tom Mangold’s Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton, The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter (Angleton being a figure of key importance in the Philby story).
The inspiration for reading this book was its mention in Tim Powers’ note in the Afterword of his excellent Declare. After reading this book, I can understand the attraction of Philby’s story. This dual biography is more than just a gimmick to distinguish itself from the rest of the horde of Philby biographies. St. John Philby (who has already had biographies done on him) turns out to have been a figure of major importance in Middle Eastern politics, particularly the formation of the House of Saud and how American oil companies got the oil rights in Saudi Arabia. He was a learned man. Brown introduced me to a lot of early 20th century Middle Eastern colonial history I was not aware of: communist conspiracies in India, the British rule in Iraq, and the backpedaling of Britain and France in keeping its political promises to its Arabian allies of World War I. Continue reading →
Just when you were getting used to Cthulhu Mythos and World War One reviews mixed in with your science fiction, I jump to another topic.
That’s the way things work here.
This retro review from December 18, 2005 covers a biography of famous spy Kim Philby. It is by no means the first work I read that dealt with Philby. That was probably Tom Mangold’s Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton — The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter. It argues that Kim Philby’s betrayal cranked up James Jesus Angleton’s professionally useful paranoia to a dangerous level.
With the exception of The Sword and the Shield, most of the titles below come from the source notes in Tim Powers’ excellent fantasy spin on the life of Kim Philby and his father, Declare. (My favorite Powers’ title)
Review: The Third Man: The Full Story of Kim Philby, E. H. Cookridge, 1968.
This book is very dated in some aspects. Anthony Blunt, one of the Magnificent Five as the KGB called the Cambridge Spy Ring, gets a one sentence mention as someone who occasionally hung out in fellow spy Guy Burgess’ apartment. There is a far too kind portrayal of Donald Maclean as a conflicted man — he loved his commendations from the King and hated Britain’s captialist society . But, instead of a tragic figure blackmailed by Burgess into spying during the latter years of World War Two, Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin’s The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB shows him voluntarily starting his espionage work in 1934. And, of course, its date of composition means the full life of its main subject, Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby, is not covered. Nor is there much on the specific clues, like the Venona intercepts, that led American intelligence officials to suspect Philby. Continue reading →