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Phillip Knightley

8 July 1993
Deadly Illusions: The First Book from the KGB Archives 
by John Costello and Oleg Tsarev.
Century, 538 pp., £18.99, June 1993, 9780712655002
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... ring, and if there was anything new to say about its recruitment Costello and Tsarev would be saying it. ‘What does that leave us?’ I asked him. He looked gloomy and after a moment replied: ‘Phillip, our ship is on the rocks.’ And that was that. (Although I hear that Modin is writing his own book on his experiences as an agent-runner.) Costello and Tsarev went ahead and this book is the result ...

Reverse Discrimination

Phillip Knightley

19 May 1988
The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Yale, 327 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 300 04076 8
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... At the beginning of this puzzling book the author, Bernard Wasserstein, Professor of History and Chairman of the History Department at Brandeis University, offers his excuses for writing it. It is, he says, the story of a man who left barely any footprints in political history and whose literary relics are without enduring value. As a further turn-off Professor Wasserstein confesses that his colleagues ...

Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley

10 October 1991
Smear! Wilson and the Secret State 
by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay.
Fourth Estate, 502 pp., £20, August 1991, 9781872180687
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... In the summer of 1975 I was invited by a man I knew had contacts in MI5 to have lunch at the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge. He wanted me to meet ‘someone from the office’ who had a story which might interest the Sunday Times, where I was then working. There was another guest, an aristocratic young man from the City whose role appeared to be that of prompting the MI5 officer – for that ...
2 February 1989
Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... with old spies in general and Philby in particular. Offered a choice between an exclusive with Mr Gorbachev and one with Philby, every one of us would have picked the latter. In the event, it was PhillipKnightley who landed the fish, but only after twenty years of patient casting. When news came on the World Service on Sunday morning last March that the Sunday Times had started a serialisation of ...
11 July 1991
Cold Warrior. James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter 
by Tom Mangold.
Simon and Schuster, 403 pp., £17.99, May 1991, 9780671699307
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... In the international intelligence community, (a loose term to cover spies, spy writers and spy groupies) there are two views on Kim Philby. One is that after he fled to Moscow he was a burnt-out case, a pathetic drunk living on the memory of his great triumph – fooling the West for thirty years. In this scenario, Philby drank to drown the thought of what might have been. If only he had not been so ...
23 July 1987
An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... knew the extent of it. Ludovic Kennedy’s book The Trial of Stephen Ward came out the following year and expressed their indignation. But there was a lot that Kennedy and others didn’t know. PhillipKnightley, who wrote an excellent book about war reporting, The First Casualty, records his reluctance to drag up ‘Profumo’ until he saw the material his colleague, Caroline Kennedy, had acquired ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Spies Wanted

17 July 2008
... strikes you as a load of old horseshit: bureaucratic window-dressing for activities that are in reality deeply unsavoury, crushingly expensive and, in the final analysis, embarrassingly ineffective. PhillipKnightley, whose books include The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the 20th Century, has persuasively argued that ‘most intelligence is useless . . . Most political leaders know ...

His Little Game

Andrew Boyle

27 July 1989
The Blake Escape: How we freed George Blake – and why 
by Michael Randle and Pat Pottle.
Harrap, 298 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 245 54781 9
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... There were, at first, people who wondered whether Blake’s dramatic escape from Wormwood Scrubs in October 1966 might have been organised by the KGB. However, in the less than kindly judgment of PhillipKnightley, a sensible dabbler in such subjects, ‘an Irish criminal came forward and described how he and Blake had arranged the escape themselves.’ Now this has been overtaken by new testimony ...

Waiting to Watch the War

Charles Glass: A report from an observation post in Northern Iraq

3 April 2003
... journalists, the Northern alliance of networks and newspapers are about the only independent media presence here. The others are embedded with US Forces and subject to the restrictions that implies. (PhillipKnightley should now prepare a new edition of The First Casualty. We’re going to need it.) The journalists and the American Army are not the only runners racing to the Baghdad finishing line. Other ...

Lucky Kim

Christopher Hitchens

23 February 1995
The Philby Files. The Secret Life of the Master Spy: KGB Archives Revealed 
by Genrikh Borovik, edited by Phillip Knightley.
Little, Brown, 382 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 316 91015 5
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The Fifth Man 
by Roland Perry.
Sidgwick, 486 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 283 06216 9
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Treason in the Blood: H. St John Philby, Kim Philby and the Spy Case of the Century 
by Anthony Cave Brown.
Hale, 640 pp., £25, January 1995, 9780709055822
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My Five Cambridge Friends 
by Yuri Modin.
Headline, 328 pp., £17.99, October 1994, 0 7472 1280 5
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Looking for Mr Nobody: The Secret Life of Goronwy Rees 
by Jenny Rees.
Weidenfeld, 291 pp., £18.99, October 1994, 0 297 81430 3
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... to certain ‘trusted’ journalists and freelancers, has turned any old snooper into a historian. One of the few people of any wit, seriousness or integrity to have done well out of this business is PhillipKnightley, and look what we find on page 190 of his book, produced with Genrikh Borovik. Kim Philby is apparently talking: But if success does come, an agent has the obligation to take full ...

Working under Covers

Paul Laity: Mata Hari

8 January 2004
Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War 
by Tammy Proctor.
New York, 205 pp., $27, June 2003, 0 8147 6693 5
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... run "by the sort of men who called each other Wolly, Bunter, Biffy and Blinker. Mansfield Smith Cumming, the original ‘C.’, thought espionage ‘a capital sport’, and is memorably described by PhillipKnightley in his recently reissued study of 20th-century spying, The Second Oldest Profession:* He wore a gold-rimmed monocle, wrote only in green ink, and, after he lost his leg in an accident ...

Diary

Tom Carver: Philby in Beirut

11 October 2012
... had just taken place. Very little is known about the seven years Philby spent in Beirut. In his autobiography he devotes only three and a half pages to them and Eleanor Brewer is not mentioned once. PhillipKnightley, the only journalist to have interviewed Philby after his defection, believes that he spent his first couple of years there just biding his time. ‘His problem was that his Moscow masters ...

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