Review: A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal – by Ben Macintyre

a spy among friends

Telling the remarkable story of Kim Philby, who was probably the most effective spy in history, this book reads fast and furiously, a real page-turner. The book focuses on the dramatic relationship between two friends, both rising stars in the world of British espionage, Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby. The intrigue of Philby is that he was working for the Soviet Union after being drawn to communism through his time at Cambridge University, from where a ring of five key defectors were recruited. Philby managed to infiltrate MI6 at a top level, ultimately serving as the liaison officer between US and UK secret services in Washington DC. He had access to information from leading CIA agents such as James Angleton and through his public schoolboy charm he was adept at getting colleagues to drunkenly reveal all their secrets, secrets that he discretely passed to the KGB centre in Moscow, from where he took his orders. Even after the fall of fellow Cambridge conspirators, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, Philby managed to shake the tale of a particularly suspicious MI5 and continued to operate in the clandestine world of espionage. His ultimate confrontation with best friend Elliott, after the game was finally up, left the door open for him to finally defect to a relatively anonymous retirement in Moscow. He chose political ideology over loyalty to friends and the story of Kim Philby is one of ultimate treachery. In his wake he left much damage and must have throughout the Cold War caused the death of hundreds, even thousands of people who were involved in Western operations. The book tells a most exciting tale and its global spanning and most exceptional debauchery and intrigue make it a real life James Bond adventure. Certainly worth a read and proof that real life is often stranger than fiction. Five star rating.

Review: Lost In Translation: Misadventures In English Abroad

Lost In Translation: Misadventures In English Abroad
Lost In Translation: Misadventures In English Abroad by Charlie Croker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought I’d try this book out to see some of the problems translators face. The book is a humorous collection of real-life examples of when translators (translating into English) have made embarrassing mistakes…

Translation agency’s advertisement in the Moscow Times:
Bet us your letter of business translation do. Every people in our staffing know English like the hand of their back. Up to the minuet wise-street phrases, don’t you know, old boy.

On a Japanese food package:
This cute mild curry uses 100% Japanese apple and cheerful hamster.

Finland:
If you cannot reach a fire exit, close the door and expose yourself at the window.

It’s hard to turn the page in this book without giggling your head off yet at the same time, for the trainee translator, reading the mistakes and attempting to understand how exactly they happened, can be quite a good challenge.

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