In This Review

The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years
The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years
By Rufina Philby
Fromm International, 2000, 449 pp

When "Operation Rollback" stumbled, a key reason was that many details had been passed to the Soviet authorities by Kim Philby, the liaison between British and American intelligence. That was only a modest part of his accomplishments before he fled to Moscow in 1963. What happened in the 25 years after is the untold portion of his story. Rufina Philby is his Russian widow, his fourth wife, and the object of his strange, excessive doting and odd domesticity. She gives a simple account of their cloistered, privileged, but torpid existence. From her telling, one gets a better sense of a man often frustrated by life in the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he was as intimidated by the power of the state as most of his fellow citizens but never repentant over the choice he made -- his favorite song was Sinatra's "My Way." One also gets a good sense of what his existence was like under the perpetually watchful eye of the KGB. Two previously unpublished chapters of autobiographical reminiscences by Kim Philby and a very useful distillation of publications on Philby by Hayden Peake round out the volume.