4**** The quality of the author's research is impeccable and the results are as close as possible to comprehending who Brian Giffey was. The scrupulous attention to time and place provides a sound base upon which the author is able to bring her protagonist to life. Giffey's own poetry and prose, as well as the photographs provided, make for an enriching experience. The title intimates that the notorious Kim Philby plays a larger role than he actually does, but it is true that Philby provides a key clue in a case of British Intelligence still submerged in a fog of secret documents. Of note is the author's common sense approach in unravelling Giffey's private and public affairs, resulting in a well-paced, informative, and delightful read. I recommend it."
4**** Reviewed on behalf of The Review Board by Harmony Kent.
I received a mobi copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
This book is written well, and it is clear that the author has undertaken meticulous research. The life of Brian Giffey is chronicled in its entirety, including his service in the British forces, his becoming an agent for MI6, his many affairs and eventual falling head over heels in love with a young Estonian girl. Kim Philby used to be a British Secret Service agent, who subsequently defected to Russia, taking a lot of secrets and sensitive information with him. Brian Giffey knew Kim Philby, and was apparently deeply affected by his defection.
The author, in her research, appears to have been faced with missing diaries, papers, and information, but does a sterling job of piecing together this interesting life. The material is presented in a linear, orderly, and easy to follow manner, and plenty of references are given. This biographical account gives the reader a glimpse into old empire, life and service through both World Wars, and on into the Cold War years. The book contains direct excerpts and quotes from both Brian Giffey’s personal documents, including his poetry, and from accounts of those who knew him.
If you are interested in non-fiction biographies, and history, then you are likely to find this an intriguing read. It has a scholarly feel to it, and contains a wealth of information, and would be suitable for use as a research reference in its own right. I award a solid 8 out of 10 TRB stars, which equates to 4 out of 5 stars on other rating scales."
5***** Towards the end of her book, the author states, "History...is all about human beings." I personally cannot think of a better way to truly understand events in a historical context than through the recollections of someone who lived through them. And Brian Giffey, who worked as a covert government agent at a particularly volatile time in history, certainly lived an extraordinary life.
The author does an excellent job of piecing together personal, and sometimes fragmented, information to weave a fascinating narrative full of love, strife, cultural and political observations and above all, human connection. I would recommend this book to those interested in history or the secret service, but would also urge anyone who enjoys a good story from a uniquely human perspective to buy this book. You won't regret it."