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Kim Philby: The KGB Mole Who Nearly Became the Leader of Britain’s MI6

December 02, 2021
00:00 41:15
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Kim Philby—the master British spy and notorious KGB double agent—had an incredible amount of influence on the Cold War. He became the mentor, and later, mortal enemy, of James Angleton, who would eventually lead the CIA. Philby was also in the running at one point to lead MI6, which would have made the Cold War very different.

Philby's life and career has inspired an entire literary genre: the spy novel of betrayal. Philby was one of the leaders of the British counter-intelligence efforts, first against the Nazis, then against the Soviet Union. He was also the KGB's most valuable double-agent, so highly regarded that his image is on the postage stamps of the Russian Federation even today.
To delve into Philby’s life is today’s guest, Michael Holzman, author of the new book “Spies and Traitors: Kim Philby, James Angleton, and the Friendship and Betrayal that Would Shape M16, the CIA, and the Cold War.”

Before he was exposed, Philby was the mentor of James Jesus Angleton, one of the central figures in the early years of the CIA who became the long-serving chief of the counter-intelligence staff of the Agency.

James Angleton and Kim Philby were friends for six years, or so Angleton thought. Then they were enemies for the rest of their lives. This is the story of their intertwined careers and a betrayal that would have dramatic and irrevocable effects on the Cold War and US-Soviet relations, and have a direct effect on the shape and culture of the CIA in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Spanning the globe, from London and Washington DC, to Rome and Istanbul, Spies and Traitors gets to the heart of one of the most important and flawed personal relationships in modern history.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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