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Extended Audio Sample Young Philby: A Novel Audiobook, by Robert Littell Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert Littell Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2012 ISBN: 9781427227188
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When Kim Philby fled to Moscow in 1963, he became the most notorious double agent in the history of espionage. Recruited into His Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service at the beginning of World War II, he rose rapidly in the ranks to become the chief liaison officer with the CIA in Washington after the war. The exposure of other members of the group of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five led to the revelation that Philby had begun spying for the Soviet Union years before he joined the British intelligence service. He eventually fled to Moscow one jump ahead of British agents who had come to arrest him, and spent the last twenty-five years of his life in Russia. 

In Young Philby, Robert Littell recounts the little-known story of the spy’s early years. Through the words of Philby’s friends and lovers, as well as his Soviet and English handlers, we follow the evolution of a mysteriously beguiling man who kept his masters on both sides of the Iron Curtain guessing about his ultimate loyalties. As each layer of ambiguity is exposed, questions surface: What made this infamous double (or should that be triple?) agent tick? And, in the end, who was the real Kim Philby?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Arguably, along with le Carré and Alan Furst, one of the best three or four espionage writers alive.…Thanks to the narrative gifts and psychological insights of Robert Littell we come away from the novel with a dramatically inventive and utterly entertaining portrait of a deceptive young genius in a confusing and murderous time.”

    Boston Globe

  • “For readers who savor both history and absurdity, this fascinating novel is not to be missed, and I persist in my belief that Littell is one of the most underrated of American novelists.”

    Washington Post

  • “One of the most original and authoritative writers of spy fiction of our time.”

    London Literary Review

  • “A dizzying, ‘what if’ take on (in)famous British spy Kim Philby…Littell shows particular skill at recreating pulse-quickening epic scenes of conflict—the Russian-backed uprising against Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, the war against fascist dictator Francisco Franco, and the horrors of Stalin’s kangaroo courts and of Moscow prisons.…A Cold-War spy novel for the top shelf.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A riveting read.”

    Frederick Forsyth, New York Times bestselling author

  • “There are many incidental pleasures to be had, not least the way Littell combines deep knowledge of spycraft with jovial levity.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “The American master of literary espionage.”

    Independent (London)

  • “A fascinating story…Those who enjoy cold war espionage, spy tradecraft, World War II history, or plain old-fashioned good writing will appreciate this novel.”

    Washington Independent Review of Books

  • “John Lee makes this novel based on the true story of one of the twentieth century’s most notorious spies, ‘Kim’ Philby, as riveting an account as a listener could wish for…Lee’s performance brings credible insights into the early techniques of spycraft during WWII and the Cold War as well as offering fascinating character portraits of some of those who influenced the young agent.”


  • “John Lee gives each character an authentic accent, German, Russian, upper-crust Brit, even Philby’s ever-present stutter, as he skillfully moves the narration along.”


  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Mystery/Suspense
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Thrillers

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leonard | 4/2/2013

    " Interesting premiss that Kim Philby was a double agent, really in the employ of the British, but "escaped" to the Soviet Union as a plant. Goes through his life and weaves a great tale. "

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About the Author
Author Robert Littell

Robert Littell’s novels include the New York Times bestseller The Company and many others. A former Newsweek journalist, he makes his home in France.

About the Narrator

John Lee, a stage actor and writer and a coproducer of feature films, has narrated more than one hundred audiobooks of every conceivable genre, earning some three dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award.