Academic journal article Military Review

ACE OF SPIES: The True Story of Sidney Reilly

Academic journal article Military Review

ACE OF SPIES: The True Story of Sidney Reilly

Article excerpt

ACE OF SPIES: The True Story of Sidney Reilly, Andrew Cook, Tempus Publishing Limited, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, 2004, 350 pages, $22.95.

Sidney Reilly, fluent in Russian, French, German, and English, was the British secret service agent who plotted to overthrow the Bolshevik government, but in 1925 was caught, interrogated, and executed. He is buried in the inner yard of the Lubyanka secret police headquarters in Moscow. A gambler and a womanizer, Reilly enjoyed the lifestyle of the monied class, but he was no James Bond. He was an opportunist, a flim-flam man, a likeable scoundrel and, most likely, a murderer. Many of his deeds were of his own invention, but his future biographers recorded them as truth.

Reilly was a master spy, con artist, serial bigamist, and also a man of mystery. Several books and magazine and newspaper articles have been written about him. Reilly was also the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond series and the subject of a 1983 BBC miniseries, Reilly: Ace of Spies. So, what could one more book about a century-old spy tell us? Plenty, it turns out.

Most books about Reilly were written by his fans, a wife (Pepita Reilly), the son of a famous fellow agent (Robin Bruce Lockhart), and enthusiasts such as Fleming, Michael Kettle, Andrew Lycett, and Edward Van Der Rhoer. …

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