Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly


Master spy was the basis for the James Bond character.
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Master spy was the basis for the James Bond character.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sidney Reilly (born Salomon Rosenblum in Odessa in 1874), notorious in England as a probable Russian double agent, remains largely unfamiliar to Americans, though PBS aired the British miniseries Reilly, Ace of Spies in the early 1980s. Some consider Reilly a real-life James Bond, but his resume more closely resembles that of a Bond villain, or perhaps Sherlock Holmes's nemesis, Moriarty: a "diplomatic businessman," as one colleague described him, he crisscrossed the globe, brokering information and facilitating arms deals, always maintaining, as Spence, a professor of history at the University of Idaho, puts it, "a foot in all camps and access to the right people and information." Even his interest in Russia, especially after the 1917 revolution, may have stemmed from a desire to get in on the action should the country be opened up to foreign investment. Spence's biography covers a remarkable amount of territory, using newly released material in the British and Russian intelligence archives, but the dense narrative is frequently overwhelmed by the amount of detail. It becomes difficult to keep track of which alias Reilly is using at any given time, and the names of his colleagues blur together. In addition, Spence often relies on conjecture, about everything from Reilly's hypothetical involvement in several bombings in major American cities to the mysterious circumstances of his alleged capture and execution by the Soviets in 1925 (including persistent rumors placing him in Shanghai 13 years later). The historical aspects of the story are engrossing, but readers expecting a gripping espionage thriller will be let down by the scholarly tone and ambiguity. (Jan. 17) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780922915798
  • Publisher: Feral House
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Map: European Russia, 1918 i
Acknowledgments viii
Introduction x
Part I Learning the Craft
Chapter 1 Beginnings 1
Chapter 2 A Spy's Progress 21
Chapter 3 Eastern Horizons 39
Chapter 4 The Counterfeit Englishman 55
Chapter 5 The Man Who Knew Everything 79
Photographs and Illustrations 101
Part II Master Spy
Chapter 6 War on the Manhattan Front 110
Chapter 7 An International Crook of the Highest Order 141
Chapter 8 The Russian Question 170
Chapter 9 Plots and Counter Plots 200
Chapter 10 Feast of Ashes 233
Chapter 11 On His Majesty's Secret Service 268
Chapter 12 Knight Errant 298
Part III Mystery Man
Chapter 13 Odd Man Out 330
Chapter 14 Never Say Never 360
Chapter 15 The Red Letters 386
Chapter 16 The Spy Who Went into the Cold 412
Chapter 17 Wanted Dead or Alive 440
Chapter 18 Legends 468
Note on Transliteration 501
Bibliography 503
Index 507
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    The ace of spies

    I have read every book written about Sidney Reilly and have seen all of the TV programs on PBS. This book is the definitive book about him. I do not believe any additional information can be obtained that can illuminate the life of this remarkable spy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    Finally, the real Sidney Reilly is unveiled

    Unlike most books on Reilly, Spence¿s extraordinarily thorough research results in an authoritative unveiling of the secret life of a public man who thrived in the shadows. Robin Lockhart¿s book, ¿Ace of Spies¿ (which inspired the TV series), can now be seen to have merely exposed the outlines of a character so complex that one wonders if Reilly himself got lost in it. Even the identities of Reilly¿s parents, his birthplace and original name have been obscured, partly by Reilly himself. From the dusty records of Tsarist Russia, including those of the Okhrana (secret police) Spence sifts the evidence pointing to some startling conclusions about Reilly¿s activities before he became ¿Reilly.¿ I was particularly impressed by the author¿s documentation of every scrap of information he gathered, following the trail wherever it led him. Where Reilly couldn¿t cover his tracks he spread confusion. The diligent historian faced with such determined obfuscation has two choices: spit out the data and leave the reader to fend for himself; or analyze the evidence and wring from it sufficient facts to extrapolate the likely reality. Happily, Spence chose the latter path. The Publishers Weekly review above misses the point in its slighting of the author¿s scholarly ambiguity. In the secret world¿s ¿wilderness of mirrors¿ (as the CIA¿s James Jesus Angleton¿himself a controversial and mysterious figure¿called it) only fools prefer neat but unjustified certainty to untidy but logical explication. If you want a ¿thriller¿ read Ian Fleming¿s novels. But if you want to feel the excitement of a historian-detective hunting down an elusive master spy whose intrigues, romances, excesses and tragic end are ¿the stuff that dreams are made of,¿ this book is thrilling indeed.

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