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Description - Ace of Spies by Andrew Cook

The amazing true story of the 1920's British spy who was to inspire Ian Fleming's "James Bond". Reilly was a master of subterfuge and this biography collates the means that made Reilly one of the world's best spies.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780752429595
ISBN-10: 0752429590
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 10mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: The History Press Ltd
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Feb-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Ace of Spies by Andrew Cook

UK Kirkus Review » Reilly was the role model for Ian Fleming when he came to create 007, the most famous spy in literature. The archetype himself would have been surprised and flattered to have had himself so glamorously portrayed, but there was indeed a lot of Bond about him. Suave, cool, gentlemanly and enterprising, he led a remarkable double life that had the Russian secret service tearing its hair out in frustration. In fact the Russians came to admire and respect Reilly as they did no other Westerner. Andrew Cook first published this biography of the "ace of spies" in 2002 and it has now been reissued with updated information, especially concerning forensic details following Reilly's execution in a Russian park in 1925. While deconstructing many myths that have surrounded the spy, the book shows that in some ways he was even more of a success than James Bond, the man who followed in his footsteps. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » British espionage historian Cook gives a thorough hammering to the outlandish career of a man often considered the archetype of the modern spy. Credited by Ian Fleming as the inspiration for James Bond, Sidney Reilly was a suave spy, fond of fine living and the lover of too many women to count. This biography starts, appropriately enough, with murder-or rather a likely murder, since the author scrupulously separates fact from conjecture at every stage of a work buttressed by staggering research. In 1898, Cook tells us, Russian emigre Sigmund Rosenblum may have poisoned the husband of his lover, then married her for her money and for the opportunity their union gave him to morph into Sidney Reilly. Cook follows Rosenblum/Reilly's trail like a hound to the scent, picking up snatches of it here, losing it there, only to find it again. His life was all foggy deception; even this dogged biographer can't determine exactly where in Russia he was born, or whether it was in 1872, '73, or '74. After leaving his homeland, he worked as a patent medicine salesman in London, then in the service of Scotland Yard's Special Branch tendering information on the Russian emigre community. Though the level of detail can be drowsy-making, Cook's subject holds the attention. Yes, Reilly served the Secret Intelligence Service, though he may well have spied for the Japanese against the Russians as well. He supplied meat-and-potatoes intelligence for the British, but he was also looking out for himself and the opportunities spying afforded him to live the high life. "Seeking to lay the foundations for an Anglo-American syndicate to invest in a post-Bolshevik economy" led him into deep water and a sting operation, and Reilly's years as an international operator came to an abrupt end in 1925 with a couple of bullets courtesy of the Russian secret police. A mythic figure cut down to size to reveal the self-serving rascal beneath the bon vivant. (Illustrations) (Kirkus Reviews)


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