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Reilly: Ace of Spies

By Robin Bruce Lockhart

Reilly: Ace of Spies – the first modern secret agent, the model for James Bond and the dominating figure in the mythology of British Espionage.

Born in Russia in 1873, the man who became known as Sidney Reilly was raised as the son of middle-class Russian parents. But, while a student in Vienna, he learned that his father was in fact a Jewish doctor who had cared for his mother. In shock, he fled from Russia to Brazil. After working in bars, on boats and once as a doorman in a brothel, with an early display of courage and intelligence he saved the lives of two British explorers in the Brazilian jungle. They took him back with them to England, where he settled in London.

His immense charisma took him into the epicentre of metropolitan life, where he drew the attention of the British Secret Services. He adopted British identity, from Sigismund Rosenblum to Sidney Reilly, and so embarked on his career as a spy.

Robin Bruce Lockhart – whose father RH Bruce Lockhart was also a master spy and had worked with Reilly during the Russian revolution – recounts Reilly’s astonishing life. Written in a vivid, engaging style, this is surely one of the most thrilling life stories in history.

Reilly: Ace of Spies was adapted into a BAFTA-winning television series in 1983, starring Sam Neill as Reilly and Ian Charleson as RH Bruce Lockhart. Originally published in 1967, this edition has a foreword by Dugald Bruce Lockhart, the author’s great-nephew. Dugald is a successful actor and the author of a novel, The Lizard, published in 2020 to excellent reviews.

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