The real James Bond
October 18, 2006 5:16 PM Subscribe
The real James Bond — Sidney George Reilly, the shadowy 'Ace of Spies' and inspiration for Ian Fleming's 007, was born Shlomo/Sigmund Georgievich Rosenblum in Ukraine/Poland in 1874. Perhaps illegitimate, dapper Sidney was a tireless self-promoter, patent-medicine chemist, world traveller, and high-stakes gambler (not only at the tables: he married four women but divorced none.) A Czarist Okhrana informer as a Parisian student, he was hired as an undercover agent in the late 1890s by M of Scotland Yard. Reilly worked both sides of the Russo-Japanese War, influenced British oil interests in Iran, brokered World War I arms sales, and volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. Sent to Russia by C of Britain's SIS in 1918, he joined a plot to overthrow the Bolsheviks: it failed, but he escaped to London. Returning to Russia in 1919 to help the White Army, he was later awarded the British Military Cross. A staunch anti-Communist, Reilly schemed against them throughout his career. Lured back to Russia by agents of the 'Trust' — an anti-Bolshevik trap set by the Soviet OGPU — Sidney was arrested, interrogated, and shot in 1925.
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