Sidney Reilly's reports from South Russia, December 1918-March 1919

Ainsworth, John S. (1998) Sidney Reilly's reports from South Russia, December 1918-March 1919. Europe-Asia Studies, 50(8), pp. 1447-1470.

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Sidney Reilly has become a legendary figure as the master spy of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). 'He was surely not only the master spy of this century', wrote one ardent admirer, 'but of all time'. While his activities as an intelligence agent in British service have only been glimpsed through the veil of secrecy that officialdom invariably imposes on such matters, nonetheless, they seem to have an aura of the extraordinary about them. Supposedly they even surpassed the amazing exploits of the fictional super-spy character James Bond, whose creator Ian Fleming, himself a former officer of the Naval Intelligence Directorate, declared: 'James Bond is just a piece of nonsense I dreamed up. He's not a Sidney Reilly, you know!'(1) Other estimates of his achievements have been rather less flattering though. Some senior officials of the Foreign Office in London, for instance, were said to have dismissed the Reilly legend as one derived largely from his inclination to 'exaggerate his own importance', while an acclaimed historical study of Britain's secret intelligence agencies described Reilly's secret service career overall as 'remarkable, though largely ineffective ...'.(2) Examination of his reports from South Russia, and their manner of compilation as well, affords us a unique opportunity to assess both his function and performance, at least on this particular occasion, as an agent in the field for MI6. It also offers another insight into the situation in the anti-Bolshevik camp in South Russia during the initial phase of Allied intervention in this region following upon the cessation of hostilities in the Great War of 1914-18.

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ID Code: 2165
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Author contact details:
ISSN: 1465-3427
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1998 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in Europe-Asia Studies 50(8):pp. 1447-1470.
Deposited On: 06 Oct 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:27

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