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Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly Hardcover – 1 May 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House,U.S.; 1st Edition edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915798
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,126,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Roy Bainton on 25 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
It seems odd that the few people in Britain who might recall the name Sidney Reilly might do so simply because Ian Fleming once said of his invention, 007, "He wasn't a Sidney Reilly, you know..." or, by basing their knowledge on Robin Bruce Lockhart's 1970s best-seller, 'Reilly, Ace of Spies', which spawned the famous TV mini-series. 'Trust No One' gets far closer to the truth (if such a word can be applied to Reilly) than anyone who has gone before.
As an author researching into one of Reilly's many areas of operation, the Bolshevik Revolution, I found that every time Reilly came into the frame he threw my narrative into confusion, and had it not been for Richard Spence's depth of erudition on this most perplexing of historical characters, I may well have thrown in the towel.
'Trust No One' is a quite an achievement. The research involved is mind-boggling, because Reilly had so many aliases and odd identities throughout his colourful life he is often hard to pin down. In the book's opening chapters Spence tries manfully to piece together Reilly's weird existence from arriving in Britain from Eastern Europe to his dealings in America and introduction into British Intelligence circles. The author picks his way skilfully through a minefield of false names and cul-de-sacs of intrigue, explaining, and, by sheer necessity, surmising as he goes. The intricacies of Reilly's business dealings and the surprising exposure of his many political duplicities not only clarify the many rumours and veiled hints around this odd man - they also, in many ways, add an extra patina of mystery to this spy, wheeler-dealer and agent provocateur who was the living embodiment of the phrase 'cloak and dagger'.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Molerat on 29 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm reluctant to disagree with people who unquestionably know much more about this subject than I do, but I can't quite share Roy Bainton's wholehearted enthusiasm for this book. At the start, certainly, I was finding it fascinating. About halfway through I had a sense of vague dissatisfaction, and by the end I was mildly irritated. This is not to criticise the research effort that has gone into it which, as Bainton points out, is quite awe-inspiring. The reader is constantly bombarded with exhaustive lists of people Reilly knew or probably knew - politicians, businessmen, actors, police informants and crooks - providing an intriguing insight into the networked world of the professional spy in the early 20th century. The problem is that, where reliable information is lacking (and, in this twilight world, very little information is reliable), Spence is happy to speculate. And, with each speculation, the scrawny figure of Salomon Rosenblum / Sidney Reilly towers ever larger. One layer of myth is stripped away, only for another to be put in its place.

For Spence, Reilly is a master manipulator, playing nations off against each other - Japan against Tsarist Russia, Britain against Germany, Bolshevik Russia against the USA. Therefore anything that happens to damage the interests of one country can be interpreted as being to Reilly's advantage and, by a leap of imagination, the result of his handiwork. German saboteurs detonate a bomb in New Jersey? Social Revolutionaries assassinate a People's Commissar in Petrograd? A hoard of gold bullion goes missing in Vladivostok? Spence sees Reilly lurking in the shadows every time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Justinian on 28 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Trust No One is perhaps the best researched account of the work of a British agent in Soviet Russia in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution of 1918. Reilly's status is an enigma. We are never quite sure what he is doing or why, or at least his boss Mansfield Cumming "C" was not too sure sometimes. In particular mystery surrounds his last operation in Russia. It is one of those extraordinary stories that excited the imagination of his times and the curiosity of ours.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Outhwaite on 9 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
As many reviewers have said, the scholastic research for this book is tremendous, albeit not as complete as it could be.

One problem I find is the facts of Reilly's life are juxaposed with speculations that frequently obscure which is which.

My main objection is the grammar, punctuation, etc., which is distracting if not obnoxious. It seems (with only a very slight exageration) that there is a mistake on every other page. Not only that, many of the errors are those usually made only by a non-native speaker of English. If Spence has difficulties with the language, where are the editors? I fear I will be reluctant to buy further works from such a sloppy publisher.

Buy Robin Lockhart's book. He is the son of Sir Robert
Lockhart(the part played by Ian Charlwson in the TV series), someone who knew Reilly personally .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 0 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Publisher's Response to Smear 14 April 2005
By Adam Parfrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I wonder why a character who calls himself "Borwall" has attempted to discredit professor and author Richard Spence and his book and promote a competing book by one Mr. Cook.

From "Borwall's" comments I really have to wonder whether he actually read TRUST NO ONE himself. He definitely didn't read it very carefully because in the list of things cited as the author's cardinal errors and misinterpretations, he manages to misrepresent what is actually said.

For instance, author Richard Spence does not argue that Trust was a great Soviet achievement; exactly the opposite is the case. While Spence theorizes that elements in British intelligence sought to use Trotsky for their purposes, and vice versa, that's hardly the same as presenting him as a tool of capitalist restoration. Re Hill and Boyce's ambiguous loyalties, and the Radkevichs, Spence stands by his sources and conclusions. "Borwall" repeatedly tosses off phrases such as "absolute and complete lies" in attacking the author's views or "quite sure" in advancing his own, but in neither instance does he reference the slightest evidence to support these sweeping assertions. In the absence of a reasoned and factual rebuttal, he resorts to cheap shots of innuendo, ad hominem attack, and unsubstantiated claims of superior knowledge.

Finally, speaking of cheap smears, author Spence is not an agent of the KGB or its successors or, for that matter, a freemanson or tool of the Elders of Zion. Likewise, the folks at Sovershenno Sekretno would be very surprised to see themselves labeled a "KGB paper."

Adam Parfrey

Feral House
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A MONUMENTAL EFFORT OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH 16 Feb. 2003
By W. ADAM MANDELBAUM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover

The serious student of intelligence history will appreciate the exhaustive research that author
Spence put in to his revealing story of "The Ace of Spies," Sidney Reilly, (Born Salomon
Rosenblum, Poland).
A Professor of History at the University of Idaho, Spence has provided a density of detail that
one seldom encounters in an espionage biography. But, that density is a two edged sword. On
the one hand, the academically oriented will relish the microscopic facts from fantasy discussion
of Reilly's life and world. On the other hand, those seeking more drama and less detail may find
Trust No One, a rather slow going read.
Spence often conjectures where facts are absent, but his "maybe" and "perhaps" offerings add
to the mystery that was Sidney Reilly, without subtracting from the author's monumental efforts
at ferreting out the truth of the man who trusted no one.
In reading this new biography of an old spy, we see the world of finance, oil, espionage and
war is not very different today than it was in the early years of the last century-only the
technology has improved. The international stew of greed, double dealing and conflicts of interest
which made up the main course of Sidney Reilly's diet, is still being served up hot on today's
international menus.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Attempting the impossible 28 July 2006
By Colonel Moran - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In the end, Sidney Reilly has the last laugh. He spent a lifetime covering his tracks, weaving a trail of deception and misinformation intended to obscure every aspect of his personal history and career. Spence takes on the noble task of trying to sift through the voluminous, vague, and usually contradictory material about this character. Unfortunately, almost nothing can be said with certainty about Reilly. We are unsure of his real name, place of birth, parentage, marriages...and those are just the biographical details. His work was obviously and carefully kept clouded. The author assembles as much data as one will probably ever find on this subject. He tries to be objective. However, the end result is a compilation of information mixed with supposition and conjecture. Yet, it is doubtful if anyone could have done more than Spence given the nature of the subject. In the end, we are not even sure if Reilly died as legend holds or if he lived on in mystery. No one will ever accurately chronicle the life of this remarkable enigma wrapped in a riddle...and that is exactly how Sidney Reilly wanted things to be.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Popped my bubble about Reilly 29 Sept. 2005
By Mark S. Broski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this after watching the BBC miniseries on Sidney Reilly. Spence has produced a very scholarly book written in a friendly tone. While I still view the Ace of Spies (the series, not the man) with affection and admiration, this book demonstrates that Reilly's life was much more complex than the BBC series made out. While not wanting to give too much away, I'll just say, watch the series, then read the book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Scholarly but irresistible reading 24 Oct. 2006
By NobodyImportant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard Spence's research is astounding in its depth. Although this is in some ways a very "scholarly" work and demands effort on the part of the reader, it's worth it. It's obvious that no easy or pat answers to the mystery of Sidney Reilly are possible....and any book that pretends otherwise is just another red herring being dangled before the gullible.
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