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The Jewish History of James Bond

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Sidney Reilly (c. 1873–1925) is one of the most colorful and best–known spies of the twentieth century. Emerging from humble beginnings in southern Russia, Reilly was an inventive multilingual businessman and conman who enjoyed espionage as a sideline. By the early twentieth century, he was working as an agent for Scotland Yard and spent World War I in the United States, brokering major arms deals for tsarist Russia before becoming a professional spy, joining the ranks of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service. Said to have been the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s iconic James Bond character, Reilly was simultaneously married to three or four women and had mistresses galore. Sifting through the reality and the myth of Reilly’s life, historian Benny Morris offers a fascinating portrait of one of the most intriguing figures from the golden age of spies in a riveting discussion with AJU’s VP of Communications, Michelle Starkman.