The Three Most Incredible Secret Agents of History

“Forget the privacy, we all are the spy and spying each other in every way on every subject.” 

― Ehsan Sehgal

It’s believed that only ten people in every one million has what it takes to be a secret agent; a great courage and the ability to gracefully endure levels of anxiety and stress which would make a normal human take his own life (only twenty people in Mexico City, thirteen people in Tokyo and eight in New York if we do the maths). Above that, one needs to be a master in several disciplines (such as survival and hoax, just to mention the most important ones).

The people you will read about in this text went far beyond what we see in movies and read in classic literature, they were asstounding humans of which we’ve all forgotten about. Lets then today, remember them.

joan pujol


Without this double agent, the D-Day would have never happened. He was born in Spain and -although he was far more dangerous than a gun fight inside a lift - he wasn’t much of a warrior; instead, he was a formidable actor. He hated both the Nazis and the Communists, and not only he infiltrated into Hitler's Germany but he also managed to fool their intelligence agency to such a degree that they made him into a spy. He created a complex web which he used to provide the English government with information about the troop movements, maritime movements, air movements, intelligence reports, plans and missions of the Nazi Party to whom, at the same time, he lied to so extraordinarily well that he even managed to personally convince Adolf Hitler that the allies were not going to land in Normandy and manipulated him into sending his troops 249 kilometers away from the shore - opening way for the most important historical episode of the Second World War to happen.

Despite this - the German government, unaware of his true loyalties - gave Joan the Iron Cross (one of the maximum military decorations of that country until 1945) and they did so the same year when England granted him with “The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”, turning Joan into one of the very few people in history decorated by both sides. He died in Caracas, Venezuela at the age of 74.

Sidney Reilly


Sidney George Reilly spied for several different countries across four continents - this Jewish Russian-born spy of the most extraordinary type served as a major inspiration for the character of James Bond. He might have been the most diverse secret agent of history; without being a double agent he spied for England, Japan, Russia, USA and Germany. Reilly worked as an assassin and ruined and orchestrated top secret plans for everyone. Exactly who he was is a bit of a mystery but he was originally named either Georgi Rosenblum or Salomon Rosenblum and after faking his own death in Odessa he fled the Tsarist regime and, traveling via either France or Brazil (depending on who you believe) arrived in London in late 1895 and crafted himself a new identity: Sidney George Reilly.

In 1925, Soviet secret police pretending to be anti-Communists lured Reilly back to Russia and captured him.  He was imprisoned for several weeks of interrogation and then executed.  The Soviet’s public story is that he had been shot while trying to cross the Finnish border, and even after his execution rumours circulated that he had defected and had become a Soviet adviser.

Kim Philby


Kim was born in the British Raj to a quite wealthy family. He grew up to be a fervent communist and became the leader of the most successful secret operation of the Soviet Union known as “The Cambridge Five”, a group of five international top agents loyal to the Union who infiltrated to the depths of the British Intelligence in aim to pass key information to Kremlin. Meanwhile Kim became a high rank member and the director of several operations of the English intelligence service. Philby infiltrated as well to the USA where he became a writer for the New York Times while he providing Russia with extensive information about the US nuclear arsenal. In his times living in the United States, Kim worked in several embassies and became illustrious citizen of both USA and Britain.

Kim mingled for decades within the British royalty and the American upper class meanwhile reaching the highest levels of the MI6 and CIA. In 1963 he defected to the Soviet Union, disillusioned with communism and according to his wife he tried to drink himself to death several times due to his disappointment and personal failures. She added. "Kim believed in a just society and devoted his whole life to communism. And here he was struck by disappointment, brought to tears. He said, 'Why do old people live so badly here? After all, it is they who won the war.'"

He died in 1988 at age 76, in Moscow.

“For an old spy and codebreaker like myself, nothing in the world happens by coincidence.”

- Malcolm Nance