Title:                      Silver

Author:                  Mihir Bose

Bose, Mihir (2016). Silver: The Spy Who Fooled The Nazis: The Most Remarkable Agent of the Second World War. Stroud: Fonthill Media Limited

OCLC:    967756050



Date Posted:      April 25, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

Silver was the codename for the only quintuple spy of the Second World War, spying for the Italians, Germans, Japanese, Soviets, and the British. The Germans awarded him the Iron Cross, Germany’s highest military decoration, and paid him £2.5 million in today’s money. In reality Silver deceived the Nazis on behalf of the Soviets and the British.

In 1942 the Russians decided to share Silver with the British, the only time during the war that the Soviets agreed to such an arrangement. This brought him under the control of Peter Fleming who acted as his spy master. Germans also gave silver a transmitter which broadcast misleading military information directly to Abwehr headquarters in Berlin.

Silver was one of many codenames for a man whose real name was Bhagat Ram Talwar, a Hindu Pathan from the North West Frontier province of then British India. Between 1941 and 1945, Silver made twelve trips from Peshawar to Kabul to supply false information to the Germans, always making the near-200-mile journey on foot over mountain passes and hostile tribal territory. Once when an Afghan nearly rumbled him, he invited him to a curry meal in which he had mixed deadly tiger’s whiskers[2], killing the Afghan.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 135).

[2] The Balinese held the folkloric belief that the ground powder of tiger whiskers was a potent and undetectable poison for one’s foe. Surprising to see it here in a book of nonfiction.

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