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For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James…

For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond

by Ben Macintyre

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1103109,733 (3.91)14
  1. 00
    The Book of Bond: or Every Man His Own 007 by Lt. Col. William (Bill) Tanner (alanteder)
    alanteder: For a light-hearted look at how to make the real world parallel the spy world of 007, "The Book of Bond or Every Man His Own 007" by Kingsley Amis (under the pseudonym of Bill Tanner) is a nice companion to Ben Macintyre's "For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond" which shows how much of real life was incorporated by Ian Fleming into the 007 books.… (more)

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Neither a biography of Fleming nor his fictional hero, James Bond, but "a personal investigation into the intersection of the two lives". A remarkable double life that went down in history - although Bond is definitely the more attractive of the pair. This well-written and entertaining book by Macintyre is a must-read for Bond fans, whether the preferred format is print or film. ( )
  VivienneR | Feb 22, 2017 |
"Above all, his job with naval intelligence had taken place in a wartime world where anything seemed possible. Winning a war, like writing a novel, required one weapon above all others: imagination."

This book was not quite what I was expecting, but when I read the notes at the end it made perfect sense to me. Macintyre states, "This book, published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, is a homage to Ian Fleming and the centenary of the author's birth, and a celebration of James Bond, his greatest creation. It is not a biography of Ian Fleming...nor is it a biography of James Bond....it is a personal investigation of two lives, one real and one fictional."

What Macintyre does is take us through a brief history of Fleming's career in the spy world and then point out how his real life intersected with the Bond books. Names, places, and characters that reflected his own circle - some of them thrilled to be included in the books and some that threatened to sue him. A very interesting journey, but I wanted more details. And photos. There are just a few photos included, and they were all at the end of the Kindle version - inserting them into the proper chapters would have made for a better read for me. I like to put names and faces together, and there are a lot of names here to digest. Still, the book is very nicely paced and a very good read. Last year I read Goldeneye: Ian Fleming's Jamaica: Where Bond Was Born by Matthew Parker, and that is the better book, IMO. However, the focus of both books is different, so they make truly great companion books. I was glad I had read the Parker book first, as it goes into a lot more detail about Fleming's personal life and gives us a deep understanding of how Fleming came to write the books and to do so in Jamaica.

One thing this book does a great job of is getting across just how important it was to Fleming to be accurate - he consulted experts and conducted his own investigations to aid his story lines. I loved reading about the gun expert that wrote to him explaining that Bond was carrying the wrong gun. This led to a correspondence that lasted the rest of Fleming's life, and the letter writer (Geoffrey Boothroyd, who would eventually get a character named after him) helped Fleming chose not only James Bond's weapon of choice, but also those of his enemies. Another fun fact is that Fleming met and went scuba diving with Jacques Cousteau, who had invited him to join him on his current excavation of the remains of a Greek ship sunk off the South of France. He used what he learned in Live and Let Die. I love this kind of trivia!

Another thing that Macintyre did an excellent job of was establishing that Bond is very much a product of the WWII generation and the Cold War. Pointing out that after the horrors of WWII, the villains that Bond faces don't seem all that unbelievable:

"The criminal inventiveness of Bond's enemies seemed horribly believable in a world that had experienced the death camps, Japanese torture and Gestapo interrogation methods."

Anyway, fascinating stuff even if it didn't go into as much detail as I would have liked. Highly recommended to anyone who is at all curious about Fleming and his creation. But read the Parker book, too. A huge thanks to Jim for mentioning on his thread that he wanted to read this - I had not heard of it before then. ( )
1 vote Crazymamie | Dec 14, 2016 |
Ian Fleming and James Bond - Ben Macintyre ****

I have always been a fan of the James Bond books, and fancied reading something about the author and the reasons behind his creation. I didn’t want War and Peace, just a general overview of Fleming’s life and those that surrounded him. I have read a few books by Macintyre before so thought I would give it a try.

What is it about?

Basically it cover’s Flemings life, skimming over his childhood and naval career until we reach the introduction of the world’s most famous secret agent, James Bond. Macintyre showcases the similarities between the creator and his creation and gives reasons why he thinks these have been included. He also studies the other aspects that make up a bond novel (baddies/girls/gadgets) and offers potential real life counterparts that may have been the influence behind them.

What did I like?

Macintyre has obviously well researched his subject, and written in a clear and interesting way. It was something for someone that wants to know a little about a lot, rather than any great detail. There were also a number of interesting photographs included.

What didn’t I like?
When you get down to the nitty gritty, we will never know the real people that Fleming based his characters on, and each person seems to have multiple possibilities. Because of this it did tend to run a little like a telephone directory and fell in to the trap of ‘it could have been her or her or her...’

Would I recommend?
Yes, for anyone with an interest in the man behind the licence to kill then give it a try. ( )
  Bridgey | Dec 29, 2015 |
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Published to coincide with the 2008 Imperial War Museum exhibition of the same name, this book looks into the entwined worlds of James Bond and Ian Fleming, exploring how Bond's world was based on the realities (and fantasies) of Fleming's life as a wartime spy-master and peacetime bon viveur.… (more)

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