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Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
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4,8052171,464 (3.53)311
  1. 00
    Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford (Stepn)
    Stepn: Another debut thriller, the kind of thing Fleming might have written today.
  2. 00
    The Kobra Manifesto by Adam Hall (benfulton)
    benfulton: Very similar spy stories. Quiller is a bit more physical than Bond, I think.
  3. 12
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré (Cecilturtle)
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Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
God, Ian Flemming is an appalling sexist, misogynistic pig. I'm almost ashamed to have read this book.

Back in the day (the 1960s), Ian Fleming was all the rage. Pres. Kennedy said he liked reading him, and so everyone took him up. Movies followed. The first movies came out when I was in college, featuring the real James Bond, i.e. Sean Connery. The guys who came later were all, to use a term that Bond probably used in real life, if not in the polite environs of literature or cinema, wankers. Anyway, we all liked the movies. The sexism seemed good fun then, a sort of boys-will-be-boys thing. And I don't really remember the nasty misogyny that appears in the book. Maybe it was there and I was just too young and insensitive to have noticed.

This is my first experience with the Bond genre in book form. It pretty much has lots to loathe. In addition to the misogyny, we have a setting at a European casino. For some reason, people like to think of casinos as romantic and exciting. Actually, they're full of sick people who never amounted to a damn and are living off someone else's money. The French Riviera is full of such Eurotrash, people—often alleged former royalty—living on undeserved inheritances.

Ok, sorry I got carried away. So, it seems that some spy master under Russian control, rather embezzled the funds of the trade unions he was representing and used such funds to make bad investments, e.g. in a string of brothels just before such places were declared illegal. He knows the Russians will have him executed once they discover his perfidy. So he needs to make a pile of money quickly, before they find out. Apparently, that means gambling.

So, British Intelligence thinks it would be a great idea to prevent the guy from winning at gambling. They send their best gambler, Bond, to the casino to better the master spy. He is given a side-kick, a woman, who has marvelous "protuberances, both front and back". Bond, being a misogynist, hates the idea of working with a woman. On the other hand, he is only too happy to contrive to bed her. His first thought on seeing her is to wonder about her "morals". Morals to him means only one thing, will she put out or not.

If I were still an adolescent male, I might have found this story interesting, although I think that even back in the dark ages of the 60s I'd have been appalled by Bond's misogyny.
( )
1 vote lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Since enjoying the fantastic series of films starring Daniel Craig, I found myself with a mild interest in trying at least one of the novels to see what the "real" (because there have been so many cinematic interpretations) James Bond was like.

Unfortunately, this is one of those rare examples where the film is much better.

The best you could say about Fleming's prose is that it is serviceable: heavy on exposition, light on dialogue, and frequently awkward. The long section in which Bond and le Chiffre face off in a card game is particularly tedious. I didn't follow the game of baccarat at all, or maybe it just wasn't interesting enough to try. It's just boring to read about. Maybe it helps if you're a gambler? It made me want to re-watch the film to see again how it played out there.

As characters, Bond and love interest Vesper Lynd have none. It's bad enough when they are going about their agently business, but when the romance starts it's particularly flimsy. There's no emotional weight at all, which makes the ending of the book fail completely to affect the reader. You can tell that the author wanted it to have a punch, but it neither earns nor delivers it.

I'm hoping that Fleming's writing improved the more he did it, but I don't know if I want to find out firsthand. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
Although I've read the other Bond novels, somehow this first one had always eluded me until now. Reading it it's hard not to overlay the new movie, and it's surprising how much-and how little-made it onto the screen. The centerpiece card game and subsequent torture has a surprising power to shock on the page, and the writing is crisp and taut, almost pulpish in places. All in all, I rather enjoyed it, and it's a quick, smooth read. ( )
  williemeikle | Dec 22, 2018 |
The movie is way better. The spy story is good, but the casino scenes and the romance are terribly boring. Clearly, what constitutes cool has changed a lot since 1953. I rather doubt that smoking 70 cigarettes a day and guzzling stiff drinks would keep your mind sharp and your body in shape enough for spy work.

I expected misogyny, but not the bloodcurling levels of it:
"These blithering women who thought they could do a man's work. Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave the men's work to the men? "
Vesper is incredibly beautiful, but alternately cold, or feeble, emotional and submissive. Bond wants to screw her from the start (apparently this was ok in work situations in the fifties). Fleming's idea of a sex scene is crude, and he thinks rape is something to spice up your love life with: "And he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the tang of rape".

I enjoyed the action, and the writing was pretty good, but the rampant misogyny, Vesper's stupid characterization, and the insipid, creepy love story really turned me off. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
James Bond is given an opportunity to remove a Russian agent from the board by taking him on in a high-stakes game of baccarat at a French resort casino. It seems Le Chiffre, as the agent is known, has been using money that’s not his own in a failed business venture and is looking to recoup the lost money before his paymasters find out. SMERSH are not renowned for their forgiveness of failure and it’s up to Bond to make things worse for his opponent. Bond is to be assisted on this mission by fellow agent Vesper Lynd. CIA agent Felix Leiter is also on hand to offer American assistance if required. Right from the outset things start to go wrong with his cover being blown almost immediately and a failed assassination attempt occurs just outside his hotel. Will Bond even survive to reach the gaming tables never mind complete his mission?

To be even able to read this book then you must be able to make allowances for the time period in which it was written. Rampant sexism and misogyny abound from the outset though I haven’t done the research to distinguish between the author’s views or those of his characters. Vesper is regarded as an intelligent, capable female agent after all. If you can’t get past this in your own reading then it’s best to avoid this series of books altogether. The book itself follows Bond in the lead up to and then the actual game itself and then moves on to the aftermath of this match-up including an horrific torture scene (especially for the male readers) followed by a recovery and romantic interlude and the final twist of the plot. It’s a fairly typical spy story that despite its faults reads quite well and flows quickly between the events that make up the story. It’s not going to be a series that I actively seek out but would be willing to read more if they find me. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Oct 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (85 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian Flemingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Deaver, JefferyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fahey, RichieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, DanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.
Quotations
The Devil has no prophets to write his Ten Commandments and no teams of authors to write his biography. His case has gone completely by default. We know nothing about him but a lot of fairy stories from our parents and schoolmasters. He has no book from which we can learn the nature of evil in all its forms, with parables about evil people, proverbs about evil people, folk-lore about evil people. All we have is the living example of the people who are least good, or our own intuition.
"surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles. But don't let me down and become human yourself. We would lose such a wonderful machine."
“Your own injuries are serious, but your life is not in danger... If all goes well, you will recover completely and none of the functions of your body will be impaired... But I fear that you will continue to be in pain for several days...”
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Book description
James Bond

closed his eyes and waited for the pain. He knew that the beginning of torture was the worst.

Le Chiffre
The formidable, dangerous French Communist with large sexual appetites. Paymaster of SMERSH and a master sadist.

Vesper Lynd
the conquest of her body would each time have the sweet tang of rape.

A superlative thriller. Replete with elegant, enigmatic women, superb food and service, explosions, torture and sudden death. - Boston Sunday Post

The best gambling scene one can recall and the most revolting torture scenes. - The Birmingham Post

Hums with tension - Time Magazine
For James Bond and the British Secret Service, the stakes couldn't be higher. 007's mission is to neutralize the Russian operative Le Chiffre by ruining him at the baccarat table, forcing his Soviet masters to "retire" him. When Le Chiffre hits a losing streak, Bond discovers his luck is in - that is, until he meets Vesper Lynd, a glamorous agent who might yet prove to be his downfall. This audiobook includes an exclusive bonus interview with Dan Stevens.
Haiku summary
Double Oh Seven
gambles with a union boss
who's a SMERSH agent.
(yoyogod)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014200202X, Paperback)

In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.



(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:50 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In the first James Bond novel, originally published in 1953, 007 takes on Le Chiffre, a French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH, as the suave agent becomes involved in a high-stakes game of baccarat, enjoys a fiery love affair with a sexy female spy, and endures torture at the hands of a master sadist.… (more)

» see all 19 descriptions

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