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Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit Hardcover – October 7, 2011


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Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit + A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First edition (October 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199782826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199782826
  • ASIN: 0199782822
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"It is, first of all, chock-a-block full of wonderful stories and odd characters, and secondly awash in wonderful, arcane knowledge of the seamy and secret side of World War Two...suavely blended, like one of Bond's Martinis." --Michael Korda, The Daily Beast


"A kind of cousin to Rankin's own A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars, this will appeal to all readers interested either in Ian Fleming or World War II secret operations." - Library Journal


"Nicholas Rankin's fascinating book is an account of the 30AU's progress through the war. From time to time it reads like a Boy's Own story, so flamboyant are the characters and so vivid Rankin's accounts of the deadly scrapes and firefights the commandos found themselves involved in. The research is prodigious and lucid - now I finally understand how an Enigma machine works - and one gains a real sense of how these maverick units functioned, very much akin to the Long Range Desert Group and the fledgling SAS." - William Boyd, The Guardian


"Rankin has produced, as my father would have said, a ripping good yarn." -- The Washington Independent Review of Books


About the Author


Nicholas Rankin is the author of A Genius for Deception and Telegram from Guernica. He lives in London.

More About the Author

Nicholas Rankin spent 20 years broadcasting for BBC World Service where he was Chief Producer and won two UN awards. His first book for Faber, Dead Man's Chest, followed in Robert Louis Stevenson's footsteps from Scotland to Samoa and was much enjoyed by Graham Greene. His second, Telegram from Guernica, was a widely-praised biography of the ground-breaking war-correspondent and front-line propagandist George Lowther Steer.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Fan of *Great* Writing on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Growing up on the James Bond Books and John Le Carre and other great spy thrillers, I LOVED the idea of this book and I was not disappointed in the reading of it!
I learned things about Ian Fleming and my parents' war that I never knew! For instance, that "D-Day was won on the fields of Dieppe" - Fleming's creation of a special force to pinch enemy intelligence and technology - the "30 AU" Assault Unit - led to many successful hits on the enemy - you 'll have to read the book as I don't want to spoil things by telling more detail here! But i loved that Fleming and Sean Connery actually met each other - on the set of Dr. No ! And there are many other gems in this well-told and woven book.

It made me want to read Rankin's other very recent book, Churchill's Wizards which I heard v good things about, history buff that I am - but that's it for this review here!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David J. Makichuk on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I snagged this book, I was quite excited to start reading ... a big fan of Ian Fleming and all things 007, as well as WWII history, I couldn't wait to delve into it and tore through it in two days. Unfortunately, having now read it, I would say it was a bit disappointing ... although it was clearly well researched, and, fairly well-written, it lacked much of the detail I was looking for, as it pertains to Ian Fleming's behind-the-scenes war service. Not that it was a bad book, of course. There is enough background WWII history and anecdotes, to present an interesting read here, especially the stuff during and after the D-Day landings, but the Fleming/007 mentions almost seem to be tossed in ad hoc, and there doesnt really seem to be much new here in that regard. As to the latter, perhaps it's the billing of the book which disappoints, leading to slightly unrealistic expectations. In summation, I would still recommend Fleming/Bond fans give it a read, just to soak in the 30 Commando heroics and the unit's contribution to the war effort, but I'd advise to save your hard-earned bucks and get it from the library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. G. Campbell on March 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight into a tiny portion of the Allied war machine during the 2nd World War, drawn from some very thorough research of archives that are now accessible to the general public. It very clearly demonstrates the superiority that the Germans had over the Allies in almost every field of war - and the crucial necessity for the Allies to get up to speed, by any means available.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Persson on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Clearly, the author has spent a great deal of time doing his research before writing this piece. Hardly any fact is bypassed and the book feels solid and meticulous written. However, the devil lies in the details. The sheer scope of the information is not the issue here, but rather the lack of editing. The book clear lacks a concise red-line and is haphazardly structured with way too little connection to Fleming - all in all a little surprising since the author is a veteran journalist. But compared to e.g. Ben Macintyre's wonderfully written books about WWII the difference is obvious; "Ian Flemings' commandos" comes out as too detailed, unstructured and thus unfortunately also makes a dull read. Die-hard Fleming/Bond fans might find it enjoyable, but sadly, for the ordinary WWII buffs this one is better avoided.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Middleton on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Rankin has written here a book which promises more than it delivers, but still delivers a satisfying story. It's a bit about Ian Fleming, who wrote James Bond, and how he was involved in the creation of 30AU, a specialist squad of commandos whose job was stealing Axis weapon systems and other items of military significance. Its best when it focuses on the Enigma stuff early on, and also is interesting whenever (generally in a footnote) it talks about something that cropped up in a Bond book. There is even some literary analysis of Bond in places, something I had not thought possible - although given the classical education Fleming received, I should not have been so surprised.

But the book is not truly about Fleming, or Bond, but really about the exploits of a bunch of Commandos who did crazy things in the North Sea, the Western Desert, Italy, France and Germany. Often as not these exploits were not at first glance spectacular - "we found a widget!" is not the stuff of which legends are made - but the importance of what they did can be seen from the few examples given in the book. Did what they do shorten the war and save lives? The answer has to be yes.

From the first page, to the story of the capture of the archives of the Kriegsmarine which largely closes the book, this is an excellent ride: a look into some of the darker corners of WWII that you usually look past. It may not be for the serious historian in the field, but for those of us with an interest in WWII, it's a great read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stumpy on January 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read A GENIUS FOR DECEPTION/CHURCHILL'S WIZARDS, I was extremely excited to read IAN FLEMING'S COMMANDOS (Being a constant reader of spy history/novels/deception/JAMES BOND)!!! However, I was disappointed with Mr. Rankin's efforts here. He sought to show the connection between Ian Fleming's experiences during WWII and his writing JAMES BOND novels. The book does include those links, but it's structure is a kind of malaise as it goes through the process. It starts out with the background of Mr. Fleming and how he came to conceive 30 ASSAULT. The middle of the book is mixed with story of muddled kinds that explain what 30 ASSAULT was doing during the war, and occasionally brings LCDR Fleming to their location or links to his characters/situations in JAMES BOND books. But, in the end there is no final - This is how it all ties in to each other! Rather, it is left at the end for the reader to start going back and piecing things together. GREAT Stories and I am always fascinated by the impact WWII has had on our current military, but left wanting with the conclusion piece.
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