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

ISBN-13: 978-0199782826 ISBN-10: 9780199782826 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199782826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199782826
  • ASIN: 0199782822
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,592 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.

Customer Reviews

This was really interesting.
Don
We do get occasional sightings of Reserve Navy Commander Ian Fleming but up until the end of the book there are very few complete and completely connected narratives.
Phred
The sheer scope of the information is not the issue here, but rather the lack of editing.
David Persson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 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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10 of 11 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 Phred on March 12, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are the makings of several good history books in the Nicholas Rankin' s Ian Fleming's Commandos. And for all the meticulous research none of those possible history books are completed.

We do eventually get some information about the World War II history of 30 Assault Unit, a.k.a 30 Commando. We do get occasional sightings of Reserve Navy Commander Ian Fleming but up until the end of the book there are very few complete and completely connected narratives.
We get something of the usual story of Bletchley Park and decoding the German Enigma machine. There is a little of Alan Turing. This is nice except neither Fleming nor his commandos were "read into" the secrets of Alan Turing and his code breaking. This is according to the footnotes in the book. There are bits about commando training the formation of what would become the Special Boat Service and a few asides about America's OSS and its Chief Wild Bill Donovan. But at least in these cases there is some evidence that these people had occasional contact with 30 Commando or Fleming.

To his credit Rankin mentions several specific achievements by German Intelligence, code breaking and tactical targeted intelligence gathering. This is one of the few books I have read that speaks to these kinds of successes. The text will make the point that Fleming got the idea to form small group commando units for the purpose of targeting and seizing, called pinching, important enemy documents and devices from active battlefields. The more technical term for this approach is given in the preface as TARget EXploitation, TAREX. The term will not be used again.

The units within 30 Commando would eventually consist of a few technically trained individuals supported by commando trained Royal Marines.
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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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Manly Reading 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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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.

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Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit
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