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The Life of Ian Fleming ~ Alias James Bond Mass Market Paperback – 1967


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Paperback Edition edition (1967)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SDAJQE
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,970,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Research followed the initial burst of writing; he was not shy about consulting experts.
Death Bredon
Read this before you read Peasons The Authorised Autobiography of James Bond The Biography will be more meaningful then, A most enjoyable and well thought out book.
David Noonan
This book is the best account of the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming's, life yet.
an Ian Fleming Collector

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Death Bredon on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
For Ian Fleming, writing was an escape from the restraints of real life. One spring in 1952 he sat down at his typewriter and began 'Casino Royale', first of the James Bond thrillers. He drew upon his six years of wartime service as personal assistant to the director of naval intelligence in Whitehall. Research followed the initial burst of writing; he was not shy about consulting experts. Over the next eleven years he wrote a book a year. Gradually the lifestyle he prescribed for himself and his hero -- 60 cigarettes a day, whiskey or gin -- took its toll, and he saw the beginning of real success just about the time he succumbed to "the iron crab" -- heart disease. The books took real incidents, real places, and real parts of his own personality and turned them into enduring fantasies -- popular not just with people familiar with these settings but with those for whom they seemed realistic in detail but far removed from personal experience.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By an Ian Fleming Collector on July 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is the best account of the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming's, life yet. Written in 1965-1966, it is the one and only biography of Fleming that was written with true research by the author. Pearson's biography is also drawn on personel expiriences (he worked with Fleming on the Sunday Times for many years). Many excerpts of interviews with people who knew Fleming, or stayed at his house Goldeneye, have been included, and statements by close friends are plentifull. This book is to be read for pleasure, other biographies of Fleming (e.g. Andre Lycett's Ian Fleming: the man behind James Bond) are to be navigated through using an index. An excellent book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was written while Fleming's wife Anne was still alive, so out of respect for her, many details of his affairs during their marriage were left out. Otherwise, this is a fantastic account of the life of this amazing man, the details of his career in Naval Intelligence during WWII are fascinating. The little points you see here and there that are later reflecting in one of his Bond novels are always neat to pick up on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on September 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
John Pearson's biography of Ian Lancaster Fleming tells all about the checkered career of this writer. Fleming's grandfather became a millionaire through his banking investment trusts in American railroads. Fleming's father was a banker, country squire, Member of Parliament, and Major. Young Ian was the second son and a difficult child who had troubles at schools. Fleming was sent to Europe to learn French, German, and Russian; all practical skills for his future as a reporter (spy trials in Moscow) and Commander in Naval Intelligence during WW II. Fleming set up an "Intelligence Commando" to quickly seize information from freshly captured enemy command posts. "Advance Unit 30" was commemorated in the "AU 30" license plate on Goldfinger's limousine. Great success came around 50 with his action novels, and the films of these stories. These films have been successes for over 40 years, even when they repeat earlier stories and the action scenes therein.

Fleming had an important career as a journalist before his fame as the author of "James Bond". He often used the names of friends and relatives for characters in his books. "Quarrel" was based on Red Grant, whose name was used for the killer in "From Russia With Love". When these novels gained popularity after 1961 "James Bond" was criticized for his cruelty, hedonism, and amorality. When you read this biography you will understand the basis for this fictional character. Fleming was a model for some of these deeds, but "James Bond" is the fantasy character Fleming wanted to be (pp.177-178). The last half of this book covers Fleming's last twelve years, when he found fame and fortune as an author. The continuing films keep his memory alive, unlike John Buchan or E. Philip Oppenheim.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cxlxmx on August 23, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Until the publication of Lycett's Ian Fleming, this John Pearson biography was the most definitive biography of Ian Fleming available. It is unfortunate that Pearson knew Fleming personally and whitewashed aspects of Fleming's life, because this book remains by far the most readable work available on Fleming.

Fleming's life was actually quite boring. Another Amazon reviewer is accurate when he says that Fleming was too involved with womanizing and high living to have led a really interesting life. Most of the facts are to do with betrayals, failures in business, law-suits, and other tedious matters. So Pearson arranged his book partly chronologically, but also partly thematically, in order to show how Fleming's life influenced the content of the James Bond novels. This is a good writing strategy, and Pearson manages to make a pretty humdrum life of desk journalism, gin and golf seem interesting. From the perspective of readability, this book is head and shoulders above the Lycett biography.

What you miss in Pearson are the less savory aspects of Fleming's life. For example, in his chapter called "Marriage," Pearson makes it appear as though Fleming and his wife were old friends who fell in love when Fleming comforted her after she had surgery and who eventually were drawn together despite his wife's marriage to another man, Rothermere. In fact, as we learn from Lycett, Fleming's wife was carrying on all along with both Fleming and Rothermere even while previously married to a third man, and Fleming's marriage had more to do with an illegitimate pregnancy. However, Pearson doesn't lie, he just draw's the reader's attention away by jumbling timelines.
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