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On Her Majesty's Secret Service (James Bond Novels) Paperback – September 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"No book comes closer to the heart of 007" -- Val McDermid "A most compelling story-teller" The Times "Bond is what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like to have between her sheets" -- Raymond Chandler Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ian Fleming (1908-1964), creator of the world's best-known secret agent, is the author of fourteen James Bond books. Born in London in 1908 and educated at Eton and Sandhurst, he became the Reuters Moscow correspondent in 1929. In the spring of 1939, Fleming went back to Moscow as a special correspondent for the London Times. In June of that same year, he joined Naval Intelligence and served throughout World War II, finally earning the rank of Commander, RNVSR (Sp.). Much of the James Bond material was drawn directly from Fleming's experiences as an intelligence officer. Later, Fleming became a consultant on foreign affairs for the London Sunday Times, by which time he had become far better known as the creator of James Bond.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003251
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Fleming was born in London on May 28, 1908. He was educated at Eton College and later spent a formative period studying languages in Europe. His first job was with Reuters News Agency where a Moscow posting gave him firsthand experience with what would become his literary bete noire--the Soviet Union. During World War II he served as Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence and played a key role in Allied espionage operations.

After the war he worked as foreign manager of the Sunday Times, a job that allowed him to spend two months each year in Jamaica. Here, in 1952, at his home "Goldeneye," he wrote a book called Casino Royale--and James Bond was born. The first print run sold out within a month. For the next twelve years Fleming produced a novel a year featuring Special Agent 007, the most famous spy of the century. His travels, interests, and wartime experience lent authority to everything he wrote. Raymond Chandler described him as "the most forceful and driving writer of thrillers in England." Sales soared when President Kennedy named the fifth title, From Russia With Love, one of his favorite books. The Bond novels have sold more than one hundred million copies worldwide, boosted by the hugely successful film franchise that began in 1962 with the release of Dr. No.

He married Anne Rothermere in 1952. His story about a magical car, written in 1961 for their only son Caspar, went on to become the well-loved novel and film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Fleming died of heart failure on August 12, 1964, at the age of fifty-six.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
James Bond has come to a crossroads in this book. He's seriously thinking of quitting and goes as far as composing a bitter resignation from the Secret Service. He's restless, unhappy and is looking for ...something. And then he meets a girl. In the middle of a romance that surprises and even scares him a little Bond gets handed an asignment that turns out to be far more complicated than even he could've dreamed. Blofeld is back and this time their encounter becomes personal.
If you saw the excellent movie then you know what happens.
Ian Fleming did a fantastic job with the sublte foreshadowing. Bond meets Tracy in the same town where he met Vesper Lynde in Casino Royale. We learn that he's been visiting Vesper's grave once a year for years. It reminds the reader that Bond does have a heart and it can be moved. Later, Bond, to his chagrin realizes that he wants to wrap this Blofeld business up mainly so he can get back to Tracy.
In addition to this, the usual Bond trademarks are here. You have a horrifying villain, revolting flunkies, glorious scenary, a desperate chase that almost gets Bond killed and an unforgetable ending.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By gobirds2 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is probably Ian Fleming's most interesting and personal James Bond novel. This book precedes "You Only Live Twice" as it sends James Bond on a mission to track down the head of SPECTRE. This is a very well written novel and is very interesting trying to fathom what Fleming had been contemplating for his hero at that time in his life. I found this absorbing novel very difficult to put down once I started reading it as I did with its follow-up. If you do decide to read it I recommend that you read it before "You Only Live Twice." I will go one step further, if you read both of these novels then read "The Man with the Golden Gun" after you finish "You Only Live Twice." These three novels make up a sort of trilogy. One hint: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is very close to the movie version. "You Only Live Twice" and "The Man with the Golden Gun" movies have very little at all to do with the Fleming novels in any direct sense of plot and conflict. So don't be discouraged. I have read these three novels several times over. In this novel the relationship between Bond and M becomes clearer while Bond's own convictions come under self-scrutiny. Is there a line between duty and honor?
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Felix Crumm on April 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Don't just see the movie, READ THE BOOK! This book brings James Bond alive in ways the movie can't. Listen to 007's thoughts as he acts out this alpine drama. This character is much fuller and more dynamic than the movie Bond.

I always loved the Sean Connery movies better than the other actors. One of the reasons was he had more of a '60s' high-society flare. More Mission Impossible than Charlies Angels. One of the benefits of these books is they benefit from being written in the 60s. The characters, the situations, the bad guys, the women are all laced with everything I liked about Sean Connery Bond, but even more so.

These books are a refreshing relief from the Action/Espionage thrillers of today. Don't just stand there... order it!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on January 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the last of the original Bond Books, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is also one of the best. Picking up a year after the end of Thunderball, this book finds James Bond again battling the nefarious schemes of Ernest Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE and, most importantly, falling in love with the beautiful, resourceful, and ultimately tragic Tracy. Though the usual intrigue is well-presented by Fleming, he also makes it clear that Blofeld's plan is hardly meant to be taken all that seriously. (Without ruining it for those who might never have read the book or seen the surprisingly faithful film adaption, it all comes down to Blofeld hidden away in Switzerland, pretending to be an allergist, and brainwashing English farm girls. No, it doesn't make a lot of sense but Fleming obviously had so much fun presenting it that most readers won't take offense.) The heart of this book -- and this Fleming treats with an admirable seriousness that should take his critics by surprise -- is the love story between Bond and Tracy. In Tracy, Fleming has created perhaps his most fully realized "Bond girl." Vulnerable yet resourseful and more than capable of taking care of herself (and, at times, perhaps even more so than Bond himself), its hard not to fall in love with this character and when Bond finally does decide to reject all others for her, its impossible to disagree with his logic. Its a compelling, rather touching love story and, even though most Bond films know how its going to end, the ending still packs a heavy impact.
As for Bond himself, after being a rather predictable presence in Thunderball, he's back in full form as a full realized, interesting character in this novel. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was written after the release of Dr.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on January 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Among the titles of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, I'd have to say that On Her Majesty's Secret Service is my least favorite, with neither the brevity of a Dr. No or Goldfinger nor the plot descriptive nature of The Man with the Golden Gun or From Russia with Love. Even if I dislike the title, however, this is one of Fleming's best Bond books.

The story opens around a year after the events of Thunderball (the intervening book, The Spy Who Loved Me, is not even mentioned). The villain in that book, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the mastermind behind SPECTRE, has been in hiding and James Bond is trying to seek him out. It is a more-or-less futile assignment and Bond is disillusioned enough to consider quitting. Before submitting his resignation letter, however, he takes a break at a casino. During this mini-vacation, he performs a chivalrous act to save a beautiful countess from embarrassment; she in turns, rewards him in her own special way.

This countess, familiarly named Tracy, is also the daughter of a genial but ruthless mob boss who Bond winds up (pardon the pun) bonding with. The boss, Marc-Ange, realizes that his daughter is troubled (in fact, suicidal), but that Bond may be able to help her by marrying her. Bond is not willing to do that, but is willing to see her again after she gets treatment. In the meanwhile, Marc-Ange gives Bond a lead on Blofeld.

Blofeld has holed himself up in the Swiss Alps, where extradition is nearly impossible. Bond goes undercover, hoping to lure Blofeld into Germany where he can be arrested. While there, he stumbles upon a strange plot that seems to involve young women seeking treatment for allergies.
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