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Moonraker (James Bond Novels) Paperback – December 31, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"By some latent intuition, Fleming was able to peer beyond the Cold War limitations of mere spy fiction and to anticipate the emerging milieu of the Colombian cartels, Osama bin Laden and indeed the Russian mifia." —Christopher Hitchens

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: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002063
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,614 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

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Darren Harrison VINE VOICE on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bond author Ian Fleming was advised by friends to write his second Bond novel LIVE AND LET DIE before he had even tested the waters with his first 007 thriller CASINO ROYALE. Fleming's friends impressed on him that if the first novel failed he would be less inclined to write a second one. His friends need not have worried as is proved by this third 1955 entry into the James Bond literary series.
After some shaky elements in his first two novels Fleming and his characteristic Fleming-sweep, really hits its stride here and he delivers a thriller which is not only consistently ranked as one of the best by fans, but also a personal favorite of mine.
One of the great strengths of this book (as was the case with the subsequent 1979 movie adaptation) is the main villain Hugo Drax. A leading member of British society with a somewhat mysterious background, Drax is ostensibly building a weapon to help protect Britain, but all is not as it seems.
Bond's first encounter with Drax is at the behest of his superior M who is convinced the industrialist is cheating at cards at M's gentleman's club Blades. Bond uncovers the method behind Drax's remarkable winning streak but also effectively turns the tables on him.
In this novel Bond is not the superhero of the movie that would follow over two decades later. This is no clearly more evident than in his rejected advances towards Gala Brand, an undercover policewoman at Drax's plant. Brand is actually one of my favorite leading ladies of the Bond literary series, she is both independent and intelligent and one of the better drawn female characters of the Fleming books.
The plot is low-key enough, the villain suitably overblown and the heroine so irresistable as to make this compelling reading.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By a writer/reader/listener on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Moonraker, the third entry in the James Bond saga, tends to be overlooked by those unfamiliar with Ian Fleming's original novels, largely because almost none of it has made it to the big screen. Practically the only thing it shares with the laughably bad 1979 movie (arguably the worst Bond flick ever) is the title. And the book is even a bit of an anomaly within the series, but nevertheless it's an important book in the Bond canon.

In the first Bond Novel, Casino Royale, Fleming was clearly just starting out both as a novelist and as a chronicler of Bond's adventures. The second Bond book, Live and Let Die, is much more solid and action-packed, and gives us both a Bond and a Bondiverse that are more fully developed. But it's in Moonraker that Fleming really delves into Bond's personality, his background, and his day-to-day life in England. Then, just as we're developing a feel for the daily grind of a 00 agent, Sir Hugo Drax enters the scene . . .

Drax is the most human of all of the bond villains. Mr. Big, Dr. No, the Spangs, and of course Blofeld, often come off as larger-than life megalomaniacs or set-piece villains. But Drax--though he's certainly villainous--is a very down-to-earth one, being lecherous, nasty, tough, smart, and boorish. He, like Bond, is a three-dimensional character, and as such has no villain-equal in the series, except for perhaps Auric Goldfinger.

The plot, too, is more life-sized than those of the later canon. Escapism? Yes, put of an almost-believable kind, especially when set against the backdrop of the postwar U.K. (this is the only Bond novel to take place entirely in England) and the tensions of Cold War Europe. About the plot I won't reveal more, but Moonraker is the most life-sized Bond books and still well worth reading.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles Wilcox on May 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the third review I have done for a 007 novel and as always I will tell the reader that the book is nothing like the film. Forget the pseudo-science fiction of the movies (done to capitalize on the Star Wars craze) this book is a completely different animal.
Plot aside (Moonraker is a super ICBM capable of destroying London; not a space station) the biggest differences are in Bond and mastermind-of-the-hour Hugo Drax. Bond is, again, Fleming's human being as opposed to Hollywood's super-agent (He actually gets TURNED DOWN by his leading lady and you get the feeling he's ACTUALLY A LITTLE HURT). Drax is much more intense in this book, coming off as what today we would call the typical megalomaniacal mastermind (but since Fleming was instrumental in defining such a character, this must be accepted as part of his vision for the 007 mythos).
Lastly, sorry Jaws fans: he's not in here -- but check out the Peter Lorre-like Krebs. He's a good villain too.
All in all, Moonraker was my favorite of the 007 novels thus far. And though the car chase was a more intense clone of the one in "Casino Royale" it did nothing to detract from the enjoyment of this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The JuRK on November 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've been rereading all of the 007 novels leading up to the release of the new movie of "Casino Royale" (by the way, the new movie rocks) and giving Ian Fleming another look. I'd read them as a kid 20 years ago and wondered how they read now.

"Moonraker" was the third book and I wasn't as excited as I'd been with "Casino Royale" and "Live and Let Die."

"Moonraker" plays out completely in London and the English coastline so the exotic aspect of 007's usual settings was missed, for me anyway. The first third of the novel reads too much like "Casino Royale"'s scenes at a gaming table, except that Bond isn't playing for high stakes to ruin a Russian bagman but to only expose a member at M's gentlemen's club as a card cheat.

(That Bond would later chase the villian who's kidnapped the girl, crash, and then also be captured was also reminiscent of "Casino Royale").

I also found it rather odd that a crew of Germans--not just atomic scientist Germans but an entire team of Germans handling everything--were working unmonitored on England's new missile defense system just one decade after WWII. It reminded me of the Monty Python sketch where a "Mr. Hilter" and his "school chums" are staying in a English bed and breakfast and plotting WWIII. That Bond, like everyone else in "Moonraker," wouldn't see that red flag was hard to get around.

Gala Brand, an undercover operative posing as Drax's secretary, isn't included in the first third and then she spends time ignoring Bond to keep her cover so Fleming doesn't give himself much time to turn her into a real Bond girl.
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