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Thunderball (James Bond Novels) Paperback – May 27, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
"The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett
In one moment, two lives will be changed forever . . . and forever . . . and forever. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews


"A thriller, a chiller and a pleasure to read " New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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.


Product Details

  • Series: James Bond Novels
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003244
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Ellis on January 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For fans of the literary James Bond, Thunderball is one of the most pivotal works of the series. It was in Thunderball that Bond creator Ian Fleming first introduced the world to perhaps the ultimate Bond villian -- Ernest Stavro Blofeld. Though Bond and Blofeld never actually meet in Thunderball, it is in this book that Bond first battles the schemes of SPECTRE, Blofeld's criminal organization.
The plot of the book (which, as with most of Fleming's best work, is disturbing plausible) deals with SPECTRE's theft of two nuclear missiles and their attempt to blackmail the world with atomic destruction. On little more than a hunch, M (Bond's superior, as gruffly humorous as ever) sends Bond down to the Bahamas to search for the missiles. (It is made clear that other intelligence agents are combing other locations as well. One thing that sets the book apart from the film is the portrayal of James Bond as not the absolute best secret agent in the world but instead as just a hardworking professional who, often times, resents the intrusion of work on his private life.) While in the Bahamas, Bond meets the book's main villian, Emilio Largo (well characterized as an almost likeable rogue), Largo's mistress Domino (who has a nicely vulnerable speech in which she analyzes a picture on a pack of cigarettes), and old allies like Felix Leiter. Along with the usual nonstop action and the vivid descriptions that Fleming was known for, Thunderball contains some of Fleming's most memorable characterizations. While little new is revealed of Bond, Largo and Domino grab hold of the reader's imagination and linger after the end of the book.
Famously, this book was inspired by Fleming and producer Kevin McClory's attempts to launch a pre-Connery James Bond film series.
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Format: Paperback
If you've seen the movie you know the plot of Thunderball already so I won't get into that. Reading Thunderball is a great pleasure for Bond fans because the movie was so faithful to the book. There were a few things left out becuase they were considered too much for the big screen.

Ian Fleming must have had a marvelous sense of humor becuase the chapters where Bond finds himself stuck at Shrublands, drinking tea and vegatable broth and longing for spaghetti and chianti are extremely funny. Later when things get serious the reader gets wonderful scenes with M. who really was a fascinating character. The old man was even more ruthless than Bond.

The biggest thing Thunderball did was to introduce the world to Blofeld and nevermind the Austin Powers jokes, the original Blofeld was a very dangerous, very scary dude. The description of Largo and the scenes with Bond's old pal, Felix Leiter are also great.

I'm very happy that the old (real) Fleming books are being re-released in such good quality paper and with such snappy retro covers. My dad's old copies were literally crumbling whenever I touched them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
‘Thunderball’ had its origins as a screenplay that Fleming was working on with two other writers so, in a sense, it would seem ready-made for film with Fleming’s book as the novelization of the screenplay. All of this took shortly before the famous film series was launched, with ‘Thunderball’ coming out over a year before the film ‘Dr. No.’ It is a fairly cinematic novel, although there is still much exposition and internal monologue that would need to be excised from any workable screenplay.

Unlike the film series, in which the terrorist organization SPECTRE and its master mind Ernst Stavro Blofeld were introduced from the beginning, ‘Thunderball’ is the first novel of the series that features this organization and its supervillain. The reason for the emergence of SPECTRE is partially because the Soviet organization Smersh was dismantled by Nikita Khrushchev in 1958. What are ex-foreign spies to do to stay in business? Blofeld provides them with a second career, assembling ex-Smersh, Gestapo, Mafiosi and other refugees from foreign intelligence. SPECTRE is an acronym for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. The mission that will thrust them on the world stage is a blackmail plot involving the hijacking of a jet carrying two nuclear bombs. Ransom letters are sent both to the Prime Minister of Britain and the President of the United States giving them seven days to hand over $300,000,000. Or is that pounds? It’s a large amount (for 1961) regardless of the currency. This, of course, is Terrorism circa early 1960’s, where the terrorists issue warnings with escape clauses (at least on the surface), unlike their 21st century counterpart Al Qaeda.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book made two of my favorite original Bond movies "Thunderball" and "Never Say Never Again". That said, I was disappointed in the book, it was just okay at best. In a style similar to "From Russia with Love" we are filled in on the Super-Villain plot early on and it is left up to Bond to figure it out. We are also introduced to the arch Super-Villain 'Bloefeld'. Were this goes so terribly wrong I think; was the 'evil plot' portion on "From Russia with Love" was really a vehicle to introduce a HUGE cast of interesting and evil villains for the plot (and a love interest of course). In "Thunderball" the 'evil plot' reveal is just that.... a plot device and a plot about a device. The actual event was anti-climactic and the rest just went downhill (steeply) form there. Even the excitement over finding the missing plane, wasn't.

Maybe its because this book was so boring that the movie producers 'jazzing it up' made for good summer film... But this is the second time I have ever recommended "to just watch the movie".
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