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"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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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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.
THUNDERBALL is a very interesting Ian Fleming James Bond novel. I found the first two thirds of the novel very well written. The final third of the novel seems to lose all its steam and sinks into literary mediocrity and that's what really interests me. The first third of this novel contains some of the best prose that Fleming ever put on paper. It is rich in detail and thoroughly engrossing. It is a true delight to read and savor. As the novel enters the second the third it still remains engrossing but seems to lack some of Fleming's usual drive and coherency. The final third falls below what could even be considered commonplaceness for Fleming. Fleming seems to have just given up on this project at some point and just finished it out to get it into publication. Yet THUNDERBALL remains one of my favorite Fleming novels. The first third truly is brilliant and I enjoy reading it and examining at what point Fleming became disinterested.
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Many people are familiar with the films about James Bond, the British spy with the `license to kill' running around in a world of glamour and high tech toys but in reading the books you enter a whole new world. The books bring to life the times and culture of the 50's and 60's that has since faded and also have the virtue of giving the reader insight into the mind of Bond, The doubts, fears and self recriminations that film can never capture.
Both book and film start with Bond being sent to Shrublands health Clinic for a detox' program. The film makes it look like a spa. In the book the reader feels the hunger pangs of people living on a grapefruit and carrot juice diet and a small feud with a former Chinese Tong member only serves to keep Bond's wits sharp. Then the criminal organization SPECTRE plans to steal 2 nuclear weapons from the RAF and then blackmail the world into paying them $100 million dollars. On only the thinnest of leads, M send his best man to the Bahamas with the hope he can find the bombs before the deadline is reached to pay up or else.
The book and movie follow almost parallel threads with a couple of significant differences. The movie has more violence and less reason for Bond to take an interest in the villain. In the movie he has an attractive mistress and is really a creepy guy. In the book Bond has more developed reasons for looking into Emil Largo and deeper issues with why Bond can't just shoot him and go home. Reader know that Largo is the bad guy but bond doesn't and he also has to deal with the fact he might be wrong and chasing a false lead.
The book also goes into detail of the wonderful scenery of the Bahamas in the early 1960's, the land of yachts and private beaches and nightclubs that you wish you could visit today.Read more ›
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