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You Only Live Twice

4.3 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: MGM/UA
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792812492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792812494
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,088,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"You Only Live Twice" (1964) was published the year of Ian Fleming's death, and, as with its predecessor, the superb "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," it is suffused with doom and death. It is unlike any of the other Bond books, with a pervasive gloominess that was as much the result of Fleming's rapidly declining health and unhappiness with the world around him as it was the result of Bond's clinical depression after the tragedy that finished the last book.
Bond, recovering from the death of his wife, is falling to pieces. Taking the advice of a friend, M sends him on a vital mission to Japan, which he hopes will restore Bond's spirits. What seems at first to be a rather placid visit soons turns dangerous as Bond agrees to accept secrets about the Russians in exchange for carrying out a delicate mission for the Japanese government. What he encounters is the culmination of the previous two Bond novels, and the last half of the novel is virtually unputdownable.
This is the best writing of Fleming's career, and his descriptions of Bond's disintegration are surprisingly moving. The final hundred pages or so are horrifying and gripping; never before had Fleming demonstrated such mastery of his craft or technical skill at setting up a denouement. The tension becomes almost unbearable.
"You Only Live Twice" is not an uplifting book, but it is a vital book in the Bond series, and much better than its successor, the pale and posthumously published "Man With the Golden Gun." Those expecting slam-bang action will have to wait until the middle and final chapters, but the rewards are worth the patience. This is a fine novel, but I wouldn't start here if I were just discovering Fleming's Bond novels.
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Format: Paperback
Taking place nine months after the tragic ending of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, You Only Live Twice was the last of Ian Fleming's truly completed Bond books. (The Man With The Golden Gun, released after Fleming's untimely death, is considered by many to be only a first draft.) It also served as the conclusion to the trilogy, beginning in Thunderball and continuing through OHMSS, that detailed James Bond's epic battle against Ernest Stavro Blofeld, founder of SPECTRE and essentially the anti-Bond. (Blofeld, we are reminded, refrains from almost all excessive behavior -- even being described as a virgin in Thunderball though he later somehow contracted syphillis in the later books. Of course, while he doesn't smoke or drink, he does seem to spend a lot of time thinking up ways to blow up the world.) While Fleming's prose is better than ever in this novel (showing his uncanny ability to mix sophisticated urbanity with hardboiled cynicism), its still somewhat of a disappointing end to the trilogy.
The plot does start out quite promisingly. Nine months following the death of his wife, James Bond has sunk into an alcoholic wave of depression. M, rather cold hearted in this book after being humanized in OHMSS, comes close to terminating his service but instead, gives Bond a mission designed to respark his love of espionage. Bond is sent to Japan to try to convince the head of the Japanese secret service -- Tiger Tanaka -- to ally himself with the English. These sections of the book are very strong. Bond's mission is believable, the plot (which is quite cynical while detailing how even allies like America and England are actually rivals when it comes to espionage) is compelling, and Tiger Tanaka is one of Fleming's strongest connections.
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Format: Paperback
This is Ian Fleming's most mysterious and enigmatic James Bond novel. This is a direct follow up to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." It starts out as a direct secret service story even though Bond is reassigned to the diplomatic section. As it progresses it becomes almost surrealistic as James Bond tracks down his arch nemesis on the island of Kyushu. This is a very well written and researched novel. The Japanese idioms and depictions of locale are exquisite. When the novel moves to Kuro Island and is on the threshold of Dr. Shaterhand's castle lair, Fleming approaches mythical horizons. I found this absorbing, haunting and prophetic novel very difficult to put down once I started reading it. You get addicted early on to such charismatic characters as Tiger Tanaka and the all too brief Dikko Henderson but it is the narrative of this epic tale that beckons the reader. The new retro-paperback cover is alluring.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In his last adventure James Bond met with the greatest tragedy of his life. He was able to destroy the base of his enemy Blofeld, but his foe escaped. Then within only a few hours of getting married, Blofeld struck back and Bond's new bride was killed. Back in London Bond has let himself go. He is drinking too much and his mind is not on the game. He was nearly killed when he botched a mission. M believes that he may have to let James go. He is advised to give Bond a task that is impossible, but not dangerous. M decides to promote Bond to the diplomatic mission and send his to Japan. His job is to meet with M's counterpart in Tokyo and try to get access to the Russian signals that the Japanese are decoding. The Japanese have a special relationship with the Americans and they are reluctant to share with others. Bond now has to learn the ins and outs of the Japanese culture in order to win over this reluctant ally. That turns out to be the least of his problems. The Japanese have their own trouble in the form of a foreigner who has created a bizarre landscape full of creatures and plants that kill. The suicide culture of Japan has embraced this new place and it is causing embarrassment to the government. There is nothing legal that can be done, but someone with Bond's particular skills may be able to deal with this in his own way. Bond accepts the trade and is soon involved with an enemy that he knows all too well. He has to pull himself together if he is to survive this mission. The ending is quite a surprise. More great Cold War spy pulp from the great Ian Fleming.
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