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Ian Fleming Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Exhaustive and compulsively readable, Lycett's latest (first published in the U.K. in 1995) is billed as the first full-length Fleming biography to be published in America. Biographer Lycett (Dylan Thomas: A New Life) calls his subject an immature child of the jazz age—a man of wealth and privilege who shared his fictional hero James Bond's fascination with women, gambling, and drinking. Fleming applied to Britain's Foreign Office for a job but to no avail, but thanks to the forceful lobbying of his snobbish and well-connected mother, he was hired by the Reuters news agency in London. During WWII, he worked for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division. One of the book's pleasures is reading about upper-class social life before, during, and after the war: Fleming and his wife, Ann, mingled with statesmen and notable cultural figures in London and at Goldeneye, their Jamaican retreat. But Fleming did have a darker side, collecting sadomasochistic erotica and being callous to women. Lycett uncovers the seeds of Bond in Fleming's life (though perhaps not as thoroughly as diehard fans would wish), as well as addressing the decline of Britain's power in the postcolonial world. In this anecdote-filled account, Lycett pays tribute to Fleming's colorful life, which was cut short by a heart attack in 1964 at age 56, just two years after Sean Connery starred in the film version of Dr. No. 8-page b&w photo insert. (Oct.)
Given the intense interest American readers and moviegoers have in James Bond, it’s odd that Lycett’s 1995 biography of Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, has taken this long to reach the U.S. Lycett covers lots of ground, exploring Fleming’s life not merely as novelist (he published 13 Bond novels before his death at 56 in 1964) but also as journalist (he worked for Reuters and the Sunday Times), stockbroker (briefly in the 1930s), member of British Naval Intelligence (he participated in a disinformation operation designed to conceal the impending Allied invasion of Sicily), and celebrity (although he died just as the Bond movies were taking off, he enjoyed hobnobbing with the producers and stars). A certain mythology has built up around Fleming, based mostly on the facts that James Bond is a superspy and his creator worked for Naval Intelligence, and Lycett does an admirable job of bringing Fleming back down to earth, separating fact from legend while still giving Fleming his due as a larger-than-life personality. A must-read for Bond aficionados. --David Pitt
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The history back drop of his life mixed with people, wars, etc. is the educational learning curve. One subject makes you want to look up another in reference to European history and people. i.e., Churchill.
Words to The Wise: be careful about who you worship!