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Thunderball (James Bond) Paperback – October 16, 2012
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"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game. Pre-order today
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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.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
1. 'TAKE IT EASY, MR BOND'
It was one of those days when it seemed to James Bond that all life, as someone put it, was nothing but a heap of six to four against.
To begin with he was ashamed of himself - a rare state of mind. He had a hangover, a bad one, with an aching head and stiff joints. When he coughed -smoking too much goes with drinking too much and doubles the hangover - a cloud of small luminous black spots swam across his vision like amoebae in pond water. The one drink too many signals itself unmistakably. His final whisky and soda in the luxurious flat in Park Lane had been no different from the ten preceding ones, but it had gone down reluctantly and had left a bitter taste and an ugly sensation of surfeit. And, although he had taken in the message, he had agreed to play just one more rubber. Five pounds a hundred as it's the last one? He had agreed. And he had played the rubber like a fool. Even now he could see the queen of spades, with that stupid Mona Lisa smile on her fat face, slapping triumphantly down on his knave - the queen, as his partner had so sharply reminded him, that had been so infallibly marked with South, and that had made the difference between a grand slam redoubled (drunkenly) for him, and four hundred points above the line for the opposition. In the end it had been a twenty-point rubber, £100 against him - important money. — Again Bond dabbed with the bloodstained styptic pencil at the cut on his chin and despised the face that stared sullenly back at him from the mirror above the washbasin. Stupid, ignorant bastard! It all came from having nothing to do. More than a month of paper-work - ticking off his number on stupid dockets, scribbling minutes that got spikier as the weeks passed, and snap-ping back down the telephone when some harmless section officer tried to argue with him. And then his secretary had gone down with the flu and he had been given a silly, and, worse, ugly bitch from the pool who called him 'sir' and spoke to him primly through a mouth full of fruit stones. And now it was another Monday morning. Another week was beginning. The May rain thrashed at the windows. Bond swallowed down two Phensics and reached for the Enos. The telephone in his bedroom rang. It was the loud ring of the direct line with Headquarters.
James Bond, his heart thumping faster than it should have done, despite the race across London and a fretful wait for the lift to the eighth floor, pulled out the chair and sat down and looked across into the calm, grey, damnably clear eyes he knew so well. What could he read in them?
'Good morning, James. Sorry to pull you along a bit early in the morning. Got a very full day ahead. Wanted to fit you in before the rush.'
Bond's excitement waned minutely. It was never a good sign when M addressed him by his Christian name instead of by his number. This didn't look like a job - more like something personal. There was none of the tension in M's voice that heralded big, exciting news. M's expression was interested, friendly, almost benign. Bond said something noncommittal.
'Haven't seen much of you lately, James. How have you been? Your health, I mean.' M picked up a sheet of paper, a form of some kind, from his desk, and held it as if preparing to read.
Suspiciously, trying to guess what the paper said, what all this was about, Bond said, 'I'm all right, sir.'
M said mildly, 'That's not what the MO thinks, James. Just had your last Medical. I think you ought to hear what he has to say.'
Bond looked angrily at the back of the paper. Now what the hell! He said with control, 'Just as you say, sir.'
M gave Bond a careful, appraising glance. He held the paper closer to his eyes. '"This officer",' he read, '"remains basically physically sound. Unfortunately his mode of life is not such as is likely to allow him to remain in this happy state. Despite many previous warnings, he admits to smoking sixty cigarettes a day. These are of a Balkan mixture with a higher nicotine content than the cheaper varieties. When not engaged upon strenuous duty, the officer's average daily consumption of alcohol is in the region of half a bottle of spirits of between sixty and seventy proof. On examination, there continues to be little definite sign of deterioration. The tongue is furred. The blood pressure a little raised at 160/90. The liver is not palpable. On the other hand, when pressed, the officer admits to frequent occipital headaches and there is spasm in the trapezius muscles and so-called 'fibrositis' nodules can be felt. I believe these symptoms to be due to this officer's mode of life. He is not responsive to the suggestion that over-indulgence is no remedy for the tensions inherent in his professional calling and can only result in the creation of a toxic state which could finally have the effect of reducing his fitness as an officer. I recommend that No 007 should take it easy for two to three weeks on a more abstemious regime, when I believe he would make a complete return to his previous exceptionally high state of physical fitness.'"
M reached over and slid the report into his OUT tray. He put his hands flat down on the desk in front of him and looked sternly across at Bond. He said, 'Not very satisfactory is it, James?'
Bond tried to keep impatience out of his voice. He said, 'I'm perfectly fit, sir. Everyone has occasional headaches. Most weekend golfers have fibrositis. You get it from sweating and then sitting in a draught. Aspirin and embrocation get rid of them. Nothing to it really, sir.'
M said severely, 'That's just where you're making a big mistake, James. Taking medicine only suppresses these symptoms of yours. Medicine doesn't get to the root of the trouble. It only conceals it. The result is a more highly poisoned condition, which may become chronic disease. All drugs are harmful to the system. They are contrary to nature. The same applies to most of the food we eat - white bread with all the roughage removed, refined sugar with all the goodness machined out of it, pasteurised milk which has had most of the vitamins boiled away, everything overcooked and denaturized. Why,' M reached into his pocket for his notebook and consulted it, 'do you know what our bread contains apart from a bit of over-ground flour?' M looked accusingly at Bond, 'It contains large quantities of chalk, also benzol peroxide powder, chlorine gas, sal ammoniac, and alum.' M put the notebook back in his pocket. 'What do you think of that?'
Bond, mystified by all this, said defensively, 'I don't eat all that much bread, sir.'
'Maybe not,' said M impatiently. 'But how much stone-ground whole wheat do you eat? How much yoghurt? Uncooked vegetables, nuts, fresh fruit?'
Bond smiled. 'Practically none at all, sir.'
'It's no laughing matter.' M tapped his forefinger on the desk for emphasis. 'Mark my words. There is no way to health except the natural way. All your troubles' - Bond opened his mouth to protest, but M held up his hand - 'the deep-seated toxaemia revealed by your Medical, are the result of a basically unnatural way of life. Ever heard of Bircher-Brenner, for instance? Or Kneipp, Preissnitz, Rikli, Schroth, Gossmann, Bilz?'
'Just so. Well those are the men you would be wise to study. Those are the great naturopaths - the men whose teaching we have foolishly ignored. Fortunately,' M's eyes gleamed enthusiastically, 'there are a number of disciples of these men practising in England. Nature cure is not beyond our reach.'
James Bond looked curiously at M. What the hell had got into the old man? Was all this the first sign of senile decay? But M looked fitter than Bond had ever seen him. The cold grey eyes were clear as crystal and the skin of the hard, lined face was luminous with health. Even the iron-grey hair seemed to have new life. Then what was all this lunacy?
M reached for his IN tray and placed it in front of him in a preliminary gesture of dismissal. He said cheerfully, 'Well, that's all, James. Miss Moneypenny has made the reservation. Two weeks will be quite enough to put you right. You won't know yourself when you come out. New man.'
Bond looked across at M, aghast. He said in a strangled voice, 'Out of where, sir?' 'Place called "Shrublands". Run by quite a famous man in his line - Wain, Joshua Wain. Remarkable chap. Sixty-five. Doesn't look a day over forty. He'll take good care of you. Very up-to-date equipment, and he's even got his own herb garden. Nice stretch of country. Near Washington in Sussex. And don't worry about your work here. Put it right out of your mind for a couple of weeks. I'll tell 009 to take care of the Section.'
Bond couldn't believe his ears. He said, 'But, sir. I mean, I'm perfectly all right. Are you sure? I mean, is this really necessary?'
'No,' M smiled frostily. 'Not necessary. Essential. If you want to stay in the double-0 Section, that is. I can't afford to have an officer in that section who isn't one hundred per cent fit.' M lowered his eyes to the basket in front of him and took out a signal file. 'That's all, 007.' He didn't look up. The tone of voice was final.
Bond got to his feet. He said nothing. He walked across the room and let himself out, closing the door with exaggerated softness.
Outside the door, Miss Moneypenny looked sweetly up at him.
Bond walked over to her desk and banged his fist down so that the typewriter jumped. He said furiously, 'Now what the hell. Penny? Has the old man gone off his rocker? What's all this bloody nonsense? I'm damned if I'm going. He's absolutely nuts.'
Miss Moneypenny smiled happily. 'The manager's been terribly helpful and kind. He says he can give you the Myrtle room, in the Annex. He says it's a lovely room. It looks right over the herb garden. They've got their own herb garden, you know.'
'I know all about their bloody herb garden. Now look here, Penny,' Bond pleaded with her, 'be a good girl and tell me what it's all a...
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Top customer reviews
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.
By coincidence, Bond has already encountered a key player in the SPECTRE plot, whom he made an enemy with a vendetta by reporting him for his connection with the Red Lightning Tong criminal organization. Bond follows his hunches and suspects, rightly, that Emilio Largo, a rich Italian property owner in the Bahamas with a massive luxury yacht, is the agent responsible for executing the plan for removing the bombs from the sunken aircraft and transporting them to a location where they can be detonated. Bond is reunited with his old C.I.A. buddy Felix Leiter and they both make the acquaintance of Largo. Meanwhile, Bond also coincidentally makes the acquaintance of Largo’s mistress, Domino Vitali, who also happens to be the sister of the primary hijacker who was himself murdered by other SPECTRE agents.
Despite the grandiosity of the scenario and the megalomania of the villains, Fleming infuses ‘Thunderball’ with a convincing air of authenticity. The sadism of the villains is more understated than those from ‘Goldfinger,’ ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia With Love’ and the hand to hand combat minimized (or at least confined to underwater battles).The characters are actually relatively believable and their motivations stem naturally from what we know of them. Even though the blackmail plot is far-fetched it holds together better than Goldfinger’s ludicrous Ft. Knox heist. Largo possesses a smooth, oily charm (merely the veneer for malevolent desires) that I can see not tipping off the unsuspecting. In other words, he doesn’t walk around like Dr. No and Goldfinger with a sign on his head stating ‘I’m a world class villain’.
Domino, the obligatory Bond girl (the only one in this novel as opposed to the three or four in most of the films), is also a fully dimensional person (at least within the dimensions of the world of Bond). She is tough and refuses to back down even when tortured. She is not demonstrative in her swooning to Bond’s animal charms and she also saves his life.
Felix Leiter, in some novels simply the C.I.A. sidekick whose presence signifies that Fleming is throwing the Americans a bone, is here in all his sarcastic glory. There is much more dialogue in this novel between him and Bond than in previous novels. His role in the case is almost as essential as Bond’s and he has a wry, cynical outlook that he never hesitates to express. Actually, he reminds me of Donald Hamilton’s American James Bond equivalent, Matt Helm (forget the absurd Dean Martin film depiction). This is probably as close as we will ever get to see what the experience of Bond and Helm working together would be like.
I see this novel as Fleming’s attempt to move James Bond forward in time—new decade, new villains. This is the international espionage of the future, he seemed to be saying, where spying can no longer be viewed as the opposition of nationalities but as the opposition of national world powers with freelance terrorist organizations. In a general sense, his prediction was on the nose even if the details differed significantly.
“Women are often meticulous and safe drivers, but they are very seldom first-class. In general, Bond regarded them as a mild hazard and he always gave them plenty of road and was ready for the unpredictable. Four women in a car he regarded as the highest potential danger, and two women nearly as lethal. Women together cannot keep silent in a car, and when women talk they have to look into each other’s faces. An exchange of words is not enough. They have to see the other person’s expression, perhaps to read behind the others’ words or analyze the reaction to their own. So two women in the front seat of a car constantly distract each other’s attention from the road ahead and four women are more than doubly dangerous for the driver not only has to hear and see, what her companion is saying but also, for women are like that, what the two behind are talking about.”
― Ian Fleming, Thunderball
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".