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Fleming, Ian

bond hero james scene

(British, 1908–64)

More than half the total population of the globe, so it is estimated, has seen a James Bond film. His fourteen adventures in print have sold over forty million copies. Yet Bond was created by Ian Fleming in a moment, he professed, of intense boredom. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, Fleming served in naval intelligence during the war, and he was 42 when he wrote Casino Royale (1953). This is a cracking thriller with all the classic ingredients: a tense gambling scene, a beautiful Russian spy, a sadistic torture scene you won't forget—and of course the laconic, world-weary, devilishly handsome hero with his 007 licence to kill who actually does say ‘My name is Bond. James Bond.’ The early books are the best, before self-parody set in: Live and Let Die (1954), Diamonds are Forever (1956), and Goldfinger (1959). Even today these are gripping reads because, unlike most of his many imitators, Fleming was a stylish thoroughbred—just like his hero.

John Buchan, Len Deighton.

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