by Craig Cabell

If we hadn’t been to the museum in Littlehampton, I might not have given this library book a second glance. I am not an avid fan of James Bond and as for the movies I’m generally impressed more by the music than the plot. However, this book gives an insight into the intelligence work Ian Fleming was part of during World War II before he took up the writing that included the James Bond novels.

Two things this book is not. It is not a biography of Ian Fleming. The author has done his research but concentrates on one period of Ian Fleming’s life particularly concerning his involvement with Naval Intelligence in general and 30 Assault Unit. “It is not the remit of this book to give an in-depth study of 30 AU but to simply explain what they did and how Ian Fleming interacted with them in the field” p 83

The book is also not chiefly concerned with identifying the “real” James Bond. Naturally some aspects of Fleming’s work appear to resonate with the plots and characters of his fiction but Cabell asserts that this is more due to the tendency of authors to drawn on their own experiences rather than a deliberate ploy.

Generally the book is an easy read but on several occasions it would appear that the sub-editor did not do their job properly. I did not spot any spelling mistakes but some sentences lacked a main verb or needed a pronoun to make proper sense. For example, p 104 “In reality 100 scientists who opted to work for Britain who used to work on the V rockets.” That sentence as it stands has two dependent clauses but no main verb – a comma after scientists and also in place of the second ‘who’ is one solution.  There were not too many of these but enough of them to spoil the flow of reading.

If you are interested in the history of military intelligence (and there is an interesting aside about the formation of the CIA) then you may wish to read this book. For myself, I am glad that this was a library book and that I can take it back.

As a library book, three stars, otherwise two; 5/10.

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