Tag Archive: James Bond


Ian Fleming’s Secret War

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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It is hard to write a review without revealing the plot. Suffice to say the heading (above) sums it up really.

I have mixed feelings about this genre of film. I do not like, enjoy or relish violence – that includes fictional violence even if the context makes it relevant to the story. I get that action movies and thrillers involve explosions and people being killed. The villain usually gets their comeuppance in the end. That said, I did go to see “Skyfall” at the Cinema and, with the aforementioned caveat, I was impressed.

This is an action film with a plot and a narrative that referred to other episodes and icons of the Bond series. The choice of car was a case in point. As well as the action scenes (violence/extras being shot at or exploded) there was humour (I actually laughed out loud at one point) and poignancy. The Ralph Fiennes character (present in just five scenes) kept you guessing and eventually we are shown whose side he is really on.

And, in this film, Bond is not a young man so one of the narrative threads is whether/how much that matters. We also learn a little about Bond’s background. Incidentally, “Welcome to Scotland” will never seem the same again.

It will be interesting to see how Q turns out. By the way, the one bit I correctly predicted involved Q: suffice to say, beware what you plug in.

One niggle: we were told that they were District line trains but they were not. Anyone who has been on the London Underground will recognise tube trains such as run on the Piccadilly line. The plot needed the train to run on the District line. I guess they filmed at the disused station at Aldwych – an ex Piccadilly line branch.

My overall impression is that the maker of this Bond film is a storyteller capable of holding more than one idea at a time; and they painted for us characters who can hold our interest.

The story is nonsense but told well enough for the suspension of disbelief for a couple of hours or so.

I think I would watch it again; this time knowing where the surprises are and relishing them. All of them apart from one, near the end.

Four stars, I think, or 9 out of ten (one deducted for the violence)

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