Bond Blurbs!

RevelatorRevelator Posts: 411MI6 Agent

Not all Bond fans know that Ian Fleming himself wrote the blurbs for the first editions of all but two of the Bond books. This was revealed in the Fleming Bibliography and his collected letters. Fleming's blurbs were intended for the flaps of a hardcover, so they're longer than normal paperback blurbs. I find them interesting because they show how Fleming's summarized his own books and what he thought would be most distinctive or attention-grabbing about them.

Here they are:

Casino Royale

The dry riffle of the cards and the soft whirr of the roulette wheel, the sharp call of the croupiers and the feverish mutter of a crowded casino hide the thick voice at Bond's ear which says, "I will count up to ten."

Anyone who has ever gambled will find this tense and sometimes horrifying story of espionage and high gambling irresistible. So will readers who have never entered a casino. Connoisseurs of realistic fiction will particularly note the careful documentation of the Secret Service background, the chilling portrait of Le Chiffre, the authentic menace of SMERSH, and the sensual appeal of the girl in "soie sauvage."

***

Live and Let Die

In the higher ranges of Secret Service work the actual facts in many cases were in every respect equal to the most fantastic inventions of romance and melodrama. Tangle within tangle, plot and counter-plot, ruse and treachery, cross and double-cross, true agent, false agent, double agent, gold and steel, the bomb, the dagger and the firing party, were interwoven in many a texture so intricate as to be incredible and yet true. The Chief and the High Officers of the Secret Service reveled in these subterranean labyrinths, and pursued their task with cold and silent passion.

— Sir Winston Churchill in Thoughts and Adventures

It is in these higher ranges of Secret Service work that James Bond operates on the very outside edge of danger, and, in this story, among hazards no reader will easily forget.

Ian Fleming's first book, Casino Royale, an account of the gambling assignment that nearly cost Bond his life, was described as "the best thriller since the war."

Live and Let Die, a breath-taking hunt for secret treasure that takes Bond to Harlem, Florida and Jamaica, is still better.

***

Moonraker

It was Monday and a routine day for James Bond in the quiet office at the headquarters of the Secret Service. Idly he ticked off his number—007—on the charge sheets of the Top Secret files that had come in over the week-end. He was bored. Mondays were hell.

Then, suddenly, the red telephone screamed in the quiet room. "M. wants you." And Bond walked out of the office and into the assignment that was to put even his adventures in France (Casino Royale) and Harlem and Jamaica (Live and Let Die) in the shade.

And yet what was to happen to him was to happen out of the clear blue skies of early summer, here, in England. As it might have been yesterday. Or, as it might be, some dreadful tomorrow.

***

Diamonds Are Forever

James Bond surveyed the glittering diamonds that lay scattered across the red leather surface of M's desk and wondered what it was all about.

The quiet grey eyes watched him thoughtfully.

Then M took the pipe out of his mouth and dryly gave Bond details of the assignment of which even M was afraid. And Bond walked out of the Headquarters of the Secret Service and into his greatest adventure.

Greater than Casino Royale? More terrible than Live and Let Die? More hazardous than Moonraker?

Yes.

***

From Russia, With Love

SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance—of interrogation, torture and death—and James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them.

But, in its turn, the cold eye of SMERSH focuses on James Bond and far away in Moscow a trap is laid for him—a deathtrap with an enticing lure.

Ian Fleming takes us into the headquarters of SMERSH. We watch Bond's assassination being minutely devised. We meet the executioner. We sit in at the planning. We inspect the lure.

Then the lever is pulled in Moscow, and in London, Istanbul and Paris the wheels begin to turn...

Ian Fleming's other Secret Service thrillers—Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever—may have made your pulse race.

Be careful of From Russia, With Love. Weak nerves will be shredded by it.

***

Dr. No

M hasn't forgiven James Bond for the negligence on his last assignment that nearly cost Bond his life. Brusquely, almost contemptuously, he tosses Bond a time-wasting, shabby little case in the Caribbean. It will really be a holiday on an island in the sun—convalescence.

Angrily Bond accepts his orders. He flies off to Jamaica. The sun shines, the palm trees wave, the calypsos throb.

But on the horizon a cloud forms. It is no bigger than a man's hand—an articulated steel hand—the hand of Dr. No!

This, the sixth of Ian Fleming's Secret Service thrillers, will, as did the others, grip the reader with a taut, suave, sensual stranglehold.

***

Goldfinger

Goldfinger, the man who loved gold, said, "Mr. Bond, it was a most evil day for you when you first crossed my path. If you had then found an oracle to consult, the oracle would have said to you, 'Mr. Bond, keep away from Mr. Auric Golfinger. He is a most powerful man. If Mr. Golfinger wished to crush you, he would only have to turn over in his sleep to do so.'"

With the lazy precision of Fate, this, Ian Fleming's longest narrative of secret service adventure, brings James Bond to grips with the most powerful criminal the world has ever known—Goldfinger, the man who planned "Crime de la Crime."

Le Chiffre, Mr. Big, Sir Hugo Drax, Jack Spang, Rosa Klebb, Doctor No—and now, the seventh adversary, a Goliath of crime—GOLDFINGER!

***

For Your Eyes Only

The destruction of a Russian hide-out at SHAPE headquarters near Paris; the planned assassination of a Cuban thug in America; the tracking of a heroin ring from Rome to Venice and beyond; sudden and ghastly death in the Seychelles islands and, in between, a story of love and hate in Bermuda.

These are five episodes in a short span of tough life—the life of James Bond, agent number 007 in the Secret Service.

***

Thunderball

In Thunderball, Ian Fleming presents the blueprint for a monstrous crime that could be just around the corner.

James Bond is in disgrace. His monthly medical report is critical of the high-living that is ruining his health, and M packs him off for a fortnight in a nature-cure clinic to be tuned up to his former pitch of exceptional physical fitness. Furiously, Bond undergoes the shame of the carrot-juice and nut-cutlet regime—and thereby minutely upsets the plans of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., a new adversary, more deadly, more ruthless than even than Smersh.

What is S.P.E.C.T.R.E.? What are its plans? Alas, the organization is all too realistically described, its plans all too contemporary for comfort.

This, the latest James Bond adventure, casts a long and terrible shadow.

***

The Spy Who Loved Me

Vivienne Michel writes:

"The spy who loved me was called James Bond and the night on which he loved me was a night of screaming terror in The Dreamy Pines Motor Court, which is in the Adirondacks in the north of New York State.

"This is the story of who I am and how I came through a nightmare of torture and the threat of rape and death to a dawn of ecstasy. It's all true—absolutely. Otherwise Mr. Fleming certainly would not have risked his professional reputation in acting as my co-author and persuading his publishers, Jonathan Cape, to publish my story. Ian Fleming has also kindly obtained clearance for certain minor breaches of The Official Secrets Act that were necessary to my story."

***

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

"It was one of those Septembers when it seemed that the summer would never end..."

But it did end and winter came in a lethal welter of mystery, bloodshed, and multiple deaths amidst the snow.

This, the eleventh chapter in the biography of James Bond, is one of the longest. It is also the most enthralling.

Really the most? Really the most.

***

You Only Live Twice

When Ernst Stavro Blofeld blasted into eternity the girl whom James Bond had married only hours before, the heart, the zest for life, went out of Bond. Incredibly, from being a top agent of the Secret Service, he had gone to pieces, was even on the verge of becoming a security risk. M is persuaded to give him one last chance—an impossible mission far removed from his usual duties—and Bond leaves for Japan.

There, coming under the orders of the formidable "Tiger" Tanaka, Head of the Japanese Secret Service, the Kōan-Chōsa-Kyōku, he is indeed subjected to the shock treatment his condition demanded.

Shock treatment? The reader will also be subjected to it in full measure in this, perhaps the most bizarre and doom-fraught of all James Bond's adventures.

***

The Man with the Golden Gun

[No blurb was included with first printing but Jonathan Cape advertised the book with this text by an unknown author]

For a year James Bond had been missing, presumed dead.

The man now sitting across the desk from M. looked like Agent 007. He was the right height, had the right features and wore the right dark-blue single-breasted suit. The hand moving towards the coat pocket might simply have been reaching for a packet of Bond's favourite Morland Specials with the three gold rings. But M., with equal casualness, eased his chair back from the desk and pressed the concealed button...

The tensions that broke in London that cold, clear November morning were to reverberate half way across the globe to a lush, tropical island where international plots bred in awesome proportions. There the most lethal super-killer in the Ministry's files, who had already notched six British agents on his golden gun, engaged James Bond in a final duel.

***

Octopussy and The Living Daylights

[Blurb author unknown]

From Jamaica, paradise of sunshine and exotic fish, to Berlin, cold grim city of stealth, James Bond pursues two strangely heroic enemies of the Secret Service. The first is a dying major whose dwindling hoard of gold conceals an act of treachery, and the second an assassin whose identity disturbs Bond's deadly aim.

These two stories, written in 1961 and 1962, were among those composed by Ian Fleming while he was writing the incomparable series of James Bond thrillers. The first collection of stories appeared in 1959 as For Your Eyes Only; a further collection which he planned to publish was never completed.

Comments

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    now this is cool, I did not know that, and since I cannot afford the Cape hardcovers I've never seen them before.

    its like an extra paragraph of genuine Fleming per book!

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