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Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Sportsman, womanizer, naval commander, world-traveler, spy, this suave Old Etonian creator of the Cold War's archetypal secret agent was infinitely more complicated and interesting than his major fictional character, Agent 007. Fleming's wide-ranging and exciting life inevitably provided the plausible backdrop for the Bond novels, and while his temperamental, sometimes vio ...more
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Published February 1st 1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks
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Jerry Peterson
I cannot tell you whether this is the best biography of Ian Fleming -- because it's the only one of the several big books on Fleming that are out there that I've read -- but it is comprehensive. I learned a great deal about the man who created James Bond.

He set out to write the definitive spy novel. Critics say he didn't achieve that, but he came up with a character who became a cultural icon, and that's no mean achievement. In truth, the Bond movies did that. Fleming didn't write the film scrip
Fleming. Ian Fleming.

This biography of Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett was the most comprehensive one out there I could find. As someone who loved both the Bond books and movies (can't forget Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), I was interested in learning more about the man. There certainly is a lot of myths woven around the man who created James Bond to nobody's surprise. Lycett is able to look beyond the myths however and give us Ian Fleming, the complex individual that he was.

Unfortunately, Fleming's cas
A surprisingly interesting life by a decidedly unliterary figure. Fleming was well-connected, rich, and eager to make his mark on the world somehow. He did, of course, by creating one of fiction's more enduring figures in the form of James Bond, 007. I had not realized there was a serious subtext to Bond, but Lycett convinced me there is: Britain's loss of influence, as a country, after World War II: "In a world dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union, Bond was portrayed as an impote ...more
Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, has always had the reputation of being one of those authors whose own life was as colourful as their books. While that reputation might be slightly exaggerated Andrew Lycett’s 1995 biography certainly suggests that Fleming was an interesting and contradictory character.

Fleming is the kind of writer who is today almost aggressively unfashionable. He was born into a world of wealth and privilege, he was politically conservative and his books are about as politic
David Orphal
Amazing biography of the man who created 007. I found my way to this book as I explored Thriller-writer who were, themselves, spies of some sort.

Lycett does a great job of detailing the life and accomplishments of Ian Fleming, without glossing over what a jerk he was.

The best parts are Fleming's years in Naval Intelligence during the war. Despite being a desk-jocky, Fleming was a competent officer and ran a bold network of intelligence gathers and saboteurs. One can see from where some of the id
Like most biographies, the first 200 pages of Lycett's book suffer from the impulse to list every person Fleming ever spoke to once on a train. Finally, though, at around page 216, we get to what we all came for-the genesis and process of the Bond novels. From that point, this book becomes clear and focused, and a joy to read. I appreciated Lycett's literary criticisms as well as his biographical sketches. His prose is clean, only occasionally slipping in to the three or more asides that seem to ...more
Dell Deaton
You're unlikely to find a more comprehensive biography on Ian Fleming than this book by Andrew Lycett, Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond.

Is that good or bad? Excessive? The answer depends on you.

I don't think it's a stretch to say this book wouldn't be if it weren't for James Bond. That is the draw for reading it. And Mr Lycett at least trades on this fact, if not enthusiastically embracing it, by highlighting "James Bond" in his seven-word title.

But you'll have to wait a long while for muc
I read the Bond books in high school and picked this up hoping to get some insight on Fleming's concept and writing. (FYI, his writing career starts around page 220.) Nice to see his books discussed in context of the times in which they appeared. Enjoyed reading about his early life and experiences in WWII. Fleming was keen on snorkeling and scuba house at his house in Jamaica (Goldeneye) and his dives with Jacques Cousteau. Given this interest, I'm surprised there weren't more underwater scenes ...more
Robert Lane
Just got around to reading this on. Bond, right? Another writer with a questionably happy life, or perhaps such an existence can be claimed by far more than just writers. Lycett’s book is a detailed replay of the life that gave us James Bond. A life that, no doubt in part due to 70 cigarettes a day and a bottle of gin to boot, was over before the age of sixty.

He felt foolish and “ashamed” at his creation, yet he forged ahead with a strict schedule of a book a year, commencing at his Jamaican re
Harry Casey
A difficult book to review. It consists of the interesting versus the boring. I wanted to know more about how James Bond came about and what went into the novels that I read as a boy. Fleming showed me a world I did not know existed. There is much about Bond in the book, but not nearly enough. The Bond books are passed over lightly. It is more about Fleming and his circle of friends and his England. To be fair, Mr. Lycett does a fine job bringing it all together with extensive research, but too ...more
A good all round view of Fleming's life. In places though it does turn into a list of dates and places and people without much commentary.
Michael Porco
The book was good overall but I feel it added unnecessary details that didn't help illuminate the life of Ian Fleming. It was much interesting once Ian started writing the Bond thrillers (not sure if it was because his life became more interesting, the book was more interesting, or I just was more interested in the material.

Anyway, I do recommend the book to learn about Ian's life. Early on he seemed like just a wealthy, mean person who avoided responsibility but was propped up by others within
Michael Heath-Caldwell
Good book backgrounding Ian Fleming and the people he knew who influenced his writing. Only a few examples of his journalist writing given, which looked quite good. He seemed to network, or be a bit obsessed with getting to know "The Right People" but did not seem to have Noel Coward's nattering affability that got Noel into the right places with such ease. However, Fleming's work has gone on very well with the Bond series as a cultural phenomenon, whereas Coward's literary style dated rather su ...more
False Millennium
This book haunted me for days after I had read it. I doubt my own life could stand up to such scrutiny, but it's sad to read a biography and wonder "Why did they make such choices?" You will learn how many names and places and "things" (you could call Fleming an early proponent of product placement) turn up in the Bond books. His only child came to a tragic, suicidal end. His marriage was full of pitfalls, he lacked commitment to people. There was definitely some kind of emotional remove in the ...more
The jury's still out because I'm near the middle. Is it possible to be British and be an Anglophile? This is a very interesting topic but like in a lot of biographies, you learn a lot about the biographer. This dude seems to have a case of hero worship for old British fancy people. He has a vast amount of information on his subject and the milieu but sometimes it's so vast and detailed I have no idea what he's talking about. Either some editing about what's important instead of details that at b ...more
Goretti Almeida
Had a very difficult time getting through this book. Couldn't get past the first few chapters. But not the authors fault. Just speaks to how little I know about the James Bond movies. 1) You really have to know the movies in detail e.g. settings and characters, not just the overall story. 2) the author makes constant reference to famous Brits from the turn of the century on. If you are not familiar with British statesmen, aristocracy, writers and artists from that time, you don't if they are bei ...more
This was a very long read and did have a few places of redundancy . . . but overall was an enlighting account of Ian Fleming. It's remarkable that for everything he was involved in . . . he apparently didn't come into his niche as an author until much later in his life. He seemed to be at a loss to figure out what he wanted to do . . . didn't fit into any of the schools his mother put him in . . . and at the age of 28 was still living with his mother. And only fell into the "Spy" business during ...more
David Shepherd
Learned a good deal about Ian Flemings life. A complex character, seemingly quite melancholic and prone to depressive type moods. A good insight into the trials and tribulations, excesses and stresses that probably led to his early death. The overall tone is definitely not one of affection for Fleming.

Some of the phrasing is dated for the twenty first century, but does add an interesting 'feel' to the book.

Saw a programme on Bond - Everything or Nothing - and much of the Fleming info must have c
Gary Green
Comprehensive and astonishingly detailed, though here and there bogs down under the weight of so many of these details.
This book is full of information about the life of Ian Fleming. However, I found the presentation to be rather dry and boring.
Michael Spitzer
An interesting look into the life of James Bond's creator
Don Weidinger
first book in 1953, life experiences.
Micheal Segroves
An interesting, complicated man.
R. Patrick
A well written and researched book on a tragic life. A lot of minutia but it is all relevant to Fleming's life.
I have been a Bond (Movie) fan for years and have just finished all the novels. After watching “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” I wanted to read a good biography about Ian Fleming.
This book didn’t disappoint.
Flemings life really is a sad story… But an interesting one.
J.w. Larrick
Interesting Bio of the man who invented "James Bond". Fleming led a very full life as a globe trotting British aristocrat,journalist and WWII naval veteran. An enviable life that had it's share of heartbreak and triumph. A very complicated man and life, most entertaining.
Masha K.
Had to give up on this one. Even as audiobook, it could not hold my attention. Too much background info rather than giving us a feel of the person. After 3 CDs (out of 18) I gave up. I may look into another Fleming bio at some point, but this one is not for me.
Turns out Mr. Fleming was a cad, and not a nice one at that. That being said he did create one of the best known characters of all time. I reading about Fleming you learn a lot about Bond and his creation. A good look into both characters.
Jeffrey Marks
Rather longish biography of the man who created the James Bond books. It seemed to be a bit long on name-dropping, especially English peerage, and paramours. All the names with little to distinguish them made it confusing at times.
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