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From Russia with Love (James Bond (Original Series) #5)

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,455 Ratings  ·  695 Reviews
SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance, of interrogation, torture and death. James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them. Then the cold eye of SMERSH focuses on Bond and far away in Moscow a trap is laid for him.
Paperback, 259 pages
Published 2004 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1957)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I am glad to be a man in 2011, because it sounds so exhausting to hear about what life was like in the 1950s. I mean, imagine you are Ian Fleming's James Bond, sexy 1950s super spy: Every time a woman mouthed off to you, you had to take her over your knee and spank her. That sounds awkward! (My lap isn't that big.) And if you were in a relationship and she started to get fat, you'd have to beat her until she lost weight. I don't want to get home from a long day of international espionage only to ...more
Grace Tjan
Mar 31, 2011 Grace Tjan rated it really liked it
What I learned from this book (in no particular order):

1. The ideal Soviet master assassin is a man who is:

a. the offspring of a German wrestler and a Southern Irish hooker;
b. extremely muscular and hairy;
c. possessed of a high threshold for pain;
d. manic during the full moon; and
e. asexual (“Sexual neutrality was the essence of coldness in an individual”) --- but love to parade around naked.

2. Ugly women are mannish and have breasts that looked like badly packed sandbags, and when they pull ba
My biggest complaint with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE—aside from the usual male chauvinism and innocent women who need a real man—I was well into this novel (over a third of the way) before Bond made his appearance. Did I really need to know that much about Mother Russia? I think not. I’d have been happier with much less, frankly, and I would have kept a few more sanity points.

I even debated skipping ahead, but since I’ve approached my task of reading the entire Bond series the way one might approach
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.5* of five

It's the 1963 movie with Sean Connery that I'm rating. I tried reading Casino Royale recently, and found it dated and even more sexist and racist than I was expecting. I'll stick to the movies. Connery's nice to look at. The gadgets are hilarious, and so is Q. The theme songs are great.
Nov 09, 2015 Carmen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One

SMERSH wants to damage England. What better way than to destroy their secret agent hero, James Bond? SMERSH hatches a plan. They pick out their prettiest worker and send her to Bond. To sweeten the already honeyed deal, she's carrying a Russian encryption machine. Bond is initially suspicious of this beautiful Russian spy who's defecting to England, but his suspicions are gone once he beds her (moron!). But SMERSH has big plans for Bond, and surprisingly they are not plans to give hi
Jan 18, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel guilty reading these books for a variety of reasons. One, they are sinfully good. Two, they are undeniably racist and sexist. Three, I think I'm reading a first edition (the real owner of these books stole/borrowed them from a distant relative) and they are disintegrating in my hands as I read them. Every time I turn the page it comes away from the binding. Is it sacrilege to destroy a 1st edition Bond book?

The most surprising thing about these books is Fleming's prose. His descriptions

To date this and “Live and Let Die” are on par for the worst James Bond book I’ve read to date. This book was basically split into 3 parts over 350 pages of which none were interesting and only the final part offering anything in the way of action or tension.

The first part involved nothing but Russian diplomats scheming. It was 130 pages of filler, just a lot of backdrop into the Russian secret departments and some of the characters who will be popping up later. Bond wasn’t in this part at
For people who don't already know, "Kronsteen", the Russian chess genius and spymaster, is supposed to be based on David Bronstein, arguably the greatest player never to win the world title. Oddly enough, the game used in the movie involved Bronstein, but he was on the wrong side of the board. For details, including further links, look at this article.


When I read the third volume of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors last year, it occurred to me that there
Jun 04, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British secret agents, Guys who pretend they read Playboy for the articles
Ian Fleming should get more credit than he does for writing fast-paced tightly-plotted thrillers. A little improbable at times? Sure, but the James Bond of the books is nothing like the superhero of the movies. This is adventure fiction that stays within the bounds of reason, and it's full of (almost) believable heroes and villains and not nearly as many outrageous gadgets as in the movies either. (Bond is actually given a cynanide pill dispenser in this book; he laughs and washes them down the ...more
From Russia With Love, movie trailer.

My Bond project continues with From Russia With Love, the second Bond film and the fifth Bond book (and yes, this out-of-order thing is totally starting to bug me... but I will prevail!).

So most interesting, in the movie the group that's after Bond is the non-specific SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), whereas in the book it's the very, very Soviet organization SMERSH (...mumble mumble mumble something Rus
Jul 10, 2015 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
From the Telegraph's Andrew Martin 06 Aug 2014:

"Scientists at the University of London have concluded that the key to happiness is having low expectations. 'They mined this conclusion from an experiment in which people gambled with small sums of money. The subjects were happiest when they won, not having expected to win.'"


This quote pretty much captures my feelings about Ian Fleming. Now five books deep into James Bond, I've just figured out how to enjoy these books. Yes, you guessed it. Low exp
G.R. Reader
I think I was about seven. We had a copy of this book lying around the house, and Mom told me not to read it, it was totally dumb, but of course I did anyway. I thought it was kind of cool, especially how they had the grandmaster plan the honey trap. Really I wanted it to work, and I was a bit annoyed that Bond got away again.

That weekend, Mom had invited a lesbian couple over for dinner (we were living in the Bay Area at the time). I spent the whole evening staring at their shoes. In the end, o
Jan 10, 2011 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An oh-so-innocent Russian cipher clerk is recruited into a SMERSH plot, being told that she would feed England false information after "defecting". Little does she know that the actual plan is to humiliate MI6 by staging a murder-suicide between her and her escort, James Bond.

This is technically a review of the Simon Vance audiobook, but it's an unabridged reading.

The Good:

Action scenes: Fleming writes them so well. That penultimate scene with the top SMERSH killer is my favorite scene in the b
Benjamin Thomas
Jun 24, 2014 Benjamin Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller-spy
My chronological journey through the world of the original James Bond novels continues with the fifth novel to be written and published, and widely held as the beginning of the best part of the entire series. In this one, Russia is tired of continually losing the battle in the grand spy game and has decided to assassinate one of the West’s most prestigious spies. After considering several countries’ intelligence programs to target, they settle on Britain’s MI-6 and who better than the famous Jam ...more
Devlin Scott
Oct 06, 2011 Devlin Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-companions
This book is very special to me for one particular was the first book I had bought with my own money when I was a child. It was, of course, the cover that compelled me to purchase it, I think most of us are guilty of judging a book in this manner. I used to while away the hours in a local bookshop. I would walk up and down the isles dreaming of all the wonderous adventures each tome held within. Then, I saw the spy section of the shop. The covers, the titles, all left me in awe of wh ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe even 4 stars. Although his actions are similar to those of the movie character Bond, because you see his thoughts, doubts & concerns, Bond comes across as a much more three-dimensional (and to me, more attractive) man. For example, Bond's appearance in this fifth entry of the series is introduced while he is mourning the loss of his girlfriend Tiffany Case (from Diamonds are Forever) who has just become engaged to another man and moved back to America.

I found this one to be much more '
Dan Gunter
Dec 31, 2015 Dan Gunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the better ones. Some memorable villains, and sidekicks, and an unusual plot -- not simply "megalomaniac that needs to be stopped" (e.g. Dr. No), or "evil gangster out of control" (e.g., Diamonds Are Forever). Details of SMERSH are interesting, clearly benefiting from Fleming's own experience. I cannot bring myself to give a five star rating to an author who so strongly stereotypes ethnic groups (both Russians and Balkans, and even Roma, in this case). But the writing is undeni ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Russia with Love is second only to Casino Royale, and followed all too closely by Moonraker.

Ian Fleming has crafted a well developed tale of intrigue in this book. We begin with SMERSH rather than MI6, which contrasts beautifully with the daily doldrums of MI6's paperwork in Moonraker and even to an extent Dr. No. From Russia with Love allows us to see just what is going to happen. SMERSH needs to make a strong impact on MI6, and to let the world know they're not messing around. Why
Aug 29, 2010 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second Bond novel, and, while I enjoyed it immensely, it is very unsatisfying in that it now seems evident that the Bond series feature no through lines about other aspects of Bond's life besides his profession. While Dr. No, Bond's next adventure, ties up some loose ends, not the slightest mention is made about the fate of Tatiana Romanovna, the Russian spy with whom he really falls in love. Fleming being such a meticulous writer, this can't be mere carelessness, but rather that it doesn't m ...more
Apr 02, 2009 F.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With 'From Russia With Love' I thought I'd reached a book which would be close to the film. As such I was somewhat surprised by the first 100 or so Bond-less pages. And yet, that opening worked very well. Fleming has spent the last four books building up the character of James Bond, and so can take time away to show the rest of his universe. Besides, much like Harry Lime in the film of 'The Third Man', the fact he's constantly being talked about means he's actually always there.

This is the best
Nov 03, 2011 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Russia with Love was the fifth of Ian Fleming's 007 books, published in 1957. Apparently he wasn't sure whether he wanted the franchise to continue, and you have to read the sequel, Dr. No, to find out how some of the plot points in this one were resolved.

Interesting, I think, is that the movie Dr. No (based on the sixth book) was the first James Bond film, and From Russia with Love was the second. Swapping the order of the plots actually necessitated some changes to the stories. In the mov
Jun 11, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the most action-packed installment I've read so far, but still a pretty good story. As Bond mopes in London following the loss of his last girl to another man(Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever), he is lured to Istanbul. SMERSH has hatched a plot to discredit and kill England's premier spy, and uses the beautiful Tatiana Romanova as bait. Almost nothing happens in the first half of the book, other than Fleming's trademark writing style packed with detail, deep character development and ric ...more
May 07, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With all the hype surrounding the movie release of Quantum of Solace, I decided to pick up an Ian Fleming novel to see what kind of writer spawned so many huge movies. I bought From Russia With Love more or less randomly expecting a pulp fiction, throw-away escape. Instead, I was very pleasantly surprised to find the book well written, the plot solid and the background surprisingly accurate. Unlike the movies that tend to get overblown and focus on the action, this was a low key suspense thrille ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread, audio, adrenaline
As I move through the James Bond series, I think this is the most sexist, chauvinistic. And for that, irritating. But I do find Fleming's Bond irresistible, so much more interesting that the movie heroes. This man makes mistakes that get him in trouble and others killed, he trusts when he shouldn't, and he never has all the gadgets the movies gave him. And, really, who can resist Rosa Klebb? Not his best and frustrating because of the sexism but...still a good read.
Finn Cullen
Sep 27, 2010 Finn Cullen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cleverly constructed James Bond novel. The first half of the book focusses entirely on other characters and the meticulous build up to a Smersh scheme to discredit and destroy the pesky British agent. The psychological portrait of the chosen killer, Red Grant, makes a compelling short story within the novel as a whole and it is with suitable trepidation that the reader encounters the unstable Irishman later in the novel when Bond mistakenly accepts the man's cover story of being an ally.

Dec 10, 2015 Rik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, crime, spy, classic
It took a long time to get going, though it did help to build a good picture of the soviet aspect of the plot. Bond doesn't appear until approx 1/3 of the way through the book, but from then on the pace begins to gather, increasing all the way to a fantastic finish. I like the way Fleming allows Bond to be flawed, human, and get things wrong.
Howard Olsen
Mar 24, 2010 Howard Olsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book about a Soviet plot to assassinate James Bond. The action is truly international, as the story shifts from Moscow to London to Istanbul before reaching a climax on the Orient Express. Fleming writes with a lot of flair, and no wonder; he was using this book to "kill off" Bond, a character whom Fleming had tired of (don't worry, Bond is lamely brought back to life at the beginning of "Dr. No"). The story focuses much more on the plot to kill Bond than it does on Bond himself. He ...more
Mar 17, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an unexpected surprise... I started it and within the first few pages, there were boobs and I thought to myself, this is going to be like a trashy romance novel for dudes. And there were parts of it that were. (two naked gypsies fighting to the death? seriously?) There were also parts that got made my feminist sense tingle like spiderman. But on the whole, the book was actually really well-crafted and gripping, with incredibly insightful tidbits that made me stop and say "wow yeah ...more
Thom Swennes
Feb 14, 2014 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SMERSH is a contraction of Smiert Spionam – Death to Spies and is a department of the Soviet Secret Service. It is logical that agents of MI6 (British Secret Service) would be interesting targets for this group. In this action-filled novel, the Irish born Donovan Grant (Granitsky) is sent to kill James Bond. He is the chief executioner for this branch and an expert in killing. The beautiful and naïve Tatiana Romanova is also sent by the department head, Colonel Rosa Klebb to compromise and seduc ...more
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Espionage Aficion...: Pardon me, do you have a match? 1 13 Nov 30, 2014 07:04PM  
Publication year 3 18 Aug 29, 2014 11:58PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 2 14 Aug 09, 2014 10:46PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming 1 5 Jan 26, 2014 05:45PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 9783864250781 2 17 Jan 05, 2014 10:41AM  
  • For Special Services (John Gardner's Bond, #2)
  • Doubleshot (James Bond, #4)
  • Colonel Sun (James Bond, #15)
  • Devil May Care (James Bond, #36)

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Second World War Navy Commander. Fleming is best remembered for creating the character of James Bond and chronicling his adventures in twelve novels and nine short stories. Additionally, Fleming wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two
More about Ian Fleming...

Other Books in the Series

James Bond (Original Series) (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)
  • Live and Let Die (James Bond #2)
  • Moonraker (James Bond, #3)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond, #4)
  • Doctor No (James Bond, #6)
  • Goldfinger (James Bond, #7)
  • For Your Eyes Only (James Bond, #8)
  • Thunderball (James Bond, #9)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond, #10)
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service (James Bond, #11)

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“But I am greedy for life. I do too much of everything all the time. Suddenly one day my heart will fail. The Iron Crab will get me as it got my father. But I am not afraid of The Crab. At least I shall have died from an honourable disease. Perhaps they will put on my tombstone. 'This Man Died from Living Too Much'.” 35 likes
“Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it.” 22 likes
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