Ian's Reviews > From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming
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's review
May 30, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

"Bond. James Bond". How many times have we heard those powerful words echo out of the movie and television screen? The Bond saga is long running and successful franchise, which I have watched over the course of my life, and one which I have long held a mild hankering to investigate further by reading the novels upon which it is based.

After having reading several of the novels I can say that they are certainly entertaining, but not something I ever expect to re-read. The Bond of the novels is less the action hero and more failable than the Bond of the movies, thus perhaps, more realistic.

Ian Fleming wrote the 'Bond' novels in the 50s. They are creatures of there time, as are most things. From the perspective of two post-Cold War decades the caricature of the Russians, as a single, hard, cold, and ruthless group, dedicated to the overthrow of the west comes shining through. The reality, a ruling class of old men and their cronies and lackies, desperate to hold on to their prerogatives, mired in a corrupt sea of bureaucracy, is never shown.

What was noticeable by its absence was 'God'. There is no religious moralising, and nary a reference to organised religion. Bond finds it necessary to kill and maim lots of people, and destroy lots of things, and do nasty deeds, but what moralising there is is presented as a combination of pragmatism and humanism. He does what he does as this is what he must do to achieve what he must, with regret, but always with the necessary ruthlessness and despatch. I have not read a great deal of non-sf material from this period so I am unaware of how common this is, but it was a little surprising, certainly different from the inherent xian moralising, the constant xian moralising, of Victorian era writing.

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