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Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  264 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Sportsman, womanizer, naval commander, world-traveler, and spy, the creator of the Cold War's archetypal secret agent was infinitely more complex and interesting than his iconic fictional character, Agent 007. Fleming's wide-ranging and exciting life inevitably provided the plausible backdrop for his Bond novels. Highly regarded in British naval intelligence for his intern ...more
Audio CD, 2 pages
Published June 15th 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published June 1st 1995)
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Eric
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It always seems a crying shame to me whenever an author dies young, or rather prematurely. The protagonist here, Ian Fleming died in his mid-fifties and during his lifetime was producing a James Bond book every year...successfully. So what if he had lived till around 80 years old; how many more "new" authentic Bond novels would he have written and published? Some might deem this a trite observation, but consider hitherto very popular novelists like Agatha Christie and James Hadley Chase who live
...more
Jerry Peterson
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Tony
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
IAN FLEMING. (UK 1995; US 2013). Andrew Lycett. ***.
When people refer to a book as being the definitive biography, they are referring to a book like this. It is chuck full of names and dates and places, all showing the signs of the author’s research. In this case, I would have recommended a revamping of the original UK edition into a US edition. Americans don’t know about the famous (?) titled characters cited in the book. If they’re not require3d by the story, leave them out. We Americans also
...more
Dfordoom
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
...more
Robert
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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
...more
Tim
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
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
...more
J.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Erik Moloney
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sportsman, womanizer, naval commander, world traveler, spy, this suave creator of the Cold War’s archetypal secret agent was infinitely more complicated and interesting than his major fictional character, Agent 007.

The definitive biography of author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond 007, includes information about Fleming's career in naval intelligence where he masterminded many top-secret operations.

With the Bond movies earning critical acclaim as the spy and signed for several Bond movies, bo
...more
Mike Pinter
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting view into the life and times of Ian Fleming that I didn't expect. Somehow it still left some of my questions unanswered.
Dell Deaton
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dani
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alice
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, bond
I struggled with this weighty tome, in part because much of it consisted of the names of friends and family members, and I had trouble remembering who was who, but also because Fleming didn't have a terribly interesting life. I did enjoy spotting some of the experiences which led to set pieces in the Bond books - including the recent Trigger Mortis, though i don't know whether that was down to Fleming's original notes or to Anthony Horowitz doing the research. I'd bet on the latter.

If anyone co
...more
Ron
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
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
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
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
...more
Tomerobber
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
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
...more
Robert Lane
Aug 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
Michael Heath-Caldwell
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
False
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
Gary
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dense, fascinating and amazingly thorough biography of the complex and troubled wartime Naval Intelligence operative and creator of 007. Not necessarily the nicest person in the world, it is nonetheless fascinating to see where many of Bond's character traits and fictional history comes from and Mr Lycett's book is a real how-to example of how a biography should be written. Very highly recommended.
Marc
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Marina Fontaine
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.
Annette Arena
Entitled life

I enjoyed the fActs about Fleming, but would have liked more about what people found appealing vs what they didn't find appealing and why. Think he needed more unconditional love in his life so that he might have shown it to others.
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.
Jonathan
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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