Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bonding With History: Meet the Real James Bonds in The Secret History of MI6

TIME's News Feed offers a piece on the new book about the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), better known as MI6, called The Secret History of MI6, 1909-1949.

The piece notes that a British World War II intelligence officer, Wifred "Biffy" Dunderdale, a former boxer and friend of James Bond author Ian Fleming, was the model for the character of Bond. 

Although Dunderdale, like two famous spies in history, Sidney Reilly and Richard Sorge, was a womanizer, drinker and lived through some dangerous times, I don't think Fleming based his character that closely on him.

Other than some of his early journalism, I've read nearly everything Fleming has written, as well as nearly everything written about him. I believe his fictional character was based on a good number of British military commandos and SIS secret agents Fleming met during World War II. Bond was also based in part on Fleming himself.

Fleming wrote that Bond was intended to be a "blunt instrument" used by the government to combat Her Majesty's enemies. Bond was also intended to be a blunt instrument that Fleming could use to carry along the action in his thrillers.

The man of action was based on the real commandos and secret agents, but Fleming said he also added his own personal "quirks and characteristics" to the character.

He gave Bond his likes and his dislikes and his personal style. Bond, like Fleming, wore a Rolex watch, Sea Island Cotton shirts and dark blue suits. Bond, like Fleming, liked scrambled eggs and Vodka Martinis. Bond, like Fleming, was a womanizer.

In The Secret History of MI6, an authorized history, author Keith Jeffery writes about the real men and women who served in SIS from the service's beginning in 1909 to the early post-war years. The book is a companion of sorts to The Defense of the Realm, an authorized history of the British Security Service, MI5.

As the British finally open up their secret files, one discovers that Fleming's Bond stories, generally thought to be outlandish (the films more so than the novels), were based on true events in the history of crime and espionage.

You can read the TIME piece via the below link:

You can also go to my earlier post and read a review of the book via the below link:

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