Saturday, September 12, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On 'Ian Fleming's Inspiration'

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on Ian Fleming’s Inspiration.

In 2006, the year of the Ian Fleming Centenary celebration, Corinne Turner of Ian Fleming Publications stated, “There will be a broad range of events and publications designed to celebrate the life of this literary legend and to examine his legacy. The program includes a major exhibition featuring never-before-seen material and events will reflect Fleming’s passions and experiences in the worlds of art, literature, journalism, sport, motoring and travel.”

Ms. Turner added that the Ian Fleming Centenary presented an exciting opportunity to celebrate an extraordinary life. That extraordinary life, as a World War II British naval intelligence officer, a world-traveling journalist and the author of the James Bond thrillers, led Edward Abel Smith (seen in the bottom photo) to write “Ian Fleming’s Inspiration: The Truth Behind the Books” (Casemate).

The book interested me as I’ve been an Ian Fleming aficionado since my teenage years in the 1960s, when I saw the first James Bond film “Dr. No” and went on to read Fleming’s more complex and darker James Bond novels.

I reached out to Edward Abel Smith and asked him why he wrote the book. “After finishing my first book about a group of individuals who saved thousands of Jews before the outbreak of war, I wanted to find another topic to write about. I grew up loving the Bond films and then more recently the Bond books, so I was interested to learn about their creator,” Mr. Smith replied.

“When I started to read more about Fleming, I instantly started to link in my head his life experiences to those in his books. From there, when I saw that no book existed which told his life in this way, I decided to pitch the idea to publishers.”

Mr. Smith said that Fleming would sit behind his desk in the Admiralty and think up the most fantastical and bizarre plans of how to help the war effort. He said the difference then was that he would make most of these plans a reality and his dreamed-up ideas would be carried out by commandos.

“A lot of his plans — for example Operation Ruthless and Operation Tracer — were so farfetched it is amazing that they ever got the go ahead from his bosses. Therefore, having dreamed up real plans which seemed fictional, it was natural for him to write these down in later life,” Mr. Smith said. “So James Bond could play out his dream of not only sending men on dangerous and daring missions, but actually taking part himself.”

… I spent a grand week with my wife at Ian Fleming’s Jamaican villa Goldeneye (seen in the below photo) in the 1980s, when the villa and grounds were still as rustic as when he lived there and wrote the James Bond novels. How inspirational, I asked, was Goldeneye?   

“Jamaica was his oasis and a place where he was able to run away from his real life for a few months per year. When you read his letters, you see a real upbeat in his tone when he is there,” Mr. Smith said. “Given that Bond spends more time in Jamaica than anywhere else abroad in the books, I think Fleming would have struggled to bring to life other such exotic locations, as he would not have had the same intimate knowledge or love for them.”

You can read the rest of the piece below or via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Commander Ian Fleming’s WWII experiences via the below link:

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