Monday, August 1, 2022

James Bond & Russia: An Interview With James Fleming

Rebecca Rego Barry at Fine Bools Magazine offers an interview with Ian Fleming’s nephew, James Fleming (seen in the bottom photo), the author of Bond Behind the Iron Curtain.

James Fleming, nephew of James Bond creator Ian Fleming and editor of The Book Collector, published an illuminating book last year that explores a shadowy corner of the 007 universe: how the USSR and other Communist states pushed back on the famous fictional spy. In Bond Behind The Iron Curtain, Fleming examines contemporary critical reviews, as well as examples of Bond counter-narratives and those in which Bond gets his comeuppance at the hands of his enemies. What Fleming has uncovered is not only significant to Bond bibliography but of great interest to any fan.

To learn more, I posed some questions to Fleming, which he graciously answered; our exchange follows. 

RRB: Aside from your relation to Ian Fleming, what brought you to this topic specifically?

JF: I had a friend at university who started a James Bond Fan Club and had the chutzpah to go and see Ian in his office in Mitre Court in London. It was Ian who told him about the article in Izvestiya and gave him a copy of the translation – and my friend who told me. That was in 1962 and from that day until I took over The Book Collector in 2016 I could find nothing more, despite asking everywhere. It was when I began at the magazine that dealers got in touch with me. Had I seen this? Did I know of that? In all languages the material began to arrive.

The kick-off point for it all is the ferocious attack on Ian Fleming and Bond in the Izvestiya article of May 1962 – ‘Who is Mr Ian Fleming, the creator of this – to put it mildly – rubbish?’ Ian was elated by this (see his letter to Bobby Kennedy) and persuaded Cape, his London publisher, to use it on the back flap of the dust-jacket of his next novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was coming out in 1963. Cape duly printed the jacket but then the Cuban missile crisis came along and they got cold feet. A banal replacement jacket was put together and the Izvestiya jacket binned. Maybe fifty copies have survived? It's impossible to say. It must be the rarest of all the commercially produced Bond material.

As an aside, the hardest part of my research was finding a copy of the original issue of Izvestiya for 29 May 1962. Without the evidence before me, I could never have been sure it wasn’t a fake, written perhaps by my uncle himself. Thanks to friends and friends of friends I eventually got a copy from the Russian National Library. (Might not have happened today.)

You can read the read of the interview via the below link:

James Bond & Russia: An Interview with James Fleming ( 

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