I've always thought that Ian Fleming, sans fist and gun fights, was a more interesting character than his creation, James Bond.
A naval intelligence officer during WWII and a journalist before and after the war, Fleming led a most interesting life.
So I look forward to reading Nicholas Shakespeare's biography of Ian Fleming and covering it in my Washington Times On Crime column when the book is published in America later this year.
Anthony Cummins at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a review of Nicholas Shakespeare’s biography of Ian Fleming:
Nicholas Shakespeare’s elegant biography of the author takes its subtitle from a journalist’s observation, quoted halfway through, that its subject was “for a moment of time, a complete man” while working for British naval intelligence in the second world war.
Yet you can’t help read it as a promise to give the reader what was left out of previous biographies such as John Pearson’s crisp, more portable authorized life from 1966. And is there a claim, too, for the alpha male credentials of the man called “Flemingway” by his friend Noël Coward? Journalist, stockbroker, thriller writer and – like his famous creation – a playboy and 70-a-day smoker, at the age of 56 after a plagiarism row over the origins of , the ninth Bond novel.
He falls on his feet at Reuters – it was that kind of life – further honing his knack for a scoop at the , a handy source of contacts for his war work.
Shakespeare goes to great lengths – not least tracking down a 94-year-old veteran, the last surviving member of a covert commando unit that Fleming organized – to dispel the idea that Fleming’s service, occluded by state-sanctioned secrecy, was just “in-trays, out-trays and ashtrays”.
The book’s first half puts the future author at the heart of military and journalistic history – a search for German weapons of mass destruction; the race to get an inside scoop on the Cambridge spies – as well as the bedroom shenanigans of the English well-to-do.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:
Note: Below is a photo of Commander Ian Fleming during WWII: