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SPECTRE is a merciless new enemy - a group of the world's toughest criminals, headed by the brilliant Ernst Stavro Blofeld. When two NATO atom bombs go missing, Bond must unravel SPECTRE's intricate plans and prevent a global catastrophe, in Fleming's ninth 007 adventure. SPECTRE is a merciless new enemy - a group of the world's toughest criminals, headed by the brilliant Ernst Stavro Blofeld. When two NATO atom bombs go missing, Bond must unravel SPECTRE's intricate plans and prevent a global catastrophe, in Fleming's ninth 007 adventure.


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SPECTRE is a merciless new enemy - a group of the world's toughest criminals, headed by the brilliant Ernst Stavro Blofeld. When two NATO atom bombs go missing, Bond must unravel SPECTRE's intricate plans and prevent a global catastrophe, in Fleming's ninth 007 adventure. SPECTRE is a merciless new enemy - a group of the world's toughest criminals, headed by the brilliant Ernst Stavro Blofeld. When two NATO atom bombs go missing, Bond must unravel SPECTRE's intricate plans and prevent a global catastrophe, in Fleming's ninth 007 adventure.

30 review for Thunderball

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jayson

    (A-) 83% | Very Good Notes: James Bond fights a non-political criminal multinational, while scenes and concepts from past adventures are reused.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Now this is a great Bond story! First published in 1961, this was the 9th Bond novel for Ian Fleming and is a rip roaring good time for fans. This has it all: Criminal villain mastermind. While Fleming has come up with several great villains before, we are finally introduced to THE criminal, Blofeld, the Number 1 of SPECTRE – and who was without a doubt the template for Austin Powers parody Dr. Evil. (especially Donald Pleasance’s portrayal of him in You Only Live Twice). We actually get a villain Now this is a great Bond story! First published in 1961, this was the 9th Bond novel for Ian Fleming and is a rip roaring good time for fans. This has it all: Criminal villain mastermind. While Fleming has come up with several great villains before, we are finally introduced to THE criminal, Blofeld, the Number 1 of SPECTRE – and who was without a doubt the template for Austin Powers parody Dr. Evil. (especially Donald Pleasance’s portrayal of him in You Only Live Twice). We actually get a villain double billing as SPECTRE agent Largo is the central antagonist and we meet Blofeld as the arch-enemy behind the scenes. Plot to destroy the world. Not just a spy v. spy, SPECTRE is rolling the dice on a big and dastardly plan and its up to our hero to save the day. Action. Lots. Some of the earlier Bond novels were oddly cerebral and even romantic, Thunderball is all about the fight scenes and there are many good ones. The Bond Girl. Broccoli’s casting in the films always entertains but they got the idea from Fleming and his creation of Domino is inspired. Gambling. Almost a token scene, but would it be Bond without ultra-cool at the card table? Bond with a health problem. Bond is a THREE pack a day smoker and a heavy drinker and M is worried about his ace. This begins with some attention to Bond as a physical operative. All this and SHARKS! Good fun. *** I re-watched the 1965 Terence Young film starring Sean Connery as Bond and was again reminded how much I liked this one. The underwater scenes are cool and the villains were superbly cast and performed. In one of the scenes when Connery is swimming with the sharks, one of the animals got past the plexiglass border and according to the film's stunt coordinator, the actor only just got out of the water.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    A voice said quietly, close up against his ear, "You will not meddle again, my friend." Then there was nothing but the great whine and groan of the machine and the bite of the straps that were tearing his body in half. Bond began to scream, weakly, while the sweat poured from him and dripped off the leather cushions to the floor. Then suddenly there was blackness. This is a bit different from the previous 8 Bond novels. A bit more serious. SPECTRE gets hold of an atomic bomb and threatens to deton A voice said quietly, close up against his ear, "You will not meddle again, my friend." Then there was nothing but the great whine and groan of the machine and the bite of the straps that were tearing his body in half. Bond began to scream, weakly, while the sweat poured from him and dripped off the leather cushions to the floor. Then suddenly there was blackness. This is a bit different from the previous 8 Bond novels. A bit more serious. SPECTRE gets hold of an atomic bomb and threatens to detonate it in a major city if he doesn't receive £100,000,000. WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: 1.) Bond calling women "bitch" all the time. It doesn't matter whether he likes them or not. He just refers to women as "bitches" quite frequently. It's disturbing, and I can't really see any rhyme or reason behind it. Term of endearment? Verbal tic? I wish he'd stop doing it, it takes away a lot of my enjoyment of these novels. 2.) Misogyny - Women are horrible drivers. Women are like horses that need to be tamed and broken in order to be ridden. [She was] a willful, high-tempered, sensual girl - a beautiful Arab mare who would only allow herself to be ridden by a horseman with steel thighs and velvet hands, and then only with curb and sawbit - and then only when he had broken her to bridle and saddle. Leiter's offhand comments about "authentic blondes" - ugh. WHAT WAS AMAZING: 1.) Ian Fleming's writing - especially about the sea. Fleming must have loved the ocean and it's definitely where Bond feels the most comfortable and at home as well. Fleming writes beautiful, breathtaking, gorgeous descriptions of swimming and underwater life. His love and knowledge of underwater animals shines through this entire book and it's delightful. It is just as well that the body retains no memory of pain. Yes, it hurt, that abscess, that broken bone, but just how it hurt, and how much, is soon forgotten by the brain and the nerves. It is not so with pleasant sensations, a scent, a taste, the particular texture of a kiss. These things can be almost totally recalled. 2.) This book is funny. There is a whole subplot where Bond gets called onto the carpet by M for smoking 60 cigarettes a day (down from 70 a day in Casino Royale), drinking tons of alcohol, and not eating anything remotely healthy. M sentences Bond to 10 days at a health resort - lots of health treatments and dieting. It is hilarious. Usually Bond books aren't big on the humor, but I was laughing so hard at Bond's adjustments at being told he needs to get in better shape, meeting all the health nuts at the clinic - and even temporarily becoming a 'health nut' himself!!!! So funny and refreshing. :) "Now don't you start on me, Penny." Bond walked angrily towards the door. He turned round. "Any more ticking-off from you and when I get out of this place I'll give you such a spanking you'll have to do your typing off a block of Dunlopillo." Miss Moneypenny smiled sweetly at him. "I don't think you'll be able to do much spanking after living on nuts and lemon juice for two weeks, James." Bond made a noise between a grunt and a snarl and stormed out of the room. 3.) We get to see Bond interacting with some favorite characters. M, of course, like he does in every novel. Moneypenny, who has been conspicuously absent from the last two novels; Bond's elderly Scottish housekeeper, May, who is a sweetheart and also funny - she gives Bond a stern talking-to here; and of course, Bond's old friend, Felix Leiter (of course now with a hook for a hand after he lost his hand in the shark attack in Live and Let Die), who shows up to needle Bond about America vs. Britain and help him out with this international crisis. (view spoiler)[Bond saves Leiter's life in this novel. (hide spoiler)] 4.) Old James Bond Classics: Bond saving a young woman from getting run over with a car by executing "a passable Veronica;" Bond hitting on his nurses when he's in the clinic; Bond fighting people underwater (this is a favorite of Fleming's); Bond going on and on about how much he loves his car; Bond vs. dastardly villain; Bond saves the world; Bond brutally destroys villain at the card table. 5.) Bond listens to women. I know this sounds like a strange thing to mention, but I'm always charmed by the fact that Bond sits down and listens intently to what women are saying. (Except when they are warning him about danger - he always disregards that for some reason.) When Bond meets a woman and he asks her about her life, feelings, or thoughts on something - he's not just killing time until they go to bed with him. He is genuinely interested in what they have to say. And he patiently listens to whatever they have to tell him about their lives. This happens in book after book. It's one of Bond's few good qualities regarding his treatment of women. Here's another: 6.) "Whore," "tart" and "prostitute" were not words Bond used about women unless they were professional streetwalkers or the inmates of a brothel, and when [she had been described as an] "Italian tart" Bond had reserved judgment. Now he knew he had been right. This was an independent, a girl of authority and character. She might like the rich, gay life, but so far as Bond was concerned, that was the right kind of girl. She might sleep with men, obviously did, but it would be on her terms and not theirs. One of Bond's most charming and best features in my mind. Here's another good one on this - Domino is saying that everyone in Nassau thinks she's Largo's "kept woman" and has a low opinion of her morals and character. Bond says: "Nobody's told me that. Anyway, I make up my own mind about men and women. What's the good of other people's opinions? Animals don't consult each other about other animals. They look and sniff and feel. In love and hate, and everything in between, those are the only tests that matter. But people are unsure of their own instincts. They want reassurance. So they ask someone else whether they should like a particular person or not. And as the world loves bad news, they nearly always get a bad answer - or at least a qualified one. WOMEN: PATRICIA FEARING, a osteopath at the clinic Bond is sentenced to. Patricia Fearing stood in front of him, clean, white, comforting, desirable. In one hand was a pair of heavy mink gloves, but with the fur covering the palm instead of the back. In the other was a glass. She held out the glass. As Bond drank and heard the reassuring, real-life tinkle of the ice, he thought: this is the most splendid girl. I will settle down with her. She will give me effleurage all day long and from time to time a good tough drink like this. It will be a life of great beauty. He smiled at her and held out the empty glass and said, "More." Bond saves her from getting run over by a car. She adjusts his back, gives him effleurage and (forbidden) brandy, and... when he is released from his "health prison" he takes her to bed. Nothing more than a roll in the hay for Bond. But then Fleming brings in the big guns, with DOMMINETTA PETACCHI (better known as DOMINO) is an Italian spitfire who is the mistress to the evil Emilio Largo. She is exactly the type of woman Bond likes: smart, active, brave, she drinks and smokes (and not "girly" drinking and smoking either), she is strong and capable. Bond loves that she took her life and her destiny in her own hands. He loves her independence and her authority. This is the kind of woman Bond could fall in love with. Domino walks with a slight limp - Bond doesn't even notice until their second meeting - because she was born with one leg shorter than the other. Bond is enchanted by this (he's come a long way from wanting to "fix" the women he likes, see also: Dr. No). (view spoiler)[ She is tortured in this novel. I hate reading about torture - it's too painful and real for me, but Fleming is a gentleman and keeps most of it off-screen. Still, what we see is terrifying. We later learn that she never breaks, even under torture, and later saves James Bond's life. She is amazing. Bond uses the l-word with her once in this book. :) It was very heartbreaking to me when Bond has to break the news to her that Largo murdered her brother. A truly touching scene. (hide spoiler)] Domino is a pretty amazing "Bond girl." She also has my absolute favorite Bond scene of all time: when she is diving and gets some sea-egg spines in her foot and Bond gets them out for her. Then they have sex. :) My all-time favorite Bond scenes, one I can still remember vividly as reading when I first discovered the Bond novels. I must have been anywhere from 9-12 years old. :) Bond knelt down and picked up her right foot. It felt small and soft, like a captured bird, in his hand. That above sentence is tattooed on my soul, probably. The fact that I can quote it and remember it verbatim even after not having read these books in years testifies to that. This scene is always the one that comes to mind when I think of James Bond. The chapter is appropriately titled: HOW TO EAT A GIRL, and it is fabulous. Come to think of it, there are a lot of good chapter titles in here. I like: WHEN THE KISSING STOPPED, which is the sad chapter, but it is a great one. The chapter titled DOMINO is pretty good, too. It's all good. It's a good book. ... In short, a Bond book on a grand scale. The evil SPECTRE has atomic weapons! The world is in danger! Bond and his old American pal Felix Leiter team up once again to save everyone! The Bond girl is fierce and brave and beautiful! Fighting underwater with spears and octopi! A fun novel. UPDATE: THUNDERBALL Sean Connery 1965 Film This is a decent pre-Craig Bond film, not stupid like Moonraker or Live and Let Die. But the book is 10x better. NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Why do I even bother watching these Bond movies. Seriously. I get nothing out of them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    The best part about any of the original James Bond novels is the fact that there is no “Q” (other than being mentioned peripherally, “Q Branch” and all that). That’s to say, the novels aren’t as gimmicky as the films. This is important, since it elevates the story above the zany pop culture status of the films. There is at least some gravitas here, which is as it should be in a spy thriller. And yet, the novels are every bit as entertaining as the films. Thunderball was recommended to me by my wi The best part about any of the original James Bond novels is the fact that there is no “Q” (other than being mentioned peripherally, “Q Branch” and all that). That’s to say, the novels aren’t as gimmicky as the films. This is important, since it elevates the story above the zany pop culture status of the films. There is at least some gravitas here, which is as it should be in a spy thriller. And yet, the novels are every bit as entertaining as the films. Thunderball was recommended to me by my wife. In fact, it was part of our annual “must read” agreement. I believe it is her favourite, just edging out Live and Let Die, which I also read on her recommendation previously. Thunderball does contain all the ingredients we have come to expect: exotic location – check, undersea adventuring – check, beautiful Italian girl with catchy name – check, memorable bad guy – check, atomic bombs – check… I could go on, but I think you get the idea. This novel also has the distinction of being the one to introduce Blofeld and Spectre, so its importance in the Bond canon is cemented. If you’re a Bond fan, you certainly have read this by now. If not – for shame!

  5. 5 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Revised review following re-read. "This is a silly plan. This is the sort of melodramatic nonsense people write about in thrillers." ....and that criticism straight out of the mouth of the "bond girl" in this installment is probably one of my favourite lines in the series so far. Whoever said they were all shallow?! In fact, Domino is another kick-ass leading lady, who first stumps Bond with her driving skills - yeah, between Domino, Ms. Galore, and Tilly Masterton, Bond may have a thing for women Revised review following re-read. "This is a silly plan. This is the sort of melodramatic nonsense people write about in thrillers." ....and that criticism straight out of the mouth of the "bond girl" in this installment is probably one of my favourite lines in the series so far. Whoever said they were all shallow?! In fact, Domino is another kick-ass leading lady, who first stumps Bond with her driving skills - yeah, between Domino, Ms. Galore, and Tilly Masterton, Bond may have a thing for women drivers -, calls him out on bullshit, engages with him on her own terms, and finally saves his hide. Of course, Bond is still Bond, and the sexist, chauvinist comments are there (in abundance) throughout the book, but one wouldn't set out to read a Bond novel without a bucket of salt at hand, and this one is nowhere near as horrible as other Bond novels. However, the story is still a bit tepid - bad guys steal nuclear war heads and threaten the world. I'm sure this was thrilling stuff in 1961 when the book was written, but it has worn off a bit since. And if it weren't for the "nerdy" tid bits like M's opinions about processed food, the technical details about the Polaris missiles, and the descriptions in the book of everything that surrounds the plot - i.e. the development of characters, the depiction of fight scenes, the dialogues, the sea life are just great - the book would be utterly forgettable. I mean, I must have watched Thunderball about a gazillion times since I was a kid and I still couldn't say what the film was about. It took reading the book twice - most recently as part of the Bond Buddy Read with Troy - to take in that Fleming describes SPECTRE as a well-functioning corporation, to recognise that he set up Blofeld as this puppeteer that pulls the strings behind the scenes rather than engaging with Bond one on one (even tho this will come later in the series). What was interesting on this latest read was how ridiculous the whole premise of the threat of nuclear missiles being stolen is in the context of the ongoing Cold War at the time the book is set. The unquestioned premise of Bond being on the side of right, stepping in to return the missiles to one of the sides rather than to allow a profit-oriented organisation to hold the world at ransom, shows why Bond novels are first and foremost adventure stories. Fleming does not question whether Bond's missions have a moral justification. Or whether there are any doubts about the point of propagating that the nuclear arms race kept the world at peace. Unfortunately, we don't get to know in the Bond novels whether Fleming believed this. We only get the boys' own adventure story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    In the late 1950s Ian Fleming & group of other people came up with a screenplay for a James Bond film that was never made. A few years later Ian Fleming published Thunderball, using some of their ideas without crediting them, & a court case followed. The Battle for Bond by Robert Sellers details these events & is well worth reading. Ian Fleming's 1961 Bond adventure starts with 007 being sent to a health farm called Shrublands. The brief glimpse we get of the young driver who takes Bond there sho In the late 1950s Ian Fleming & group of other people came up with a screenplay for a James Bond film that was never made. A few years later Ian Fleming published Thunderball, using some of their ideas without crediting them, & a court case followed. The Battle for Bond by Robert Sellers details these events & is well worth reading. Ian Fleming's 1961 Bond adventure starts with 007 being sent to a health farm called Shrublands. The brief glimpse we get of the young driver who takes Bond there shows Fleming's unerring ability to bring a character to life in just a few pages. Thunderball is Bond on an epic scale. Nuclear bombs are stolen & only one man can save the world, so 007 turns his back on the health food & returns to the alcohol & cigarettes. Criminal organisation SPECTRE make their first appearance, as does their leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld who is a far more interesting villain in the novels than in any film incarnation. Like the films Thunderball & Never Say Never Again the book drags in a few places, but all of the underwater sequences are brillianly handled. Amidst the worldwide threat from SPECTRE Ian Fleming still manages to ground the novel with humanity. One of my favourite moments features Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter complaining to a barman about a poorly made martini. Fleming also tells a wonderful tale based on the drawing on a packet of Players cigarettes. Thunderball may not be the best Bond novel, but it's still a big chunk of entertainment. Listening to John Barry's excellent soundtrack to the film as I read only heightened my enjoyment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    Excellent read! I consider the movie based (?) on the book 'Thunderball' one of the best of the James Bond movies, and I think it's because the plot of the novel is so great! There was litigation over this one, so I am uncertain which was first - screenplay, book, movie - never mind. The movie copies the action in the novel with a few scene differences, but the characters and plot of the movie and book match in spirit if not in details. EDIT: March 27, 2019 . I was distracted, but back to my revi Excellent read! I consider the movie based (?) on the book 'Thunderball' one of the best of the James Bond movies, and I think it's because the plot of the novel is so great! There was litigation over this one, so I am uncertain which was first - screenplay, book, movie - never mind. The movie copies the action in the novel with a few scene differences, but the characters and plot of the movie and book match in spirit if not in details. EDIT: March 27, 2019 . I was distracted, but back to my review of ‘Thunderball’. James Bond is called out by M because of his excessive drinking and smoking. Bond didn’t fail his latest physical, but he is definitely on a slide in regards to his fitness. So M suggests a two-week stay at a place called Shrublands for a nature cure, i.e., vegetable diet and exercise - no alcohol or smoking. Bond very reluctantly signs up. Surprise! The resort regimen works. He returns to London feeling much better. However, there was an interesting murderous incident at the health resort - another patient, Count Lippe, attempted to kill Bond in a spine-stretching machine by turning up the machine’s pressure on the spine. Bond was rescued by an attendant. It was very strange. He had seen a weird tattoo on the wrist of the patient, and he had called it in to the Service’s Records department. Records told him it was a Red Lightning Tong sign. Count Lippe had overheard the phone call, and then made the attempt to kill Bond. Why? Bond lets it go after getting revenge on Lippe by locking him in a steam box and turning up the temperature of the steam. Unbeknownst to Bond, he has thrown a small wrench into the works of a very important plan by terrible bad guys. Lippe was supposed to be a pilot for a very important hijacking, and now he will need to be replaced due to his burns. The replacement pilot, doomed Giuseppe Petacchi, will be an important link to a woman Bond meets later. Coincidences abound! Of course, gentle reader, the woman, Dominetta Vitali, née Petacchi, will fall in love with Bond. Don’t we all? Back in London, Bond is assigned to the Bahamas to search for any sign of a hijacked British aircraft carrying two atomic weapons. The organization which captured the bomber also killed the five-man crew and an observer. The criminals call themselves The Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion (S.P.E.C.T.R.E.), who boldly announce themselves in a letter with their demand for a ransom of £100,000,000 in gold, to be delivered in seven days from the receipt of the letter. If the ransom is not paid, an undesignated major city somewhere in the world will be destroyed. Bond is not convinced he will find anything in the Bahamas, but M has a hunch.... Ernst Stravro Blofeld, chairman of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and the man he put in charge of the hijack operation who is hiding the bombs in the Bahamas (a shock, right?), Emilio Largo, are soon to learn their perfect plot can be knocked askew by one good-looking Englishman with a lot of moxie and one pissed-off prostitute who had a ne’er-do-well pilot brother! Domino and Bond are going to do their worst against Largo. Will the duo find the bombs? Maybe. Because Felix Leiter has come out of retirement, re-recruited by the CIA, and he joins Team Bond in the search with all of the weight of CIA’s technology behind him - a submarine and a team of scuba divers! Holy Spear Thrust! Water sports are about to make a big splash! Each book in the Bond series is better than the previous one! Plus, they are just fun to read. The book, The Battle for Bond: The Genesis of Cinema's Greatest Hero, is about the legal free-for-all. Who knew!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louie Matos The Mustache

    It is often said that a character’s strength can only be judged by the menace of his enemies. Ernst Stavro Blofeld is introduced here in the ninth James Bond novel along with the organization of SPECTRE. Can you believe that it has taken 9 full books to get us to Bond's most iconic villain, and his henchman. Here, Emilio Largo has managed to steal two atomic missiles and sequestered them beneath the sea. It is James Bond’s responsibility along with CIA agent Felix Leiter to find the missiles and It is often said that a character’s strength can only be judged by the menace of his enemies. Ernst Stavro Blofeld is introduced here in the ninth James Bond novel along with the organization of SPECTRE. Can you believe that it has taken 9 full books to get us to Bond's most iconic villain, and his henchman. Here, Emilio Largo has managed to steal two atomic missiles and sequestered them beneath the sea. It is James Bond’s responsibility along with CIA agent Felix Leiter to find the missiles and prevent them from being launched, threatening to cast the worlds super powers in yet another world war. The characters are all strong. The mission is sufficiently urgent to cause suspense. This is really one of the stronger more suspensefully urgent novels.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4* of five I am viewing the Bond films on Amazon Prime. 20 are available on Prime for free viewing until 1 Sept. This entry in the book series is a little odd, because the story and the book were the subjects of prolonged litigation among the writer of the story, the author of the book, and the producers of the film. As a result, this film was made again in 1983 by the title Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery's swansong as Bond. That was a better film. This one also has a crap theme song Rating: 4* of five I am viewing the Bond films on Amazon Prime. 20 are available on Prime for free viewing until 1 Sept. This entry in the book series is a little odd, because the story and the book were the subjects of prolonged litigation among the writer of the story, the author of the book, and the producers of the film. As a result, this film was made again in 1983 by the title Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery's swansong as Bond. That was a better film. This one also has a crap theme song sung by Tom Jones. I remembered it not at all from the first time I saw the movie in a theater, probably 1966 or 1967. I was much more impressed then by the underwater fight sequences. Now they just make me claustrophobic. So nuclear bombs stolen by Blofeld, pretty girl tries to kill Bond, Blofeld's second in command screws up and hires the only white men in the Bahamas as henchrats and all of them screw up. Bond repeals the laws of physics as he opens metal hatches underwater with trivial ease and slams through aboveground hatches without causing any sound. Bond uses someone who deserves to die as a human shield against a 9mm round, and the bullet stops inside them. Yakity blah blah, standard Bond stuff. What elevates this silly romper-room antic mess into four-star territory is the sheer verve and the evident glee with which all involved go after the action. Connery's genuine terror of the sharks involved in the plot makes his performance sharp. Apparently his marriage was in trouble, so he went after the women with a starved hunger that's impossible to mistake. And the world's stupidest supervillains make some HILARIOUS mistakes...fixed water cannons that could easily be sidestepped? C'mon...but gosh was this fun. Doesn't hurt one little bit that Connery wore racy bathing suits for quite a lot of the film. Yum. So anyway, it's not the best Bond film and it's not the best film-film, but it has zest and zing and I'm glad I rewatched it here these *gasp* forty-five or more years later. That song...what a shame. A good tune would've put it over the edge into 5-star territory!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Thunderball is the ninth book in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, and the eight novel, after a seriously good collection of short stories. This book now bears the authorship of Fleming on most editions, but it was really the collaboration of several people, and a legal agreement at one time insisted that Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham be given co-author status. It is really the novelization of an unfilmed screenplay which moreover borrows scenes from and ideas from previous novels. So we have Thunderball is the ninth book in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, and the eight novel, after a seriously good collection of short stories. This book now bears the authorship of Fleming on most editions, but it was really the collaboration of several people, and a legal agreement at one time insisted that Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham be given co-author status. It is really the novelization of an unfilmed screenplay which moreover borrows scenes from and ideas from previous novels. So we have reason to be suspicious this will stink, but I found it pretty readable, with a familiar cartoonish/pulpy plot: Ernst Blofeld, leader of the terrorist organization SPECTRE (Dr. Evil in Austin Powers), has hijacked an American plane loaded with atomic weapons. Unless his demands are met, he will destroy one of the world's major cities. Given only one week to locate the missing bombs, Bond goes to the Bahamas, encounters Blofeld's right-hand man, Emilio Largo--who, in typical Fleming fashion, has "pectoral muscles the size of dinner plates"--and his mistress--and as you know, soon to become Bond's mistress--Domino. Things of interest: *Domino saves Bond, which is unusual. *The book (in 1961) opens with Bond forced because of his drinking (roughly a half of a fifth a day) and smoking (roughly 60 cigarettes a day) forced to go to a health spa, all of which is eventually abandoned. We have to believe that Bond can do all this indefinitely, always look like a Greek god, and get the girl. “It’s just that I’d rather die of drink than of thirst.” *We learn, in the spa, that the body remembers pleasure but it does not remember pain. *There were two film adaptations featuring Sean Connery, Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never (1983), produced by original screenplay co-author Kevin McClory. Even as a kind of pastiche of former Bond plots and characters, it is pretty well-written, focused mostly on action, without the occasional existentialist Bond reflection that makes its way into the earlier books. I listened to the audiobook while I worked out to develop "pectoral muscles the size of dinner plates."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Thundball - the Bond book so good it was made into two movies, both of which starred Sean Connery. Obviously the 1965 film of the same title and 1983's Never Say Never Again. How that happened is a fascinating story involving copyright. Standard disclaimer: this book contains sexism, racism, colonialism and adult language. Onto the story; Bond has been Bonding it up so M decides to send him to a health farm called Scrublands; whilst there he encounters a strange man named Count Lippi who is a to Thundball - the Bond book so good it was made into two movies, both of which starred Sean Connery. Obviously the 1965 film of the same title and 1983's Never Say Never Again. How that happened is a fascinating story involving copyright. Standard disclaimer: this book contains sexism, racism, colonialism and adult language. Onto the story; Bond has been Bonding it up so M decides to send him to a health farm called Scrublands; whilst there he encounters a strange man named Count Lippi who is a tong member. This seemingly useless knowledge nearly gets Bond killed. When he returns to London and improved health he is called into the office only to learn that a sinister organization has stolen two (2) atomic bombs and are demanding a ransom. After another failed attempt upon his life Bond is off to the Bahamas to search for the bombs. He is joined in this task by American CIA agent Felix Leiter. This book has convincing action, fascinating diving sequences (so much better than golf), a damsel in distress and a nuclear submarine. What it doesn't have is Bond's magic pocket sized rebreather (thanks Hollywood) or the horrific eye transplant; so that's all good too. This Bond is more human and less superhero.

  12. 4 out of 5

    El

    Thunderball trailer. Book #9, movie #4, we're moving right along. High hopes for this one because, according to my sources, the movie was the most successful of the Bond franchise at that point. People aren't stupid, right? O.mi.garsh. It was really boring, guys. Really boring. The preview shows all the exciting parts from the movie, including my favorite in which Bond smacks someone with a phone and then wraps it around his neck. Yeah, you tell 'im, Bond! Kick his ass! Um. The book is surprisingly Thunderball trailer. Book #9, movie #4, we're moving right along. High hopes for this one because, according to my sources, the movie was the most successful of the Bond franchise at that point. People aren't stupid, right? O.mi.garsh. It was really boring, guys. Really boring. The preview shows all the exciting parts from the movie, including my favorite in which Bond smacks someone with a phone and then wraps it around his neck. Yeah, you tell 'im, Bond! Kick his ass! Um. The book is surprisingly just as boring. If I'm going to read a Bond book, I expect Bond to be in it, but there's this whole sequence that doesn't involve him and it's technical (not in a good way) and quite the snooze-fest. But then this leads me to question myself: Why do I care if Bond is in a sequence or not? He's a dick. I've learned from this book that women are horrible drivers. It's not just a fleeting comment - there's an entire paragraph - no, two paragraphs about the horrible driving of women: Women are often meticulous and safe drivers, but they are very seldom first-class. In general Bond regarded them as a mild hazard and he always gave them plenty of road and was ready for the unpredictable. Four women in a car he regarded as the highest danger potential, and two women as nearly as lethal. Women together cannot keep silent in a car, and when women talk they have to look into each other's faces. An exchange of words is not enough. They have to see the other person's expression, perhaps in order to read behind the other's words or to analyze the reaction to their own. So two women in the front seat of a car constantly distract each other's attention from the road ahead and four women are more than doubly dangerous, for the driver has to hear, and see, not only what her companion is saying but also, for women are like that, what the two behind are talking about. But this girl drove like a man. She was entirely focused on the road ahead and on what was going on in her driving mirror, an accessory rarely used by women except for making up their faces. And, equally rare in a woman, she took a man's pleasure in the feel of her machine, in the timing of her gear changes, and the use of her brakes. Seriously. I couldn't make that up if I tried. And then! In the next paragraph, sigh:She had a gay, to-hell-with-you face that, Bond thought, would become animal in passion. In bed she would fight and bite and then suddenly melt into hot surrender. He could almost see the proud, sensual mouth bare away from the even white teeth in a snarl of desire and then, afterward, soften into a half-pout of loving slavery. Some actual stuff happens in this book, but who can even tell after shit like that? Domino is probably an interesting Bond girl otherwise, but Fleming has such disdain for all his women characters that it's hard to enjoy any of the time she has on the page (or on the screen). Bond is the sort of character who will toss a woman into bed first and then tell the woman bad news afterwards ((view spoiler)[like the fact that her brother is dead (hide spoiler)] ). Call me a crazy feminist, but I prefer not to be used for carnal pleasure if there's a serious matter that needs addressed. I know, I know, I'm practically a Communist for suggesting there's anything wrong with it. It's just really, really bad. I had a hard time being entertained by either the book or the movie. I even like underwater scenes! But there's something about these early Bond movies that make the fight scenes particularly snooze-y. Best part of the movie and book is in the beginning at the health clinic. I'm happy to say that in the book anyway (I can't remember the movie well enough to comment on this part), M is well ahead of his times, telling Bond about the dangers of medications and processed foods: "All drugs are harmful to the system. They are contrary to nature. The same applies to most of the food we eat - white bread with all the roughage removed, refined sugar with all the goodness machined out of it, pasteurized milk which has had most of the vitamins boiled away, everything overcooked and denaturized. Why... do you know what our bread contains apart from a bit of overground flour?... It contains large quantities of chalk, also benzol peroxide powder, chlorine gas, sal ammoniac, and alum." Before there was Mark Bittman, there was M. Next up: You Only Live Twice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    James is in poor shape it seems, 60 cigarettes a day (think of that today...where'd he even find a place to smoke that often?) do not keep the doctor away, oh and he drinks a lot to. So M sends him away on a little vacation to recuperate...again. And of course as seems to happen each time James goes away to rest, someone tries to kill him. What a life huh? I enjoyed these adrenaline soaked reads, they do after all have their charms. This one is no less exciting, smothered in cold war paranoia we James is in poor shape it seems, 60 cigarettes a day (think of that today...where'd he even find a place to smoke that often?) do not keep the doctor away, oh and he drinks a lot to. So M sends him away on a little vacation to recuperate...again. And of course as seems to happen each time James goes away to rest, someone tries to kill him. What a life huh? I enjoyed these adrenaline soaked reads, they do after all have their charms. This one is no less exciting, smothered in cold war paranoia we get stolen nukes here with the US and UK trying to get them away from SPECTRE (and of course the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld). Felix Leiter is back with the CIA apparently in spite of his lost leg and arm (from an earlier adventure) and we get an under-sea fight (with some fighters choosing to fight naked so they can identify each other, never heard of colored scuba gear I suppose). The end has a slight twist here, not so big for the books but it wouldn't happen like this in the move versions. Book 1 of the Blofeld trilogy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    THUNDERBALL (The Adventures of James Bond) - IAN FLEMING - Published by the FIRST EDITION LIBRARY HARDCOVER (FEL) 1990 - REPLICA OF 1961 ISSUE. Printed in Great Britain. FEL with Slipcase Measures 9.13" X 6.57 x 1.11". FEL Books are - EXACT, as in, same size, same type, same binding and same dust jacket as the original. Exact replicas of the First Editions right down to the first critic's comments printed on jacket flap. Printed on acid-neutral paper, cloth covers and sewn bindings. THUNDERBALL (The Adventures of James Bond) - IAN FLEMING - Published by the FIRST EDITION LIBRARY HARDCOVER (FEL) 1990 - REPLICA OF 1961 ISSUE. Printed in Great Britain. FEL with Slipcase Measures 9.13" X 6.57 x 1.11". FEL Books are - EXACT, as in, same size, same type, same binding and same dust jacket as the original. Exact replicas of the First Editions right down to the first critic's comments printed on jacket flap. Printed on acid-neutral paper, cloth covers and sewn bindings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Not being a huge Bond fan I wasn’t sure I’d like this book but I enjoyed it more than I expected I would.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate Hawkins

    James Bond seems to be a series that follows a pretty darn easy format, there's a plot that endangers either the whole world, or at least a part of it. That plot is being put into motion by a villain that fills the part of an evil mastermind, and then there's always a girl. Under normal circumstances that simple layout can often make a book series drab or less exciting because the readers feels as though they are reading the same book that they've read several times before. But Ian Fleming is sk James Bond seems to be a series that follows a pretty darn easy format, there's a plot that endangers either the whole world, or at least a part of it. That plot is being put into motion by a villain that fills the part of an evil mastermind, and then there's always a girl. Under normal circumstances that simple layout can often make a book series drab or less exciting because the readers feels as though they are reading the same book that they've read several times before. But Ian Fleming is skilled enough at his craft that he breaks the mold and is able to make every book feel new, fresh, and exciting; rather than the same recycled formula from so many editions before. I think that what separates Mr. Fleming from other espionage novelists is simply his experience, for those of you who do not know Mr. Fleming himself had some experiences in the military during post WWII London. I think that it's this reason that makes him seem so seamless as he describes the in depth operations of what Bond is doing on his missions, and I also think it's this reason why no other predecessor to Mr. Fleming has come near being able to write as good of a Bond novel. For those of you who do not know, the plot of Thunderball revolves around a terrorist group called Spectre. This group has just come into the possession of two nuclear warheads and is threatening to use them on two major cities if they are not paid a very large sum of money in gold bullion. M then sends Bond to a location where he feels the leader of this plot may be set up and the plot takes off there, there's a plot, there's a villain, and there's a girl; all the makings of a great Bond adventure. I certainly love Bond and love the way that Mr. Fleming writes the character but in my reading so far none of the novels have come close to Casino Royale. Royale just had something to it that none of the others have seemed to capture in my eyes, but I do hope that I find one of the originals that does come close or even surpasses the book for while it is my favorite, I wouldn't mind company in the category. I think that my biggest issue with the novel was simply the pacing, now I do understand that Bond cant just shoot up every single area that he thinks may be evil but there was a distinct lack of action in this particular novel. I did love the investigation and the ways in which Bond and Leiter attempted to figure out if they had the right man, but nothing really happens until the last twenty or thirty pages in the book and that was what left wanting more when I was finished. The novel wasn't boring at any point, the entire thing was enjoyable and fun to read as always but this final battle had been hyped for over a hundred pages and when it finally happens it fails to fill just over ten pages; I was just disappointed. The original Bond novels are wonderful and I love to read them but this is one that I didn't so much enjoy as some of the others I have read. It was a good time seeing more of an investigative side of Bond but I was ultimately let down when I finally approached the climax of the story. If your a fan of 007 then check it out, but for casual readers of the series this one is skippable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Spencer

    An excellent installment in the James Bond series. The villains and their plot had me gripped from the start. I always love Fleming’s accounts of Bond under water. The way it is written makes me feel like I’m there, swimming through the reefs. I completely loose myself. I also loved the relationship between Bond and Domino. Some of the ‘Bond girls’ seem a bit flimsy, like a sideline to the real action. But Domino has a fierce independence that I loved.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    As Bond novels go this is a pretty good one in terms of plotting. Yes, the racism, sexism, and fear mongering all go with the territory, sadly, and I officially disapprove--yet I'm still reading these damned novels, one by one. I suppose I need to ask myself why. I guess it's the films, which entranced me for their cleverness and Bond's grace when I was a kid. Despite all of the testosterone-fueled gook herein, Bond is still a thousand times less brutish than any American hero I can think of. (L As Bond novels go this is a pretty good one in terms of plotting. Yes, the racism, sexism, and fear mongering all go with the territory, sadly, and I officially disapprove--yet I'm still reading these damned novels, one by one. I suppose I need to ask myself why. I guess it's the films, which entranced me for their cleverness and Bond's grace when I was a kid. Despite all of the testosterone-fueled gook herein, Bond is still a thousand times less brutish than any American hero I can think of. (Leaving aside that other brand of American macho, the hysterical whiny, terrified cur that snaps at your heals when your back is turned--you know, the Trump, Bill O'Reilly, Charles Manson type.) Funny here for literary aficionados is the post-coital scene (Why does Bond always get laid between chapters?) in which the diction suddenly becomes self-consciously Hemingwayesque. Seriously, you can't miss it and it can't be accidental. Not sure what Fleming was up to there--unless he'd just recently read Across the River and into the Trees and felt the need to blurt out a quick homage. I'm off to read some sane and intelligent female authors for a while after this--so, you see, some good can come of evil.

  19. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    The Bond originally conceived by the movies was very much a creature of the 1960s (despite his comments about having to listen to The Beatles without earmuffs), the Bond of the books however is a man of the 1950s through and through. In 1961’s ‘Thunderball’, the Second World War veteran Commander James Bond is briefly forced face to face with the younger generation and sneers at their cheap self-assertiveness, duck-tail haircuts and desire to be Tommy Steele. It seems that something I can look f The Bond originally conceived by the movies was very much a creature of the 1960s (despite his comments about having to listen to The Beatles without earmuffs), the Bond of the books however is a man of the 1950s through and through. In 1961’s ‘Thunderball’, the Second World War veteran Commander James Bond is briefly forced face to face with the younger generation and sneers at their cheap self-assertiveness, duck-tail haircuts and desire to be Tommy Steele. It seems that something I can look forward to in these later Bond books is the character becoming middle aged and reactionary. Despite a plot which would still work in a contemporary setting (terrorist group steals nuclear weapons) this is a very mechanical novel. Everything works in the right place, but there isn’t a lot of passion to it. That extends to the dialogue as well, which is either crammed full with exposition or has lots of tedious descriptions about the workings of cars, boats, weaponry and the making of a good martini. Famously ‘Thunderball’ was based on a screen treatment (which caused Fleming, and the makers of the Bond films, lots of legal problems later on) and this book does feel like a novelisation of a film which hadn’t yet been made.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I rewatched the Sean Connery film after finishing this and OMG, the book is soooo much better!! As I have mentioned in my reviews of some of the previous Bond books, the character in Fleming's original books is much more 3-dimensional and to my mind at least, more interesting. The plot of the movie has only parts of the plot from the book & makes much less sense. I rewatched the Sean Connery film after finishing this and OMG, the book is soooo much better!! As I have mentioned in my reviews of some of the previous Bond books, the character in Fleming's original books is much more 3-dimensional and to my mind at least, more interesting. The plot of the movie has only parts of the plot from the book & makes much less sense.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Volpe

    Damn, that was tough. I'm a big Bond fan, but this book just didn't do it for me. It was slow, with mild and unimpressive action. Yes, it does have Blofeld, but that's about it. Some parts were so boring I found myself skimming. Damn, that was tough. I'm a big Bond fan, but this book just didn't do it for me. It was slow, with mild and unimpressive action. Yes, it does have Blofeld, but that's about it. Some parts were so boring I found myself skimming.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A new group calling itself SPECTRE (the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) steals a plane carrying two nuclear bombs and tries to extort £100m from the major superpowers or else the weapons will be detonated in unknown cities. As part of Operation Thunderball, James Bond is tapped to gather intelligence in the Bahamas where the plane might have gone down. I watched the movie Thunderball several times during the James Bond Wednesdays on TBS of my youth. A new group calling itself SPECTRE (the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) steals a plane carrying two nuclear bombs and tries to extort £100m from the major superpowers or else the weapons will be detonated in unknown cities. As part of Operation Thunderball, James Bond is tapped to gather intelligence in the Bahamas where the plane might have gone down. I watched the movie Thunderball several times during the James Bond Wednesdays on TBS of my youth. It wasn't as tough as I thought it would be to get it (and Tom Jones) out of my head while reading this one, though my subjective comparison was inevitable. The book comes out on top, primarily due to a lack of flashy superficial additions seen in the movie. Nassau and the undersea world are featured as backdrops for Bond's tracking down of Emilio Largo, SPECTRE operative, via his mistress, Domino Vitelli. Fleming injects a lot of humor and some old school misogyny into Bond, which is enjoyable enough to read while keeping in mind that Bond was a product of his times. Despite that, Bond rarely comes off as superhuman and has legitimate worries about his hunches and his use of Domino in his attempts at getting closer to Largo. Fleming goes into some technical detail when it comes to the sea vehicles featured in the Bahamian environment, which (unlike the equipment descriptions of other authors like Tom Clancy) never felt intrusive or uninteresting. By far the best elements of the story are Bond's uncertainty about his hunches and seeing his intelligence gathering, which is mostly guesswork all the way up to the satisfying end. A simple plot but exciting and well told in Fleming's style. The novel was the subject of a legal battle between Fleming and Kevin McClory, which was originally a screenplay composed by several people including Fleming and McClory. Fleming wrote the novel based on the unshot screenplay and was sued when the book was published, and the trial caused Fleming two heart attacks that led to his death in 1964. The producers of the current Bond films reconciled in 2013 with the McClory estate, and so the next Bond film, SPECTRE, is set to re-introduce the thoroughly evil organization at the end of 2015.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carson

    In a way, "Thunderball" is absolutely brilliant. It had a ton of potential. It was supposed to be the first James Bond film, and the legal issues it faced led to years of the films not having access to SPECTRE and to the unofficial "Never Say Never Again." In short, it introduced SPECTRE and Blofeld, and kicked off an arc that continues through "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "You Only Live Twice" and then into "The Man With the Golden Gun" which takes 007 into quite a different trajectory. Th In a way, "Thunderball" is absolutely brilliant. It had a ton of potential. It was supposed to be the first James Bond film, and the legal issues it faced led to years of the films not having access to SPECTRE and to the unofficial "Never Say Never Again." In short, it introduced SPECTRE and Blofeld, and kicked off an arc that continues through "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "You Only Live Twice" and then into "The Man With the Golden Gun" which takes 007 into quite a different trajectory. The story begins with M calling Bond's fitness into question. He's bored, and he's drinking and smoking and gambling too much, so he has to go to the Shrublands (where M has recently gone) to get him back on track. He actually cuts back substantially on cigarettes (from 70 non-filtered a day to 10 filtered) and improves his diet... and runs into a SPECTRE operative by chance. The story of SPECTRE's plight is quite clever - they steal bombs and ransom governments as what is intended to be their final money-making act (they have been operating in secret for some time). Bond winds up in the Bahamas facing off against Emilio Largo (my favorite scene in the film does originate in this book, as they play baccarat and Bond baits Largo saying "spectre" again and again). The film's underwater scenes can drag on a bit, but here, Fleming - as he always does - breathes articulate life into these times. I feel like the book could have benefited from a longer final act. There was tremendous build-up, and of course I know it continues in future stories, but I would have liked to have seen a more dragged out final act/showdown with Largo/ examination of Blofeld. Overall, brilliant. 4 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Noticing these Bond books stopped getting good after Goldfinger. This one started out good, but Then I lost a little interested afterwords. I mean some parts were interesting, but for the most peat this was a little boring. The Spy Who Loved Me (the one I'm on now) isn't any better either. The main reason I liked this one though is threw out the book we begin to realize that Bond is a human. He's not a superhuman like the films make him look. He has his flaws as every good character should have i Noticing these Bond books stopped getting good after Goldfinger. This one started out good, but Then I lost a little interested afterwords. I mean some parts were interesting, but for the most peat this was a little boring. The Spy Who Loved Me (the one I'm on now) isn't any better either. The main reason I liked this one though is threw out the book we begin to realize that Bond is a human. He's not a superhuman like the films make him look. He has his flaws as every good character should have in a book. This books starts with M. telling Bond that he needs a rest because his health isn't so great. Bond smokes and drinks too much. He sends him to a place to help him with that. It's kind of funny that the movies included his drinking, but not his smoking. Plus you never hear in the film that his drinking is a flaw like in the books. Fleming doesn't address the issue as much as he should (probably because this was written in the 60s), but if Bond was written today he wouldn't have the flaws because of the movies.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Bond in the Bahamas 8 July 2020 Well, it is rather pleasing to note that the movie was pretty faithful to this book as well, though I do note that the ending of the film was done in such a way so as to not only make it somewhat more exciting, but so that Bond also gets the girl. It is noticeable that in Flemming’s novels Bond doesn’t land up alone with the girl, without realising that the British Secret Service is not all that far away. Look, if you have seen the film you can pretty much work out Bond in the Bahamas 8 July 2020 Well, it is rather pleasing to note that the movie was pretty faithful to this book as well, though I do note that the ending of the film was done in such a way so as to not only make it somewhat more exciting, but so that Bond also gets the girl. It is noticeable that in Flemming’s novels Bond doesn’t land up alone with the girl, without realising that the British Secret Service is not all that far away. Look, if you have seen the film you can pretty much work out what is going on in this story because, well, it is pretty much exactly the same, right down to the major characters. Sure, there are some subtle differences, and Bond isn’t anywhere near as bad in the book than he is in the film (yeah, some of the scenes really wouldn’t pass these days, particularly with the way that he forces himself on to some of the ladies). I actually quite liked the film, it pretty much has everything that makes a good movie. The problem is that I couldn’t get into the book in the same way, namely because I simply kept on thinking about the film. Look, it isn’t a novelisation per se, but rather a pretty faithful adaptation. Then again, I guess the other problem might just be that I simply don’t find these James Bond books all that engaging. I guess they are good for a bit of mindless fun, but even then I can’t really get into them. Another thing might be that they are somewhat dated, particularly with a lot of the attitudes. Yeah, Flemming really doesn’t seem to be a model woman’s rights type of person, especially with a number of comments that he makes in the book. Actually, Bond is pretty chauvinistic as well. Half the reason that he sleeps with all the ladies is because he sees them as the weakest link, and as such able to plumb them for information. Yet, that in my mind sort of just works to rather denigrate them. I guess that is why I do tend to appreciate the stronger women in the films. Look, the book was okay, but honestly, it just wasn’t all that enjoyable. I suspect that it does have an awful lot to do with the movie though, and how faithful the production happened to be to the original work, something that sort of makes it a little less enjoyable to read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I liked this one a lot. Hilarious set piece at the beginning when Bond gets sent to a health spa called Shrubland. The plot revolves around a criminal organization called SPECTRE, I think this is the first book in which that organization is featured. They have stolen two atomic bonds and are asking for a huge ransom. Bond teams up with his CIA buddy Felix Leiter in Jamaica. I was thinking about the way Daniel Silva often has Gabriel Allon teamed up with the CIA. Hadn't realized before how it was I liked this one a lot. Hilarious set piece at the beginning when Bond gets sent to a health spa called Shrubland. The plot revolves around a criminal organization called SPECTRE, I think this is the first book in which that organization is featured. They have stolen two atomic bonds and are asking for a huge ransom. Bond teams up with his CIA buddy Felix Leiter in Jamaica. I was thinking about the way Daniel Silva often has Gabriel Allon teamed up with the CIA. Hadn't realized before how it was Ian Fleming who introduced that trope. The stealing of atomic weapons is also quite contemporary for 1961, the year of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Fleming's writing is more literary than in previous books. His descriptions of underwater scenes especially. One more to go: The Spy Who Loved Me, and I will have read the entire series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason Reeser

    I'm a bit mystified by the Fleming legend. First of all, I find his writing lacking. I can fill most of it in with my knowledge of the Bond movies, so I see it all very well, but his style is not so much minimalist as dull. There are very brief flashes of good action--stress on the brief--but these do not keep my interest. Also, the Fleming's Bond, as opposed to Broccoli's Bond, is more bumbling, unsure of himself, and most certainly a whiner. There is little about him that makes me very interes I'm a bit mystified by the Fleming legend. First of all, I find his writing lacking. I can fill most of it in with my knowledge of the Bond movies, so I see it all very well, but his style is not so much minimalist as dull. There are very brief flashes of good action--stress on the brief--but these do not keep my interest. Also, the Fleming's Bond, as opposed to Broccoli's Bond, is more bumbling, unsure of himself, and most certainly a whiner. There is little about him that makes me very interested in him. On one hand, this means he is more human, more believable, and a more sympathetic character. On the other hand, he is less of a Titan, lacks that edge that makes us watch him in awe, and even his vaunted cruelty is replaced with pettiness, which is difficult to take in a hero. There is an odd scene in this one, after he has first met Domino, and spent the afternoon with her. As she drives away, he watches her go, and for little apparent reason, says out loud-- "Bitch." While this is humorous, it makes him look like an ass, and does not fit with his later scenes where he spends time worrying about the fact he has put her in danger and wishing he had left her out of it, to the point it is distracting him from completing the job. One of Bond's more remarkable traits in the movies is his ability to use women as a means to an end without much care as to their well-being. Is this admirable? Not as a personal trait, but as a professional one it is as impressive as it is shocking. But here, in the book, he just sounds like any guy who's too caught up in puppy love. I suppose I'm being hard on Fleming/Bond, but since he is the poster-child of the tough-guy super-spy, I suppose he can take it. As for the plot, it is much closer to the movie than I expected it to be. It moves well, and is more plausible than the movie. His characterizations of the principals are well done. Felix Leiter gets quite a complete fleshing out here, including the detail of his metal hook for one hand. That's something we never see in the movies. Fleming shines best when he is dealing with the slower, more atmospheric scenes; the detail work of spying. I will certainly read more of them (I've read two others already, Casino Royale and The Man with the Golden Gun) if only to get a better perspective on Fleming's Bond. I am not criticizing Fleming's Bond in the above review, only making observations on the differences between the book and the movie. Fleming is not to be blamed for the persona that Bond became on film. But the film Bond is so pervasive in our culture that he cannot be ignored when approaching the books. Perhaps, as I read more, I'll come to prefer this more human James Bond.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    The ninth James Bond book is one of the longer novels in Ian Fleming’s series. However, the first four chapters are devoted to Bond’s mandatory sentence to a health spa on the orders of ‘M’ who is concerned about Bond’s recent downward trend on his medical report, likely due in large part to smoking 60 cigarettes a day and the consumption of large quantities of alcohol. I don’t know if there was a health trend going on at the time of publication (1961) or if this was some kind of response to rea The ninth James Bond book is one of the longer novels in Ian Fleming’s series. However, the first four chapters are devoted to Bond’s mandatory sentence to a health spa on the orders of ‘M’ who is concerned about Bond’s recent downward trend on his medical report, likely due in large part to smoking 60 cigarettes a day and the consumption of large quantities of alcohol. I don’t know if there was a health trend going on at the time of publication (1961) or if this was some kind of response to readers/critics of the series up to this point. But anyhow, this part reads almost like a complete and isolated short story, much like in the previous volume, For Your Eyes Only which bundled five short stories together. Key characters and plot elements do tie in with the rest of the novel however but I still wonder if that part might have originally been meant for a short story and Fleming simply worked it into this larger novel. Pure speculation on my part, of course. This novel will largely be remembered for several things in the larger Bond universe. It’s the first introduction to SPECTRE which, in the words of Felix Leiter is “a bunch of really big-time hoodlums – ex operators of SMERSH, the Mafia, the Gestapo – all the big outfits.” It’s also the first time we meet Ernst Blofeld and although we get a lot of description from his point of view, Bond doesn’t actually meet or interact with him in this novel. The main bad guy is treasure hunter Emilio Largo and the Bond girl this time around is Domino, both memorable characters. This novel also has the (so far) unique distinction as the only Bond book to have spawned two movies, 1965’s ‘Thunderball’ and 1983’s ‘Never Say Never Again’. Overall I thought this to be another fine Bond novel. I’ve noticed a positive trend which should be of some comfort to critics of earlier Bond novels. The blatant sexism and racism of early books has largely dissipated in this one. Less racism because of fewer minorities this time around perhaps. But there are definitely stronger and smarter women. In fact Bond owes his life to two separate women this time thanks to their strong wills and foresight. Felix Leiter is back as is Moneypenny and together they add some humor to the story. Onwards to number 10…

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Thunderball is the ninth book in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, and the eighth full length James Bond novel. The first novelization of an unfilmed James Bond screenplay, it was born from a collaboration by five people: Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo, although the controversial shared credit of Fleming, McClory and Whittingham was the result of a courtroom decision. Hence the movies Thunderball & Never say never Again both with Sean Connery which basic Thunderball is the ninth book in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, and the eighth full length James Bond novel. The first novelization of an unfilmed James Bond screenplay, it was born from a collaboration by five people: Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo, although the controversial shared credit of Fleming, McClory and Whittingham was the result of a courtroom decision. Hence the movies Thunderball & Never say never Again both with Sean Connery which basicly cover both the story as written down in THUNDERBALL. TB begins with M sending Bond to a health spa mostly because of the physical state he considers Bond to be in. While being there Bond has a run in with some character who will put him later on the trail of an orgaisation that has managed to steal two nuclear weapons from the NATO and will hold them hostage to pay a large ransom or one of the bombs will be detonated. The Americans and the British launch Operation Thunderball to foil SPECTRE and recover the two atomic bombs. On a hunch, M assigns Bond to the Bahamas to investigate. There, Bond meets Felix Leiter, seconded to the CIA from his usual role at Pinkertons because of the Thunderball crisis. While in Nassau, Bond meets Dominetta "Domino" Vitali, Largo's mistress and the sister of the dead pilot Giuseppe Petacchi of the plane that transported the bombs. TB is in essence the 1st book in the Blofeld stories which ends with You only live twice in Japan. It is an exciting adventure and once more Flemings knowledge and observations of local coleur is brilliantly written as does Bond & Leiters friendship and conversations. As a story it is well plotted and more excitingly written as the movie could do it credit, especially the underwaterfight at the end. Well advised to read OHMSS & YOLT after this book and finsih it with the book published after Flemings death The man with the golden gun.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    It started off with an interesting premise with Bond being sent away to become healthier. This fascinated me because a lot of authors will never address some of the realistic flaws of their hero. After the interesting and amusing incidents in the beginning though, the novel descends into dry and boring scenes and dialog. It is by no means bad, but I expect a bit more out of Fleming who's elegant writing style always impresses me. The book picks up near the end in a climax which is almost worth t It started off with an interesting premise with Bond being sent away to become healthier. This fascinated me because a lot of authors will never address some of the realistic flaws of their hero. After the interesting and amusing incidents in the beginning though, the novel descends into dry and boring scenes and dialog. It is by no means bad, but I expect a bit more out of Fleming who's elegant writing style always impresses me. The book picks up near the end in a climax which is almost worth the tedium of the 100 pages before it, but this book also lacks the almost supernatural characterization of the villain. I love how Fleming manages to make villains like Doctor No or Goldfinger sound like an alien life form. Largo was not really given this honor. Last but not least, this book also contained the only Bond girl I did not like. I didn't care at all about Domino. First, the Shrublands sequence is ridiculous and hammy comedy. It was more grounded and sinister in the eventual film, and that's saying something. M is made out as a buffoon, and the countless healthy living cliche jokes about carrots and "nut cutlets" are tiresome. Even Bond's altercation with Lippe is lighthearted. There are no teeth in these chapters. Second, Felix Leiter, usually a welcome breath of fresh air, is relentlessly annoying in Thunderball. Many, many pages are given over to just Bond and Leiter complaining (mostly about food) and sort of endlessly conjecturing about their situation. Also, Leiter goes from being an amusingly gruff American to being more hamfisted comic relief. He's a caricature of his previous self, and has far too much "screentime," making this more of a buddy picture. Third, Bond is lost in the climax. For the first time, on an epic, cinematic level, Bond leads an army instead of just solving things himself. Very movie-ish, and ultimately as boring as the final reel of the EON film itself.

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